Saturday, November 16, 2013


Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (Colossians 3:23, 24 NLT)

I have spent much time previously thinking & reading about this specific topic, but recently it has been brought back to my attention that this is something worth talking about beyond my circle of friends and family. I recently had a friend from high school message me, praising me for "making something of myself" when so many others we shared class with haven't. I felt like they were missing it, overlooking the value of the work that others are doing and honestly, I felt disappointed for my own motives being wrongfully judged. The Lord knows how different I am from high school, but it's been a challenge having others understand me and how God has change me, and as a result, how and why I live my life. 

A successful life. How do you define it? If you ask the world how to define it, it is often seen as a summation of all your achievements: the number of degrees you have attained, how much money you make, how prestigious your job position is compared to the average Joe, the type of car you drive, how nice of a house or property you own, how expensive your wardrobe, or even how many kids or friends you have. The list goes on... But what does God say about your life? How is success seen in His loving eyes? 

After graduating high school, it seems I have spent much of my time trying to discover the CORRECT answer to that question. I grew up in a Christian home, attending church weekly, having an amazing, loving family. In saying this, I've had a great support system and a strong foundation in my faith, but I suppose there are lessons that nobody but God Himself can get through to hardheaded creatures as myself. I was missing it.

 I made straight A's from kindergarten through high school, and then throughout college as well. I had an natural apt for learning in the classroom. I loved being challenged and I felt a sense self-fulfillment from receiving good grades from the hard work I put into my academic career. But, eternally, what value does all of that have in itself? My dream was to be a doctor, and while I wanted to help people, I can't help but admit that I struggled for years to please and impress people. And while I had credited my achievements to God's doing, I somehow still had a bit of this twisted misconception that God wanted my life to be about ME. 

I guess you could say I hit my ultimate low after I graduated college. I had a plan, a seriously long and hard thought-out plan for how my life was to unfold after college. And guess what? None of it unfolded. It more like twisted up, had gasoline poured on it, and was set ablaze. I ended up right where every college graduate hopes to end up after years of being on their own: my parents house. I love my parents, but this was NOT in my plan. "What happened to Med School?" "You're living with your PARENTS!?" I felt humiliated and like a total failure. Yet again, caring about what others thought about me. 

So I thought that things basically couldn't get any worse, but they did. I had an additional series of challenges come my way that made me feel like a kid losing a dodge ball match, curled up on the court in the fetal position, getting hit with one ball after another, and no body would blow the whistle. "God, where was my whistle? Where were you, why did you let me get here, why didn't you fulfill my dreams and fulfill my plan?" I thought.  I needed someone to slap me out of Lauren's World, and this was His way doing it. It was painful, but I've known all long that He did it in love. 

I spent the next year and a half meeting some very influential mentors and friends, getting involved in my parents' church, becoming a youth group leader, and becoming closer with my family. I held several different little jobs including working at a Christian book store, being a nanny, and being a math and science tutor. I read more than I ever had in my life, mostly the Bible and also writings of influential Christian writers, especially books by Elisabeth Elliot. 

Now, it would be very easy for anyone to look at me at the time and think that I was one of those that never amounted to anything close to being successful. But what they didn't know, is how God changed my heart and brought me to dry season not for my glory, but for His. He finally got it through to me that this life that He has blessed me with, is to be lived for HIM. Yes, I've heard that many times before in my life, but this was the first time that I truly, completely understood what that meant. I experienced more spiritual growth during those 18 months than I had my entire life: understanding more of who God is, who I am, and what His purpose is for my life. I was baptized the following Spring in celebrating what The Lord had done in my heart, and that day I publicly proclaimed that my life is HIS. 

Until we stop caring about what others think, we won't care about what God thinks... We will keep living our lives for ourselves, feeling the burden of the never ending struggle to live up to the society's expectation of a successful life. But you know what? That is a burden we don't have to carry. 

The true way to living successful life is finding how to live one in JOY: 1. Jesus 2. Others 3. Yourself. Yes, yourself is put very last. 

