Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Busy as a Bee

Sometimes life can seem kind of monotonous. But then sometimes life is so crazy that it feels like you're standing at the bottom of the mountain with an avalanche hurling your way. I'm currently in the avalanche season of life. This next year will be full of so many exciting things for me that I felt like I needed to share them.

First things first, I'm ENGAGED! My boyfriend of four whole years popped the question on top of a mountain on a gorgeous boardwalk during finals week at the end of our junior year of college. Once I realized what was going on, I quickly said YES! Next thing I knew, we were driving up to a surprise party with all of our friends and family.

 It was a great night of surprises that I will never forget (although I may have forgotten all the answers to my finals the upcoming days- wedding planning is so much more fun than studying!) Cody Gross,  I am so excited to be marrying you, my best friend, on June 4, 2016!

 Wedding planning is fun, but it can be a little overwhelming at times. Everyone is looking to you to make all the decisions- and there are about a million to be made. Not counting the appointments you have to book to go make those decisions. Working on a guest list, writing down the names of songs you hear on the radio on a napkin in case it's one you want to use, picking colors, picking dresses, the list goes on and on. But in the end, while I'm trying to choose between flowers or candles, long or short dresses, that that's not what any of this is about. June 4, 2016 is about marrying the love of my life and my best friend. It's about starting a new family and making a covenant before God to use our relationship and everything that comes of it for His glory. So if you find yourself with an invite, I hope you are prepared for some worship, some fun, and busting some moves on the dance floor.


Another big event going on in my life is the beginning of my SENIOR year of college. My oh my, where has the time gone?! I can't believe this is my last year as an undergrad on Rocky Top. As sad as I will be to leave, I will be taking with me memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

This year I will be finishing up my last few hours to graduate in May with a major in Microbiology and a minor in Hispanic Studies/ Spanish language.

I will be continuing my job at a nearby doctor's office as well as staying involved at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church (my second family). With senior year also comes the worries about what to do next. Graduation means growing up and jumping into the adult world, which brings me to the next big part of my life: medical school.

After graduation, I have decided to apply to the 2016 entering class of several medical schools across the country. For those of you who don't know how that works, the process actually started this summer. To apply for an allopathic medical school (receive a MD upon graduation), you must submit a primary application. Much like applying for college, this application is run by a central app such as the "common app" called AMCAS. This application consists of transcripts, MCAT test scores (a ridiculously long and hard medical school admissions test), GPA, extracurriculars, awards, leadership roles, etc, a personal statement about yourself, and a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation from professors (2 science, 1 non- science). Once you submit this application (with a fee for each school you choose to send it to), each school you have chosen will contact you with an immediate decline or a secondary application. This secondary application is specific to each school and mostly consists of essay questions and ANOTHER application fee. After secondaries, some students will move on to the interview round. After you have interviewed, you can either be rejected, accepted, or wait listed. As I said, this process has already started for the 2016 entering class. The primary application opened the first of June and for some students, acceptance may not come until the NEXT May. That leaves A TON of uncertainty. Will you get in? Will you remain on a wait list? If you get in, where will it be? Where will you be living and how many loans will you have to take out? Thankfully Cody is pretty okay with this whole process. He has been supportive and understands we may not know where we will be moving until the very last minute! With senior year AND a wedding to plan, why not throw in some essay writing and traveling who knows where for interviews throughout the fall semester, right?

This summer has also included a little medical work, of course. I have been volunteering through the Experience Critical program in the Baptist ER. If any high school or college student in the Memphis area is looking for awesome experience, I would HIGHLY recommend this program.

I have also been helping out with the Neighborhood Compassion clinic in Binghampton. The people there have really shown me what it looks like to love what you do and to do something just because you love it. I am so thankful for the experiences I have gotten this summer and the invaluable lessons those around me have taken the time to show me.

I will be moving back to Knoxville on August 14th, but before that I have some adventuring to do. Cody and I are leaving for a mission trip to Nicaragua in just a few days! We will be gone for a week to love on some amazing people. This will be Cody's first experience with international missions and I am so excited to be able to share this experience with him. Three days after we return, we will be taking a family vaycay to explore the wonderful state of Washington. It's going to be amazing, however we could come back with some fun stories of flying across the country with a hyperactive two year old. I'll report back with the latest travel updates! For now, here are a few more pictures from this summer!

Happy Summer!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Family Story

Hello blog world! 

As many of you know, my family has been forever changed by foster care and adoption. Instead of writing about it myself, I want to share somewhat of a guest blog. My boyfriend, Cody, is a journalism major. For his final project, he chose to write about foster care and adoption and I think he did a great job of telling our story. Please take the time to read it! 


Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful Spring weather! If you are a student, summer is just around the corner! Finish strong! 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Where's My Paddle?

Where to even begin...
I often use this space to keep a journal of sorts that documents what life looks like for my sister and I. But there are times when my heart shows up FULL and I need to share what is stirring. This art of written word that I love so much has fallen to the way side in the past few months. 

