On seeking balance and fleeing comparison

These days I’m learning more and more about myself as I aim to master balancing schoolwork with everything else, and I’m also in the process of figuring what all exactly I want to be involved with at Penn Dental when it comes to organizations, leadership roles, frats (yes, frats), clubs, etc. I know I can’t say yes to everything, but I also don’t want to just sit on the sidelines and float through these four years simply to leave with a degree. I want to leave with experiences and memories of things other than studying for hours on end like today (and all week) for our Biological Systems exam Monday. I want to be a voice for my class, get my hands into projects that I can take on, and utilize my unique passions.

We have different interest meetings literally every day for another group (usually with free food so duh we’re going), and lately we’ve had a few events for the dental fraternities (that’s another story – I’m sure all my undergrad friends are cracking up that I’m even thinking of joining one). I applied for our ASDA board as either a D1 Rep or Contributing Editor (aka writing blogs/articles for newsletter, website), and would really love to have a chance to play a bigger role in ASDA already in my first year. I’m also on the class council ballot for both Curriculum/Academic Chair and Ethics Chair. I think either one of those would be a really cool way to serve the ridiculously cool Class of 2019 Penntists (and the classes to come as far as making our curriculum as effective as it can be), strive to maintain our awesome class dynamic and get through any specific struggles, and get to know faculty throughout the school. This is my campaign plug, classmates – you know you want to vote for me 🙂 There’s also talk about having just for fun secondary elections for things like Class Chef, Class Baby, or PR/Social Media Chair aka me. One of our professors in lecture the other day, (sort of weirdly) anonymously called me out basically about my blog, and everyone automatically knew it was me. Long story short, somehow some faculty know about me and that I blog about dental school and just wanted to check it out or wondered what I was saying I guess. So yeah, I’m pretty much here to be a billboard for how awesome Penn Dental is now and can’t talk bad about my profs (even though Dr. M assured me I was free to rant about how awful her tests are b/c it was my perogitave to write about whatever I want). But seriously, though. Apply here. I’ll come say hi on your interview day like I’ve already done for the first 2 rounds of new interviewees! And maybe get some free coffee while I’m there…

it's always sunny in Philadelphia - Rittenhouse Square

it’s always sunny in Philadelphia – Rittenhouse Square

A lot of people probably think professional school (med, dental, law, etc) is a boring and dull grind of absolutely nothing but studying your brains out 24/7. Well, news flash, that’s actually not accurate. Maybe more like 10/6 but whatever. I often tell my friends and family back home that to me, dental school is certainly one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done while also being hands down one of the funnest times in my life so far. Sure, you can lock yourself away in a library cubby and never see the sun for days on end, and I’m sure you’ll get that 98 on the exam and keep your dreams of specializing at your top choice program one day (side note – yes I’m still interested in specializing at the moment, but I also refuse to be miserable). However, I am such a HUGE advocate of taking time for mental, spiritual, physical, emotional, and social health and remembering that while we are a student, we are still a person. A person that needs to do things like go get popsicles just because, take a long break for a sunset run, bike to Rittenhouse for La Colombe coffee simply because we finished class at 1, sleep that extra hour or two, make a beautiful meal, skip a lecture this coming Thursday b/c TEXAS, or take the entire Sunday off from studying last week because your border collie back home you’ve had for 17 years passed away. There are times when school will simply come second to things like that. When mom told me that Jody died, I immediately couldn’t even think about studying anything. I went home to pretty much cry in bed the rest of the day, watched Eat Pray Love (one of my faves), and had therapeutic pizza (what else?) with some friends to get my mind off of it.

my boy

my boy

Another thing I’ve already realized is how easily my classmates and I get trapped into comparison even though I wouldn’t say Penn is “competitive” like it’s reputation sometimes. While I took the day off Sunday b/c I honestly could not focus on school for one second, I couldn’t help but think about how “behind” I would get on studying for our next exam. People are constantly talking and asking each other about how much they are (or aren’t) studying, and as much as I seriously love the collaboration of our Facebook group page when it comes to study materials, I think sometimes it contributes to this unspoken comparison of who’s doing what and how early. When professors announce the average or grade distributions of how many As, Bs, etc, you can’t help but think about where you fall in that spectrum, and we forget that we are 120 people that are used to being the best. That’s how we got here. I remember at my interview someone saying that coming to dental school (and maybe more so at a place like Penn that is just more competitive for acceptance), you have to prepare yourself to be average. We have all been above average academically our entire lives, and now there has to be 50% of the class that is “below average.” It’s truly a crazy concept for us type-A overachievers. They also said, though, that it doesn’t even matter at all, because when we graduate and are then in the real world as practicing dentists, we would be above average again (there’s more of that Penn pride…). A friend from Baylor who’s a first year med student actually just started a blog and wrote tonight on this very thing. Check it out to read basically what I’m trying to say here. We often forget that everyone comes from different educational/personal backgrounds and that what works for me may be completely different from what works for someone who’s been out of school for five years or who is married and has kids. While I always will strive for excellence in everything, I am not striving for perfection. I have to remind myself DAILY of a truth I learned throughout college and in my personal journey. That is that my grades or anything I DO will never be my identity. I am a unique and loved child of God, and THAT is my identity.