"You were made by God and for God. And until you understand that, life will never make sense." -Rick Warren

My life didn't make a whole lot of sense before I understood that. And I thank God for that dry, painful season. It allowed me to seek God with all my heart and all my strength... It seemed like He was all I had in my life at the time. And yet, He was enough. He always is, it's just the matter if we let Him. He was faithful and never left my side when I needed Him most. He has taught me to pray "Thy will be done." He has made me understand how much He loves me, and in doing so He has also taught me to trust Him. 

So finally I saw that His plans are better than mine, but I was nearing a new season of my life that was still very unknown. During those 18 months, I discovered a profession that might be a better fit for me, and I prayed about it. It was different than my previous prayers of "Please Lord, I really really want this, it's part of my plan." It was one of those "Lord if it is in Your will, Your plan for my life, I would love this opportunity to use the talents You have blessed me with to love others and to bring You glory." 

I was accepted into the PA Program at a Christian university in Arkansas. It was the first time that I felt that I was truly living out God's plan for my life. It was not that I was finally doing something great by getting a higher degree or going to be making a larger salary, or that I was getting out of my parents house [although I'm so thankful that I did ;) ] it was because I was doing it for HIM and Him alone. God was finally at the center of my dreams; All else was aside and He was guiding them. It didn't matter to Him if I continued to work at a book store, tutor, or nanny. Before I was accepted into the program I had to explore my options, maybe going back to school to be a high school math teacher, or a college science professor, or a children counselor. I knew that it didn't matter what I did, as long as I was using what He has given me for His glory. 

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)
When people look at me and my life, I don't care what people think of me. I care about what they think of my God. My goal in life is to love God and love people. My grades, my schooling, my accomplishments, contribute nothing to a truly successful life. Those are temporary things that will not have any value when my life on earth is over and I approach the Pearly Gates. 

So after I read this message from my old high school classmate, I thought about several people I knew from high school who I bet have been overlooked. Those who I have noticed have found the better thing in life, which did not necessarily include a prestigious job, but rather a new love for God and others... And that is what makes me smile because I know it makes the Lord smile. It makes my heart happy to see people giving up their lives to God. No matter what society will continue to say, find something you are good at and do it to help and love others. Work as if you are working for God and share His love. Always. 

I know several people who have given up more prestigious jobs because they found that they can better live for God's glory in a nonprofit organization or doing lower salary jobs. But you know what? They are some of the most joyful people I know, and everyday people judge them for having a low-paying job and not "making something better of themselves." But what those people don't know is how many hearts they are leading to the Lord and how much love they have shared. THAT is SUCCESS. That is selflessness, that is love, that is eternal work that will echo in Heaven. 

We live in a broken world that needs God. People are starving for love and finding temporary fulfillment in all the wrong things that are ultimately going to bring them to their destruction and they are MISSING IT. They are missing the Greater Thing in life, and how about we do something to change that. And keep doing those "somethings" until the day we leave this world and meet our Maker who then says, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." 


And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:1-21 NLT)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Guatemala on my heart


 Long before I started PA school, the Lord placed the desire in my heart to do a medical mission trip. Interestingly enough, I was specifically drawn to Central America. I wasn't very far into my 1st semester of school when I learned of an amazing opportunity that would make it all a reality. In September, we had a meeting about a medical mission trip to Guatemala and heard beautiful stories of the lives others have touched there in the past. I almost immediately felt confirmation from the Lord that this trip was for me. After a few weeks, I prayerfully decided that I would go to Guatemala with the team during my Spring Break. While I was ecstatic and thrilled about this trip, I was a little nervous calling my parents to tell them that I wouldn't be coming in for Spring Break. But of course, my parents are so supportive and loving, and they totally understood. :) While I'll miss visiting home this semester, I know in my heart that this is a very special opportunity that I will absolutely not regret taking. 
Our trip to Guatemala is being coordinated by a ministry called Health Talents International, which has been involved in medical evangelism for more than 39 years. Our team of healthcare providers, pharmacy students, and physician assistant students from Harding University are headed to Chichicastenago, Guatemala during the week of March 9-16 (our Spring Break week). We will be having a clinic starting each morning through the evenings in which various stations will be set up. We will have stations to take people's history, their vitals, and perform physical exams. There will also be prayer/spiritual and pharmacy stations. I have been so excited about this trip coming up, especially since we've had our last meeting in which we fine tuned the details and received medical equipment to pack with us. But I have to admit, I was beginning to get a little nervous about whether I was going to make it due to a passport hold up. Who knew passports could sometimes take 4 months to get!? Well, yesterday after my test I came home to check my mail as I do everyday... in hopes of maybe getting it. And to my surprise... It was finally here!!! Thank you Lord! I am excited and feel so blessed to be able to go on this trip in an effort to love, teach, and heal as our Lord Jesus did.  I cannot describe how excited I am to be a part of the Lord's work in Guatemala. Please join me in praying for the people of Chichi and for Him to work through us while we are there. :)

