remember me

I’m still here. I promise. It has been over a month and a half since my last post, and this is not necessarily a normal length update, but rather a snippet of me saying I’ve missed this blog and that I promise this summer I will have time to catch up on so much from this semester.

THREE MORE DAYS until I can say I’m officially 25% a dentist. I find myself always saying this of life, but the past couple of months have truly been a blur. There have been countless exams, anatomy dissections, final lab practicals, very late nights, laughs, tears, celebrations, and more shenanigans of the first year of dental school as always.

I think I haven’t written in so long because at the end of most days when my head longs to hit the pillow, my brain and heart both seem as though they might just pop any minute. That is part of why I do love the outlet of blogging: to get those words and thoughts OUT. As a pretty clear 50/50 extro/introvert, some days one side wins over the other, but writing has always proven to be a steady and reliable compromise between word vomit and silence for me. A very apparent part of who I am is that I always strive to maintain a level of honestly and transparency about my life. I’m not a fan of facades, surface level conversations and relationships, or faking like everything is just constantly peachy when we are all human. We have got to start being real with each other. Between a very heavy stretch of school and doing what I can to finish up the semester strong, an ample amount of roller coaster changes in my family and friendships, and putting any efforts I do have towards labored prayers, I simply haven’t had the time or emotional energy to combat my weariness in order to write my usual bubbly and witty posts about life as a twenty something dental student in a new city. I will be in Philadelphia most of the summer working a community health type of internship but with a lot more time off NOT STUDYING nights and weekends, so I know that consistently blogging again is definitely on the summer bucket list. I will do my best to bring back more of the light hearted posts about the shambles of learning to be a dentist, too. School is honestly hilarious sometimes.

God has sometimes felt far these days, but I fight to believe that He is in fact near and still pursues me relentlessly despite my apathy. He still speaks to me through warm summer-y bike rides along the river, laughing/crying with a dear friend over a beautiful Italian dinner or post-church brunch, or through the constant reminder of his faithfulness that I am even here at Penn in dental school, pursuing the passion HE has given me. At the end of the day, I deeply pray that the story I’m telling and my new season of life here this past year has somehow, someway, not by MY efforts but His Grace, been a picture of how God redeems the brokenness. wave

Peace, my friends. I’ll be back very soon, and then you can call my (1/4) Dr. Jessie.

Your steady love

By the time I post this, it will be Valentine’s day (or Galentine’s, whatever applies to you best this season) so yay – that can be real or sarcastic, you decide. I found and re-shared this post I wrote exactly two years ago on college singleness just because I love visiting my old self and the thoughts and words I had back then on my perpetual [lack of a] relationship status. I would say a big part of me seems like not much has changed in my heart since then, but I’d probably be lying. When I posted it to my wall this week, I added this update:

Doing some blog inventory and came across this oldie but a goodie from my 2 years ago self. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up this week, I thought I’d re-share. **Update to the update** : I laugh at my all-the-women-independent vibes all throughout this. But I think I’m more convinced than ever that the waiting season will always be worth it. God KNOWS our hearts, friends, and I’m certain there is more of his good, good, Father heart to be found in these days of singleness than we’ll ever realize on this side of our story.CS lewis

It really is funny how things can change in a year, let alone two. (No family, I’m still not dating anyone right now…) I’m just saying God has a crazy and cool way of crafting friendships, crossing paths, and throwing some pretty sweet and unpredictable adventures our way every now and then. That was all very vague talk to say, “Yes I’m still single. But I’ve no doubt moved away from my walls-up/don’t want to date until I’m done with school/there is no guy I’m attracted to self.” LOL at life. Anyway.