Speaking of that balance, after studying for way too many hours today, I’m now going to grab a Blue Moon harvest pumpkin ale and watch an episode of Grey’s before calling it a night. Happy weekend, friends.

P.S. 5 DAYS TIL TEXAS

We won’t be distracted by comparison if we’re captivated with purpose. – Bob Goff

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We’re not in Kansas anymore

Here I am sitting on the other side of my first week as a grad student feeling full (in heart and mind), thankful, and challenged – just the way it should be.

class

I am not going to say that it’s been a breeze of a week by any means, and the days have honestly dragged by. There is definitely an already noticeable difference from college. For instance, lecturers referring to us each individually as “Dr. ______” when we ask or answer a question. Also, two hour lectures are a straight up struggle compared to 50 or 75 minute college classes. It is sort of fun being all together all day long, almost like high school AP classes with your same 20 friends. It’s at least been nice starting at 10 am for a few days this week with ample time for my morning rituals of Chemex pour over, worship jams, and reading, but soon we will move into more of a demanding 8-5 schedule, depending on our lab or clinic rotation times. I have this idea that I’m going to become a morning workout person, but we’ll see how that really goes.

The "free" iPad that we definitely paid for in our tech fee

The “free” iPad that we definitely paid for in our tech fee

With Penn’s new curriculum, the way our courses are set up is a little hard to explain. Basically, their goal is to have our classes much more integrated across subjects with a more seamless didactic/clinical flow and minimize the chance of us learning about the same topic multiple different times throughout the first or second year. For instance, instead of taking separate anatomy, biochemistry, or histology courses, those topics might all be included in our “Biological Systems” or “Foundational Sciences” courses. When we begin our hard tissue module (i.e. bone), that will cover bone histo/physio/biochem/anatomy, etc. In theory I’m a fan, and it makes a lot of sense. Each course is split into two or three modules, and each module has its own comprehensive exam (no pressure right). Once we really get going, we will average about an exam per week but they’ll be split across the courses (allowing you to really focus on each exam for that week when it comes), and there will be a few weeks here and there that are exam-free. The only bad thing is that we’re the guinea pigs so we’ll just have to have an open line of communication between us and the faculty to make sure it’s as effective as we’re all hoping. We also are starting the clinical science portion of our curriculum much earlier than last year’s class, so we start our advanced simulation, general restorative dentistry lab, and assisting upperclassmen in the clinic as soon as September!

I really love this campus

I really love this campus

This first week we’ve covered things like embryology, molecular cell bio/genetics, dental development, and a general intro to oral medicine. “Intro to Patient Evaluation/Oral Medicine” was our very first class, and it’s honestly probably everyone’s favorite so far just because the doctor who teaches it is passionate, engaging, inspiring, and full of stories of his own experience in practicing. Multiple times, he’s explained to us that we can in fact save lives by being a dentist when we find things like oral cancer or a mass in someone’s thyroid or salivary gland. Penn does a really good job of teaching us that we are not just here to fix peoples’ teeth, we are ultimately health care providers in charge of our patients’ well being as a whole. A lot of people don’t realize why I have to take things like gross anatomy of the entire body or master the details of DNA alpha helix binding and gene transcription, but it really is to give us a broad understanding of medicine, not just learning to drill, fill, and bill. Penn also likes to brag that they do that better than anyone (a little school pride never hurt anyone), while still highlighting the dentistry-specific aspects as opposed to some schools where the dental students take their first two years with medical students and might miss some of those dental emphases. This class I guess is also considered “easier” or more straight forward than something like our lightning fast embryo lecture that only maybe three people have taken in undergrad. The first day we all walked out feeling about like this. You’d be surprised how much they can teach in two hours, and now I understand the drinking from a fire hydrant analogy of dental/med school difficulty.

