Feels like home

I did what every responsible grad student does when you find out that you’ve got a rare three day weekend (thanks again, Pope): make it a four day weekend and book a trip back to the old stomping grounds for some quick but quality time with the place and people I love and miss every day. My mom and sis are pretty upset that I made the trek to Texas and didn’t get to see them (HOME home’s a few hours away + no car), but I knew this was my one chance all football season to catch a Waco weekend and home game until next year probably. I’m deeply sorry fam, and I promise this will make Christmas and your November visit that much better.

When school started, I had no idea I would make a trip back this soon, but honestly the timing could not have been better. Homecoming sadly was not an option (tears for days) with our class/exam schedule surrounding that weekend, so I was desperate to find another random weekend when I could escape Philly to return to the promised land. Nothing against my new home which I love, but being back in the land of Tex-Mex, “y’all,” and Baylor football was seriously beyond good for the soul.

rossMy old roomie Chels picked me up from the airport in Dallas (meanwhile I had already started sweating the five minutes I was waiting outside…DON’T miss that) and we jammed and gabbed all the way to Wacotown. I met up with my best guy Ross for a big hug, nostalgic Shorty’s pizza, half pitchers (Shiner cravings = fulfilled), and talking life – the little and the big – all night long. It’s weird how places like a tiny, college joint, pizza shack can be jam-packed with as many memories and conversations like that as that place.

chels

Friday was full of lots of friends, catching up, more favorite food spots (LJ’s baked oatmeal of course), talking forever with my favorite prof, walking around campus and it already feeling different, and even sitting in on an a cappella rehearsal just for fun. Of course I couldn’t go to Texas and not indulge in ‘jitas and ‘ritas, so that’s exactly what me and Chels did (followed by catching the Grey’s premiere in our pjs in bed and going to bed at a gloriously early hour for a Friday night).

The downtown Waco farmers market was buzzing with people, new vendors, and great live music even more than I remembered. I love coming back to that city and seeing the growth (i.e. the Waco revival that is a very real thing) that’s happened there even from a few months ago. I’ve gotta say I miss the culture and people of Waco/Baylor for sure. It feels like one of those places where you can go anywhere and see everyone you know, and even if you don’t know them you could probably strike up a quality convo with any “stranger.” That’s not exactly the same for the crowds of Philly and the East Coast. kellieI headed to the glory that is McClane Stadium afterwards and ran into so many lovely faces there. My dear friend Kellie and I had actual seats (what is post-grad life even?) which were straight up in the path of the blazing 95 degree afternoon Texas sun, so I spent a lot of time walking around seeing friends in shadier spots. I can’t even describe the emotion, though, watching the new Baylor Line run on the field and the pre-game hype video, thinking about the endless memories I have of sweet victories the past four years. baylorLiteral goose-bumps. We quickly worked up the scoreboard while the sun worked up my slight sunburn. The game finished 70-17 in typical Baylor fashion, and I spent the rest of Saturday having girls night and talking school, church, and (possibly) guys with Sarah, Gigi, and Danielle – girls from my old Lifegroup who always open their home – and hearts – for me when I’m in town.

One of the things I was looking forward to most was getting to go to my old church, Antioch, and partly why I booked my return flight for as late as 7 pm. It was a pure joy to worship with my old community and hug so many necks afterwards. God has definitely promised to provide a new community here, but I know it will take time and most likely look different from what I knew for four years. After a quick lunch with more friends and what else other than a Iced No Bull at Common Grounds, I was sadly saying goodbye once more to that little central TX town that has so much of my heart.

girlsShauna Niequist said “Sometimes we have to leave home in order to find out what we left there, and why it matters so much.” I could not agree more. As much as I miss my hometown, family, Waco, friends, and Baylor, I know that being in Philly at Penn Dental is so good, so right, and so needed for this season. God is so kind to give us opportunity for adventure and growth, even if it sometimes seems painful at first to leave behind the comfort and familiarity of a safe place. I realize being gone (even if it’s only been for just a month now) has shown me more and more about what and who matter most to me. The vague but certain promise of “See you…soon” is enough for me to look forward to the next trip back, whenever that may be.