In other news, school is going so great and there is not a day those goes by that I do not feel absolutely blessed to be here! I love our class, faculty, and staff even more, if that was possible!? It has definitely been quite different than last semester in that I don't feel like I'm constantly struggling to keep my head above water. Last semester we took more hours and it was rare that we ever had a week with less than 3 exams. This semester we are so fortunate and thankful that we only have 1 maybe 2 tests each week. And our hardest exams, Clinical Medicine and Pharmacology, are actually on different weeks! Yay times 100!!! (Last semester they would sometimes be in the same week, and on the same day.) I feel like time is absolutely flying by. Where did January go!? We have already had 5 tests and have covered Infectious diseases and the Endocrine system. Next week we stat Neuropsych! I'm nervous for how intense it may be, but I am quite interested in and excited about this section. 

This semester is also seeming to be better because we get some 3 day weekends now and then, how sweet is that!? A couple weeks ago, I got the privilege to go on a trip with these beautiful ladies to northwest Arkansas. We visited Fayetteville, which is in the MOUNTAINS (ya'll know I'm a huge mountain fan!), Fort Smith, and Rachel's sweet home in Greenwood.  I absolutely love these ladies and it was such a special weekend to get away and explore beautiful Arkansas. We were spoiled by Rachel's amazing parents and rejuvenated for a week of studying! We are totally guilty of studying pharm in the car though, couldn't help it ;) We checked out some of the ERs at Fort Smith's hospitals and saw some potential clinics for clinicals. It was nice getting more ideas for where I might want to do my rotations in August, and I have to say that I definitely saw some potentials! I'm starting to feel the pressure though because my decision needs to be made up by March when our rotation forms are due. Decisions, decisions!! 

Well that's about it for this post, I'm trying to keep them from getting too long ;) I tend to write a lot. Here's some verses that I hope bless you today, as they have for me: 

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through FAITH in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on FAITH. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him  from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!"

(Philippians 3:8-11).

Much love,


Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year, Another Semester!

Some of our class at our Christmas Party. We were delirious from finals! 

Fall colors of Searcy, AR
Phewww! What a relief it is to have a semester under my belt! It was beginning to seem like we would never reach that light at the end of the tunnel having 9 exams within our last 9 days of the semester, but thank the Lord He got us through it! It is amazing to look back and see how much we have learned already and how the time has flown by. I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity to study what I'm studying. Although it can be very taxing of energy, sleep, time, etc, I can honestly say it is totally worth it. :)

We have had 3 weeks off school for Christmas break, which has been oh so wonderful!!! I had some adventurous outings and enjoyed doing some of my favorite things with some of my favorite people! My dad took me to a KLOVE winter tour concert, I enjoyed shopping the mall and eating at my favorite restaurants-- I saw Manu Ginobili at Cosi by the way! He sat at the table behind Gaby and I :) That was neat! What else...I saw a movie in the theaters for the first time since July! Visited my favorite coffee shops with friends, enjoyed lunch and shopping in Fredericksburg, visited my brother and his family in Corpus, experienced my first legit hunting experience, shot some big guns at the ranch, got in some good running at my favorite parks, went hiking with my brothers and stalked foxes through the woods, baked goodies, played games with the fam and.... SLEPT a lot.

