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

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A smile is the same in any language

Nine days that I will never forget. After months of anticipating, stressing over deadlines, struggling to coordinate with everyone, and praying for financial provision, last Saturday the eight of us boarded a flight to Panama for a spring break like no other.

Our group was made up of only pre-dental students, freshman through juniors, all members of our student organization Baylor ASDA. We planned the dental mission trip through International Service Learning, and despite some miscommunication early on while coordinating, we absolutely loved our actual experience in Panama with our leader, Sol, and dentist, Dra. Cruz. When we arrived, we were greeted by Sol, who would end up becoming our biggest blessing and friend. One other pre-optometry student from Ohio State, Magnolia, joined us at the airport, and like Sol, by the end of the week she was one of us and made it painful to say goodbye.

IMG_3963If I had to describe the country of Panama, I’d say colorful, both urban and primitive, joyful, friendly, sweaty, slow (as in not impatient and hurried like America), and underappreciated. The people there love their families and neighbors, delicious passion-fruit and other juices, fried everything (we seriously only ate carbs, meat, and more plantains than I could imagine at every meal), soccer, and apparently massive shopping malls.

We stayed at a retreat center-hostel of sorts with no A/C or hot water. There were fans in each room, and I promise no one missed the hot water after being out in mid-90s temps all day. There was a kitchen with a sweet little lady that cooked our meals when we didn’t go out as well as a few other people that stayed there and made Spanish small talk with us every day.

IMG_3943The first full day there was dedicated to a crash course in dental Spanish and also a workshop of learning what it was we would actually be doing in clinic. Dra. Cruz was so sweet and helpful, with just a perfect amount of sass and desire to challenge us. She explained to us that their dental school education there is five years – total! No undergrad, no entrance exam…just saying right out of high school, “I think I want to be a dentist,” and boom – five years later you’re done. If they only knew how much stress we go through here about our GPA ,DAT, and getting a coveted acceptance letter after years of blood, sweat, and tears. After just one afternoon and serious bonding over getting all in each others’ mouths and practicing using explorers, mirrors, and scalers, we were proficient in diagnosing and determining types of caries, the typical timeline of dentition based on a kid’s age, loading and prepping the anesthesia injection, and how to set up the tray for general procedures.  We also got to have some fun later that night learning some traditional Panamanian folk music and dancing.

IMG_3983Before starting up the clinic, we spent a day walking around the surrounding villages (which we found out later were significantly sketchy and supposedly dangerous areas) doing house visits and conducting dental health surveys. Our clinic would be focused on ages 4-13, so we took turns asking the kids questions in Spanish – things like if they brushed their teeth or had been to the dentist before. Several answered no to each. The thought that I would be some of these kids’ first experience ever with dentistry was a huge responsibility that seemed nerve-racking but also a chance to show them that it didn’t have to be a scary thing. Not only would I be doing dental exams for the first time, but I would have to calm the fears of only Spanish-speaking four year olds. No big deal, right?

Many of the homes we were welcomed into lacked real floors, ceilings, or furniture of any kind, and yet the families all seemed so content and focused on what really mattered – being together. I thought how I would react in their situation to a bunch of wealthy American college kids in scrubs wanting to come in to my dirty home and ask me questions about my lack of dental care. Uh, no thanks. I know here at home, I am quick to make excuses about how I’m too busy or even ignore the couple of Mormons with backpacks knocking on my door or the girl scout trying to sell me her last box of cookies to reach her fundraising goal. We were not turned away by one Panamanian family.

IMG_4051I was so excited for the first day of clinic. We set up all the equipment in a small room of a local church and immediately entered business mode. We each had partners and would take turns doing the actual exam while the other person charted the cavities and treatment and held the flashlight. My first partner, Sam, and I were mostly efficient but quick to laugh at our frequent mistakes at first and moments of doubting if we actually knew what were doing. After checking for cavities, cleaning with the scaler, flossing, and mouthwashing, Dra. Cruz would come double-check and quiz us on the patient’s condition and possible treatment. Even if they had maybe seven cavities, most only received one or two fillings or extractions due to limits on time and resources. It was so neat to watch everyone and be able to see each others’ strengths while getting a glimpse at how great of dentists we all will be. Some with steadier hands, others playful and kid-loving, some intrigued by the clinical science, others able to comfort in another language, and those who loved the intense, bloody stuff. We would stay with our patient as they went to the chair for their procedure and were responsible for setting up the tray with the appropriate instruments and materials as well as assisting. There were ample criers and squirmers because of the needle or drill, and as cute as their little smiles were, some of the difficult cases confirmed my long-ago decision to not specialize in pediatrics. They were still sweet for the most part, and their parent would be so appreciative of the care we provided them. At the end of each day, knowing all the joy we were able to give just through cleaning teeth or providing preventative treatment for free solidified why I want to do this with my life. A smile is the same in any language.

