Recovering perfectionists unite

perfectMy dear friend Jordan posted this on her blog (seriously, go follow it to get an ample dose of lovely words from her heart about Truth, Life, and the occasional rant about school). I immediately told her I would reblog it because it is something that so many of my friends need to hear, with me at the top of the list. We talked about this very thing last week when I visited. We ate a quick dinner, drank Shiner, and discussed for hours things that really matter in the world: our thoughts on same-sex marriage and how to really love our friends, realizing wonder and big questions about the Bible are welcomed, and memories of Dad. She told me she made her first B ever last semester in nursing school, and I enthusiastically high-fived her and said, “YES, me too!” We know we both share this insanely strong inner drive to do all things with nothing but EXCELLENCE. But since when did that ONLY mean receiving a certain letter grade our entire lives on our transcript, getting inducted into the country’s oldest honor society, or shuddering at the thought of not graduating with honors?

I am not dissing the desire to succeed and achieve in hopes of utilizing the gifts God has given us for His glory (even though if we’re honest how many times do we do it for our own glory?), but there is a BIG danger in placing SO much of our energy into some of these things that will simply FADE with time. As I’m starting dental school in ONE MONTH (I’ve seriously got to get my brain to start thinking about that rude awakening) I desperately want to hold on to my (recently found) balance of school, social life, and spiritual life. Do I want to be an academic boss at Penn Dental and show my first year what’s up? Um YEAH, do you know who you’re talking to? But along the way do I want to sacrifice things that help me be the best version of myself amidst the daily grind: authentic friendship/community, ample sleep, quality food, consistent exercise, intimacy with God? Never.

I could go on, but she basically says everything I want to and probably more articulately and honestly than I could.

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Sometimes life gives you more than you can write about. Now is a season full of just that. I know it’s been almost two and a half months since I sat to write, and it’s ironic because more has happened in these last few weeks than probably anyone should have to deal with at once.

I realize this is a personal blog where I usually write about really anything that’s going on in my mind at the time. Still, I don’t have nearly the space or time (except I probably do since this summer will be the most event-less/least busy time of my life sans retirement) to write through all the emotion about everything that’s happened. For those of you that know me on Facebook or Instagram you know what I’m talking about. For the rest of my readers, I’ll sadly tell you that my father of a very young but extremely full 64 years suddenly and shockingly passed away on the night of April 24th at our vacation home in Montana. He went peacefully and with no one surrounding him but the northwest forest and Canadian rockies that he loved second only to God and his family. We are extremely saddened, and our family and town sense a very real and very large hole because of his absence. Even amidst the deep sorrow that comes given that none of humanity was ever meant to grasp the concept of death, we find peace, hope, and comfort in the fact that he is now experiencing the very thing for which we were created – the fullness of joy, absolute awe, and too-glorious-for-words state of being overcome by the glory of God and seeing Jesus face to face. I know this journey of grief will look differently for my mom, my sister, and anyone else that was touched deeply by my dad. I’m praying for grace daily to know how to walk through this individually and alongside my family. I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the outpour of love and support by everyone in Waco, back home, and even my future community at Penn Dental.

To add to the extreme dichotomy of emotions I’m living in, let’s remember I  just graduated from Baylor on May 15 and said far too many “See you later’s” than I ever want to. I’ve never been sadder to say goodbye to a season than that morning I drove away for the last time. I made a nostalgic “Waco Love” driving playlist, and let’s just say I cried almost all the way to Tyler. I am overcome with gratitude for God bringing me to that glorious place 4 very short years ago, and I will never be able to articulate just how much Baylor and every single person that was a part of my home team truly mean to me. Even through this past month of grieving, I experienced some of the sweetest times with some of my favorite people my last few weeks living as a college student in the city that won my heart. I won’t even go into detail on how gracious (most) of my professors were with working things out for me to finish with excellence and graduate just as I would have had this never happened. Long story short, I did get my first B(+) – not even in an upper level science class but a personal finance class, lol jokes – but still managed to finish the journey and reach my long-time goal of graduating Summa Cum Laude.

I’m home for the summer for the strangest few months of my life. This is nothing against my home, my family, or the people of my hometown, but honestly it’s just weird. These few months are the definition of limbo: I’m completely finished with the past season but the next one isn’t here until August. I’ve never known zero work, zero school, and zero of my people back in Waco that know me better than anyone. I really have never known how to rest, so that’s exactly what I need to learn to do this summer. I’ve got a lofty book list (a mix of theology, medicine, philosophy, and everything in between), am playing music more than ever, have some concerts and visits to see other TX friends lined up, but other than that, I am really the most available I’ll ever be in my life. I am making space for quiet and stillness – things I know I’ll be desperate for in a few months.

I have way more I wish I could fill in and update but I had to just start somewhere, and this is the jumpstart to my goal of more consistent blogging during this season when I have plenty of more time to do so. I want to write more about the books I’m reading, the letters I’m writing and receiving (my new favorite thing), the songs I’m playing, the meals I’m cooking, and the memories I’m making before all-out school mode begins again. Oh yeah, I’m only living in Texas for about nine more weeks, WHAT? I’m still definitely getting more excited every day for my next adventure of being an actual student doctor and navigating a new city life, without a car and without all things familiar. Crazy, but it’s happening.

Until next time, I’m researching road bikes, dreaming of writing a song, digging deep in the Word, sleeping and eating better than I have for a very long time, getting my butt kicked in boot camp workouts, and contently living in this time of in-between.