CG

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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…

One Month More

Now that July in Texas (my last one possibly – so weird to think about) has somehow already graced us with its presence, I realized I have yet again let my blog fade in the background of my everyday. You think I’d have all the time in the world these days to just write on and on, enough for a book – side note, I’d really love to actually write a book one day. Now as far as the subject, I have no earthly idea. I just know that words are powerful,  books I’ve read have changed my life in ways, and I’ve just got a lot of opinions on things.

Here’s my lousy attempt to wrap up my first half of summer in the country.

letters

I’ve rediscovered the lost art of old fashioned letter writing, and it is SO GOOD. I can’t tell you how much it makes my day to find an envelope addressed to me in our mailbox and recognize the address as one of an old college friend. I also have that same anticipation with each one I write and send on its way, hoping it will be the best part of that person’s day as well.  One of my dearest pen pals, Jordan, told me in her last letter that a friend had explained to her that all of Jordan’s letter writing/blogging/encouraging words via social media could all be considered forms of discipleship.  That thought had never crossed my mind, but when I started to think about it, it definitely made sense. When I sit down and intentionally (and consistently) think about what to say to a friend and ask for the Lord to give me words that will encourage them, that is pouring into their life even if it looks different from the traditional picture we have of discipleship of coffee dates and scheduled weekly hangouts. I already do feel like I’m getting behind on responding to people, but the beauty of letter writing is that it does not demand a prompt and hurried response much like a text or Facebook message. It’s ok to let a few days or even weeks go by to give you time to really think about what you want to say. So to all of you that asked to join in my back and forth writing, take heart. I promise it’s on its way soon.

bike2

I’m absolutely obsessed and in love with my new, beautiful, perfect road bike. Her name is Roxie. I promise I’m not weird for naming my bike and acting like it’s my new baby. Boys name their toys all the time. After wanting a good road bike for years and it being the only thing I asked for graduation, I finally am the proud owner of a Specialized Dolce Sport EQ in satin teal. This is essentially replacing my car when I sell it to live the true urban lifestyle, so I’m okay with the fact that it cost about as much as an old used car. I didn’t get a Baylor ring, and I saved my family thousands for not rushing a sorority. I think that justifies it. Thanks Mom! 🙂 The second I hopped on and tried it out, I could tell that it was worth every penny. I’ve already taken several rides, and a couple long ones in Waco and around here, and I could go on and on about how good it is. When you’re upgrading from a beat up mountain bike from middle school you somehow got around in college on, it’s a really big deal, folks. Also, my toned cycling legs are quickly coming back after a month of missing teaching BearCycle. If the side effects of riding just for fun happen to be more defined thighs and calves, I’m not mad about it.

      leisure         better          blue

My summer reads are extremely varied and simultaneous, and I’m okay with that. I have this problem with books in the summer. I never, and I mean really never, have time to read much for leisure during the school year. Having said that, I definitely make up for it in the months when all I can really do is stay on my couch in the AC. I might get through one chapter while I lay out at the pool before I’m so done with the unbearable Texas sun and sweat is dripping on every page. So far I’ve finished Leisure: The Basis of Culture (not exactly leisure reading but very good and thought-provoking) and Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. That one is by Atul Gawande, a leading medical author, and I loved every page! I’m actually now reading a second one of his – Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance – that my mentor doc gave me when I told him I was reading his first. Gawande is a general surgeon in Boston and has written for The New York Times. He writes a lot about doctors being human beings (aka not perfect like society expects them to be), the constant pressure of performance, the healthcare system and how it could be improved, and just a lot of neat stories of behind the scenes of his life as a surgeon. I might be going to dental school now, but I’m still fascinated with all things medicine and who knows? I might also be a surgical resident one day. I’m now reading All In by Mark Batterson who wrote The Circle Maker that I loved and that challenged and ignited my prayer life more than any other book I’ve read. This one is about actually being sold out for the gospel and surrendering our entire lives for Jesus, not simply asking him to follow us and our plans. I’m also reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller with the tagline “Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality.” Let me know what’s on your summer book list!