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IMG_4111On the last day of clinic, Kathy and I were partnered up, and the pace of the day seemed a lot quicker than the other days. We saw about six patients between the two of us, and we each ended up doing all the steps for an entire filling except for the drilling part obviously, and (even though I shouldn’t really say it) basically an extraction each, too! It technically wasn’t a whole tooth, just a buried root tip left behind from a primary tooth, so Dra. Cruz simply looked at me and said, “Do you want to do it?” After shadowing an oral surgeon all summer and seeing endless complicated extractions, I was pretty confident that just an elevator would have that thing out in no time. Also with ISL, we as students are not liable for anything. If something were to go wrong (which nothing ever did), they are responsible. It’s up to them to just trust that we wouldn’t ever do anything we weren’t comfortable doing.

IMG_4052We were able to go out for dinner several nights to authentic restaurants to unwind from a long day and have some fun. Most places offered various fried carbs like yucca, cheesy potatoes, or tamales (not like the Tex Mex item you’re thinking of – more like a cornbread), and an abundance of meats and seafood. Their local beers and other drinks were also a popular thing to try. I enjoyed genuine and deep conversations as well as never-ending laughs with this group that had become like family for a week.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetOn Friday, we toured Panama City’s Children’s Hospital, and we learned a lot about their health care system in general. They are the only major hospital and ER in the entire country, and they also provide treatment for everyone even if they’re unable to pay. The building was very old, in poor condition, and obviously lacking in funds, but we could tell the doctors we spoke with were in their profession for the right reason. We wrapped up the rest of the day with a visit to the canal, souvenir shopping, and another authentic dinner out.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetSaturday was our last full day in Panama, and we left at 6:20 to catch an early ferry ride to the island of Taboga for some relaxing on the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous. It definitely had a tropical Caribbean vibe, but it was mixed with an old European coastal village charm. We lounged, read, napped, and swam the bulk of the day. Despite staying in the shade of our umbrella for 90% of the time and liberally reapplying sunscreen, I still managed to get an embarrassingly random and intense sunburn on my shins and outer thighs. Before heading back we enjoyed one last meal at a beachfront bar, complete with ice cold pina coladas.

1557716_681646661886574_88545275_nWe said our reluctant goodbyes to Dra. Cruz, Sol, and Magnolia, and before we knew it, we were back in Texas on Sunday afternoon. Thinking back on how God moved in and through us throughout the week, I know that we were able to be such a witness by our acts of service to the people of Panama. We were not the only ones making a difference, though. I believe our patients and their families, Sol, Dra. Cruz, and everyone we came across  deeply impacted each and every one of us in a powerful way. Another incredible blessing was simply the friendships among us that grew richer each day, and how we are all now connected by this shared experience. God gave me such a clear confirmation that I’m following his incredible plans for my life by continuing on this journey to becoming a dentist and how global missions can play a part in that. The fact that I will get to do this for the rest of my life makes me so excited for the future. I’m extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to go to Panama, and I’ll always have the memories of this trip to carry with me.1012879_681900428527864_867512245_n

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” – Proverbs 11:25.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

“Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.”

It’s been a flying, hectic, both fun and stress-filled 2+ weeks since my last post. I sincerely hate it when I get too bogged down by the demands of life that I feel like I can’t even sit and write for more than ten minutes. Stop. Breathe. Spring of junior year is basically halfway in the books, and there’s nothing that can change that. “Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.”

My mind (and life) right now seems like a jumbled, beautiful chaos. So many things have been going on or that I’m looking forward to- some incredible, some downright comical, some scary, others frustrating. Here’s a highly condensed version of the many things, events, and thoughts I’ve wished I could elaborate more on.