The Monday Mission Project, Part 4: Danny

This will be the final feature in The Monday Mission Project before I wrap the series up tomorrow. Catch up on the first three posts back on my home page and read about why I’m doing this here. As I was thinking about this idea originally, I wanted to be sure and include a variety of perspectives from different types of professions to show just how creative our God is when he gives us each unique gifts and passions, so today I’ll be featuring my friend Danny for a business point of view. Danny is also a senior at Baylor and is headed to Boston (#EastCoastBestCoast) after graduation to work as a management consulting analyst for the company Accenture. I’m not kidding when I say he is a Business Fellows, Economics, and Finance triple major with minors in Math and Political Science. He is one of those people that just seems to do it all and do it all well. Even still, I’ve never heard him complain about his workload. His humility is a testament that he doesn’t do it for the glory, either. I’ve known him since freshman year, and I’ve always been extremely impressed by how he is able to balance everything on his plate. Danny is the definition of diligence and really does point others to Jesus through the way he works unto the Lord and how he leads and serves others so well. He is an encourager to the core, too. Any time you leave a conversation with him, you’ll always find a refreshed perspective and motivation. One last thing about him (and why I think we get each other so well) is that he is an unbelievable dreamer and full of ambition. I believe God has marked his life to be a vessel for the Spirit and to ignite change where there are desperate needs for it. Danny has (and will always have) such a place of influence in so many different areas of his life, and I’m beyond excited to watch how God uses him and continues to lead him.

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1. Describe the process of ultimately choosing to pursue business for your career. How did God lead you into this profession along the way and when did you know you were really walking in his calling on your life?

Ultimately, I chose to begin my career in management consulting (business) because I think my God-given talents apply very well to this area. I’m a problem-solver, and I love going into new situations and finding out how to make things better. The business world runs by “mutual benefit.” Companies are only successful if they produce useful products or services that customers want. For a time, I thought I really wanted to go into politics – perhaps because of this same desire to “solve problems” on a societal level. Over time, however, God showed me that beginning in the private sector would be a much better way to build an expertise and learn how to make sure organizations are able to reach their highest potential.

2. How do you hope to practically show the love of Jesus through your work and be a light to the people you interact with everyday? How do you see yourself serving God and others through your profession on a day-to-day basis?

My dad is always an optimist, and so that carries through in everything I do. I think a key to success is not complaining about the little things. The people around us, whether in business, graduate school, or whatever career you’re in, will make mistakes and have hard days too. It’s important to show the love of Jesus through your work by maintaining a positive outlook and encouraging those around you. Make their lives easier. Thank them for their dedication. As a result, you’ll be more productive and show how Christ has changed your outlook on life.

3. What opportunities, big or small, do you hope to have to partner with God and make an impact for his kingdom that you wouldn’t have otherwise if you weren’t doing what you are?

I think this position in management consulting will teach me many valuable skills that can translate to all aspects of life. Whether a business, non-profit, university, or political campaign, there are always problems that need to be solved. There are things that are going to go wrong, and the world will need people to take a fresh look at each situation and find ways to improve. I believe this job will prepare me to do that, and I hope to use those skills in whatever way I can to glorify God.

4. What are you looking forward to most about your career and the next season of life?

Honestly, I’m looking forward to a new adventure in Boston! I grew up in Chicago. When I came to Baylor, it was my first time in Texas and I didn’t know anybody. Then, I spent each summer in DC – where I didn’t know anybody. Now, after building those connections, it feels like I have “3 homes” – and I’m excited to jump into a new city and build a 4th.

5. How do you think you’ll stay enthusiastic/passionate and find the motivation to continue to work diligently for his glory?

I think the most important factor is to be grounded in the right habits. I plan to find another church where I can dive in and get involved, continue reading the Bible every day, and ultimately trusting God to show me the next steps. I have to constantly remind myself that everything I do on this Earth will pass away.

6. What would you say to others entering corporate business or politics about incorporating your faith in a career where it might be challenged more than in other fields?

Business and politics are often described as immoral. But that’s exactly why we need more Christians in those fields! After my time in DC, I met so many powerful people who were committed to their faith. It influenced their interactions with people so much so that people knew them as trustworthy, honest, and yet still incredibly influential. God works through all things. Most Americans spend the majority of their week in a workplace not directly related to Christianity, so it’s important to bring a Christ-like attitude to those places as well.

7. What advice would you give to college freshman on discovering and pursuing what God has for them in terms of their major, future career, etc?

Don’t worry. For almost all of my college experience, I was sure I was going to DC. But at the last minute, I really started to reconsider – and here I am, taking a different path, but one that I am more excited about. Don’t put God in a box, and recognize that our “plans” can change faster than you realize. Work hard, get involved in things outside of class, but also just have fun. Don’t spend your entire college life stressing about the things that you can’t control – you’ll simply be wasting your time.

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Thanks so much for your thoughts, Danny! Also, this guy has his own blog at Consider Again (and is a contributor for endless others and has had the chance to write for some pretty cool projects). To quote his description of his site, “Consider Again is a blog by Danny Huizinga devoted to encouraging critical thinking. It features an archive of all of my published articles, both profiles on successful entrepreneurs and small businesses and op-eds on current events. Rather than taking articles and opinions at face value, I challenge you to think a little deeper. Being able to know why you agree or disagree with an opinion is one of the most important life skills.” He writes about current issues in politics, business, and a variety of other topics. Check it out!

Oh and be on the lookout for him to run for president one day. And win.

The Monday Mission Project, Part 3: Dr. Jason Beck

So far I’ve really enjoyed this interview series and getting to hear additional insight from so many of the incredible people I know about how they serve God through their career, day in and day out. Today’s post in The Monday Mission Project (if you’re just joining us check out the intro here) is featuring Dr. Jason Beck, DDS, MD, and it is an especially relevant one to include since he’s my main professional mentor in the world of dentistry (and fellow doctor colleague in about four to ten years). What he does every day is basically what I want to do one day! First things first: four years of dental school. Then if I’m crazy enough (let’s face it, we all know I am) and do decide down the road to specialize I’m looking at another four to six years of postdoc training. I am going in with an open mind regarding specializing or not, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love surgery or couldn’t see myself doing this everyday. He is a practicing oral and maxillofacial surgeon here in Waco, and I first met him two summers ago when I was getting some more shadowing hours in with another general dentist in town. I had actually called his office asking the receptionist if I could come observe with no real guaranteed set up before I ran into him having lunch with the dentists I was originally shadowing. He told me to immediately call back and say that he personally had met me and would love for me to come observe at his office for a few days. Needless to say those few days turned into once or twice every week and then eventually the same thing for the entire next summer. I have written a couple times on my experiences working with him (click here or here to read about it), but long story short, he’s great and I have so much respect for him. I consider him, his wife, and his three adorable boys basically my Waco family. He’s not only an exceptional and compassionate doctor, Dr. Beck is a successful and humble business owner, a godly leader for his family and staff, and a sincere voice of wisdom in my life. I can ask him anything about dental school, residency, running a practice, etc, and know he’s going to give me a genuinely honest answer and not sugar coat anything. He also is constantly encouraging me to lean not on my own understanding but to trust in the Lord with his plan for my life. He understands my big dreams and affirms I really do have what it takes. Seeing how Dr. Beck has surrendered his career to God and how in turn God has been faithful to keep his promises, I can only become more excited to see how my career as a dentist will be used for God’s glory.