       cg          shortys          food

I took a week-long trip back to my old stomping grounds, and man it was good for the soul. I told several of my friends when I left in May that I’d for sure make a visit during the summer before I left for good, and when my mom went to Montana to bring some things back from the cabin and would be gone for most of the week, I figured the timing was perfect. I had couches lined up to sleep on for all 5 nights and had texted everyone I knew in Waco for the summer basically saying, “If you want to see me, tell me when you’re free and I’ll fit you in!” It was so good making that all too familiar four hour drive, and it really felt like I had never left even though a month had already passed since I did. I hit up all my favorite local joints for pizza, coffee, drinks, and one more Waco t-shirt, all with people I dearly missed. I also headed to the beloved farmer’s market and Cameron park (via Roxie) one last time. It was certainly sweet being back, but if I’m being honest, it did feel different. I really realized for the first time that I wasn’t a college kid anymore and I felt more in the in between of that and grad life. I love love love all of my younger friends, but staying with them and even going to my old Lifegroup, I sensed a noticeable difference. I’m not trying to say I’m that much more mature than them, it was just more of a recognition that this season of my life was in fact over as much as I didn’t want it to be.  It sort of was an almost tease to be there that long, knowing that it would be my longest visit to Wacotown for at least four years. I thank God more and more each day for that place and those people.

Until next time, I’m eating Tex-Mex whenever I get the chance (it will NOT be the same in Philly), still filling out and sending 54,298 forms to Penn, watching way too many Grey’s reruns, avoiding the storage room where I need to sort, unpack and repack, and soaking up my last month of rest and stillness before the crazy starts.

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Sometimes life gives you more than you can write about. Now is a season full of just that. I know it’s been almost two and a half months since I sat to write, and it’s ironic because more has happened in these last few weeks than probably anyone should have to deal with at once.

I realize this is a personal blog where I usually write about really anything that’s going on in my mind at the time. Still, I don’t have nearly the space or time (except I probably do since this summer will be the most event-less/least busy time of my life sans retirement) to write through all the emotion about everything that’s happened. For those of you that know me on Facebook or Instagram you know what I’m talking about. For the rest of my readers, I’ll sadly tell you that my father of a very young but extremely full 64 years suddenly and shockingly passed away on the night of April 24th at our vacation home in Montana. He went peacefully and with no one surrounding him but the northwest forest and Canadian rockies that he loved second only to God and his family. We are extremely saddened, and our family and town sense a very real and very large hole because of his absence. Even amidst the deep sorrow that comes given that none of humanity was ever meant to grasp the concept of death, we find peace, hope, and comfort in the fact that he is now experiencing the very thing for which we were created – the fullness of joy, absolute awe, and too-glorious-for-words state of being overcome by the glory of God and seeing Jesus face to face. I know this journey of grief will look differently for my mom, my sister, and anyone else that was touched deeply by my dad. I’m praying for grace daily to know how to walk through this individually and alongside my family. I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the outpour of love and support by everyone in Waco, back home, and even my future community at Penn Dental.

To add to the extreme dichotomy of emotions I’m living in, let’s remember I  just graduated from Baylor on May 15 and said far too many “See you later’s” than I ever want to. I’ve never been sadder to say goodbye to a season than that morning I drove away for the last time. I made a nostalgic “Waco Love” driving playlist, and let’s just say I cried almost all the way to Tyler. I am overcome with gratitude for God bringing me to that glorious place 4 very short years ago, and I will never be able to articulate just how much Baylor and every single person that was a part of my home team truly mean to me. Even through this past month of grieving, I experienced some of the sweetest times with some of my favorite people my last few weeks living as a college student in the city that won my heart. I won’t even go into detail on how gracious (most) of my professors were with working things out for me to finish with excellence and graduate just as I would have had this never happened. Long story short, I did get my first B(+) – not even in an upper level science class but a personal finance class, lol jokes – but still managed to finish the journey and reach my long-time goal of graduating Summa Cum Laude.

I’m home for the summer for the strangest few months of my life. This is nothing against my home, my family, or the people of my hometown, but honestly it’s just weird. These few months are the definition of limbo: I’m completely finished with the past season but the next one isn’t here until August. I’ve never known zero work, zero school, and zero of my people back in Waco that know me better than anyone. I really have never known how to rest, so that’s exactly what I need to learn to do this summer. I’ve got a lofty book list (a mix of theology, medicine, philosophy, and everything in between), am playing music more than ever, have some concerts and visits to see other TX friends lined up, but other than that, I am really the most available I’ll ever be in my life. I am making space for quiet and stillness – things I know I’ll be desperate for in a few months.