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After torturing my hair through eight rounds of curling and spraying (and impressively minimal washing), six incredible performances of All-University SING are done (if you’re not a Baylor Bear, read up on this one-of-a-kind and long running tradition). We accomplished our goals of having a blast, doing our absolute best, and I made even more rich friendships this year. It’s crazy how you can connect to a community so quickly and deeply just by uniting  through a common vision and passion. One new like-minded friend in particular is a fellow blogger who you can find here.

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My family was able to visit last weekend for our last night of performing, and it was so refreshing to see all of them again for the first time since Christmas. My baby nephew E is now crawling and even has his first two perfectly symmetrical little bottom teeth! I told my family he will be the perfect age when I’m in dental school to be my first pediatric patient for practicing examining deciduous dentition – there’s your dental vocab for the day.

After much research, I officially dropped my first college class! I already have taken a biology class that meets the biochem requirement of most dental schools, so there was no reason to waste invaluable time sitting through basically the same class again in the chemistry department (while still stressing to make the grade due to slight but significant test differences). A huge three hour unnecessary weight is now lifted.

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I’ve mastered and been tested on my mad new dancing skills in Western, Fox Trot, and Waltz. Today we started the dance of sensual tension: Tango, and to quote my teacher, “This is an intricate dance and is obviously easier when the couple is really a couple.” All the girls in my class all looked at each other and we thought, “Boys, don’t get any ideas.” It’s already my favorite one this semester, though. I guess because I can really bring out my inner Latin diva and have some fun after the stuffy ballroom dances we’ve learned. We’ll just have to imagine that all the boys in our class are really Antonio Banderas.

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I somehow managed to pull off my pre-health committee interview this past Friday. It really was nothing to even stress about at all. I actually was thinking to myself, “Why am I wearing a suit?” because my interviewer only asked me maybe four or five legitimate questions. He basically acted like it was simply a formality we had to do and that he didn’t doubt my ability to succeed in dental school one bit. He was confident and knew I was confident in myself, and I checked yet another step off on the process. Speaking of to-do lists, I also asked for my second reference letter from my cell physiology/biochem professor from last semester that I really hit it off with, and I know that she takes these very seriously. Two down, two to go!

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I’ve successfully (and unfortunately) managed to avoid Bearathon training whenever I can. I’ve made it up to ten miles for my longest run, but ice storms, family weekends, and medial shin splints are not very encouraging three weeks out from the race. As much as I didn’t want it to, running has recently turned into an obligation and not an enjoyment. My roommate is also training and feeling the same way, but we’ve told each other that we will run and we will finish. Who cares about time when everyone gets the shirt, medal, abundance of post-race treats, and a reason to go out and celebrate doing something that only a tiny fraction of the population has accomplished.

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The dental mission trip to Panama (and start of SPRING BREAK) is THIS Saturday! I’m running around crazy this last week trying to tie up all the loose ends, but I am beyond excited for this incredible opportunity. God was faithful to provide like ALWAYS, and I ended up raising just enough funds the last week our full payment was due! I’m incredibly thankful to my parents, family, friends, and dentist mentors for helping support me financially so I can go on this adventure of reaching the underserved people of Panama through the priceless gift of dental care. I’m also looking forward for more of a hands-on dental experience beyond the shadowing and limited assisting I’ve done here. Don’t worry, I won’t be breaking laws and pulling teeth, but I am pretty sure we will play a major role in assisting in procedures and doing cleanings and exams in the clinics.

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On one of my struggles of a run last week through the vast and beautiful cemetery across the street, the song “How Much More” started playing on my iPhone, I stopped running (not just because my inner lower legs were killing), and was moved to tears. I don’t really know if these were sad or happy tears, but they happened. I simply was overwhelmed with how blessed and loved I am by the Lord even through times when I feel like I’m drowning in never-ending tasks and can only complain. When I’m weary, He always fills my need and then some.

With a daunting anatomy lab practical (completely fill in the blank and every last bit of information we’ve learned since the first day) fast approaching, I’ve got to get some sleep and rest up for an intense next couple of days. Many blessings to all of you reading this, and I pray that you all feel God’s presence in the midst of whatever beautiful chaos you’re in.

