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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for the love of Thursdays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16th grade and I’m still a nerd

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

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

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

funny faces, brought to you by appendix tissue

funny faces, brought to you by appendix tissue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers! To senior year.

springtime snapshots

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I know…long time, no blog.

It’s been a dreadfully-too-long 39 days since my last post, and trust me I’ve missed it more than you know. I’m finally on the other side of junior year, and it is officially summer in my book. I promise this summer will be back to the at least two or three meaningful posts a week, because I’ll have plenty to write about and more time to do it. The months of April and beginning of May were filled with endless laughs, struggles, memories, end-of-the-year shindigs, friends, and of course finals.

Since I’m so pressed for space and time on this blog, this will be my quick attempt at highlighting the incredible, challenging, and beyond-rewarding end of this past semester: a mere surface-scratching of the whirlwind that is the end of another college year.

I finally checked off hot yoga from my bucket list, and let me just say I sweat more in that hour than I did in running my half in 95% humidity. Extremely refreshing afterwards – yes. Entirely enjoyable for the whole hour – not so much.IMG_4915

I attended two social dance events for credit in my class, and as much as I was dreading having two weekends of the semester booked for school, those Saturday nights were some of the best I’ve had. These people who started off as strangers have become like family (and future friends long after our days of Fox Trotting), and I wouldn’t have wanted to dance the night away in a ballroom full of people the age of our grandparents with anyone else.IMG_5034

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Baylor ASDA held our end of the year banquet, and we transitioned the officer positions to the new executive board. I’m so excited to pass along my service chair position to a girl I know will do a great job next year, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the team will bring to the table to keep our organization top-notch. I love this group of smart, witty, passionate, and beautiful future dentists so much. Also, we model in all our spare time outside our studies.IMG_5094

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I went home for Easter to spend it with my family (perks of a Christian university is a four day weekend), and it was a beautiful rest before the last stretch of the semester.IMG_5187

The opportunity for so many great concerts the last few weeks were absolutely perfect breaks with friends in my busy schedule. Jillian Edwards and Green River Ordinance put on a fantastic show at Common Grounds, the a cappella group that I am a die-hard fan of, Baylor Virtuoso, brought the house down once again, and I was lucky enough to be a date to the Men’s Choir Banquet and Concert for a second time.IMG_5323

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My last time working as a Supplemental Instructor for freshman biology was definitely a bittersweet night.IMG_5620

F I N A L S. Enough said. Going into it all, I was convinced my med-school level anatomy class would be impossible to pull out with an A in (even though I knew it was still a possibility if I ACED the final lab practical and lecture final), and my world religions professor definitely made it hard to believe that I’d get anything but a B with her unpredictable testing and grading styles.IMG_5525

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Long story short, the streak continues!!! I am so incredibly thankful for God’s faithfulness to provide me with the strength and endurance to press on through the end and trust Him that He always wants the best for me. I know my work in His name is never in vain, and that all the glory is His for allowing me this academic success so far.IMG_5702

Dental school apps opened up for Texas on May 1st, so I’ve been really trying to be diligent with knocking out a few sections each day. Be expecting some updates in the future about getting this thing done and SUBMITTED.IMG_5491

I celebrated another semester down with intense amounts of sleep, a much-needed hour massage, fun nights out with my best guy friends and then the roomies, letter writing to my well-deserving professors, and some trail running in the bipolar Texas weather when we enjoyed a couple days that didn’t get above 70.IMG_5800

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In the words of Ben Rector, “Thank God for the summertime.”

little bits of happy

It’s been a week of so many small joys all intertwined that it’s hard to even know where to begin reflecting on the past few days. I’m writing tonight with an overwhelming, continual gratitude for the outpour of God’s blessings and the small and big ways He gives me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). Some small, others more significant, but all moments worth sharing.

Even though our guys sadly lost out of March Madness on Thursday, the Lady Bears were victorious twice this week and are now moving on to the Elite Eight! As a huge Baylor women’s basketball fan (I skipped almost a week of class my freshman year to go watch history be made as we went 40-0 and won the national championship in Denver), I’m hoping for another incredible fight to the finish from our girls.

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After I spent much of Monday night watching the women’s game when I had a marketing test and anatomy quiz on Tuesday, I still managed to pull out As on both! Maybe I should watch basketball and enjoy a little pizza and Shiner more often when I study…

Tuesday afternoon I was so incredibly happy to be able to spend some time walking trails and catching up on life with my dear friend Christen who was in town. She moved back home to Colorado at the end of last school year, so this was our first time seeing each other since that sad goodbye. It was like she never even left, and as anyone who knows her would agree, every minute spent with her simply leaves your heart full.