From graduating college to beginning my job in the NICU, life has not slowed down and sometimes a moment in the word or sleep takes precedence over the blog. There are days I find myself getting caught up in the business and in those same moments feeling as if I am not doing enough, feeling inadequate and overwhelmingly blessed all at once. With all the emotions swirling, creating the perfect storm for a panic stricken meltdown, suddenly my heart grows quiet and still and I know that He is near. 

It has become a routine to diligently and whole-heartedly call to the Lord for peace. 
I feel as if I do not even know what normal is anymore.
Do I want to know?
Do I want to return to what has been comfortable and safe in my distant past?
If I search my heart and look at all that God has done in the past 4 years, I cannot say that I want to stop and reach for normal. 

Yahweh has met me in the middle, ushered me into time of embracing a new attitude towards change
 and moving into adulthood. 

In reference to her experience paddle boarding and it's correlation to a pursuit of perfection, Shauna Niequist spoke to my soul:

"Forward motion brings stability. Sometimes we just have to pick a direction & start pulling the paddle through the water & along the way we will get the stability & confidence we're looking for." 

So perfectly timed & eloquently spoken, these words could not speak more truth about the transition from student into professional, child to adult. If we are being completely real, life is really scary. I feel as if I am ill-prepared for the tasks that are set before me. My natural tendency is to pull away, to sink back into what I know is comfortable, the norm. 

Thankfully, that is not an option at this point in life. Adulthood has begun.
 I am met in the mornings by sick and screaming babies who need someone to be brave enough to walk the journey of healing with them. I have friends who need to be pointed back to Jesus when the mountains are high and the valleys are low. I have fellow Memphians that need me to reject the norm, the prejudice, the cultural barriers and to love with open hands and an open heart. 

And really, will I ever be ready? 
Will I ever know all that I need to know about medicine or commitment or holiness? 

With great confidence, I can answer "no". Not at all. 

But God chose me. He chooses me each and every day. 
I am not here, in the throws of relationships and work and community, by my own will and ambition. 
Even still, I am  given the choice to walk away and to attain to comfort. It is a choice to put the paddle in the water and pull. 

So here we go, seeking stability in the boldness of embracing change.  
Put down inadequacy, pick up confidence and jump in with all that you have. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Meagan is 23!!

Today is Meagan's birthday! Since it's her turn to write a post for the blog but she hasn't, I am going to take it upon myself to write a blog ABOUT her. :)

Meagan is my older sister by two years and although we tend to fight on a pretty regular basis, I still love her and am so proud of all she has accomplished.
In the past year, Meagan has traveled the Cali coast, served in Guatemala, gained another little sister, finished nursing school, graduated from college, passed her nursing boards, started a job at a Memphis NICU taking care of the sickest little babies, gotten a new beau, and probably much more that I am leaving out. We are so proud of you Meag! Can't wait to see what the next year holds for you.

M- motherly: Meagan has always acted like a second mother for me. Even though she's only two years older than me, she's always thought she knows what's best for me :) And now she is so helpful taking care of our baby sis. Nurturing and caring for the babies is literally her job description!

E- eternally minded: Meagan has a heart for serving and missions. She has served from Guatemala to the Philippines, Haiti, and much more. Everywhere she goes she is sure to make an eternal difference.

A- adventurous: Meagan is always up for an adventure! We have traveled and hiked all over together and I can't wait for many more adventures together.
G- goofball: Although many people may not get to see that side of Meagan, we have lots of silly sister times. I love that we can have our goofy moments together.

A-: annoying: Honestly, my sister enjoys annoying me so much. I think it's one of her favorite pastimes. But in the end, that's probably the job of a big sister. :) It's {mostly} all in fun and I love her anyways.

N- nurse: Meagan isn't afraid of a challenge. She took on nursing school like a pro. Even through hard classes, all night study sessions, or bathing old men on her first day, she has kept her head held high. When it came to finding a job, she didn't settle for the first thing thrown her way. She was determined and landed her first choice. SO proud of you!
 Happy 23rd Birthday, Meag! Love you!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Why Medicine?

“Okay, have a great day!” were the last words I heard as my only means of transportation and the only other native English speaker in walking distance that I would see for hours drove away in a cloud of red dust down the pot hole filled paths of the African bush. I was ushered into a small nursing office where the door was promptly closed behind me. I scooted onto a small wooden bench whose light blue paint was as dried and cracked as the dark, sun baked skin I was surrounded by. The unfamiliarity of my surrounding began to creep over me like the heat of a summer afternoon. My palms began to sweat. My mouth was suddenly filled with sandpaper, like I hadn’t seen water in days. All I could think was “Don’t pass out. Not here, not now”. And then the needles came. As I was focused on not face planting off of my already rickety seat, the nurse had begun to draw up what I assumed to be vaccinations. She nonchalantly pulled vials and syringes from her desk drawers. No paperwork to fill out, no physician to give the orders. As I looked up from my panicked daze, the needles looked to be the size of an old fashioned number two pencil. Irrational fear hit me like a ton of bricks. I suddenly threw myself into the plot of Taken or some other abduction movie. All I could think was that I was about to be drugged. I’d have pencil-sized needles gouged into my arm and taken to who knows where. It would be hours before anyone knew I was missing, no one there spoke English anyways. Just as I was convinced of my impending doom, the door opened and the first TB patient walked in for his round of shots and medications. I sank into the corner, unnoticed, as I watched a three year old take his vaccinations without a single tear drop as the blood rushed back to my face and the room came into focus once more.