New month, new goals

I love the first day of a new month.  This one marks the beginning of my absolute favorite time of year.  November through January is what I look forward to all year because of the holiday season, “cold” weather, my early January birthday (which happens to be a really fun one this year), plus countless other little things that just make me smile this time of year .  I also am guilty of being bound to the concept of orderly time and only thinking I can take on new projects, goals, etc. with a calendar turn of a page – whether it be yearly, monthly, or weekly. That being said, with the first of November here, I have lots of little things to add to my monthly bucket list (in no particular order)…

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1. Write my personal statement.  This is a major component of my dental school applications, and it’s my chance to show schools what makes me ME.  I get to put an actual personality with those boring (but hopefully attention-grabbing) statistics that they’ll see first.   5300 characters to express why I want to be a dentist, and basically why they should give me a spot in their class over all the other applicants.  Also, because I want to apply to competitive out of state schools as well, this can be what makes them find it impossible to reject me simply because of my residential status.

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2. Fall in love with running again (Run 3x a week and get my base mileage back up for Bearathon training). I’m not officially starting my training “plan” until after Christmas (again, with the calendar concept), but I have GOT to get my endurance back to where it needs to be to even begin to think about doing those long runs on the weekend.  I also want to supplement with the Insanity workouts that I absolutely loved this summer.  Last year when I ran the half marathon for the first time, the fall semester before I was enrolled in a “running class” for a fitness credit for my degree plan.  I know I haven’t done as much consistent running this semester, but I’m hoping that since I’ve at least done the training before and am a lot stronger than last year, I can get back in the groove in a little less time.  This afternoon I actually went on my longest run of the semester along the Brazos, and it sparked that fire I have deep down that makes me believe I can call myself a “runner.” More on that later…

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3. Prep for healthy meals during the week all month long to counteract the upcoming holiday caloric craziness.  I’m vowing to spend some more time to actually plan and put together well rounded, veggie focused meals on a daily basis.  Also, I’ve got to nip my sweet tooth in the bud slightly for the next few weeks so that when the time does come during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the anticipated baking and desserts will be moderately indulged. We all know I’ve got to still be rocking the skinny jeans for my favorite wardrobe season.  As for those pumpkin cookies still sitting on the counter, well, they’re sort of healthy from all that Vitamin A, right?

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 4. Start thinking about Christmas gifts earlier. I’m always that last-week shopper for my family and friends since I’m consumed with [the dreaded *F word* for stressed, GPA obsessed, pre-health science majors] at the end of the semester in December, and no matter how much thought I put into trying to give a thoughtful gift, it always turns out as some variation on a theme from previous years.

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5.  Brainstorm fundraising ideas for ASDA mission trip next semester. I’m so excited that the organization I’m an officer for, American Student Dental Association, is in the process of coordinating a dental mission trip for spring break.  Right now we’re looking at Costa Rica! 3 of my biggest passions – dentistry, missions, and travel – all in one trip! However, all things worth having/doing call for making big sacrifices (in this case, financially).

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6. Be intentional with my professors for the remaining part of the semester. I’ve already asked for my first two letters of recommendation (yay progress! The oral surgeon I worked with this summer and my current religion professor who actually knows me as more than a seat in his class), but I’m still struggling with what two science professors to ask as well as one other non-science faculty member.  It really is difficult to form meaningful relationships with professors that have 200+ other pre-health students with the same intentions as me and limited office hours.

I just thought this was funny :) I mean, I know they love me, but do they really KNOW me?

I just thought this was funny 🙂 I mean, I know they love me, but do they really KNOW me?

7. Increase my yearning for God’s Word.  I’ve been praying that God would find new ways to stir my heart to fill myself with His truth and promises in the Bible EVERY morning.  Sometimes I find myself just going through the motions of reading what I’ve read so many times in my life before, but not being fully present and expectant of the new things that God wants to reveal to me each day.  I really want to experience His presence in a fresh and deep way this month (and every month after).  

Word. Literally...

Word. Literally…

I could go on forever (if you should know anything about me, it’s that I’m a very goal-oriented girl), but I’ll stop there, because I really like the number 7. Yes, it’s the biblical number of perfection, but also because I’ve got to get back to enjoying my crazy wild Friday night. What? Homemade broccoli cheese soup, magazine reading, and TV on the couch isn’t your idea of a typical college kid’s weekend? Well, maybe I’m not your typical college kid…