My Aunt Debbie, me, and my Mommy on Christmas Day

Trips home never seem long enough, but tonight I was thinking... if it were any longer I would very likely get lazy bones and struggle to get back into the school routine. Yesterday I was just about dreading heading back, but tonight this sudden excitement came over me and I've realized that I'm ready to get back at it. I've heard that the first semester is the hardest. OH how I pray that is true! Haha. We took 21 hours last semester and this semester we are taking 19. The hardest part of PA school (in my opinion), is TIME. There is so much material and so little time to learn it. It is extremely fast paced, hence the '3/4 medical school in 1/2 the time.' It took a while for me to get into the right routine and figure out which studying techniques worked best for each class, and as well as each topic. I'm still not totally sure if I even figured it all out quite yet!

Hiking with my brothers :)

Sitting in the deer blind at Cory's ranch

Isn't it difficult to believe that another year has already come and gone!? The older I get the more I realize the truth in that our life is "but of breath" (Psalm 39). One of my favorite things to do during New Years is to set aside a couple hours of solitude to reminisce about the journey God took me on each year. I smile when I think of how He surprised me with a wonderful job opportunity the very first of the year at just the right time, which I absolutely loved. I'm thankful for getting many prayers answered, including getting into the PA school I had my heart set on, and especially for the one of my brother being healed from kidney cancer. There are also those prayers that went unanswered, which may have been difficult to accept at the time, but I am quite thankful for them now. He provided for me in so many areas of my life, including sweet classmates and new friendships, a new church and Bible study group, and strength to press through the tough semester. I was blessed with two amazing sister-in-laws, a nephew by marriage, and the news of a niece/nephew on the way! :)

Not every year is one in which we can look back on and easily smile. Some are filled with many joys, some are filled with many sorrows, and some a mix of both. But I have come to learn that no matter if it be blessings and joys or struggles and sorrows that we have to look back on, they are all for a purpose. I am constantly being reminded that God's plan is so far complex and above me that I will never be able to understand.... AND that it is also so wonderful that I will never be able to understand just how much greater it is than my own. Looking back on all the struggles of this past year, I realize that I wouldn't have many of the blessings which I am now appreciating if I hadn't gone through them. I can look back on a trial that was tough, but it was one in which He proved His faithfulness to me, and prepared my heart for a tougher one. I'm especially thankful that school was so challenging this past semester because it allowed me to rely on Him more, and because of it, my faith has grown stronger.
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." (James 1:2-3)
Keeping our eyes on Jesus is not easy, especially when we are vulnerable from the busyness of life, being worn out, and stressed. Times like those, Satan loves to take the opportunity to put negative thoughts in our minds which stirs up fear, more stress, and ultimately leads us to doubting God's love. Isn't that awful? I've been reading a book called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver, and I reached the discussion about all this the week before my finals. Tears fell down my face when I read the words "doubt God's love" because that's what I was doing that Friday after my test which I thought I had bombed. I was being overcome by fear and hopelessness thinking about those 6 finals I had to immediately begin studying for, that were just 2 days away. My thoughts were, "How in the world am I going to pass 6 finals that I don't even have the time nor energy to study for because of those other 3 tests I just took!? And how am I going to pass them when I can't even pass a section exam!? It is impossible to study an entire semester's worth of Clinical Medicine in 2 days! Impossible!" I called my mom and she snapped me out of that negative thinking. She said, "Lauren, that's not God telling you those things. You know who's putting all that doubt in your head, and don't let him!"

"In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil" (Ephesians 6:16).
Bedtime reading with my girl. Isn't she the best!?
Satan can get the best of us. Even if it's just those couple of hours after an awfully hard test... and if you believe him and focus on those negative thoughts it cause much more damage. I opened my book that night and cried because it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear from God to get my eyes focused back on Him. When I was stuck on negative island, stressing and worrying, I was really hurting Him... doubting His love. The truth is, God wants to take care of us. He has our best interest in mind. We can TRUST Him. We can work our hardest, but when we reach our limit, the point where we are out of time and out of strength, that's when we can trust the rest to God. He is able, even if we are not. When we are weak, He is strong. I studied as hard as I could for as long as I could. I prayed, rested, and left the rest to Him. And He provided. :)

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).
Well, back to school I go on Monday morning for semester 2 of the didactic year. One more after that then it'll be time for Clinical Rotations! Yippe! :) Happy New Year! I pray that you might be encouraged by reading my post today. Let's not doubt His unfailing love for us!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finally a Post: Together we go...