bike

post-overwhelming-first-day bike ride was a must

It’s also cool knowing that our lecturers are some of the world’s leading researchers on their area of expertise. We have multiple lecturers for a given course, so they really are bringing in the authorities for each given lecture topic. The doctor who taught us about dentin and pulp formation as well as dental pulp stem cells is seriously like THE boss of dental stem cell research. He’s done all kinds of really cool trials here and in China and worked for the NIH as well. Even when he’s really hard to understand or so cutely says “tooths” instead of teeth, it’s definitely a privilege to be here at Penn taught by the best of the best. 

Our first quiz is this week over genes (how many times do we really have to learn protein synthesis), and people are definitely starting to get anxious since nobody really knows what to expect. I am really striving to maintain the balance of school with everything else that I don’t want to let fall to the wayside – something that honestly took me until senior year to master. For example, taking the time to check out a different church with friends this morning and hit up another local fave food spot for breakfast tacos afterward. Not to mention putting down the studies for the night to cook a good meal, write a few letters to my friends far away, and write this post.

dinner

In other unrelated news, Ben Rector’s album Brand New came out on Friday, and I am already obsessed. I think my favorite track might be More Like Love, and it really captures my heart for how I want to impact my new community and classmates here at Penn. When all is said and done, simply loving people is really what matters.

I used to think I wanted to be famous

I’d be recognized out in a crowd

But the funny thing is every time I’ve gotten what I want it lets me down

I used to think I needed all the answers

I used to need to know that I was right 

I used to be afraid of things I couldn’t cover up in black and white

I find the farther that I climb there’s always another line 

A mountain top, it’s never gonna stop

And the more of anything I do, the thing that always ends up true

is getting what I want will never be enough 

Now I just wanna look more like love

I just wanna look more like love

This whole world is spinning crazy and I can’t quite keep up

It’s the one thing around here that we don’t have quite enough of

So I just wanna look a little more like love

And then it was here

Since I’ve last posted, so much has happened. Okay, understatement of the year. The majority of my summer was entirely low-key and uneventful while I longed for that moving day that seemed impossibly far away.  August hit fast, and life is flashing by like it does all too well.

On July 30th, I became an aunt again to the newest, most perfect, chunk of a ginger nephew, Grayson Lee, and then quickly had to say a tearful “See you later” to him and his older brother. My sis let me be in the room this time for the birth, and I will never forget that incredible moment our family shared. This summer has been the epitome of bittersweet and overwhelming change with Dad being gone, and that day was no exception. IMG_8108

IMG_8160

I packed up my entire life in TX and drove (I really should say rode) across the country with my mom, who I’m convinced is the best road trip partner on the planet – not to mention a beast at driving that massive truck that I hated driving after a good five miles. I was much better qualified for playlist DJ-ing, local restaurant Yelp-ing, map navigating, and updating our progress via social media and ample photo uploads.IMG_8893

We enjoyed our day pit stop in Nashville seeing some great music sites including the historic Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The best part for sure, though, was meeting up with my old roomie Chels for local drinks and eats and one last hug goodbye. After 4 days total and 3 days on the road, we finally parked and unloaded our U-Haul with the help of old family friends (who are local!), Ian and Susan, in front of my new home (which I LOVE and pics will come soon) for at least the next year and hopefully longer.

apartment on the right, dental school in the back!

apartment on the right, dental school in the back!

All last weekend, Mom and I set up my place and had ample time for all the touristy must-do’s in Philly. Falling in love with this place is so easy. The incredibly rich history combined with the modern and diverse vibe makes for such a cool melting pot of people and cultures, not to mention food and art. I’ll have plenty of time to write about all that over the next four years, though – like mastering Septa so much that my classmates think I’m from the area or successfully grocery shopping without a car. I still can’t believe I’m actually here. Now when I think about that entire decision process I wrestled with for weeks, I cannot imagine being anywhere else. I already have such a peace and confidence that I am exactly where I need to be, and have hope that that will only continue to be stronger as the weeks and months go by.

