You’re in Med School, And Had Time For A Blog?

You will spend 30-40 hours a week studying. You will give up on seeing your family as they take a back seat to your career aspirations. You will choose between anything you ever cherished and instead dwell in dark closets investigating the infinite galaxies of pathology power points. You may only smile when you get a good grade on a test. You will lose any compassion you used to have for patients as you plumb the depths of human depravity and greed in the healthcare system. You will sleep less than necessary for a human being and be absolutely miserable forever.

Med School feels like this dark cave sometimes.

Yeesh, that’s harsh… and not exactly what having my dream coming true of getting into med school looked like. For many students that is the grim reality of medical school though. It’s dark, painful, and in the end questionably rewarding. Physician burn out is a thing and it starts for most at the genesis of the medical education journey.

Burned out physician? Sacrifice my family? Abandon my faith? No thank you! There is no satisfaction in achievement if you have sacrificed everything to acquire an unfulfilling goal. There isn’t even the possibility of doing something for God’s glory if you have abandoned every notion of what it means to honor Him while in pursuit of yourself.

Life can be more though. More than burnout, more than exhaustion, more than self-service.

It can also be very messy, and chaotic, and beautiful because God provides grace for our challenges. My grace comes through finding meaningful things to do outside of medical school.

Being married to an awesome man who does medical school with me but also life outside of medical school has been a tremendous encouragement. Living on 3 acres gives us plenty of room to experiment with mushroom foraging, gardening, and our two dogs Willow and Espresso. Working with our church’s youth group keeps us accountable for regular attendance and is an awesome breath of fresh air to our souls as we work with the people of God and invest in young people. It doesn’t get any better!

Or maybe it does! We learn to make cheese together, started blogs to develop another professional skill-set to use when we (Lord willing) have our own practice, we go camping together, we spend time with our families on weekends we don’t have tests, and drinking lots of coffee. And we do study because we want to save lives in the future. Our goal is to be physicians, and business owners, community members, a family, and to chase many other dreams. But, our identity remains in Christ – NOT in just where we are in life. That’s the real secret to fulfillment and joy.

Beautiful sunrise though icy whorls on my living room window this morning. Incredibly beautiful reminder that God has a lot of things to see outside of school.

Life can be difficult, but we also have tremendous blessings and opportunities to enjoy the journey regardless of our occupation. Some jobs are hard and relatively joyless while others are exciting, but we all have the choice to glorify God with our life and find fulfillment in our work. Blogging was just another creative outlet for me to avoid the ordinary and make life more fulfilling. Yes, it takes away from studying and a tight schedule but hey, that’s okay. No dark caves for me all the time. Hopefully not for you either! I’m so glad you’ve tagged along for the crazy ride – more adventures to come soon. <3

How do you keep life meaningful and in pursuit of His glory?

I Can Do All Things, Can You?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The familiar verse shows up a lot in our lives. Football helmets of our favorite players, pillows on our Grandmother’s couch, picturesque inspiration quotes on our own Pinterest boards, etc. And yet, it seems many times we miss the meaning of this verse altogether. Ever feel like it has been held over your head? You just need more faith and you can do anything right? Because with Christ ALL things are possible….

Dustin Benge recently tweeted the following:

And I have to agree with Dustin’s assesment. (if you follow me on twitter @CoffeeGratitude you’ll notice I retweeted it – no shame) Christ has to be our focus and not ourselves when we read scripture. The ugly disease of self-centeredness is a hard one to evade with society’s crushing ideals of the self-god. Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow Him, to put others first, and to live a life of joyous service to the gospel – not to parade our own ideals and goals above all other things. The context of Phillipians 4 is one of gratitude and contentment during tremendous suffering as Paul is setting forth an example of his life to the church at Philippi.

Ok, ok so we know that verse really shouldn’t be what we look at on Monday to deal with our first world problems of a coffee shortage in the lounge. And maybe even when we have been squished by a bad exam, relationship drama, challenge at work or other responsibility, this isn’t exactly our go-to verse. However, I did have to stop and think about the obvious question, where do we look for encouragement for our non-faith related trials? Are they non-faith related trials?

The problems we face are rarely like those of Paul, but they are still problems and challenges. We do need God’s grace and strength to navigate our day to day issues. We don’t actually have the capacity to overcome things without Him.

Other examples that come to mind concerning finding hope and strength in the Bible for our challenges are the Psalmist David and God’s presentations of Himself in the Old Testament. Over and over David acknowledges his sin and insufficiency next to the greatness of His God. He cries out in humility and asks for the protection of his Strong Tower. He doesn’t cower about going to war as a “well God isn’t allowing me to do literally anything through Him so I’m going to sit and do nothing” – he rushes to be a champion because he recognizes it honored God for him to be diligent in his efforts and he had comfort in his Protector.  Throughout the OT we see examples of the names of God as one who gives us peace, healing, banner over us, and many other names designed to give us comfort and strength.