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1. Describe the process of ultimately choosing to pursue dentistry and oral surgery for your career. How did God lead you into this profession along the way and when did you know you were really walking in his calling on your life?

As a child, I have always felt like I would have a job that would be highly respected and financially lucrative as well. I didn’t know what that would be, however, this had propelled me to excel in everything along the way to eventually make this a reality. Into college, I had always enjoyed the sciences more than anything else. I think because there was always a tangible product that came from scientific work and it is the scientists who I always admired more so than the great thinkers and writers. Scientists were doers and they made things happen. Eventually, I explored the health sciences from physical therapy, to medicine, and ultimately dentistry. Dentistry was particularly appealing to me because it was very hands on work that works well for us ADD individuals. I also felt that the verse in 1 Thess 4:11 was speaking to me about my career choice. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to work with your hands as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone.” Dentistry appeared rewarding, fun, and to provide an independence that other careers could not offer. In dental school, I had an even stronger desire to attain all these things in the greatest amount and oral surgery seemed to be the next great challenge for me. I knew that it was where I was supposed to be, because logic would say that general dentistry can provide everything I could possibly want. Nevertheless, there was a thrill I found in doing surgery, that’s it. God speaks to me in many ways, but at this point he simply wanted me to “enjoy life, and have it abundantly.”

2. How do you practically show the love of Jesus through your work and be a light to the people you interact with everyday? How do you see yourself serving God and others through your profession on a day-to-day basis?

I have had people tell me, “I know you’re a believer because I see Jesus in you.” There is no better complement. Providing a calmness before surgery and reflecting the Love of Jesus to a phobic patient has a profound effect on a person in a vulnerable state. I have prayed with patients, quoted scripture to them, and simply cared and showed compassion for them because that is what Jesus taught us as his children. As a business owner, though, I could be that for my patients and viewed as a hypocrite to my staff if I am not consistent. I see my staff as my ministry as much as my patients. They don’t know it, but they are prayed for all the time and I hope that when non-believing employees see something admirable in me, it will point them to Him.

3. What opportunities, big or small, has your career given you to partner with God and make an impact for his kingdom that you wouldn’t have had otherwise if you weren’t doing what you are.

Similar as the previous question. Patients are in a vulnerable, fearful state when undergoing a surgery, so they are looking for someone to put their trust in and lead them through this stressful situation. When things go well for them and they try to show gratitude, I can point to Jesus. My kids pray for my patients every night, so I can tell them that, which makes an impact on their kingdom experience. Additionally, on more global scale, I have been able to provide care to those in third world countries whose only encounter with a physician in life is the one who came delivering the good news of Jesus while tending to their physical needs. This could impact their beliefs for not only their life but generations of isolated families after them.

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4.Describe how your specific gifts and talents God’s given you correlate with your profession.

I have always been a confident person who can make decisions quickly and actually become energized during periods of elevated stress. These have proven to be advantageous to me during an arduous training period and continued profession with “high stress” that comes from putting a patient’s health and well-being in your hands.

5. What do you love most about your job?

I love being able to heal, whether from an ailment, a pathology, or a phobia. To have a patient walk out of the office with exceeded expectations.

6. How do you stay enthusiastic/passionate and find the motivation to continue to work diligently for his glory?

I count my blessings everyday. When I do, I am reminded that all I have comes from him anyway and therefore, not squander my talents that my Master gave to me. (Matt 25:14)

7.What advice would you give to college students who are wondering how they can serve God and be the hands and feet of Jesus through their careers even if it’s not directly in ministry, missions, the church, etc.?

God doesn’t call you to do what you are “good” at or what you love. He calls you to simply obey whatever it is and wherever it is that he has planned for you at the time. I do believe that he gives you certain desires in your heart and truly wants you to have everything your heart desires. But if you seek him in the little decisions along the way, you will have a deeper trust in Him for your future and true contentment will follow.IMG_2788

Another big thanks to Jason, and the next post will be the fourth and final feature!

Shameless plug – Any friends in Waco that need your wisdom teeth out or dental implants? Look no further than this guy. Plus, I might even be there to hear what you have to say post-anesthesia 🙂

The Monday Mission Project, Part 1: Megan and Stanley

This post will serve as the kickoff to my series I’m doing as a creative project for my New Testament Christology class. The assignment is to come up with an engaging topic and work it into a unique presentation. This can be literally anything that relates to Christology or things we’ve discussed in lectures or readings throughout the semester (a.k.a. the study of all things Jesus, i.e. – basically anything that can be routed back to having to do with our own ideas of Christology).

The Monday Mission Project, as I’m calling it, will be a series of four or five posts featuring people in my life that don’t necessarily work in ministry or missions, but are still clearly using their career and what God has called them to as an avenue to show Jesus to those they encounter everyday. These weekday world-changers serve God in the big and small and are working to help advance the kingdom in the secular workplace on a regular basis. The name for the project represents how I hope to view my career in dentistry one day: that is, that even on the Monday-est of Mondays, I want to enthusiastically walk out in God’s plan for my life and realize the impact I can have through my profession and the specific gifts and passions God has given me. Your workplace might not be the jungles of third world countries or the pulpit of the local church, but it can still just as easily be your every day mission field. I hope that through this series we would all learn to look at our careers (current and, for my fellow college students, future) as just that: the Monday mission.