I have way more I wish I could fill in and update but I had to just start somewhere, and this is the jumpstart to my goal of more consistent blogging during this season when I have plenty of more time to do so. I want to write more about the books I’m reading, the letters I’m writing and receiving (my new favorite thing), the songs I’m playing, the meals I’m cooking, and the memories I’m making before all-out school mode begins again. Oh yeah, I’m only living in Texas for about nine more weeks, WHAT? I’m still definitely getting more excited every day for my next adventure of being an actual student doctor and navigating a new city life, without a car and without all things familiar. Crazy, but it’s happening.

Until next time, I’m researching road bikes, dreaming of writing a song, digging deep in the Word, sleeping and eating better than I have for a very long time, getting my butt kicked in boot camp workouts, and contently living in this time of in-between.

The Monday Mission Project, Part 5: Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Monday Mission Project, Part 4: Danny

This will be the final feature in The Monday Mission Project before I wrap the series up tomorrow. Catch up on the first three posts back on my home page and read about why I’m doing this here. As I was thinking about this idea originally, I wanted to be sure and include a variety of perspectives from different types of professions to show just how creative our God is when he gives us each unique gifts and passions, so today I’ll be featuring my friend Danny for a business point of view. Danny is also a senior at Baylor and is headed to Boston (#EastCoastBestCoast) after graduation to work as a management consulting analyst for the company Accenture. I’m not kidding when I say he is a Business Fellows, Economics, and Finance triple major with minors in Math and Political Science. He is one of those people that just seems to do it all and do it all well. Even still, I’ve never heard him complain about his workload. His humility is a testament that he doesn’t do it for the glory, either. I’ve known him since freshman year, and I’ve always been extremely impressed by how he is able to balance everything on his plate. Danny is the definition of diligence and really does point others to Jesus through the way he works unto the Lord and how he leads and serves others so well. He is an encourager to the core, too. Any time you leave a conversation with him, you’ll always find a refreshed perspective and motivation. One last thing about him (and why I think we get each other so well) is that he is an unbelievable dreamer and full of ambition. I believe God has marked his life to be a vessel for the Spirit and to ignite change where there are desperate needs for it. Danny has (and will always have) such a place of influence in so many different areas of his life, and I’m beyond excited to watch how God uses him and continues to lead him.

Capitol (glasses cropped)

1. Describe the process of ultimately choosing to pursue business for your career. How did God lead you into this profession along the way and when did you know you were really walking in his calling on your life?

Ultimately, I chose to begin my career in management consulting (business) because I think my God-given talents apply very well to this area. I’m a problem-solver, and I love going into new situations and finding out how to make things better. The business world runs by “mutual benefit.” Companies are only successful if they produce useful products or services that customers want. For a time, I thought I really wanted to go into politics – perhaps because of this same desire to “solve problems” on a societal level. Over time, however, God showed me that beginning in the private sector would be a much better way to build an expertise and learn how to make sure organizations are able to reach their highest potential.

2. How do you hope to 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?

My dad is always an optimist, and so that carries through in everything I do. I think a key to success is not complaining about the little things. The people around us, whether in business, graduate school, or whatever career you’re in, will make mistakes and have hard days too. It’s important to show the love of Jesus through your work by maintaining a positive outlook and encouraging those around you. Make their lives easier. Thank them for their dedication. As a result, you’ll be more productive and show how Christ has changed your outlook on life.

3. What opportunities, big or small, do you hope to have to partner with God and make an impact for his kingdom that you wouldn’t have otherwise if you weren’t doing what you are?

I think this position in management consulting will teach me many valuable skills that can translate to all aspects of life. Whether a business, non-profit, university, or political campaign, there are always problems that need to be solved. There are things that are going to go wrong, and the world will need people to take a fresh look at each situation and find ways to improve. I believe this job will prepare me to do that, and I hope to use those skills in whatever way I can to glorify God.

4. What are you looking forward to most about your career and the next season of life?

Honestly, I’m looking forward to a new adventure in Boston! I grew up in Chicago. When I came to Baylor, it was my first time in Texas and I didn’t know anybody. Then, I spent each summer in DC – where I didn’t know anybody. Now, after building those connections, it feels like I have “3 homes” – and I’m excited to jump into a new city and build a 4th.