This morning I made the trek across town (via SEPTA – don’t worry I didn’t walk) despite the extremely frigid temps to Old City to check out the CUTEST little coffee shop I had only seen on Instagram. Well, folks, I think I finally found my favorite. I was camped out there for the better part of Saturday afternoon chugging a perfect Columbian pourover, eavesdropping on a cute older British couple, watching the snow come in sideways, and desperately trying to cram origins, insertions, and innervations into my little weary brain. It was lovely, really.coffee

I don’t feel like hashing out all the details of these CRAY couple of weeks for my classmates and I in this post, but I’ll just say the ONLY things (besides coffee+Jesus as always) getting me through these next exams and application deadlines is knowing there’s only 2 weeks to sweet Waco and just 3 weeks to ample time with my best friend/spring break. I’m writing mainly because it had been a couple of dry weeks sans writing and that makes me sad.

Also because I love writing about love on a day about love. But really, I just like to throw a curveball amidst all the sappy and lovey dovey articles or bitter single posts being shared in the realm of social media this week. Honestly, this video of kids confessing their feelings about their crushes is the only thing you need to see.

It is possible, believe it or not, to be single or not have a hot date on Valentine’s Day and be content in waiting. This morning I reached the last page of my current journal, and that’s always a day I look forward to. It urges me to go back to read through and look for all the ways that God was his usual funny and full of surprises self, answering prayers in ways I never imagined. I think this journal holding the journey of these past few months might be up there for the most rambling entries and pages of heartfelt scribbles. [This is a plug to start journaling if you don’t. It is hands down my favorite way to have a tangible record of my dreams, thoughts, and fears, and the ways that God speaks into those]. There have been some BIG and scary prayers in there, my friends. I am nothing but thankful for how He has already begun to answer them so clearly, and I’m filled with hope for the ways I know he will continue to guide my heart throughout the process. No matter how distant I feel sometimes or how shaky and wavering my love for God is on any given day, He shows nothing but a steady and patient love towards undeserving me.

I’m content and grateful today because I know and receive a love daily that will surpass any extravagant romantic gesture on this earth. A love that knows my heart.

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Today I had a very rare lecture and lab free morning, so I went to sleep before eleven and sans alarm, naturally waking up around six and falling back asleep until nine. Sleep is a beautiful thing. I figured I’d make my way down to my favorite close by coffee shop and wake up slow, maybe fitting in time enough to review one lecture before our afternoon classes. This usually consists of listening to worship music, journaling or reading and praying, and probably then afterwards spending too much time reading all the sites I follow, catching up on Instagram, and following click bait to see Adele Carpool Karaoke (so worth your 15 minutes).  

One of my favorite songs, Pieces by Amanda Cook, came on my playlist, and this is a song that has meant different things to me over the past several months of knowing it. I feel like over and over again, it has been my heart’s declaration that even when it hurts and when I don’t feel like it’s true, to still know that God will never love us with a fraction or give us half of what we need. This season He has continually reminded me that he gives nothing short of the BEST for us, but often times in order for us to fully experience the fullness and extravagance of what he has for each of us, we have to wait. Wait for him to carry it to completion while he is continuing to refine our hearts in the time of in between. So many of us are in this “awkward” stage of new adult-ing post graduation and desperate to look ahead and jump ahead. Instead of rushing into wanting only pieces of second best and selling God short, let’s be confident that he will always love and give lavishly with his whole heart.green line

one sixteenth a doctor. basically.

It’s pretty much the halfway point of the semester, give or take a few days. We’ve got two whole finished courses, five exams, three tooth wax-ups, and our first time in clinic under our belts. It sounds pretty pathetic in comparison to the gigantic hurdles we have ahead of us for the next four+ years, but at the same time it’s incredible how much we’ve learned and done in just eight weeks of dental school. The fact that we already have real grades on our transcript already is crazy (don’t worry Mom, they’re good ones).
journalMy journal I started mid-summer reached full capacity – I guess you can imagine how much has been on my mind in the past few months and the rambling prayers and dreams that covered those pages – and there’s something so refreshing about opening a crisp new one and writing on that first page. I love how it correlated with the shift of seasons here in Philly, too. Turning over a new leaf and page, literally. This week lows are already in the 30s and 40s and some days the highs only get to the 50s. I don’t miss the still-90-in-October part of Texas, sorry.