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The first people I’m featuring are none other than my own big sis and brother in law. Megan and Stanley have been married for six years, have an almost-two-year old named Elijah (my favorite ginger nephew), and have another little boy on the way. They live in Tyler, TX where Stanley works as an engineer at a heating and cooling company and Megan works part-time as a speech and language pathologist while still getting to spend the majority of her time at home with Elijah. They also have worked with their small local Vineyard church’s youth group as the primary youth ministers and Megan also serves on the worship team every Sunday. Read on to see how their lives are an incredible example of this kind of kingdom-minded living and how they are embracing God’s plan for their story each step of the way.ireland

1. Describe the process of ultimately choosing to pursue engineering and speech pathology for your careers. How did God lead you into these professions along the way and when did you know you were really walking in his calling on your life?

stanleyS: I know with me and engineering, it started in high school. It was really just a desire and an enjoyment of solving problems. It started with geometry – it was just fun. When I got to looking at career choices and college majors, engineering was the only thing that made sense to me. Mechanical engineering was the one I wanted because it’s a broad degree, and you can apply it a little more narrowly as you got into a career. I knew it was God’s calling over me because, again, it was just a natural fit. It was something that just worked. Something that I enjoyed, something that came easily at times, and something where I enjoyed the work of it which is, I think, a testament to God’s will in your life. If you can enjoy the work of it, I think that’s aligning very much with what God’s called you to.

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M: I initially went into my college career undecided. I had a few ideas, and I ended up doing some formal testing through Baylor’s career counseling department. I took all these tests that are supposed to give you a list of top match careers for you, and speech pathology was my number one. I had actually met a girl on my hall who was already majoring in that, and she invited me to come observe some of the therapy sessions at Baylor’s clinic one day with her to see what it really was all about. We watched a session with a boy who was about three years old, Autistic, and had a language delay. They were doing a lot of fun, engaging therapy getting him to communicate, and it just felt really exciting that I could do something to practically help someone have an improved quality of life. I learned more about the career and the incredible variety of settings from hospitals, schools, rehab clinics, etc., and the possibilities were endless for how I could specialize further down the road. I dove in head first my sophomore year, and the more I had some hands on opportunities –  specifically in grad school and my clinical practicum where I got to work more with adults – I felt like I was being called to go the medical route and work with adults who had lost some ability to function and communicate effectively. I decided to do a hospital externship which led me to where I am now, working with adults who have had neurogenic disorders. I’m able to help them restore critical functions such as swallowing, speech, language, or cognition. Working in a hospital every day really opened my eyes to how much we take for granted in our basic, every day living and I realized that what I do on a day to day basis really does impact people’s lives in simple but big ways.

2. How do you practically show the love of Jesus through your work and be a light to the people you interact with everyday? How do you see yourself serving God and others through your profession on a day-to-day basis?

S: One of the things that God has laid on my heart is to fund the mission field. I know God’s called me not to be a full time minister or missionary, but to use my career and degree to help fund those efforts for the people who are called to missions. He’s called me to be very generous with that which he’s given me through my career to do that, so that his work can be made whole on the earth. Another specific event at work recently was when a lady I sit next to at work was visibly upset, so I asked her what was going on. She said she really didn’t want to talk about it, but came back a few minutes later and told me her husband had recently told her he wanted a divorce. I knew she was a believer, so I knew it was a fair question to ask if we could pray or what can I do to help, so I prayed over her at the time. Then when I was driving home and continued to pray for her family, I felt like the Lord gave me a vision of three or four of us at work all sitting around a picnic table just praying together. The next day I basically told her here’s what I want to do and is that OK if we did that, and she said of course. It’s crucial to not put up boundaries at work to say,”Well, this probably isn’t appropriate.” When we have relationships where we know things will be received well we can walk into what God has in obedience. There are five or six of us that have already met to pray as a group and we’ll be meeting again this week simply to pray. It’s neat that God’s guided me into that and that it’s something as simple as coming together and centering ourselves around prayer.

M: Especially when I started out working in a hospital and was around very critically ill patients who might have bleak prognoses for their recovery, I really saw people at their worst. In their place of fear and the unknown, I can be a light and comfort to them. I can be very real and human with them, and sometimes maybe it’s okay to not be so professional or clinically minded. I can look at them as a person and reassure them that I get it. For example, “My grandfather went through this” or, “My friend just went through this.” I really just take a minute and consult them or comfort them without having to be overtly spiritual about it. It doesn’t have to be me asking to pray for every patient, although I’ve had several that have asked if I would pray for them. Some times the little things like that reassuring hand squeeze, a few extra encouraging words, or taking the time to counsel them through some terrible news from the doctor can really make a difference. I would just tell them that’s what Jesus would do – he’s going to meet the practical needs first and the spiritual needs second. Another instance is doing menial tasks that don’t feel like my job. I have a master’s degree, so naturally I don’t think that I should have to put their dentures in or clean them up after they go to the bathroom, but those basic tasks where I can be a servant to help someone else who might be having a bad or overworked day are huge opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a small way. Just having a kind demeanor in that very high stress environment where people are on edge and quick to snap, knowing that I could be that gentle encouraging person to make their day a little smoother is enough. We should never think we’re too good or that we’re above others we work with. I think it’s important to realize that nothing has to be too below us for us to be willing to step up and do it.

3. What opportunities, big or small, has your career given you to partner with God and make an impact for his kingdom that you wouldn’t have had otherwise if you weren’t doing what you are.

M: While I was at Baylor I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras with a group that was actually mostly deaf education students, but it was also open to speech pathology majors. Getting to experience another culture and interact with those people who had significant communication barriers was really eye-opening. I loved the chance to work with the kids and teach them about the bible and Jesus but also to give them something practical through teaching them a language and giving them a functional way to interact with their family friends. This was a really neat experience, and I wouldn’t have had that had I gone a different route with my major or career choice.

S: One of the biggest things is the ability to give to missionaries. We’ve done this a few times where we’ve been able to contribute to somebody’s long term missions or help them get a place in Brazil or Mexico for six months. To me that’s the biggest advantage of being able to work in the field I’m working is that it gives us the ability to help fund those who are walking in God’s calling and really just reach the poor and needy and those who are in desperate need of Christ.