Beautiful sunset  I captured on my run one evening (Searcy, AR)

It has been so long since my last post! Too long! There's so much to update about, I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll start from where I left off on my last post. Several weeks ago, a group of us girls decided to begin our weekend by going out to eat to Chili's and going rock climbing downtown. It was the perfect study break and it was neat discovering the rock climbing center! I can't wait to go back! :)

Rock climbing at the Zion Climbing Center in downtown Searcy, AR
So much fun! Love these girls!

Well school has definitely been picking up speed. We've had 5 tests so far. We started out having a test every other Friday to having THREE tests in one week! Needless to say, we've been studying like CRAZY! But it has been so much fun at the same time! :) In a way it feels like I have been here longer than only 6 weeks, since we have been learning so much so quickly. We got our white coats a few weeks ago and we got to wear them to visit the sweet residents at the Harding Place Retirement Center. We had a great time talking with the residents and we got to practice taking a medical history. Here's some pics of my first time wearing my white coat and our wonderful class outside Harding Place.

Harding University Physician Assistant Class of 2014 :)

We have been learning new clinical skills every week. We've already learned how to give all 3 types of injections, venipuncture (blood draws), and IVs. Next week we're learning EKGs! The fun part about clinical skills is that we get to practice on each other! How neat is it that we trust each other enough to poke each other with needles!? haha. I've had an amazing partner through these experiences and I'm thankful for her patience, especially last week when I had to poke her 3 times to start and IV... sorry Rachel! We also got to give the Pharmacy students their TB skin tests. That was neat because it was pretty much set up like a clinic. We were each assigned a specific shift in an examination room and patients were sent back to us one at a time to get their TB test.
Learning Venipuncture (drawing blood)
Learning injections!

Last weekend was one of my favorites because I got to fly home for my brother's wedding. I was SO excited to get on that plane headed to TEXAS! :) My dad greeted me at the airport and we went out to dinner and picked up my bridesmaids dress. Then I went home to see the rest of my family and later went out to a Texas country concert with some friends. I was super glad to see my best friend again! I missed you Gabs! ;)
Gaby & I at Josh Abbott concert in Helotes, TX :)
The next day I had a special breakfast with dear friend of mine at our favorite coffee shop in town! It was a lovely morning, surprisingly beautiful weather! The rest of the wedding day was full of more fun and family time! I loved getting to see my aunts, uncles, grandparents, niece, nephew, cousins, family friends... everyone! It did my heart good to see so many people that mean so much to me and as well to see my brother and his beautiful bride so happy! :) I remember the day Gloria and I met in the hallway of the "J building" in high school. I had seen her around Stephen a lot lately, and being a nosy and protective younger sister, I walked up to Gloria and bluntly asked her if she was my brother's new girlfriend. Haha She came over later that night and met our family, and nearly 7 years later... they're married!!! She's been like a sis to be since I was 16 and now it's finally official! Yay!!! Congrats Steve and Gloria! :)  

With my brother & new sis, Gloria Bump! :)

This past week was... NUTS. I flew back into Little Rock Sunday afternoon (Did I mention I forgot my purse at my house and my mom had to rush it to the airport!? & that it was pouring rain!? Big OOPS! Thanks Mom for saving me!!) After I got off the plane, I had to drive an hour back to Searcy in a storm, unpack, and before I knew it I was back to study, study, studying! We had 3 tests last week: physical diagnosis, anatomy & physiology, and pharmacology. Wednesday we stayed at school almost until 5:30 trying to learn IVs, and Thursday we visited the White County hospital after our test. We got to visit patients and practice our communication and history taking skills. I felt like I learned so much just in our brief visit and enjoyed talking with my patient, but also left a bit heavyhearted. Thursday I had a group of girls over to study the night before our crazy day of tests. We were so glad to get those over with! We made it! ;)

Obviously, there have definitely been some trying times already, even though we're only 6 weeks into school. But I'm truly blown away how amazing it has been at the same time. I love what I'm learning and I love who I'm leaning it with. It is truly a growing experience, and I couldn't imagine going through this journey without my incredible classmates. We really have been walking through this season together and helping each other along the way... not only academically, but also spiritually. I am beyond blessed to have such great fellowship here. We share Bible verses, devotionals, and always join together in prayer before our tests. It may not sound like a big deal, but to me, it's a very big deal. Especially this last week when for the first time since I've been here I really began to struggle to keep my head above the water (We heard that expression during orientation week and I now know what that means!).

