20,160 minutes

The end of the semester is near. By near I mean that in just 20,160 minutes, all of me will be back in the Hoosier state. Seeing as the closing of another semester is upon me, I find it quite appropriate to reflect back on the last 365 days (approximately).

How did I grow? How did I fail? What did I accomplish? How did I use the very breath in my body to extol the name of Jesus? These questions and more are just a sample of my reflection. The pain that I experienced from growing as an individual pales in comparison to the friendships that I created, the knowledge that I gained and the trust that I now have in my Lord and Savior.

Some of the highlights of the year start with day 1. July 25, 2014 was moving day for me; this was a “normal” morning that consisted of driving 6 hours to a city that I have never laid eyes on.

I don’t think I would call myself an outdoorsy kind of girl. But moving to a state with a national park in your backyard changes things…just a little bit 🙂 I consistently hiked throughout the year, and I am grateful for the opportunity to delight in the gorgeous creation that is literally right outside my window.

Then there is the academics of pursuing a Master’s degree. With a few medical courses sprinkled into the mix, I was intellectually challenged to integrate all that I have learned thus far in my academic career. Right now I am studying neuroanatomy.

Neuroanatomy.

Think about it…I get to study the brain! Without a doubt, I am blessed to have genuine professors who truly care about the students and desire to see us succeed as professionals.

This year has been filled with firsts as well. Like the first time that I spent my birthday away from family or spending my first mother’s day apart from my mother. But then there was the first time that I went white water rafting and the first time that I completed a high ropes course. I could also throw in the first time that I actually took an ethics course and let’s not forget the first time to live with room mates.

I don’t think that I could chose just one specific memory to highlight the year. I recall hiking to the top of White Rocks and feeling overwhelmed with joy and awe. Everything was green as far as the eye could see. I remember eating at Bubba’s (restaurant on Norris Lake) and singing karaoke late into the night. I remember celebrating my room mate’s birthday with cookie cake and ice cream while we ate it underneath the stars.

I cannot forget the ONE time that I had visitors come see me. Their arrival was absolutely perfect and much needed in the month of September. I remember walking the streets of Knoxville and seeing the city through their eyes. I remember  people watching as we observed the Asian festival unfold with dancing. Ultimately, there was that good-bye that I never wanted to say.

Guess what? You can live without a Target. You can live without a Starbucks. BUT you can’t really live without a Chick-fil-a. 🙂  As I have acclimated to small town living, my expectations have changed. But there are some things that you just want to put on repeat and listen to without quitting.

Right now I’m listening to Mountain on repeat by Hillsong. The lyrics are:

See a light in the darkness
A city shining without a veil
This hill becoming a mountain
A solid rock that will never fail

Your name
My hope
Fortress in the raging storm
My heart
Is Your home
Jesus let Your love take hold

Precious Jesus, let your love take hold. Renew my heart and my mind…purify me King Jesus. Let me be ready to do your work, a broken vessel empty for your use and purpose. Let this summer be yours. Let your gloriously name be made known. amen. 

month two

The past month has been a whirlwind of exams, papers and the all TOO familiar snow days.

Life was put on pause when the inches upon inches of snow fell to the ground. If I can recount correctly, the first big wave came after Friday, February 13th. This unsuspecting student was clueless about Tennessee winters. My expectations did not align with reality. As the flurry of flakes fell with spontaneity, my tomorrows were beginning to look like a giant to-do list wiped clean.

In total, the school closed down for 12 days (not including weekends). To say the least, everyone is feeling the pressure to catch up to the schedule. Because class cannot be extended at the end of the semester and we already lose a week due to spring break, hands and feet are racing against the clock to accomplish the master task list.

That being said here is a funny story that came out of the snow-magedon.