Ear piercing shrieks rang out from the clinic door as I rushed over to pull it closed, tripping over chairs and Dora the Explorer tennis shoes, before the other children were disturbed by the commotion. “It’s just a little water. Un poco agua.” the nurse explained, trying to calm the hysterical sobbing coming from the tiny patient. She was about the size of my backpack, grasping my hand until my fingers were tingling, sitting in a chair that was two sizes too big. What her appearance was lacking in size, her vocal cords made up for. As more water went into her ear, another monster sized squeal emerged from my pint sized patient. She looked  at me with fear in her eyes. A fear of the unknown. A fear of being pulled out of class and into a cramped office with nurses and big scary instruments. A fear of knowing she was being talked about but not understanding a single word. She knew it was only water. She knew it was not a painful process to have her ears cleaned out. She knew the hearing test was almost even fun. But still that fear remained. That little hand never left mine as I tried to ease her fears with some Spanish stories. Those Dora shoes shuffled back to class, and as I returned the child to her classmates, her face lit up. The fear was gone, but the fingernail imprints of those terrifying moments left a lasting impression.

Ceiling tiles and lockers slowly came into focus as my eyes flittered open. Why were people yelling my name? Why was I laying on the ice cold floor in the middle of the school hallway? None of it mattered, I just wanted to sleep. If I could just close my eyes for one minute, everything would be better. As soon as the barbells that were sure to be sitting on my eyelids became too much to bear, I was being drilled again. “What’s your name? What’s your birthday? Don’t you fall asleep.” Panic. Obviously something was wrong. The floor was too cold and hard. The shaking was too violent. The people were unfamiliar. This was not a dream. At 16 years old, the only thing that stuttered from my mouth was “I want my mom”. As time seemed to be moving as if it were wading through mud, blankets arrived, my mom’s face joined the blur of people crowding in my field of vision, more questions asked, more fights against my desire to sleep, and before I knew it I was being strapped to a backboard. Arms and legs constrained. Neck in a brace. I could no longer glance over at my mom for comfort. I was whisked down the stairway and into the back of an ambulance. The tears flowed and the IVs began. As the paramedic quickly placed what felt like the largest needle ever made into my arm, the doors slammed shut as the view of my friends and mom grew smaller and smaller. What is happening? Where are we going? After coming around in my not so comfortable emergency room bed, I still couldn’t move. “You have to wear the collar until we know there is no spinal damage or a brain bleed”. A BRAIN BLEED?! If I was standing I probably would have hit the floor again. As the hours ticked by, the collar remained. The anticipation built. The fear grew like kudzu. Finally a freckle faced nurse with a pile of dark hair spilling over her face took my hand and said “ Honey, no news is good news”. A little while later the collar came off and I was on my way home. 

As the time to send out medical school applications quickly approaches, the question everyone seems to ask is “Why do you want to do medicine?”. My answer? Because medicine is scary. Going to the pediatrician to get vaccines as a little kid is scary. Having to go into the big, noisy MRI machine because you fell and busted your knee at summer camp is scary. Being put into the back of an ambulance, sitting in a hospital bed, waiting in the lobby for a loved one to come out of surgery, tests, scans, surgeries, blood draws. No matter your age or your toughness, medicine is just scary. Add in a language barrier or a cultural difference and that fear is multiplied even more. 
Through my experiences with medicine I have always had someone to hold my hand. I’ve always had someone to dry my tears and tell me it’s going to be okay, but not everyone has that. Who is there for the mothers as they hold their tiny infants born way too early. Who is there for the teenage girl who just found out she now has to raise a child herself. Who will hold the hand of African babies who have walked for miles just to get a vitamin supplement that wouldn’t even be needed if they had the proper food to eat. 
If I can be a comfort to just one, then it’s worth it. If I can be that shoulder to cry on after hearing a tough diagnosis, that word of encouragement to a patient just before the anesthesia takes over, or simply a hand to squeeze during the “small pinch” of those yearly vaccinations, then I will feel a life of accomplishment. Jesus has told us that above all we are to love Him and love one another. I think one of the best ways to love someone is to be there in their time of need. For me, that calling is found through the medical field. For you, it may look different. But as Suzanne Mayernick and Gwen Oatsvall put it, “He’s leading us by His love into a deeper experience with Him by giving us opportunity to care for others in His precious name…. Loving the one who’s in front of us. That’s what it’s all about.”

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