#tourist

#tourist

At Penn Dental, our orientation lasts an entire week and is full of riveting informational lectures, presentations (read: librarians putting us to sleep and Penn Police scaring the you know what out of us about the realities of West Philly), and of course abundant opportunities for “social activities” (pretty much all night happy hours) getting to know the people that we’ll live life with for the next challenging four years. Every night we’ve gone out as a class to fun local bars/restaurants with our orientation leaders and some of the D2s and had a few scavenger hunts along the way to get to know our new city and ultimately each other. Basically that means living it up before reality hits and our lives are consumed with things like microbiology, embryology, and dental morphology all too soon.
IMG_9533        IMG_9637                                                                 Monday we had our white coat ceremony, which is a really cool milestone in any future doc’s life that marks the induction into the profession. Penn Dental faculty has definitely made it clear that we are no longer students, but we are professionals, student dentists, and ultimately their colleagues. I already feel such a tremendous pride and honor from being at such world-class institution surrounded by so many driven and diverse people that all share the passion for dentistry. Each day I’ve gotten to know my classmates better, and I just can’t believe how well the admissions committee does at just picking 120 straight up COOL people from thousands of applicants. We’ve made it past the first couple of awkward small talks, and I’m slowly starting to know most faces and names and have definitely started to have realer and deeper conversations with some. This morning I even church-hopped with a few friends, and I can’t thank God enough for already showing me that he’s providing me with a new spiritual community even if it might take awhile to find a new church home.

IMG_9644There’s just such a camaraderie between us that can’t be compared to high school or college classmates. Then it was always about being friends with people who you grew up with for 18 years, look or act just like you, or happen to be involved in the same extracurriculars as you. Here I feel like everyone genuinely wants to get to know and be friends with everyone, and nobody cares if we maybe never would’ve been friends in undergrad. Nobody wants to be competitive or cutthroat (which Penn sometimes gets that reputation – very hard to believe now that I’m here), and at the end of the day we all just want to be kick-a** dentists and we’re going to support each other in getting there.

IMG_9502Tomorrow’s my first day of 17th grade (WHATTT?), and I couldn’t be more pumped to start this journey with my 119 new friends and future fellow docs. Penntists 2019, LET’S DO THIS.

“You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural. You are more than dust and bones. You are spirit and power and image of God. And you have been given Today.” – SN

the best kind of extravagance

straight

Friday morning I got a call from the all too familiar 215 area code number I recognized. I then walked into my aunt’s house where she and Mom were waiting for me at the computer to map out our cross country road trip and hotel stays with Irving Street, Philadelphia as the final destination. With tears still pouring down my face (I think they must have thought I had been in a wreck or something that would cause sad tears – but these were the joyous and overwhelmed kind of tears), I played them the voicemail saying that my scholarship to Penn had been increased to the maximum amount ($30k/year instead of $20k/year). That’s an additional $40k meaning I’ll be in that much LESS DEBT when I’m through and navigating the waters of post-professional school and new world of doctor-hood (read: a struggle). I really never expected anything to change or be updated with my financial situation just one month before classes start. I had contacted them early on in the summer after Dad’s passing just to simply ask if they could do anything else to help me in this extremely difficult transition, but they said all scholarships were finalized at that point.

{If you maybe missed this whole initial roller coaster decision and God’s crazy sense of humor and timing, read my post about it here.}

I am still in disbelief. I had just been complaining to Mom about an hour earlier about my frustration that grad students had to pay almost $500 annually for all-inclusive fitness center and group class access. “I didn’t budget that into my loan amount!” Throughout this whole process, I have still struggled to not only focus on the money part of becoming a dentist. I am SO excited about this next chapter, but it is definitely a big pill to swallow when I see those expected student budget sheets and my first tuition bill. I also know very strongly that it is not God’s desire for me to be so enslaved to money matters now or in the future, and I really don’t want my life after school (or residency) to be dictated by my loan balances. I want to surrender my finances to Him and be free to go and do what He’s placed on my heart for whatever season I’m in. I want to stay enthusiastic and willing to take even more leaps of faith to see my dreams to fruition, with Him guiding me each step – or I should say leap – of the way.

All those months of praying into this decision and doubting if my dream school where I really felt God leading me would financially be realistic even after I committed, and then God reminds me of his everlasting faithfulness and provision. AGAIN. All in HIS crazy surprising timing, which makes for some way better stories than I could ever write into my life. He so extravagantly gives to His children, and how often we forget that no dream is too far out of reach when He is the author.