5. How do you think you’ll stay enthusiastic/passionate and find the motivation to continue to work diligently for his glory?

I think the most important factor is to be grounded in the right habits. I plan to find another church where I can dive in and get involved, continue reading the Bible every day, and ultimately trusting God to show me the next steps. I have to constantly remind myself that everything I do on this Earth will pass away.

6. What would you say to others entering corporate business or politics about incorporating your faith in a career where it might be challenged more than in other fields?

Business and politics are often described as immoral. But that’s exactly why we need more Christians in those fields! After my time in DC, I met so many powerful people who were committed to their faith. It influenced their interactions with people so much so that people knew them as trustworthy, honest, and yet still incredibly influential. God works through all things. Most Americans spend the majority of their week in a workplace not directly related to Christianity, so it’s important to bring a Christ-like attitude to those places as well.

7. What advice would you give to college freshman on discovering and pursuing what God has for them in terms of their major, future career, etc?

Don’t worry. For almost all of my college experience, I was sure I was going to DC. But at the last minute, I really started to reconsider – and here I am, taking a different path, but one that I am more excited about. Don’t put God in a box, and recognize that our “plans” can change faster than you realize. Work hard, get involved in things outside of class, but also just have fun. Don’t spend your entire college life stressing about the things that you can’t control – you’ll simply be wasting your time.

danny

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Danny! Also, this guy has his own blog at Consider Again (and is a contributor for endless others and has had the chance to write for some pretty cool projects). To quote his description of his site, “Consider Again is a blog by Danny Huizinga devoted to encouraging critical thinking. It features an archive of all of my published articles, both profiles on successful entrepreneurs and small businesses and op-eds on current events. Rather than taking articles and opinions at face value, I challenge you to think a little deeper. Being able to know why you agree or disagree with an opinion is one of the most important life skills.” He writes about current issues in politics, business, and a variety of other topics. Check it out!

Oh and be on the lookout for him to run for president one day. And win.

The Monday Mission Project, Part 3: Dr. Jason Beck

So far I’ve really enjoyed this interview series and getting to hear additional insight from so many of the incredible people I know about how they serve God through their career, day in and day out. Today’s post in The Monday Mission Project (if you’re just joining us check out the intro here) is featuring Dr. Jason Beck, DDS, MD, and it is an especially relevant one to include since he’s my main professional mentor in the world of dentistry (and fellow doctor colleague in about four to ten years). What he does every day is basically what I want to do one day! First things first: four years of dental school. Then if I’m crazy enough (let’s face it, we all know I am) and do decide down the road to specialize I’m looking at another four to six years of postdoc training. I am going in with an open mind regarding specializing or not, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love surgery or couldn’t see myself doing this everyday. He is a practicing oral and maxillofacial surgeon here in Waco, and I first met him two summers ago when I was getting some more shadowing hours in with another general dentist in town. I had actually called his office asking the receptionist if I could come observe with no real guaranteed set up before I ran into him having lunch with the dentists I was originally shadowing. He told me to immediately call back and say that he personally had met me and would love for me to come observe at his office for a few days. Needless to say those few days turned into once or twice every week and then eventually the same thing for the entire next summer. I have written a couple times on my experiences working with him (click here or here to read about it), but long story short, he’s great and I have so much respect for him. I consider him, his wife, and his three adorable boys basically my Waco family. He’s not only an exceptional and compassionate doctor, Dr. Beck is a successful and humble business owner, a godly leader for his family and staff, and a sincere voice of wisdom in my life. I can ask him anything about dental school, residency, running a practice, etc, and know he’s going to give me a genuinely honest answer and not sugar coat anything. He also is constantly encouraging me to lean not on my own understanding but to trust in the Lord with his plan for my life. He understands my big dreams and affirms I really do have what it takes. Seeing how Dr. Beck has surrendered his career to God and how in turn God has been faithful to keep his promises, I can only become more excited to see how my career as a dentist will be used for God’s glory.

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1. Describe the process of ultimately choosing to pursue dentistry and oral surgery for your career. How did God lead you into this profession along the way and when did you know you were really walking in his calling on your life?