I was literally stuck in my apartment for 8 straight days. The foot of snow prevented me from driving out of the parking lot, and the frozen ice made it questionable to walk outside. I kept telling myself that the snow was going to melt, so I did not go to the store before the storm. My reserves were beginning to dwindle when a thought popped into my head. At the time, I was studying gluconeogenesis and glycolysis for biochemistry. If the body is under starvation, then the hormone glucagon is released into the bloodstream so that the liver can being making glucose. More glucose is needed to provide energy for the brain, heart and muscle tissues in order for cellular metabolism to occur normally. So I looked at the pitiful pantry that basically held almond butter and strawberry jelly and bread and thought this wasn’t going to last me. In all my years, I never truly had to pray “give us this day our daily bread” until now. But in the back of my mind, I was thinking maybe this was God’s way of telling me to start fasting. I haven’t fasted from food in the past, so this was an opportune moment to begin. After I convinced myself that fasting was the plan of action, the Lord sent some friends my way on the EXACT day that I was going to begin fasting. These friends took me to the grocery store and my panty shelves became filled with produce and goodies to eat (besides AB and J sandwiches).

God provides. Even when I thought it is too late, he sent someone to help me out of the snow. Even when I believe I don’t need help, he breaks my pride to humble me. Even when everything is under control, he surprises me with blessings that I could never imagine. God provides.

IMG_1176

I did brave the snow because who can stay indoors for 8 straight days! So here is a picture with some proof that SNOW was EVERYWHERE!

Now the weather has turned from the winter blues to the promise of spring, aka inches upon inches of rain. But the green mountains are absolutely spectacular to see, so I guess all this rain is required for such beauty as this. Well friends…I hope you enjoyed the update and the struggles of a southern university and its students.

Until next time…grace and peace to you dear reader.

 

snow day, snow day, snow day

If you have been hiding under a box, let me tell you that today is the first day of the lent season. There are 47 days until Easter, including resurrection Sunday. That is approximately 7 weeks until you are able to visit with family, attend the celebratory church service and over eat on ham and turkey.

All joking aside, we are just at the beginning.

The start.

Commencement.

Unlike other lent seasons, I am over 300 miles from home and the end of lent means that I can come home!!

Again, I am getting ahead of myself. Can you tell that I am ready for spring? But God doesn’t waste any second of any day. These past three days, including the start of lent, have been snow days for me. The school has cancelled all classes and recommend the students to dress appropriately if venturing outside.

Lucky for me the student center remains open despite the 6-8 inches of snow on the ground. Besides getting in my daily work-out and studying for this phantom exam, I have had too much time on my hands.

And I don’t think this is a coincidence. Just as lent starts, I have extra time to ponder and think upon the Cross.

Per tradition, lent means sacrificing or giving up an activity or object that interferes with your relationship with Christ. Most people sign-off from technology and social media or try to give up sweets for the duration of lent.

Last year, one student in my college bible study made an intentional choice to ADD something into her schedule will TAKING something away. She decided to wake up 30 minutes earlier every day of lent to read scripture. Though she was losing precious sleep, she was purposely pursing God.

Purposely Pursing God.

I haven’t completely decided how I want to spend the next 46 days. I am leaning towards setting aside an hour everyday to prayer. An hour to mediate on scripture and focus on what Christ has done for me and my brothers & sisters in Christ. To ponder the depth of my sin and the overwhelming grace that smothers me as a free gift from God.

month one

Back to the daily grind…or should I say back to small town life and the genuine people who make Harrogate feel like home.

It has been around two weeks since I was driving through the streets of Indianapolis. What I have come to realize is that I am significantly a task-oriented individual. Give me a foot-long list of errands, assignments & duties and you will have a completed check list by the end of the day. I go back and forth between crossing items off of the list or just creating the largest check mark of my life.

Either way, the task is finished. Done. The. End.

This quality is necessary when deadlines are peppered in your life, your calendar and your mind. How fortunate am I that school is the exact place with more deadlines that you could ever imagine. I suppose a real job has numerous deadlines, but of course my experience is rather limited in that department.