Crying out to our God is one way He delights in giving us strength in our souls. He delights in giving His children strength – just not giving in to their sinful whims.

The point is well made through scripture that all the credit goes to Him, all our success goes to Him, we work for His glory, and just because we want to do something doesn’t mean He is going to hand us a good outcome. He promises to work out things for our good. Let’s be honest, sometimes we need to fall flat on our backs and that’s good for us.  It is good for us to remember our own insufficiencies. Difficulties even help deliver much needed epiphanies. We easily forget our priority is to be seeking God’s kingdom and plan while aligning ourselves with His desires.  Alignment with His character is necessary before the “all these things will be added to you” part comes true. When we desire what He desires, we are fulfilled.

Where is God in those tough situations? Right there with us, sustaining us, and helping us to fail and fall because we wouldn’t be humbled any other way. He doesn’t abandon us. He also doesn’t stoop for us to believe He is our magic genie in a bottle for our trivial wants.

Is there no application of Philippians for us then? Not at all, we can rest in the grace of our sovereign God that He will allow us to endure whatever He sends our way; and if we have goals in life or dreams, we are not promised success directly, but rather a knowledge of our eternal security in Him. Philippians stands as tremendous comfort during trial – just not an excuse to inflate ourselves and promote our own agendas.

So basically anything with breath in it is of little account when compared to our God. We cannot put our trust and hope in ourselves – just in Him.

So pull your life in line with God’s word and Christ’s character. Pursue excellence in your work and dreams. Trust that you will fail, and probably often. Realize life does not have you as its epicenter. And hope in your heavenly future. <3

Holiday Health Check. How Are You Spiritually?

Wait! Stop Winter! You’re running over fall. Be nice and wait your turn! Goodness, 4 inches of snow and a week of frigid temperatures does not look like a typical early Oklahoma November. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday but it is being run over by Christmas with this weather. I just can’t keep a Thanksgiving mindset when I run to the store and they’re playing Christmas carols while it’s snowing outside! But I am trying to be grateful, the snow is pretty and God controls the weather too. Anyway, Thanksgiving is still coming and Christmas right behind it, providing the perfect season for a little soul searching. How is your spiritual health?

Our backyard, this view was gorgeous that morning

Priorities: How are you prioritizing God in your life? Are you investing in your daily spiritual walk? Maybe think about picking up a new podcast this week. Below are links to two, the first is a 5 minute once weekly podcast and the second is a longer podcast. I absolutely love the 5 Minutes in Church History one, it’s time efficient, thorough, and entertaining. The second one is totally worth your time with sound, deep, biblical teaching that will keep you grounded in your faith.

5 Minutes in Church History – Stephen Nichols

Grace to You Podcast – John McArthur

How about time in Scripture? You don’t have to wait till New Years to try to pick up a new habit of daily reading or to renew your former habit. We miss out on so many blessings when we don’t have His words on our heart daily. Engaging an accountability partner is a great idea to help each other out too.

Attitude. This one is a hard one for me. Remembering to be a thankful person who trusts God for what’s next can be a challenge; but if we trust Him to redeem us by His love and grace we have to trust Him with the rest of our lives too. We can’t be complaining, gossiping, irritable, people. We are called to be joyful, encouraging, patient followers of Christ. Does your attitude reflect your newness of life?

Compassion. Holidays are easy times to think of others but right here on the edge of the holiday season and following the season to the rest of the year, we have the privilege of  being the heart and hands of Christ to a church and world filled with hurting people. Visit a home-bound member of your church. Volunteer around your community. Watch the kids of a young couple at your church free of charge because they just need a break. Send a card to a person who recently experienced crippling loss. Buy coffee for a young person (not too young lol) and ask them about life. Experience the joys of having an overflowing heart when you choose to love the people around you.

Faith. Can you defend yours? What exactly do you believe? If you came across a high school friend on the street could you share your testimony with them? These are tough questions and the answers require a lot of diligent study, thought, effort, and prayer. It’s the 21st century, Christianity is still under constant bombardment from all sides. As a soldier of Christ we have to put on the full armor of God and be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks.

Many Christians today are considered “nominal” meaning they show up on Sundays and Wednesdays (sometimes), live to check boxes that earn them points toward heaven, only live pure lives in church service, or overbook their lives so that church and the things of God are just an afterthought. Are you a nominal Christian? Or are you a passionate follower of Christ, your Savior,  who takes joy in pursuing righteousness, and live a life that beams the light of truth to those around you?  Take this spiritual health check seriously and let’s be accurate reflections of the church we are called to be. 🙂
If you have a family the infographic below has some fun ideas:

What are ways you stay accountable for your spiritual health? 🙂

Other Tips:

  • This is not an exhaustive list
  • This is not a “to-do” list
  • This can be a fun exercise, especially with a spouse, friend, or family