I felt like it was impossible to learn all that I needed to learn in such little time before our tests. I discovered that many others felt the same way as I did, and it was comforting to know we were all in it together. We studied as hard as we could, often together, and prayed, prayed, prayed! I would open emails from classmates full of encouragement, helpful study materials, and several Bible verses. Even though it was a really tough week, God never quit pouring out His love among us. He was present through every moment of it, and for that I am SO thankful! We really can't do anything without Him. He is our Provider. It is surely a beautiful season :) We're learning a ton of neat things together while growing in the Lord together... learning to trust Him more and how to let go of fear. This next week will be another full week of 3 more tests... but I know He will get us through it like this past one! :)

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest...." (Matthew 11:28).

That is one of my favorite verses. As I desperately searched through my Bible earlier this past week, He lead me back to this verse and reminded me of exactly what I needed to hear. No matter what you're going through, bring those worries to the Lord. He will give you peace and carry you through it. He really is the only Way :)

Well, that's about it for now! By the way, it is now officially FALL! It is already feeling like it up here with this cool weather :) I absolutely love it! I have a pumpkin spice candle burning right now which makes it even better!

Happy first day of Fall and blessings to all! ;)


Can't forget about my darling Angel.... :)

She propped herself up like that so she could watch me study  :)

Playing & staying busy with her new toys!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blessed to be on this Journey...

This past week was seriously incredible! I don't even know where to begin! Monday was such an exciting day, yet also a HUGE eye-opener. Our jaws dropped as we were all told how intense the program is going to be. Three-fourths of medical school in half the time is going to call for some serious time management skills! After that reality check, we spent a lot of time discussing time management, learning/study strategies, and stress management. Wednesday was all about 'Loving Medicine.' We did a "ropes course" with our class, faculty, and staff where we did different activities/challenges that allowed us to get to know each other better and work as a team. It was a total blast! But I'm sure that will be the one and only time we could wear workout clothes to class! :) Thursday we did BLS (Basic Life Support) training and we all got our certification for Healthcare Providers. CPR is quite a workout, especially when doing it almost all day! My thumbs were sore the next day from infant CPR... haha. Friday we had professional and senior student panels where we got to ask questions and hear invaluable advice for surviving the program and becoming health care providers. Lastly, we ended the amazing week with a devotional.

It's so hard to believe that we have all known each other for only a little over a week now... I already feel like we're family :) It is so neat that we all come from so many diffferent backgrounds from all over the country and yet we happen to mesh so well and make an awesome team. I think that is one of the most important things I've gained out of this week, among many others. Our classmates are not at all our competitors; they are our study partners, encouragers, support system, and family members. After getting to know them over the past several days, it's quite comforting to know that we are all in this together. It is quite likely going to be the most challenging 28 months of our lives in this program, but we are beyond blessed to have each other.

Blessed is the theme for this post, if you haven't already noticed. It's just that I have realized more and more each day how very blessed I am to be here. Every experience I have had here has been confirmation that I am exactly where God wants me to be. I couldn't imagine a more wonderful PA program that is not only based on practicing patient-centered medicine, but Christ-centered medicine. The faculty and staff are so supportive, encouraging, and compassionate. It is an incredible feeling to know that we have such amazing teachers and mentors that genuinely care about us, and pray for us. I have stopped to think to myself several times this past week, "How did I get here!?" It's completely the Lord's doing. I'm so thankful...