So here is the humorous part of life…the career that I desire to be a part of and to make my own is largely people-oriented. Ha! Can I remind you that I am heavily a task-oriented person?

Life is all about perspective, and the winter break that lasted four weeks long (too long in my opinion) was the time to recognize the opportunity right in front of me. During the period of time called “the semester,” social engagements or friendships go on the back burner while academics sit in the passenger seat. Sitting in my lap were four LONG weeks, 28 days, of time to spend with people.

There was extra time to invest in those that have always been  in my life and time to spend with those who recently entered. Opportunities abounded…I was able to have lunch dates without a computer screen in the way of the conversation and be able to see what real life was all about by having dinner with some of the families from church. Regardless of the activity, the time invested in the lives of people (living and breathing), was time well spent.

I have learned and am continually reminded that we are beings that require community. And the family unit is just the basics to this community. But I received an eye-opening experience of community by attending a funeral by a beloved man, father and son during break.

As a young person in her twenties, funerals are not commonplace nor are they familiar. Unfortunately, I could count all of the funerals that I have attended on one hand. You could see this as a benefit, but I would argue the opposite. Scripture speaks of funerals or houses of mourning in the book of Ecclesiastes (try to say that 10X fast). In chapter seven verse two it says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.”

Sobering thoughts.

It is better to go to a funeral than a party. Without a doubt, man is 100% mortal. Contemplating death and the consequences thereafter give perspective. What was absolutely amazing about this specific funeral was the evidence of a life lived to glorify God and the transmission of the gospel of Christ Jesus. Though everyone gathered to say farewell to a cherished life, the good news was clearly presented, and the joy of a life that was ran with perseverance in dedication to loving others and serving Christ convicted me.

I urge you to press on and run the race worthy of the gospel.

 

 

 

 

Harrogate Life

Since I have been living in Harrogate, Tennessee for nearly a semester (finals week has finally come), I thought I would take some time with a little bit of humor to share my experience about small town life.

 

You know you have been living in Harrogate when…

  1. the only thing to do on a Friday night is roam the aisles of Walmart (in Middlesboro, KY)
  2. you get excited when Gary Dodson (the postmaster) has sent you an email regarding a delivered package (yeah for online shopping)
  3. you have Starbucks withdrawals and the campus coffee shoppe just doesn’t cut it
  4. your restaurant choices are limited to Italian and Mexican because southern cooking becomes “normal”
  5. you postpone your christmas shopping because a real mall is over an hour away
  6. you have too many options for BBQ and all of them are the “BEST”
  7. seeing a church on every street corner no longer takes you by surprise
  8. you begin talking to the cows in the pastureland during your daily walks
  9. the highlight of your day involves viewing the sunrise as the light touches the mountains
  10. you go back home and genuinely look forward to going back to Tennessee

 

Some of the items on my list are silly and others are honestly true. But regardless of the “hardships” that come with small town life, I find comfort and delight in the most minuscule of accomplishments. For example, there was a christmas parade in the next town over. All the traffic was stopped and though I was confined to my car for about an hour, it was beautiful to see the support of everyone living life together.

I often say that small town living is good for the budget. Because there are not as many options to spend money or those options are inexpensive, I can live within my means…a true blessing.

One of the craziest things that I find myself reflecting upon is the fact that six months ago, I didn’t even know where Harrogate, Tennessee was on the map. Life can drastically change overnight or within a short period of time…sometimes so fast that you can’t even come to grips with what is happening.

The circumstance of my acceptance into LMU and the beginning of a new life is nothing short of God’s perfect timing. After I found that I was not accepted into the handful of medical schools that I applied, I decided to apply to a master’s program in Tennessee. With spring turning into summer, my patience and trust in God was tested daily. I know and continually believe that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who have been called according to his purpose.