Since my last post we had our initiation dinner for the dental fraternity I joined, Psi
galsOmega. It was an excuse to dress up (and let me just say again – all my classmates are dang attractive), enjoy a great dinner, and have a fun Friday night out with my new sistas and bros, both new members and upperclassmen. For people wondering what on earth a dental school fraternity is about (I realize it sounds more geek than Greek), it’s basically another way to make connections with your class and classes above you, network with alumni (shout out to homegirl Dr. Maggio), get involved with more service opportunities, have fun socials to look forward to, and receive academic help along the way. We have three equally great ones here at Penn, and I have friends that joined each of them but there’s also no pressure to join any of them. To a lot of people’s surprise, there are a million things to get involved with during your time in dental school.

Speaking of, I haven’t had the chance to update you guys that I did in fact get offered a board position on our chapter of the American Student Dental Association. I will be a contributing editor this year, and I’m so pumped for all that’s in store for Penn ASDA. My position is basically responsible for writing occasional articles and posts for our newsletter and website as well as just help out in general with publishing those or gathering ads. Being on the board at all gives a lot of options for other ways to get involved, too, and definitely opens up doors for ways to serve in the future. One thing that I am privileged to have the chance to do is travel to Chicago at the end of this month with nine other board members for ASDA’s National Leadership Conference. I’m one of two D1s going, and I can’t wait for a weekend of meeting dental students from around the country, hearing awesome speakers, and learning even more about my role as a leader in ASDA and in my future career in general. I’ve also never actually been to Chicago, so I’m so thankful to have the chance to go finally! I’ll be sure and write some highlights post-NLC. Deep dish pizza better be involved too, just saying. 🙂

This week after our tough chunk of exams that were pretty close together, I’ve definitely enjoyed some down time and getting caught up on life-things instead of school-things: the ever-growing stack of letters that need responding to, buying my first real winter coat, that thing called laundry, stocking up on fall baking supplies (pumpkin errthing happening soon), Saturday morning FaceTime coffee catchup dates, oh yeah and sleep. I also spontaneously traveled outside the city on Wednesday after a long day of clinic (our first time assisting!) and lab to hang with my Philly fam away from home, the Clarks. The fall harvest dinner spread was worth the trip alone. Butternut squash soup, smashed sweet and purple potatoes, seasonal salad, roasted rosemary salmon, a creamy bourbon maple cocktail, and did I mention apple crumble?! Geez so much better than my normal weeknight concoctions. We actually didn’t have lecture until three on Thursday, so I even made a sleepover out of it. I’m so thankful to have such a fun and supportive family right up the road from me, and I will definitely keep them in the back of my mind when I need a city/school escape. clarksIt’s one of those really cool full circle stories how we’re connected again. Ian and Susan were my parents’ best friends back in the early 90s, and even though I didn’t really remember them much, I always knew how much they meant to my family from the way Mom or Dad would talk about the Clarks. The last time I saw them I think I was two years old, and since then they’ve moved frequently all over the East Coast. When I finally decided to come to Penn, Mom and Dad realized that they were going to be only 10 miles away from me, along with their daughter and son in law, Hannah and Greg! I just can’t help but thank God for crossing our paths once again. He knew I’d need some times of good foodie meals, laughing, and family music time with every one on a different instrument – much like my old times back home with Mom, Dad, and Megan in the window-lined music room.