4. What do you love most about your career or even your current season of life?

M: Right now specifically, I am loving the flexibility of my career and that it allows me to spend a lot of time at home with Elijah. I love that I get to be the primary person pouring into him spiritually and emotionally. I get to be his mom and his main teacher right now. I get to be the one reading books, doing nap time and meal time, or reading bible stories to him and hearing him say “Amen.” I don’t feel deprived of these early formative years which a lot of moms don’t get to be as directly involved in, and it is a luxury for a lot of women to get to stay home. It’s also a choice, and there’s nothing right or wrong and everyone does what they need to do for their family. I also get to be the one that disciplines him. I like being able to meet up with a girlfriend and get coffee or meet someone and their kid at the zoo in the middle of the week. There’s all this stuff I couldn’t wait to do while I was working that I get to do now. I love getting to experience the community of young and older moms, and that’s so important for your emotional health to talk about how hard it is but how grateful we all are at the same time. It’s a hard job, a lot of people will say it’s the hardest job, but I also think it’s the most rewarding.

S: Similar to what Megan was saying with the flexibility. We’re able to work with our youth group every Wednesday night, and I have been for the past eight years. I’m able to have weekends free for youth events at the house or ministering at the church on Sunday mornings. I love my set schedule of work, the stability, and knowing what to expect. It’s been huge to in order to do what God’s called us to with the youth ministry. As far as my day to day engineering job, I think it goes back to my original love for problem solving. Even now as I’m studying for my licensure exam, just sitting down and seeing the problems and finding a solution. That’s just a blast.

5. How do you stay enthusiastic/passionate and find the motivation to continue to work diligently for his glory?

M: It’s hard. Some mornings you don’t feel like it. There are seasons and months that you aren’t really sure if that’s what you should be doing, you don’t know where it’s going, you do have doubts, and don’t know if you chose the right thing. I’ve definitely had those feelings before. At the peak of what I’ll call two or three years of really hard season at my first job, I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it. You do have days when you don’t know why, because you don’t feel appreciated or valued, but you have to think about doing everything as unto the Lord. Even when you feel ignored by people, God sees what I’m doing and sees my heart. For me when I go to a conference or do some continuing education, I have this renewed sense of loving my field and realizing I need to stay current and engaged. When I got back out there working after a year at home, it really reignited my passion because it made me think on my toes and be creative about how I’m going to do a certain therapy.

S: Part of my personality is that I’m a very duty oriented person. I know that what I’m doing is providing for my home and my family. Yeah, sometimes I don’t feel like getting up at six and commuting an hour to work, and it is difficult some days. I just know it’s something God’s called me to as a husband and father. When I walk in that there’s joy in that. Sometimes it’s trudging through muck and mire, but there’s joy in doing what God has called me to do. I have to remind myself that this is the place that God has put me and my heart. My job is providing for my family in this God-given role, so I find a great deal of joy in fulfilling that role even though sometimes it can be mundane or frustrating. I’m ultimately excited to be fulfilling his plan for my life.

6. What advice would you give to college students who are wondering how they can serve God and be the hands and feet of Jesus through their careers even if it’s not directly in ministry, missions, the church, etc.?

S: The Holy Spirit has no bounds. We can’t box in God. It’s important to keep that in mind, especially in the workplace. Always respond to what the Holy Spirit’s prompting you to. There’s never going to be a situation when the Holy Spirit can’t come in and make room for God’s glory. Another thing I’ve learned is that relationships are key. I can’t necessarily minister to a youth just by preaching the truth of the gospel, I mean, absolutely that happens. When I’ve developed a one on one relationship with someone, and then I bring the gospel into that, the drastic difference in that is incredible. It’s really great to be able to say “We know each other, I love you, this is the gospel.” Never be afraid of developing those relationships in the workplace. Also, there’s no one thing you’re going to be called to do in life. God’s will is exactly where you are, and really that’s the important thing to understand. Don’t feel like you’re going to miss it.

M: I’m not literally witnessing to people every day and preaching the gospel to every patient I have, but I’m going to be real with them and a light in their darkness. I think that’s going to open a door for their heart to be softened. You can do that anywhere. And don’t live in the fear of getting in trouble of separation of work and faith or things like that. You don’t have to always worry about getting in trouble dealing with protocols, business, this isn’t done…I mean you do have to walk on eggshells in the real world workplace (S: Yeah, those are lies from the pit of hell), but just using discernment and know when it’s definitely OK to cross some of those “boundaries.”

A big thanks to Megan and Stanley, and be on the lookout for part two coming soon. IMG_3903

I got my eyes wide, it’s not over yet

Tonight as I settle into my favorite writing spot in the 254 for a rare homework-free night, I’m finding myself in a place that I struggle to describe; I’m over halfway into my 100 day countdown project. I look up and that number I talked about last time that would quickly make its way down as I did my best to say I truly lived up each of my last days at college is doing just that: FLYING. I’ve learned a lot throughout these past fifty days or so about myself, God, Baylor, the future, and this town and people I have come to love beyond words.

All University SING will forever be one of the hardest-to-describe events to those not at Baylor. It will also easily be one of the things that’s been the most difficult to say goodbye to. Seeing more guyliner than I ever thought possible, being sore all over (including your face muscles) from practicing and performing for hours on end, watching the show two times despite exam week just because I don’t know the next time I’ll be able to, and the people that I would not have had the privilege to know had I not signed up for this crazy thing freshman year are just a few of my favorite things.
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I will never again doubt that God can do a new thing in us and through us despite our somewhat lack of expectancy. Even when we go on a spring break mission trip we’ve been on before, there is always more of his love to rest in, more of his holiness to bring us to our knees, more of his Spirit to overwhelm us, and more of a taste of what kingdom-minded community can truly look like. Awaken 2015 was a week that marked me and those that I walk with everyday in powerful ways. We witnessed the mighty hand of God at work in the community of Edinburg, TX, and I know he stirred new things in each of our hearts as well. The vulnerability, encouragement, and pure FUN I experienced with my community really opened my eyes to the gift I’ve had these past four years. awaken 2I never would have thought I’d find these kinds of friends [family] like I have. I’m talking the kind of folks you’re on the floor in tears with one minute and then the next you’re having a crazy joy-filled dance party or the occasional rap battle. During the trip, half of the time I would get emotional I’ll admit it wasn’t for spiritual reasons (although there were plenty of holy tears trust me), it was thinking about how that was really my last big event with Antioch college ministries, and that I only have a short few weeks before I’ll be leaving these people that know my heart better than anyone I grew up with and who are so for me through whatever life brings. They challenge me daily to go deeper and dream bigger. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared or nervous about the journey of finding community like this next year. I know God has more than I can imagine in store for me the next four years, and I have to trust that one of those things is a supportive, fun, joyful, accountable group of people that I’ll hopefully grow to know in the same way that I know and love my brothers and sisters here in little Wacotown.