Color-coded my weekly schedules :)

Well orientation week was clearly a blast... but come tomorrow we will be in full study mode as we officially start the didactic year. It is so exciting, yet I know it's going to be so challenging... and I have no idea what that is going to feel like... haha. I'm bracing myself. But I'm so glad that the faculty reminded me that as we begin this journey, I'm going to have to fight to keep my eyes focused on the Lord. He is the reason I'm here, and it's by His strength, love, grace, and guidance that I will get through these next 28 months.

"Be mindful of the purpose you have embraced, and set always before you the vision of the crucified" -Thomas à Kempis
Back to pre-reading for tomorrow and finishing laundry! I'm not sure if I'll find the time to post after this next week, but I shall try! :)

PS. I miss San Antonio's Mexican food.... and Julio's. But... I do not miss the triple digit temps! We've been in the 60s in the mornings and 80s for the highs! Be jealous ;)

WAIT! Can't forget about Angel... Here's an idea of what she's been up to this week :)

Yep, she's in the bathtub.
Always on my papers
She has claimed the ottoman. I have to fight her for it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My New Little Home

"And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’" (Deuteronomy 1:31) 

Well, I've been in my new home for a week now and it has been looking and feeling more like home each day. My mom was such a huge help! She stuck around a few days to help me unpack, organize, clean, decorate, and she even made a veggie pasta salad and apple pudding dessert. I am blessed with a very giving mom. She's seriously the best! Here are a few pics of my new little home. I'll be adding a few things here and there, but for now I am done. I'm pretty burnt out on organizing, cleaning, and decorating! lol. Yes, it's a tad on the girly side, but most of you who know me are probably surprised by how little pink I incorporated.

This week I've been working a lot on my apartment, exploring the town, and getting things ready for school. I found a few parks, a river, and bike trail, which I am quite excited about! I'm getting more acquainted with the stores and restaurants around here. Yesterday, I visited a cute little coffee hut and got a yummy caramel frappaccino! I got my cable and internet hooked up and I got my windshield fixed. Wednesday I went to Little Rock, which is about 45 miles away from here. I shopped around a little bit and enjoyed exploring a little of the city. It was a fun little getaway for the day, yet also really interesting!

 It started raining on my drive there (The Weather Channel totally lied to me). When I arrived at Target the rain had stopped and a beautiful rainbow appeared. It was absolutely breathtaking! I got out of my car to take a picture and looked around the parking lot to see that several other cars had stopped off the highway to snap a picture of the rainbow as well. Although I only capture half of it, it was a full rainbow that even had another dim rainbow just above it. Gorgeous! I couldn't help but just stare at it for several minutes thinking about how truly AMAZING God is. The rainbow is a symbol of God's promise that He will never again flood the whole world, but when I look at it I think of more than just that promise. I'm reminded of God's character, how faithful He is. Seeing something that beautiful and amazing, it's like... how can we NOT believe that God is alive, that He loves us, and is that His promises are true?! That rainbow couldn't have come at a better time. He knew I needed that. :)

Later, while I was in Target we experienced a complete blackout for several minutes. I heard parents frantically calling for their children and children crying and screaming. So what did I do? I just turned on my flashlight app. on my phone and then tweeted about it. Haha. The emergency lights came on and I continued to look around for another hour waiting for the power to turn back on so I could check out. I hated to think I had come all the way to Little Rock without being able to get anything. But then I realized that maybe me going there wasn't about shopping. I couldn't stop thinking about that rainbow. It suddenly didn't bother me that I may have just "wasted" hours shopping at a store that I traveled 45 miles to get to. I started heading to put my things back on the shelves when the electricity came back on. Everyone in the store was crowded at the front (maybe 20 of us) and we all cheered and gave high-fives! Haha. I'm glad I got to buy the things I had gone there for after all, but I know now that it wouldn't have been a wasted trip at all if I hadn't. The rainbow and God's sweet reminder alone was so worth the trip in the rain.