These days, I feel like God is teaching me more and more about rest, contentment, and that whatever I have in my head about what the future might hold will never compare to the good he actually has for me. I love looking back and seeing how He works in the big and small and in ways that we were so blind to at the time. I’m constantly asking for clarity for things that confuse, distract, or overwhelm me (there’s plenty currently) and peace and strength for the days at hand. your love

I’m leaving you with the lyrics that have been playing again and again through my headphones since Amanda Cook’s new album was released a few weeks ago. This one is called The Voyage, and I feel like it relates entirely too well for me as well as several of my friends in this season of graduating/post-grad/20-something adventure that we find ourselves on. I find it ironic that I titled this post before I rambled up to this point, and now it really seems to actually relate to this very song in a way. We get so caught up in exactly how much further we have until that next thing is checked off – grad school, a serious relationship, big move, that dream job…when in the end, the pressure’s off and God is continually with us. I don’t think He’s really one for destinations. He wants us to walk beside Him in the journey.

Speak, even if your voice is trembling
Please, you’ve been quiet for so long
Believe, it’ll be worth the risk you’re taking

You’re afraid, but you can hear adventure calling
There’s a rush of adrenaline to your bones
What you make of this moment changes everything

What if the path you choose becomes a road
The ground you take becomes a home
The wind is high, but the pressure’s off
I’ll send the rain wherever we end up
Wherever we end up

Set your sights, sailing far beyond familiar
In the rising tide, you’ll find the rhythm of your heart
And lift your head, now the wind and waves don’t matter

What if the path you choose becomes a road
The ground you take becomes a home
The wind is high, but the pressure’s off
I’ll send the rain wherever we end up
Wherever we end up

I am the wind in your sails

The Monday Mission Project, Part 5: Me

Now that we’ve reached the other side of this series I called The Monday Mission, I really do hope for anyone that has been reading that you gained something out of it like I did. Even though this project was focused on others’ perspectives on how they live out their walk with Jesus in the everyday workplace, I really found myself internally processing their responses. I realized how much I have in common with all these people in my life while having my own unique ideas on the topic as well. The body of Christ is like that, isn’t it? Perfectly synchronized as a whole, but as you look closely at each component they each have a specific role. I believe that is just what God has in mind as he gives us all our own perfectly tailored gifts and leads us down different career paths. If every single Christian worked directly in churches or the mission field, who would be the people out bringing Jesus to the worlds of business, medicine, the arts, or engineering? In my Christology class we often take a few minutes at the end of lectures discussing how do we apply what we learn about the person of Jesus in this academic and interpretative setting into our everyday pedestrian lives. How can we take what we read in the biblical text and really let the words and heart of Jesus be an overflow to others, specifically when talking about our profession?

In thinking back on the various featured posts in the series, here are a few things that really struck me from each of the interviewees:

Megan & Stanley: Simple prayer is powerful, embrace changing seasons of life, flexibility is invaluable, and don’t put God in a box. The Holy Spirit can work through any and all situations, so be bold when he’s leading you.

Chelsea: Dream big with God, and be moldable enough to realize when he has something different (and far better) in mind for you ever did for yourself. Being a disciple for Jesus often involves creativity and physically being his hands to serve the least of these.

Jason: As a doctor, my patients and my staff can equally be my ministry. When they are in a vulnerable and anxious state, I can extend the peace and love of Jesus to them. Getting the chance to partner with God in healing really gets me pumped.

Danny: The worlds of business and politics desperately need Christian leaders to step up and be bold. It is definitely possible to be an ambassador for Christ in the corporate workplace if you remain centered on the things of God and understand that businesses can be some of the most powerful agents for change. Embrace new and exciting opportunities for where God is leading next.

Anyone that knows me knows I’m a HUGE Jon Foreman fan. Not only has his music been so integral in my life, but he just has a way of speaking truth and articulating his thoughts so beautifully surrounding difficult topics. He was asked (more than once I’m sure) in an interview where would Switchfoot classify their music in terms of specific genre. Are they rock, pop, “Christian?” They often are seen as an outcast to these genres simply because a lot of the time they aren’t willing to stamp a label on their art. Jon responded with the following explanation of “why Switchfoot won’t sing ‘Christian’ songs” that I absolutely LOVE and think is very relevant to our conversation surrounding career path or vocation. To read the full response click here.

“Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty…So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others.” – Jon Foreman

When I think about how I will use my future career as a dentist or surgeon to serve God and the people I’ll meet every day, I love that I never have to feel like I’m being any less “spiritual” or “Christ-like” than my friends going through the discipleship school or moving across the world to bring the gospel to the nations. Who are we to limit how God can work or who he can work through?

IMG_3872I can’t wait to use my platform as a doctor to make an impact on the kingdom. I know each and every one of my patients will be someone I can show Jesus to through the way I genuinely care and provide the best treatment for them. If the Holy Spirit is calling me to approach my staff or other doctors I might be working with about their relationship with God or pray with them on a regular basis, I hope that I will respond boldly. I look forward to serving globally and providing dental care to those who have never seen a dentist and letting them know they are seen and they are known by the Creator of the universe. I pray that I will wake up on early Monday mornings and be filled with joy and purpose, knowing that I’m going to work that week to live out my mission.

More Than Conquerors

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs of yesterday morning around 9 am, I crossed the finish line of my second half marathon race! Specifically, the Bearathon here at Baylor that claims to be “The Toughest Half in TX.” This go around looked slightly different than my first time last year, though, for several reasons.

Much of the notorious hills portion of the course was rerouted due to construction in Cameron Park. Perfect, right? It’ll be easier! LIES. I promise it was not any less intense. Instead of maybe three or four big hills that leveled out at the top to catch your breath, this was more like constant rolling six or seven hills. There were quite a bit of unnecessary out and back loops also that weren’t my favorite, just because I would see people running the opposite direction that I knew and figured my pace wasn’t much behind them. Obviously the turnaround should be soon. Well, it was never soon enough.

Last year, I wanted to run by myself since I really poured myself into my training and had a specific time goal in mind of 2:10, and if I was really honest – 2:00. I never did training runs with friends, just me, the road, and my music. I didn’t want to have to worry about keeping up with someone too fast for me or if someone was running with me, I didn’t want to feel bad about wanting to go ahead. It worked well for me because my adrenaline allowed me to finish in 1:58 – beyond what I thought possible! Well this year, after my roommate and I had shared our training struggles the past few months (simply not enough hours in the day, medial shin splints, random allergic reactions, knee issues, and just our hearts not being in it) and figured our paces were similar enough, we decided to run it together so we could just have fun, push each other, and not be as caught up in our time.

I did still have a goal this year, though. A more realistic 2:15 all things considered, and I would be happy. The first few miles were pre-sunrise, and I was already soaked with a mixture of misty fog and sweat from 90+% humidity. Despite that, I was feeling pretty good. My playlist was definitely top notch – Switchfoot, Katy Perry, Lorde, JT, OneRepublic, Rend Collective – and so far my body and lungs seemed to be on board with this whole insane idea of running 13.1 miles.

One of my favorite parts about a race that makes it immensely better than a solitary struggle of a long training run is simply the overwhelming encouragement by all the spectators and fellow runners cheering you on at every mile. It makes it near impossible to want to even think about slowing down or walking. We continued pushing along and even came out of the butt-kicking hills section with an average pace still under our ~10 min/mile goal. Chelsea and I talked afterwards how for the first half, I let my adrenaline take free reign and pushed her hard for us to stay together and set our pace up for success. Then came the second half, when the roles shifted. I was really feeling the pain set in, and each hill I was huffing, coughing, and frequently spitting out nasty stuff (I’ve been suffering from some kind of allergies/congestion this past week). She was great at keeping our pace consistent and really made me push past my lack of enthusiasm about the last few miles.

Finally back on campus, we knew the finish line was just around the corner. Still, the last mile or two was definitely the toughest for me. I rounded the last corner and did my best to sprint the last straightaway. I did end up getting under my goal time, and I couldn’t have been prouder of Chelsea and myself. Every ounce of pain and exhaustion left my body, and I was overcome by emotion. I promise running a long race like this is immensely a mental game, and you go through such an inner battle with yourself. I was overwhelmed by all the encouragement from loved ones in the finishers’ area and so thankful that God blessed me with this incredible opportunity of honoring him with the health, strength, and endurance that He’s given me.