A few weeks ago, I got some of the best news I’d heard in a long time. My sister and brother in law announced that baby number two would be another BOY, meaning I’ll get to be an aunt to TWO little ginger nephew nuggets come late summer. I can’t wait to meet E’s baby bro, but I’m just praying my sister doesn’t end up being late since her due date is right around the time I’d move up to Philly in early August. Dental school is gonna have to wait until I get to hold and kiss another perfect little bundle.

Speaking of, I officially have a place for next year and won’t be homeless in sketchy West Philadelphia [born and raised…]! I’m not lying when I say this apartment is literally in the back parking lot of the school, basically only separated by an alley. Read: zero commute time and zero worry (at least I think/hope) about “walking back home” alone after late night study sessions in any of the gorgeous Penn libraries (that make it on snazzy lists like these). I also have a roommate to split living costs and to make loneliness as a grad student moving to a city where I know NObody (except maybe Disfordentist) a little less likely. Our place looks SO nice, spacious, and new compared to most of the tiny, old, cramped places I had been researching, and it’s still in my price range that I was budgeting/expecting to pay! I’m excited to get to know M and even more grateful that God is so faithful to provide our every need when we least expect it. Commence the Pinterest apartment browsing in all my loads of [no] free time.

Concerts are still my love language. Spontaneity is also running through my veins more than ever. Last Thursday I told my friend from high school at UT that I was buying a (dirt cheap) ticket to see Jon McLaughlin, Dave Barnes, and Matt Wertz at the Belmont downtown Austin and basically that she was joining me for a little catch up time swooning over our musician crush together. She agreed. concert 1We went to dinner at the cutest place, and over seafood rellenos talked about how trying to be a doctor is definitely hard, and going back home to see old friends in different seasons can sometimes be harder. photoI spent Saturday at my other favorite coffee shop soaking up the 75 degree sunshine for hours studying for an exam I might’ve still bombed today. I can’t say it was a wasted morning, though. I’ll miss my spontaneous road trips to that city I love so much, and really I’m realizing just Texas in general. God bless Texas.

I’m officially done writing biblical study / religion research papers and am only a creative project and final away from completing my minor in religion. I know dental school will definitely bring its challenges, but I’m almost certain writing highly engaging essays on interpreting the words of Jesus isn’t one of them. The paper I wrote on Christian wealth (titled “A Useful Tool or Terrible Lord”) that I didn’t feel was necessarily my best work received surprisingly high remarks from my favorite professor. When I read his incredibly encouraging final comments on the paper, it definitely made my week. Not just because of any certain number grade I received, but just to read such sincerely affirming words from a teacher who notices my work I put in and who says he’s grateful to have seen my biblical thinking mature over the couple of classes I’ve had with him. I can only pray my mentors and teachers in this next season of life truly care as much as he (and a select few other professors I’ve loved) does.

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I can’t promise how much I’ll get to write over the next few weeks of springtime craziness and you know, trying to pass so I graduate, but you can always keep up with my graduation countdown (aka mini daily blog posts) on Instagram. I’m looking forward to a trip home for Easter this long weekend and to keep waking up knowing there’s a reason. All my dreams come alive, life is for living with you. — *shameless plug – go buy Hillsong Young and Free’s new album asap. 

100 days til graduation!

I refuse to believe it. One hundred more sleeps until I wake up a college grad. I’ve already warned everyone I know because I know I will be an emotional WRECK come May – a complex combination of excitement, intense sadness, denial, relief, gratitude, pride, joy, lots of tears, and crazy celebration. I’ll skip the details of all my sappiness for now, but I did want to write today to document the beginning of my countdown of all countdowns. I’m planning on keeping track of watching that 100 inevitably get smaller and smaller by posting a photo a day that highlights something worth remembering each day. I promise this really isn’t a way to get double-taps on Instagram but more of a modern-day scrapbook of sorts. It could be documenting cross-offs from the Baylor bucket list (remember this? yeah I’ve got more to add), spontaneous adventures, more “lasts” than I’d like, and everything else in between. This little project of mine will ensure that I grab each and every day in all its entirety – the beautiful, big, hilarious, crazy, and irreplaceable gift of the 24 hours it is – and capture these moments so I can look back on them years from now. I desperately want to know that I soaked up every second of my last days at the best university on the planet with the greatest people I’ve known during the most incredible four years of my life (so far). I’d love to see some of my classmates’ memorable moments during the countdown as well!

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Fearfully made [and why I’m a biology major]

With something like sixty college credit hours of science classes under my belt, I guess I’ve gained my fair share of knowledge about how the world (and everything in it) works. Every single class obviously brings its challenges (gluconeogenesis or sympathetics anyone?), but I couldn’t imagine studying anything else but the intricate and incredible functioning of living things, especially when it comes to the human body. Last semester I took an intense histology course, I’m now in microbiology, and I’m still leading sections as a TA for the upper level human anatomy lab I took last year. I’ve felt a renewed sense of awe with our God the Creator with every lecture and lab session as a science major. I will never understand how so many people make science and faith contradicting aspects of life. I could have a friendly [heated] discussion about that for days with anyone, and I don’t have any personal political or religious agendas – simply infinite wonder rooted in a scientific, finite mind. Sure there are days when I seriously question why I chose to take this narrow, long, and many times uphill road.  There are more days,  though, when the more I study the more my fascination grows. I am certain that I found my passion of what I truly love.