As a child, I have always felt like I would have a job that would be highly respected and financially lucrative as well. I didn’t know what that would be, however, this had propelled me to excel in everything along the way to eventually make this a reality. Into college, I had always enjoyed the sciences more than anything else. I think because there was always a tangible product that came from scientific work and it is the scientists who I always admired more so than the great thinkers and writers. Scientists were doers and they made things happen. Eventually, I explored the health sciences from physical therapy, to medicine, and ultimately dentistry. Dentistry was particularly appealing to me because it was very hands on work that works well for us ADD individuals. I also felt that the verse in 1 Thess 4:11 was speaking to me about my career choice. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to work with your hands as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone.” Dentistry appeared rewarding, fun, and to provide an independence that other careers could not offer. In dental school, I had an even stronger desire to attain all these things in the greatest amount and oral surgery seemed to be the next great challenge for me. I knew that it was where I was supposed to be, because logic would say that general dentistry can provide everything I could possibly want. Nevertheless, there was a thrill I found in doing surgery, that’s it. God speaks to me in many ways, but at this point he simply wanted me to “enjoy life, and have it abundantly.”

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?

I have had people tell me, “I know you’re a believer because I see Jesus in you.” There is no better complement. Providing a calmness before surgery and reflecting the Love of Jesus to a phobic patient has a profound effect on a person in a vulnerable state. I have prayed with patients, quoted scripture to them, and simply cared and showed compassion for them because that is what Jesus taught us as his children. As a business owner, though, I could be that for my patients and viewed as a hypocrite to my staff if I am not consistent. I see my staff as my ministry as much as my patients. They don’t know it, but they are prayed for all the time and I hope that when non-believing employees see something admirable in me, it will point them to Him.

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.

Similar as the previous question. Patients are in a vulnerable, fearful state when undergoing a surgery, so they are looking for someone to put their trust in and lead them through this stressful situation. When things go well for them and they try to show gratitude, I can point to Jesus. My kids pray for my patients every night, so I can tell them that, which makes an impact on their kingdom experience. Additionally, on more global scale, I have been able to provide care to those in third world countries whose only encounter with a physician in life is the one who came delivering the good news of Jesus while tending to their physical needs. This could impact their beliefs for not only their life but generations of isolated families after them.

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4.Describe how your specific gifts and talents God’s given you correlate with your profession.

I have always been a confident person who can make decisions quickly and actually become energized during periods of elevated stress. These have proven to be advantageous to me during an arduous training period and continued profession with “high stress” that comes from putting a patient’s health and well-being in your hands.

5. What do you love most about your job?

I love being able to heal, whether from an ailment, a pathology, or a phobia. To have a patient walk out of the office with exceeded expectations.

6. How do you stay enthusiastic/passionate and find the motivation to continue to work diligently for his glory?

I count my blessings everyday. When I do, I am reminded that all I have comes from him anyway and therefore, not squander my talents that my Master gave to me. (Matt 25:14)

7.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.?

God doesn’t call you to do what you are “good” at or what you love. He calls you to simply obey whatever it is and wherever it is that he has planned for you at the time. I do believe that he gives you certain desires in your heart and truly wants you to have everything your heart desires. But if you seek him in the little decisions along the way, you will have a deeper trust in Him for your future and true contentment will follow.IMG_2788

Another big thanks to Jason, and the next post will be the fourth and final feature!

Shameless plug – Any friends in Waco that need your wisdom teeth out or dental implants? Look no further than this guy. Plus, I might even be there to hear what you have to say post-anesthesia 🙂

The Monday Mission Project, Part 2: Chelsea

Tonight for part two of The Monday Mission Project (click here to read the series intro and background), I’m featuring someone very near and dear to my heart – one of my own roommates for the past two years, Chelsea! Living with Chelsea is nothing short of a blast. We are on the same page when it comes to so many things like our love of food, traveling the world, music and concerts, all things Shauna Niequist, big crazy dreams, and late night popcorn and red wine when we are in denial of all of the homework we should be doing. Chelsea has also taught me a lot about what it looks like to chase after God and the things He has for us. I am constantly encouraged by her heart for others, her passion for life, and the incredible diligence she pours into her work for school. She is majoring in Interior Design with a minor in business. Before living with her, I would have completely stereotyped it as another Family and Consumer Science department major where they never study and still make straight As in classes that they should be ashamed of paying Baylor tuition for. Well let’s just say I was beyond wrong. Even as a biology/pre-health major, I think it is safe to say Chelsea puts in more hours than I do for my schoolwork, mostly consisting of all-nighter projects and slaving away for weeks for assignments that might be graded so subjectively. I’ve definitely gained a major respect for design majors and been convicted of my ignorant assumption that it’s a piece of cake. She has another year at Baylor, but I am beyond excited to watch how God continues to lead her in this plan for her life. Design and Jesus might not at first seem like they go hand in hand, but let’s not forget he was a carpenter.