One of my favorite songs on my race playlist was from Rend Collective’s new album (HIGHLY recommended by the way), and it captures so well the power we have in Christ to overcome absolutely anything. These lyrics based on Romans 8:35-39 did wonders when I wanted so badly to give up and reminded me of the immeasurable power of our God to do so much beyond helping me run a simple race. He gives us strength to be victorious every day.

More Than Conquerors

When my hope and strength is gone
You’re the one who calls me on
You are the life
You are the fight
That’s in my soul

Oh, Your resurrection power
Burns like fire in my heart
When waters rise
I lift my eyes
Up to Your throne

We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror

I will sing into the night
Christ is risen and on high
Greater is He
Living in me
Than in the world

No surrender, no retreat
We are free and we’re redeemed
We will declare
Over despair
You are the hope

Nothing is impossible
Every chain is breakable
With You, we are victorious
You are stronger than our hearts
You are greater than the dark
With You, we are victorious

We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror

Let Us Run With Endurance

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Writing this post has honestly been something I’ve been thinking about since I started this blog last summer. One of the most significant, physical, mental, and even spiritual journeys of my life was making the once-thought ridiculous decision to train and run my first half marathon last March – and the “Toughest Half in Texas” at that. It sounds shallow when I say that it was such a big deal to me, but if you’ve ever joined the “half-crazy” club you might understand where I’m coming from. It’s not just about running some silly race, it’s about overcoming a battle inside everyday and accomplishing things that seem impossible while honoring God with the gift of health that He’s given me.

If you would have told me in high school that  I would run a half marathon in college, I would have laughed in your face. Sure, I was always an athlete growing up and played volleyball, softball, and basketball in high school, but the extent of my running career was the 100 and 300 meter hurdles that only lasted through middle school. Any time we had to do distance conditioning or run outside for team workouts, I would easily be one of the ones grumbling under my breath about it. Long distance (aka anything more than maybe two miles) was never my thing. I really don’t know what changed my mind, but I woke up one day with the foreign idea that I could actually call myself a “runner.”

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I figured I’m in my twenties, quite possibly at the peak of my physical prime, and I’m also such a believer of goal setting and focusing on a certain project at any given time. My university puts on The Bearathon every year which helps raise money for scholarships and attracts people from all over the state due to its challenging course full of hills and that runs through our beautiful campus and nearby park. My freshman year I started easing my way into this running thing and actually trained to run the 5K portion of the event with a great time. 13.1 is an entirely different animal, though.

I signed up for an Aerobic Running class the fall semester before the race to fulfill one of my degree requirements while getting a good maintenance run in three times a week. We never really went more than about 3.2 miles in the class due to time restrictions, though. At home over Christmas break I think my longest run was about a 4.3 loop around our county roads. I browsed the web for a 10 week training plan (the exact time from the start of the spring semester and the race in March) for beginners and just picked one, printed it out, and posted it on my wall. As I looked at those little squares with scary big numbers, I didn’t know if I would actually be able to go through with it.

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I sucked up my fear, and I remember crossing off that first day of actual running. Now there was no turning back – I was really doing this. I prayed daily that God would give me the strength and endurance to keep going further – literally and figuratively. Not only was running an investment in my physical well-being, it was some of the most precious times spent in the Lord’s presence, listening to worship music, and being outside enjoying His creation day after day. I do always listen to music on my runs, but I also use the time to think and pray about things on my mind. I also believe exercise can be a form of worship if you let it be. I think honoring our body as the temple God created and taking care of our physical selves daily brings Him joy just as much as sitting and reading His Word.