  • The miraculous architecture of the bones of the skull that form foramina allowing vessels and nerves to reach and leave the brain.skull
  • Microscopically perfect arrangements of microtubules to form cilia, giving cells movement and filtration.microtubule
  • The insanely consistent physiology of action potentials and nerve synapses behind every single thought and motion.action potential
  • The unbelievable characteristics and design of bone tissue that make processes like osseointegration possible – which I’ll get to witness every day in my career.implant
  • A perfectly synchronized enzyme orchestra in glycolysis to fuel literally everything our bodies are doing at this very second.gly

I am confident that dental school will bring immensely more of these moments when my brain says “WOW.”

May we never lose our wonder.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

“Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising.”

I’m returning to the blogging world after a month of a holiday hiatus. Isn’t it funny how when I actually had more time to write over Christmas break, I don’t even write one post? Well, this is my insanely brief overview:

Naps on naps. Pinterest. Baking. Shopping. Family time in the country. Guitar. Resting in The Word. Ringing in 2015 with a night out in uptown Dallas. Crying in AT&T stadium at the final score of the Cotton Bowl (my last game as a Baylor student). Feeling 22. Deciding on dental school. Declining other schools. Committing to another school. Receiving the scholarship I’d been praying for for months. Withdrawing previous acceptance and officially committing to being a class of 2019 “Penntist.”

Let’s just say maybe why I didn’t have time to blog was because my mind was highly preoccupied with this obvious roller coaster. I quite possibly have never felt more all over the place in my life than I have in the past 45 days (it was way harder than my up until the last minute college decision). I’ve tried to update on my blog with my specific thoughts occasionally throughout this long, stressful, but exciting process simply because I want to be able to look back and see how God was leading me along the way and to have that same feeling that I have now about going to Baylor for undergrad – that the fact that I ever was torn between schools is actually funny now. So this is mainly for me to read a few years from now maybe as I’m finishing up D4 and being so incredibly grateful for God’s provision and that I made the decision that I did. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know Penn was my dream school where I really saw myself thriving and the stepping stone to reaching my personal and career goals in the future. It is also one of THE most expensive schools in the country. Well, crap. My mom always said I had champagne taste…

After finals were over and I had a chance to hash everything out with my mentor and then my parents when I came home, I had finally come to terms with the financial implications of going to where I had really felt led to go for so long. I was going to Penn, I was going to be in a heck of a lot of debt, but I wasn’t going to regret it.

That night I “decided” I felt so sure that it was the right decision. The following days, though, ALL I could think about was what THAT kind of debt would look like for a chunk of my life, and that I would in fact regret being an Ivy League trained doctor struggling to make everything work financially. It’s really twisted if you think about it. I set Penn to the side for awhile and really tried to imagine myself at Baylor and Houston. Before, I was so torn between the two and just never really had any peace about choosing either. I talked to several friends at both and reached a new decision that UTSD-Houston would be the best fit and so much more realistic than going to Penn without a scholarship. That week was mostly spent trying to convince myself of all the great reasons to go to Houston. It was OK to turn down Penn simply because of the price, a friend reassured me. Of course initially I was disappointed. Everything before just felt like a tease. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat angry at God. Why would I have gone to interviews and been accepted at Columbia and Penn – and felt so strongly drawn to Penn specifically – and then it all just be taken away. I was at the point where I just wished I would’ve never even applied to those schools, and it would’ve been a LOT easier decision if I didn’t get in to either. I tried to “get over” the idea of going to Penn, and every day I honestly was getting more OK with the idea of being in Houston next year. This was, after all, an incredible blessing to even be in this position of getting to choose where to go. I even took a trip down there to visit my friend and planned on looking at Houston housing options. I had lost that hope and expectancy that I felt all throughout December of the chance of still getting a scholarship to Penn.

Then things got thrown upside down that same day I was driving back to Waco from my side road trip to H-town. Earlier when I had told my family about my decision to go to Houston, I explained it as an “unless…” situation. Penn’s deadline wasn’t until the 15th of January, so obviously I was still going to just see if anything happened in that next week or so before the door was officially closed. Like I said though, I was pretty much over it and finding peace in my Houston decision. I had realized maybe a lot of me wanting to go to Penn was my pride and feeling that I “deserved” to go to my top choice after working so hard in college. I had to put away my selfishness and turn all of this back over to God and his plan for me. I was going out to dinner with my friend that night to my favorite pizza joint, and she asked me how I was feeling with the recently changed decision. I explained how I was still a little disappointed that it all came down to financial reasons. It wasn’t my plan A, but plan B is sometimes the best thing that can happen. As I’m saying this, I look at my phone, and I see that it’s the Philadelphia area code that I had been sure to memorize. Oh hi there, plan A. My first thought was they were calling to ask about my decision since I hadn’t sent in my deposit or really updated them on my situation. My other thought was that they were calling and going to offer me the lowest scholarship, still not helping enough for me to be able to change my mind. I knew that if they would’ve ever called and given me the max scholarship that I’d go in a heartbeat. If it ended up being the middle level amount, it would be the most complicated. I would have to seriously think about it and be SURE I would be making the right decision, whatever that was. So of course, guess what happened? Yep, the complicated route. All I could do that night was say WOW WOW WOW it actually happened? And laugh. Lots of laughing at God’s sense of humor and my crazy life as well as thinking how worn out everyone in my life was getting with me talking about all this back and forth nonsense.

At first I was so confused because of the timing and everything from the past couple weeks of me talking myself into Houston and JUST now beginning to get really excited about it. I read back through my prayer journal that night, though, and it was unreal how many times I specifically was yearning for financial provision if Penn was where He was leading me. Several times I also wrote things along the lines of “I know you LOVE to surprise me, so I am trusting it will all be in your perfect timing”,  and “I know you make the impossible possible.” There was also the powerful Sunday at church on trusting God with finances when I went to the front to be prayed for the week before I heard anything about acceptances. After taking the weekend to really keep praying about it and talking to my family and close friends about it who had been with me through the entire dramatic saga, I realized that there was no way that all this happened for me to turn it down and still go to Houston. This Dean’s scholarship was exactly what I had been believing for from the beginning. My creator knows the desires of my heart inside and out before I even ask. I have been so constantly reminded in all this that his dreams for me are far greater than my own. This is only the beginning of a crazy adventure of the next season: my life as a twenty-something Dr-to-be in a major Northeast city where I will be stretched academically, mentally, and spiritually. I am leaving my unbelievable community of friends here (who have been some of my biggest cheerleaders in all this), my family who has never stopped supporting me and my crazy big dreams since day one, “y’all,” Tex-Mex, and a lot more. As scary as all that is, I am beyond pumped for what’s ahead: receiving a dental/medical education like no other, an entirely new city full of ALL kinds of people that I would never have met if I stayed in Texas, learning exactly what I will be doing in my career impacting people’s lives everyday, 119 of the most interesting/fun/smartest people that I will ever know and get to call classmates, actual SEASONS praise the Lord, and meeting my new best friends (or…WHO knows, something more??) for life. University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and all that 2015 has in store, I’m coming for ya.