My friend Danny said to me after I told him the insane news, “This will be the story you’ll tell someday when you give speeches.” I loved that so much, because I’m currently reading Don Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. {I’ll talk more about that later – also how I crazy loved Blue Like Jazz.} If I would have never trusted God in the first place with this crazy idea to move across the country where I knew nobody and attend one of the top (and one of the most expensive) dental schools, I would have missed telling this twisty, surprising, and thrilling story that’s really just beginning.

fear

Needless to say, Mom and I celebrated with steak, red wine, AND dessert last night.IMG_7715

Bittersweet: pros and cons of moving across the country

With a little over four weeks left of summer before I make the big move, I thought I’d write a little bit about the things I’m most looking forward to and the things I’ll miss more than I’d like to admit. Having lived in the greatest state (some die-hards would say country) of Texas for all 22 of my years, it is finally starting to hit home that I will be a resident of the different, far off state of Pennsylvania in about a month. More people than I can count give me the “Are you crazy? How could you leave Texas? Ever?” response while some friends are super stoked for me to adventure out of the comfort zone of home. Oh, and Penn Dental is one of the top schools in the country and UPenn’s entire academic system is a world leading institution. That’s sort of why I chose to attend there. Living in a cool new city is just the cherry on top. And it’s not Penn State 😉

Here are just a few of my thoughts about it all.

Philadelphia Skyline

PROS

  • All things new. I dig change.
  • Seasons. 4 SEASONS. In one year and not one day. Yes, I know one of them is uber cold. Still, seasons other than constant sweating for at least half the time and looking out for the random ice storm or great flood the other half.
  • Urban living in a city full of young professionals. Even though Waco is much bigger than my hometown, it’s a little far from actual city life.
  • Open minded people. I know it will be a huge change from the Bible belt and far right wing conservatism of East Texas, but I welcome other ideas and opinions and having intelligent conversations about big issues without anyone blowing up. I’m not saying college turned me into an all-out liberal by any means, but I can still value people with different backgrounds and views. I will still holdfast to Truth no matter where I live. The God of Atlanta, TX and Waco, TX is the same God of Philadelphia, and I’m excited about learning to trust in Him more than ever, especially when it’s not the cultural norm like I’ve always known.
  • Foodie heaven – Philly is definitely on the culinary rise and it’s way more than just cheesesteaks.
  • Car-free and bike-loving life. Goodbye to buying gas and hello to everyday cardio.
  • Proximity to NYC, DC, Boston and other cool places along the East Coast. Instead of driving for 12 hours and still not being out of TX in some places, I can hop on a bus and be in NYC in about an hour and a half. DC about the same. I can also meet up with my fellow East Coast pals like Jenna or Danny in Boston, Dusty in NYC, and anyone else who I convince to move this way in the future. I’m looking at possibly making it to a day of the Food Network Wine and Food Festival in NYC this fall or catching tix to see my man Jimmy Fallon or finally a Broadway. You know, in all my spare time outside of studying my brains out…

CONS

  • Y’all already know I’m sad about it. Tex Mex. Read: jitas and ritas as I know it.
  • Other people not saying “Y’all.” (see above for indication of frequency of use) And everyone knowing me as the one from Texas and commenting on my sweet, Southern accent that I don’t even think is that bad. It can be a pro, too I guess…Everyone loves a Southern belle, right?
  • Being so far from most of my family and friends. I’ve got a new nephew coming in T minus one month, and I know I’ll miss my mama from day one after being home with her all summer. Waco won’t be a quick road trip away and all my friends in Dallas, Houston, or Austin will only feel close if I read their letters.
  • Having to find a new church home and spiritual community after my incredible four years at my church in Waco with some of the best people I know. I know this one will be tough and may very well take longer than I’d like.
  • Shiner Bock, Texas BBQ, and Blue Bell. I know Blue Bell is questionable for everyone right now, but what about real BBQ and small town Texas-made Shiner? Someone please tell me it can be found in the Northeast.
  • Football. I really want to go to something like a Penn vs Harvard football game and laugh and tell all my Texas people about what a joke it was. Ivy League vs Big 12? Please. Football games, and especially college football Saturdays, in the South are like nothing else. Sic ‘Em Bears. #OneTrueChampion (Oh how I wish I could come to Ft Worth this fall)
  • Everything else I’ll only realize I miss once I’m gone and a plane flight away. Also, I am so going to be one of those people in the airports on Christmas Eve because we have class/clinic until the 23rd. What is that even?

Nevertheless, I’m beyond pumped for my new adventure! I’m just trying to not think about the actual “school” part at the moment…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All I wanted for Christmas

All I wanted for Christmas

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

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