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On a different note, one of my favorite things about training for a big race is definitely the liberty you can take with the amount of food you can eat. Yes, it’s important to eat the right things for fueling and recovering, but let’s be real – you certainly can afford ample extra calories (and specifically carbs) around the times of your long runs and still never gain weight. I wasn’t training to lose weight, but just after a few weeks of regularly running, I could visibly see a bigger gap between my inner thighs, that signature defined muscle cut above my knees of a true runner, a slimmer waist, and my calves that I always thought were muscular grew even more (funny but sad story – my favorite riding boots from that winter season now no longer zip up over my calves).

“It’s all out there, with nothing but the drumbeat of your feet and the rhythm of your ragged breath and the green of the trees on the path.” – Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine.

Each Saturday my long runs became longer, and I somehow kept finishing them – sometimes with even improved paces despite the mileage increase. Once I got past six or seven, eight, nine and ten really all did start to feel the same (I know it sounds crazy, just trust me).

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Once the actual day of the race came, I had so many emotions. Nervous, scared, and excited, adrenaline pumped through my veins like never before. One of my biggest fears was that I would start off too fast and tank way too soon. I use the app MapMyRun on my phone when I run, and I was shocked and worried when my first mile (and the next and the next) was at a pace about a minute faster than most all of my training runs. I couldn’t slow down, though. I loved the feeling as I passed people and felt my entire body powering through each stride. As I came into the last mile or two of the race, I was overwhelmed with the fact that I had actually made it to this point after months of dedication and sacrifice. I crossed the finish line and was blown away when I saw my official results (beating my goal time by over 11 minutes!).

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These feelings are why I run today and am training to do this same race again this year (although if I’m honest, I don’t think I’ll PR). Right now, the miles once again feel long, slow, and impossible at times. Still, I know I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run again and go on a new journey, discovering more about myself and God on each run, in each sunset, and with each step.

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“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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#SicEmSwitchfoot

WOW.  Tonight I had the opportunity to see my *FAVORITE BAND EVER* perform live here at Baylor.

2013, SWITCHFOOT

I can’t remember a time when Switchfoot’s music wasn’t in my life.  I did a little research, and I was able to trace my fan years all the way back to 1999 (yeah, I was 6!). I first heard them on the soundtrack for A Walk to Remember with the song Only Hope and immediately fell for Jon Foreman’s one-of-a-kind voice.  Dare You to Move was 2000.  Talk about making me feel old! 13 YEARS ago.  The rest is history.  I’ve had every one of their albums and know probably at least 90% of all their lyrics.

As I think back on my childhood and teenage years, I can think of so many vivid memories I have that involve singing along “at the top of my lungs” with my sister on family road trips, learning Twenty-Four in my early guitar years, or contemplating life decisions with songs like Restless and This is Your Life playing loud in my car.  Their music never fails to be the ultimate combination of thought-provoking lyrics, melodies you can’t help but join in and belt out, and overall true artistry.

As if seeing them perform some of my favorite songs with pretty good seats plus a premiere of their Fading West feature documentary (so good and a neat look into their lives on the road) wasn’t enough to make this girl already excited, something else happened…

They had said they would answer questions fans had for them on Twitter during the intermission between the film viewing and the concert portion.  Of course I tweeted about five different questions with no real thought that anything would come of it.  Here’s the kinds of things I asked:

IMG_0908 They come out on stage, we all go crazy, they give a little intro, more screaming…Before they start playing, Jon says they had a few questions to answer first.

They each pull out some pieces of paper from their pockets (I guess they were writing down their favorites during the intermission as they saw them on Twitter).

JON FOREMAN THEN SAYS, “JESSIE PRICE!”and continues to read my question… 

My heart stopped and crazy fan-girl screaming commenced so he would know where I was in the crowd.  The question they answered was the instruments one, and Jon said he was so honored that I would say that! I’m literally dying at this point that I basically just had a conversation with my long-time musical/Godly/down-to-earth/Cali-surfer/singer-songwriter man crush in front of a few thousand people in Waco Hall.