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1. Describe the process of ultimately choosing to pursue design as your career. How did God lead you into this profession along the way and when did you know you were really walking in his calling on your life?

I started college as a Medical Humanities Pre-Physicians Assistant Major (joke?), thinking I was going to go to PA school and be a successful person in the medical field. God quickly humbled me by nearly failing my freshman biology class and finding zero interest in my pre-health classes. I went to career counseling mid-way through the semester, and after a number of tests and prayers I landed in the Interior Design department. I’ve always had a love and appreciation for all things creative but never viewed it as a profession. Honestly, I always thought interior designers were just “decorators” (false, they’re not. You don’t need a degree to decorate a space and I have yet to have a class that teaches me how to pick fabrics or where to place wall art). I knew with certainty that I was in the right place when I first heard my professor talk about public interest design/design for social justice: “human-centered and participatory design practice that places emphasis on ecological, economic, and social issues”. I knew I wanted my career to have a purpose and meaning and God shouted at me loud and clear after that lecture. I have also been on a number of mission trips that involved construction of some sort. Those was always my favorite parts of the trip because I love working with my hands, creating something, building, you name it. Through further reflections I felt confident that I was in the right place.

2. How do you hope to 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?

I want to help those who do not have access to good design – those who don’t have solid roofs over their heads or a place to gather with community. I hope to use my skills in design and knowledge of sustainable building to improve the lives of others. Jesus acted for and with those who were in desperate places of need, and I hope to be there with those people. I want to forget about myself and partner with people who could use a space or a building. My hope is that on a daily basis I live in such a way that places others before me. No matter where I am – working in a firm, overseas, or in a classroom – I pray that I can be someone who takes genuine interest in others and seeks to show love through small acts of kindness or simple conversation.

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3. What opportunities, big or small, do you hope to have to partner with God and make an impact for his kingdom that you wouldn’t have otherwise if you weren’t doing what you are?

I hope to have the opportunity to travel to places where there is a design-related need and help meet that. Had I not been pursuing interior design I would not know what social impact/justice design was, or that there were ways to tangibly help communities with design. I hope to meet people from all different backgrounds and learn what it is that shapes their communities. I hope to hear peoples’ stories and let those stories drive the way a space is constructed.

4. What do you love most about your current season of life and what are you most excited about when thinking about your future?

I love the thought that God has something ahead of me that I most likely can’t fathom right now. That may cause anxiety for most people, but it’s exciting to me. I love that I am in a place where I can learn and absorb tons of information that I hope will serve as an aid in the long run. I feel as though there are so many opportunities right now ahead of me, and I am excited to see what those are over the next year and a half. Maybe grad school?!

5. How do you think you’ll stay enthusiastic/passionate and find the motivation to continue to work diligently for his glory?

I think it will take continual reminder of why I am doing what I am. It will take prayer and encouragement from my community to keep going when life seems to hit a wall or feel impossible. I don’t doubt there will be times when it is less exciting, but I hope to be the type of person who continues on despite my circumstances.

6. What advice would you give to college freshman on discovering and pursuing what God has for them in terms of their major, future career, etc?

Do not let money dictate what career/major you decide to pursue. You may be great at something, but if it doesn’t bring you life, or if your potential career doesn’t excite you, choose something else. God takes our passions and uses them in extravagant ways. When we are pursuing something we love, something that makes us come alive, something that brings us joy, that is when God can do his extravagant work. You have to trust Him.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because the world needs people who have come alive.” –Howard Thurman

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Chelsea never fails to ignite something in others’ hearts when she talks about her passion. She’s a listener, a dreamer, a laugher, a beauty, and a woman after God’s own heart.

