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. 

“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.

“Favorable conditions never come…”

Well folks, it’s that time of year again.  My lack of posts recently is directly related to the never-ending demands of the final stretch of the semester.  Group projects put off until the last month, presentations, annihilating exams, apartment leasing, preparing my S.I. biology students for their last test and final, holiday parties, personal statement writing, and trying to not blow all my hard work this semester simply because my motivation tank’s running on empty. I don’t really have time right now to update you all on my whirlwind adventures, but I’m sure throughout dead days and exams I’ll take occasional blogging study breaks. This article I read was worthy of a post in and of itself.  It really hit home for me, and it’s such a good reminder that we all need I’m sure.

“Finals Week, first things, and unfavorable times”

The quote from C.S. Lewis, “Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future,” is so applicable to me as a single college student seeking a long but rewarding career path.  I’ve always been future and goal-oriented, and much of my college has been centered on my ambition to become a dentist or even possibly an oral surgeon, and doing everything it takes to get me there. “Just if I can make it through these finals, this week, this semester, this year…” There’s also the sense of anticipation of my future spouse and what my life might look like down the road. I need to appreciate every day, focus on what really matters, and choose joy and contentment now.  There’s no use waiting until that day when all my challenging schooling is finally over or when I’ll own my private practice and come home to the Godly husband I’m praying for.  Who knows how much time and opportunities we could be wasting always thinking that the next phase of our life will somehow surpass the current one we’re in? What could God be wanting to reveal to us right now that we are missing out on because we assure ourselves we’ll have time to grow deeper in our relationship with Him tomorrow, next week, next month…Life is never really going to get any easier, so why not “prioritize the health of your soul now?”

Time will always bring new challenges, and “favorable conditions never come.

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Headed down the open road unknown

3e8694d3ccb7ce03100ce0888943eed2It feels like junior/senior year of high school all over again.  I didn’t officially decide where I was going to college until late April/May right before I graduated.  I remember being so unsure all year while all my friends were committing and like I was being pulled in five different directions while searching for the one that God had for me.  Now to think about how my life would look if I would have gone to the University of Texas, Southwestern, or Texas A&M (ok, WHAT was I thinking – sorry, Aggies) is such a strange and funny thing.  I know I am EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be right now.

I bring up these old feelings because I’m now talking about the current confusing, exciting, anxious, limitless, and overwhelming season of researching dental schools and trying to figure out just where I belong.

Obviously I’ll apply to the three schools in Texas – UT Houston, UT San Antonio, and Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas (which is actually owned by A&M now – confusing I know).  However, I don’t want to limit my future, and I’m really considering applying to several out-of-state schools all over the country.  I have a deep desire for adventure, branching out, and exploring different places.  I also am a little fed up with the Texas heat after 20 years of sweating, and I really want to experience new cuisines, outdoor activities (snowboarding, hiking, etc), and just a different way of living for awhile.

It’s hard to dream big, though, when the reality of debt and massive student loans is staring me in the face and slapping me with a blow of the necessity of practicality.  In-state tuition, while still sky-high, is significantly less than private and out-of-state schools.  The thought of graduating with $200,000+ in debt is down-right mind-boggling, even when I hear people say, “Don’t worry, your future income will pay it off  before you know it!”  I’ve heard some say go as cheap as you can for dental school, but I’ve also been encouraged by others to go where I really want and be adventurous while I’m young and not tied down to anything (if I were in a relationship right now, it’d probably be a different story).  You can see the dilemma here.

Some of the other dental schools I’ve been looking into (if I ignore the hefty price tags for a moment, and truly think about the kind of professional/clinical/research education I’m looking for as well as an appealing location) and were on the list of where my DAT scores were sent include:

University of Colorado (Denver)

University of Washington (Seattle)

University of the Pacific (San Francisco) *the only 3 year program in the country*

University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

Boston University

Tufts University

Columbia University (NYC – I really don’t think I could see myself living there though)

Oregon Health Sciences Center (Portland)

Harvard University (actually don’t see myself there)

University of Illinois (Chicago)

I’d say the first five I listed are probably the ones I’m more interested in researching further as well as the three TX schools.  Not only are the locations somewhere I really would love to live for four years (or longer if I specialize and get into the same school’s program), but these are also some of the most respected schools.  Some of the things that make a dental school “one of the best” (even though it’s very different than undergraduate because there are no REAL rankings) are  a strong clinical focus, high research activity, great faculty, diversity, stats/educational background of enrolled students, community/philanthropic involvement, etc.

I know my future is in God’s hands, and I am confident the story he’s writing for my life will be a good one that I can’t even IMAGINE right now.  As I slowly figure this thing out (or still am clueless), I’ll give updates on my application process in the summer and then next year’s interviews!

*Title is lyrics from Switchfoot’s new single, Love Alone is Worth the Fight. BUY IT NOW.