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The rest of the concert was incredible, and I was singing every word. It was the perfect mix of old and new, and I am even more stoked for the new full album to come out.  They ended the show, gave a “campfire-acoustic-style” encore, and I even headed over to Common Grounds when I heard they were hanging out and having an unplugged after show in the coffee shop’s backyard until close (yeah, even better).

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Their last song they sang at the concert was one of the best – Where I Belong.  It’s a song about us not being made for this world, but always waiting to arrive in the place we really belong – when we meet our Creator face to face.  It’s an anthem that sets our eyes on Heaven and was so cool to sing with other Switchfoot fans and full-of-faith believers.

Feeling like a refugee
Like it don’t belong to me
The colors flash across the sky

This air feels strange to me
Feeling like a tragedy
I take a deep breath and close my eyes
One last time
One last time

Storms on the wasteland
Dark clouds on the plains again
We were born into the fight

But I’m not sentimental
This skin and bones is a rental
And no one makes it out alive

Until I die I’ll sing these songs
On the shores of Babylon
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

Where the weak are finally strong
Where the righteous right the wrongs
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

Feels like we’re just waiting, waiting
While our hearts are just breaking, breaking
Feels like we’ve been fighting against the tide

I wanna see the earth start shaking
I wanna see a generation
Finally waking up inside

Until I die I’ll sing these songs
On the shores of Babylon
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

Where the weak are finally strong
Where the righteous right the wrongs
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

This body’s not my own
This world is not my own
But I still can hear the sound
Of my heart beating out
So let’s go boys, play it loud

On the final day I die
I want to hold my head up high
I want to tell You that I tried
To live it like a song

And when I reach the other side
I want to look You in the eye
And know that I’ve arrived
In a world where I belong

Where I belong

I still believe we can live forever
You and I we begin forever now
Forever now
Forever
I still believe in us together
You and I we’re here together now
Together now
Forever now
Forever now
Forever now

Since when is it almost November?

This past month has been one of the most eventful, sleep-deprived, and challenging times of my college career. Here’s a snapshot of all things October:

Adding pumpkin pie spice to coffee grounds before brewing is a glorious and much cheaper way to celebrate the arrival of fall (well, Texas fall).

Singing my first big theatrical solo for Baylor’s Pigskin Revue was a blast, and I’ve never been happier to be able to wear no makeup and have zero product in my hair.
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Writing about my entire life’s experiences and motivations to be a dentist for our pre-health committee application is exhausting, but surprisingly insightful. Actually putting words to my passion for my future made it feel that much more real.  Next stop: personal statement.
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Not having time to make an actual well-rounded and delicious meal really bothers me.  Time to put an end to odd hour scavenging for brain-food and get back in my healthy, “flexitarian” routine.

The season Baylor Football is having is getting a little ridiculous.  I’d like to actually have to stay and watch a game be decided in the final minutes, but until then we’ll take the blowouts I guess.

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IMG_0864Running in perfect weather through lovely places does wonders for the soul.
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Painting a perfectly nerdy coffee mug can turn a case of the Mondays around.  (For all you non-organic chemists, that’s the structure of caffeine.)
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Finally finishing my thorough biblical research paper on the messianic secret is a feeling like no other.  After weeks of hacking my professor’s brain, researching, organizing, writing, editing, footnoting, and struggling, it’s behind me at last.  I now classify myself as a budding scholar.
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Sleep is a beautiful thing, so that’s what I plan on doing this weekend.  Also, I’m looking forward to having time to clean the whirlwind that is my apartment as well as catching up with my professional mentor who was nice enough to invite me to dinner with his family.  On top of that, guess who’s going to see Switchfoot on campus for their Fading West tour?

Only God could have carried me through this once-thought impossible couple of weeks, and I’m ready to sing a new song of thanks to Him as I rest in His peace this weekend.