P.S. – Fun fact: last semester she interned with Magnolia here in Wacotown (a.k.a. THE HGTV Fixer Upper’s own Chip and Joanna Gaines). So naturally she loves goats just like the ones at “The Farmhouse.”

Someone hire this girl. Also, she’s single. 😉

Thanks Chels and part three will be coming at you soon!

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. 

the 254 and why it feels like home

wacotown-mar14People too often like to talk indifferently about this little city in the “Heart of TX” along I-35 between Dallas and Austin, but after living here for three years, I can’t help but speak up on behalf of my lovely home away from home in Wacky Waco.

I’m not claiming it’s some new bustling metropolis, but it’s so much more than just a place for a pit stop for a Cowboy Coffee (granted, that’s a pretty good reason) during a long Texas roadtrip.

These are just some little treasures I’ve discovered (or have been dying to) that help make the 254 what it is (and I’d add photos but there are too many to choose from of my 3 years of living here!):

  • It happens to be the home of Baylor University, a.k.a. the best college ever. Duh.
  • Sunsets that can’t be beat over the Brazos and now the brand-spanking new McClane Stadium awaiting its debut.
  • The wackiest and most perfect little coffee shop, Common Grounds. So many things make it the Waco treasure that it has come to be: the lived-in couches, cleverly-named and highly-caffeinated beverages that I partly owe my high GPA streak to, and the coziest backyard which has hosted musical guests like Jon Foreman, Phil Wickham, Needtobreathe, All Sons and Daughters, Ben Rector, and Gungor (all of which I’ve seen and/or MET).
  • That same shop’s competition and the newly named #2 on the top 20 hottest coffee shops in the nation, Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits. Seriously, why have espresso and alcohol never really been friends before this? We all know avid coffee lovers usually are the same people who appreciate a good cocktail. This place is a young-urban-hipster-craft-drink-connoisseur’s paradise. The rooftop view of the courthouse and the highly photographed Alico building’s red letters is the icing on this espresso cake.
  • Stand-up-paddleboarding on the river or “mountain” biking through trails on a sunny spring day, courtesy of rentals from locally-owned Outdoor Waco.
  • A city of passionate believers on a mission to set the world on fire, starting with McLennan County and reaching to Southeast Asia. There are an indefinite number of students and adults in Waco that I meet day in and day out that live to dream big with God and want to see the nations set free. My church, Antioch Community Church, is also the host of World Mandate, an incredible annual Christian conference.
  • Lake Waco Dam. Again with the sunsets…
  • This is Dr. Pepper country. So much so that Dr. Pepper [Float] Hour is every Tuesday at 3:00 in Barfield Drawing Room on Baylor’s campus. I’ve only been about twice in my college career due to a little thing called being a science major and living in labs at all hours.
  • The newest and biggest HEB in Texas. If you don’t happen to live in central/south TX or Mexico, man am I sorry for you. HEB is the gloriousness that is the best grocery store ever that makes even uttering the word “Walmart” downright absurd. Fresh, hot, scratch-made tortillas daily (these are not the kind to be used for tortilla tossing off the suspension bridge, another Baylor tradition), free samples and cooking demos, ample produce and specialty ingredients that meet the needs of most foodies, and two whole aisles of an extensive and quality beer and wine collection.
  • Cameron Park is one of the largest and most beautiful municipal parks in Texas. I’ve spent countless hours on the trails (and gotten lost a time or two), worshipped with friends on the grassy fields, ran two Bearathons (Baylor’s half-marathon) through the dreaded hills, and enjoyed some quality quiet times reading and journaling from Lover’s Leap overlooking the Brazos. Apparently it’s also something like the best disc golf course ever if you’re into that, but I can’t attest to it since I don’t have oodles of free time to throw a frisbee to some targets.
  • An on-the-rise downtown with new restaurants, bars (my favorite is easily Muddle – a classy cocktail lounge where the best Saturday nights are spent at the weekly piano bar or on the back deck with a taco and a live band), food trucks, and shops opening up all the time as well as the weekly Farmer’s Market. It’s so refreshing after growing up in a small town with about 70% of downtown vacant and rundown.

This collection is no where near all-inclusive, but at least you can see what it is I love about this place that I’ve come to call my home and can’t imagine having to leave in less than a year.

#Iheartthe254 #Wacotown #Wacoisawonderland #KeepWacoWacko #HeartofTX