If that wasn’t enough to make a girl’s day, I then treated myself to the long-awaited, post-half marathon training pedicure that was worth every penny. Running all those miles week after week doesn’t help any with the springtime transition to Chacos and flip-flops, trust me.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m currently taking a social dance class as a part of my degree’s fitness requirements. Our teachers are seriously sticklers when it comes to grading our dance tests, but I finally made a 100 on our last one – on Tango of all things. Now on to the Rumba, I’m thriving in my love for hip-moves and Latin rhythms. My teacher even told me I was just such a natural for this dance. Flattered? Extremely. A little awkward? Definitely (our instructors are a 60ish-year-old couple). It still made my day.

Some exciting news came my way when I found out I will be writing as a guest blogger/contributor for ASDA’s (dental student organization) national blog soon! I sent in an interest form a month or two ago just for kicks, and now I’m actually going to be “electronically published” for the first time as well as get my name out there in the dental world. The editor said they’d like for me to talk about my dentistry-specific service involvement in college, in particular my recent trip to Panama. I have all summer to perfect my post because it won’t be until the August issue.

My college pastor started a perfectly-timed new series called Back to the Future this Wednesday about making choices for your future and following your dreams that God’s given you in the midst of cloudy indecision. It’s just too good and I’m sure will deserve its own post when the series wraps up in a few weeks. I will go ahead and share the main takeaway from the first week, though – “Without complete surrender, there can never be complete confidence.” – Truth.

After much thinking, praying, and reevaluating my plans for next year as far as a job, I am officially stepping down from being a supplemental instructor in the biology department because I was chosen to fill a position as a lab assistant for general human anatomy – the class and lab I’m in now that I absolutely love even though it never ceases to kick my butt. I promise the material is taught at a level equal to medical/dental schools (my professor did use to be on teaching faculty at UT Southwestern). I’m so excited for change, a few less weekly work hours, a chance to work with my sassy, no-nonsense, and often like-minded professor, assisting students (many who will actually be my friends!) in complicated dissections -the bulk of our lab and why I enjoy it – and not to mention reviewing gross anatomy in depth for an entire year leading up to dental school.

Last night was Formal for an organization I’m in, and it was such an enjoyable time spent with some of my favorite people. I love any excuse for a little black dress, red lipstick, and my go-to sparkly nude pumps. I took Ross, my best guy, and there’s never a dull moment when we’re together. I cherish his friendship immensely, and I always appreciate when we can actually hang out with each other since, far too often, life just gets in the way. We decided to check out a new place downtown for happy hour cocktails and live jazz before heading to the event. We scrounged up the catered leftovers when we arrived fashionably late and then easily had the most fun on the dance floor  (I taught him the Rumba in one song), almost the last to leave.

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A good formal date – fun, mad dance skills, looks good standing next to you, and it doesn’t hurt if he’s your best friend

Good luck getting this crazy trio to take a decent picture

Good luck getting this crazy trio to take a decent picture

After all that time soaking up these souvenirs of junior year this past week, today was of course spent solely catching up and studying for another round of exams coming up. At least I was at one of my favorite spots with new pens, new music, and energized from a week of so many little bits of happy. 1979696_688355041215736_1869857780_n

These things are fun, and fun is good.

Obviously when I have the chance to actually go to bed at a decent hour, I like to stay up, rebel against any schoolwork, read other blogs, and write a new post.  I’ve been wanting to start something like this for awhile, so here it goes.

I recently talked about how I’m a big believer in goal setting, writing down resolutions, dreaming new bucket lists, etc.  Now I want to write about some of the random things on my mindless “to-do list” before I graduate (or let’s even say before the end of junior year).  This “Baylor Bucket List” will be void of any serious/school-based and life-changing goals (I’ve got plenty of those too, trust me), and consist of the memorable things I really want to try to cross off while living as a college student in the great city of Wacko Waco.  I will add to it as a I think of more, but I just wanted to get a working list in progress.  I freely admit that I can be pretty boring and non-spontaneous sometimes, so of course I make a list of ways to be “spontaneous.”

I have to constantly remind myself that even while I think my life is pretty hard now, this is actually the LEAST busy and stressed I will be for a very long time. [Oh dang]. I’ll only be a college student for another year and a half, so I might as well start acting like it!

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*In no particular order and not at all exhaustive*

1. Buy a hammock and use it. A lot.

2. Go to the top of the ALICO.

3. Eat at Poppa Rollo’s, Vitek’s, Kitok.

4. Karaoke.

5. Watch a sunrise and sunset from Lover’s Leap.

6. Have a picnic date in Cameron Park (at Lover’s Leap? haha)

7. Leave encouraging Bible verse sticky notes in places all throughout the library and BSB.

8. Skip an entire Monday and Friday of classes to have a 4 day weekend free for adventuring, road tripping, etc.

9. Go to Austin just because way more often.

10. Pay for a stranger’s drink at Common Grounds.

11. See more Baylor theater productions and music school concerts.

12. Have coffee and talk about life with a professor.

13. Sing in the worship choir at Antioch.

14. Climb the new rock wall.

15. Play a pick-up basketball or volleyball game on a school night.

16. Go to the top floor of the BSB and throw a paper airplane to the bottom.