I liked Little Rock and I will definitely be back! I think it will be nice to get the best of both worlds. The small town feel of Searcy and the big city feel of Little Rock. I think the quaintness of Searcy is quite cute! It is very different here, but I'm trying not to compare it too much to back home and instead enjoy the unique things about it. My grandmother was just explaining to me how different London was to her when she and my grandfather lived there for a few years. She said that she really enjoyed it though because it was so unique from anything she was familiar with in the United States. She didn't go there expecting it to be like everything she was used to. She said if she had gone there hoping it to be like the U.S. she would have been miserable there. But instead, she enjoyed every little thing about it that was different and special, and she was able to bring back so many lovely memories when she returned to the States. I know I'm not in a different country, but what she said to me has definitely stuck with me as I have struggled a little these past few days to imagine my life in this new place. I'm trying to remember that I'm not in San Antonio or even Texas anymore. Living in this new place and going on this adventure is exactly that: an adventure. Something new and different. I'm trying to put on a different set of eyes as I accept Searcy for Searcy, all the little unique things about it that makes it special and different from anywhere else. (It is pronounced sir-see, not seer-see! haha I learned that pretty quickly!)

Sunday was a wonderful day full of more realization. I tried out a church on the west side of town (literally 10 minutes away from my apartment on the east side). It was very similar to my home church in San Antonio, but much smaller. I really really enjoyed the church. I loved the worship, sermon, and even met a few people. They were all so friendly and welcoming. How neat is it that one of the first people I met there was from Dallas, TX!? :) The sermon was definitely what I needed. It was about how we are naturally drawn to living a life of comfort. Yet, we often miss that it's actually the lack of comfort that leads us to reach out to the Lord for His strength. Those are the times the Lord really does a lot of powerful work through us and within us. It was definitely a "Duh" moment for me. I knew these things prior to moving here, yet I guess my vision got a little blurred with discouragement after being here for a few days. I'm well out of my comfort zone here in Arkansas, but I can't forget how the Lord has lead me here after carrying me through some tough times in the past. He is my strength. When I am weak, He is strong.

"That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10).

That's all for now! I'm off to the gym :) Did I mention I start school MONDAY!? Oh my goodness!!!!
Happy Friday ya'll!

Our little pup Mandi and I before I left. Isn't she just adorable?! I can only imagine how big she will be when I see her next!

  Happy Birthday to my niece Madison Elizabeth this week! She turned 4 on Wednesday. Can't believe it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Big Move

I still can not believe we're already in August! It's been such a busy and exhausting weekend, but I have to say... my family is amazing! I couldn't have done it without them. Thursday my mom, Angel, and I headed to my grandparents' in East Texas. It was a short but sweet visit with my grandparents. I'm always thankful for any bit of time I get to spend with them! Friday morning we were back on the road to meet my brother and dad (who were pulling the U-haul) in Searcy, Arkansas. Did I mention that my brother had just traveled from Victoria to Houston for work then to San Antonio then all the way up to Arkansas? Wow, awesome brother, right!?

The overall moving experience went pretty well. It had its moments like when my new windshield started coming loose when I was almost in Waco. It was making the most awful noises. It would go from a dim humming noise to a ear piercing screech, to banging that sounded like someone was hammering the roof! I did not expect that at all. The company can't replace it until Tuesday, so until then I'm having to drive slower than usual and reapply tape everyday. I'm praying it doesn't rain until after Tuesday! Yikes! It's beginning to get a little frustrating with getting my dashboard damaged during the installation and the huge mess of broken glass it involved, and to find out it was installed incorrectly by it coming unsealed while I'm on the highway headed to Arkansas. Oh well, we made it here safely, that's what matters most!

More on the positives, my dad is the best packer in the world. The trailer was as packed as it could it get! He made everything fit perfectly. My couch fit through my very narrow front door, yay! A little thing I was rather concerned about, ha! Angel was such a good little traveler-- never cried once! She made herself at home almost immediately. She got in my wicker chair and watched people, cars, and birds through the glass doors. I'm glad she's happy here :)
Moving can be quite a stressful thing, but I'm seriously so blessed to have had my family's help! I did not enjoy the packing part... I have realized during this move that I have a lot of stuff! It was also difficult packing because it was really hard to be leaving Texas. I miss it so much already, but I know I'm where the Lord has lead me, and I know He will be with me through this journey, always :)

I don't have internet yet so I'm posting from my phone, but hopefully I'll get it hooked up soon so I can add a few more touches to the blog!

Much love from Arkansas! Goodnight ya'll!