On the calendar, I scheduled a personal retreat at the end of May. As the days slipped by, I began packing for my retreat and thinking about how I would use this time. Though I have never attended a personal retreat, I knew that it was much needed. I needed some time to get away and listen. During my time at this retreat, I spent much time in mediation of the Word and I memorized scripture to hide in my heart. Romans 8 was filling my mind, heart and soul. During the second night of my stay, I was awakened in the middle of restful sleep.

Do you know what I heard? Rain. The lightest, sweetest droplets of rain. The kind of rain that turns the forrest into a haven of earthy odors.

What did the rain say? It reminded me that at the fullness of time, there is provision. That even the grass of the fields and the birds of the air do not have to worry. God provides for them. He provides for me and will continue to provide. When I returned from the retreat, I checked the mail.

A packaged address to me was waiting to be opened. Within the contents of the letters, I read the words, “I am pleased to inform you of your acceptance…” I was accepted into the master’s program.

Even though Harrogate can be taxing on the mind and body, I am grateful for the opportunities to extend my education and grow in a safe environment.

God is good all the time. All the time God is good.

 

 

 

 

fix my eyes

As the major holiday of Thanksgiving has passed by, our bodies may have an extra layer of jiggle, but our hearts are filled with joy. During this visit back home, I became aware of some new feelings.

I found that these feelings were quite confusing and not altogether helpful for enjoying the moment that I was occupying.

When I am in Indiana, I long to be back in Tennessee. When I am in Tennessee, I long to be in Indiana.

HOW CONFUSING!?

These feelings remind me of a little child. Remember when your mother told you to go to bed at night, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to fall asleep. You just didn’t want to miss the excitement that happened when eyelids are closed. You just wanted to witness the comings and goings of late night fun.

A part of me wants to be back in Indy so that I don’t miss what happens in the lives of those whom I have invested my time, prayers and love. But then again when I am in Indy, I don’t want to miss the small changes that occur while I am away from Tennessee.

This tension within me may be annoying to say the least, but I believe it brings up a significant point about life.

I firmly believe that this current earth is not our final home. We are just passing through…as instruments of our Great Creator. There is an opportunity to take up our cross and follow Him, to live each day in reminder that we entered this world with nothing and we will exit in a similar fashion.

I have been meditating on 2 Corinthians 4. We must fix our eyes on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The concerns of this world are generally temporary. What will I wear tomorrow? What will fill my table and belly? How will I make it through the holidays? These thoughts and worries are wholly fixed on the transient, on the things that will fade with time.

Why do we fix our eyes on such things? The obvious is that we can SEE them. How easy it is to see that our bank accounts are dropping or that our health is declining? I get caught up in what I can SEE with my own eyes.

But faith is believing with certainty what we cannot see…having a hope and conviction that it will occur without a doubt.

How I struggle with fixing my eyes on the eternal?!

As Christmas approaches unyieldingly, there are numerous moments that point my eyes in the right direction…to God and Christ Jesus who became a babe in a manger. Who was tempted just as I am tempted and became the intercessor on my behalf.

I challenge myself and everyone who reads this post to reflect upon the focus of your heart. Are the worries of this world distracting your eyes to only see the temporary? Or do you rest in the knowledge that this world have been overcome, that we do not need to linger on the visible…but instead on the invisible.

 

hands of time


the hands of time are passing by

as the sun graces us with its radiant rays

while creation sings the arrival of spring once more

i await the beauty of life anew

the hands of time are passing by

as green grass grows abundantly

while the heat of summer entangles our bodies

i find relief in the shadows of nightfall

the hands of time are passing by

as the technicolor leaves transform the vista

while autumn releases its odors of plenty

i seek comfort within the four walls of home

the hands of time are passing by

as death marches past the glory of months long ago

while the barren winter persuades us to refuge in layers

i drink in the coldness that settles in my chest

the hands of time are passing by

as each season melts into the next

while moments blend into days and days into weeks

i rest in the counsel of truth and wisdom

the hands of time are passing by

as life comes to a close within me

while preparations of heaven capture my imagination

i ready myself to dance in the presence of the One True King