All I wanted for Christmas

All I wanted for Christmas

The title quote is one from Shauna Niequist that I even posted on Facebook on New Year’s Eve as an encouragement and hope for all my friends – especially those of us in the middle of major life changes – in 2015 (before all of the crazy twists actually happened).

“Everything is interim. Everything is a path or a preparation for the next thing, and we never know what the next thing is. Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising. But life with God is like that exponentially. We can dig in, make plans, write in stone, pretend we’re not listening, but the voice of God has a way of being heard. It seeps in like smoke or vapor even when we’ve barred the door against any last-minute changes, and it moves us to different countries and different emotional territories and different ways of living. It keeps us moving and dancing and watching, and never lets us drop down into a life set on cruise control or a life ruled by remote control. Life with God is a dancing dream, full of flashes and last-minute exits and generally all the things we’ve said we’ll never do. And with the surprises comes great hope.”

Oh Hey There Winter

Over the past couple of weeks, and especially the last few days, the unpredictable Texas “winter” has definitely made its presence known. When the temperature drops, the [typical college girl] pumpkin cravings rise. I’ve whipped up these pumpkin protein pancakes topped with almond butter (similar to these but pumpkin substituted for the banana) one class-skipping morning and another batch of health-ified pumpkin dark chocolate muffins, perfect to freeze for a week of breakfasts or snacks on-the-go.

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Just so you know, this is a downright delightful combo for a late-night study snack.

Something about the colder weather makes me really cherish my cozy morning quiet time (still in my pjs and fuzzy socks) of reading, worship music, coffee (2 cups if I’m lucky), and filling up physically and spiritually before the noise of the day.

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Slow cozy mornings are my favorite

Changing seasons also means the end of the semester is close and registration time – my LAST time in college at that. Weird. Crazy. Scary. Exciting. Sad. Thrilled. Busy as ever.

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Not the easiest breeze of a senior year they say you’ll have your last semester…

Last weekend I enjoyed a beautiful dinner (my homemade broccoli cheese, her homemade bread, and toasted salami asiago sammies for dunking) and a concert of my absolute favorite on campus a cappella group, VirtuOso. You can’t beat a night of good-for-the-soul food, friends, and ridiculous music.

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Exactly my definition of weekend

This past week I successfully managed to pull off my histology lab case study presentation, an ameloblastoma. Finally I get to talk about things like teeth development and abnormal oral histology, and considering I’m actually going to school forever to focus on this tiny region of the body, that makes studying it enjoyable.

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50 Shades of Grey aka dental radiology

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Yeah, that’s definitely not normal

Despite the crazy low temps for this time of year, Baylor ASDA ladies suited up ready for our last flag football game of the season and ended with another win (and yes, a forfeit by the other team does in fact still count as a W in my book). I’m not sure when I’ll get another chance to play quarterback and channel my inner Bryce Petty, but I’m hoping dental school intramurals/olympics?

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Let’s at least celebrate no broken fingers needing surgery this year!

Friday night we celebrated my lovely roommate Chelsea’s 22nd birthday a couple days early. I was pretty proud of my gift-giving this year. I knew she loved author/blogger Donald Miller, so I got her his best-selling book Blue Like Jazz. She’s also a big fan of theologian Henri Nouwen, so I found an anthology of sorts drawing from his major works. I topped it off with a bottle of her favorite Cabernet brand, and we had a fun dinner out with the girls – complete with watching Bridesmaids, red wine, and red velvet cake balls back at The Roost (our self-titled apartment) afterwards.

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Her appropriate Insta quote of our favorite movie: “This is such a stone-cold pack of weirdos and I am so proud!”

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We do glamour photo shoots so well

While shopping for her gifts at Barnes and Noble, I snagged this classic illustrated volume beauty on sale for a whopping $7.98! This was THE medical/anatomy teaching text for med students starting in the mid-1800s, and I was thoroughly geeking out about owning this beautiful piece of art and medical history. This Gray came way before Meredith and McDreamy.

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It’s so beautiful and will have a place on my future doctor bookshelf forever.

A SHORT TWO WEEKS UNTIL I MIGHT FIND OUT WHAT MY LIFE WILL LOOK LIKE FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS. What are my thoughts since my last post about the overwhelming world of dental school decisions? Basically, I am praying HARD for a Dean’s scholarship to Penn, and if I receive one that lovely December 1st day, I could not turn it down. There, I said it. Penn Dental is now my “#1,” folks. If God closes that door, then I’d be more than happy to attend Baylor College of Dentistry (only a few points ahead of UTSD Houston at the moment).

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All you need is…[a scholarship]

 One last tidbit of blog-worthy news. Tomorrow, my friends, I will yet again get to witness a night of pure musicianship with my bros Switchfoot. It’s crazy thinking that about this time last year, I saw them at Baylor and wrote about Jon reading my tweet on stage. Call me lame, but I’m preparing myself for if I cry tomorrow night. Not only because their music recalls to mind so many vivid memories throughout my entire life, but mix that with the ball of emotions that is college senior year and it’s bound to happen. Oh, and just because Baylor and Waco are awesome and bring phenomenal music to this city, Gungor is also coming along to play part of the show. Talk about a REAL music lover’s paradise…

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Forever fan-girling

Well that’s it for my catchup from lack of blogging the past two weeks. I’ve got to return to physics, my perfect Mocha, and a cozy night at Dichotomy.