Monday, April 24, 2017

#The Writer's Tag


What did I JUST say about tags...Okay, but it appears that Cait of the Cakes pulled it into the blog world through the instagram portal, which means it is awesome, Then the fact that Jennifer Freitag did it caught my attention. By the time Mirriam did it, I wanted to, but when Arielle followed after I could no longer delay. {Yes, the full quadrumvirate was required to convince me.} 


1. WHAT GENRES, STYLES, AND TOPICS DO YOU WRITE ABOUT?

Genres:
There was a time I could answer this with "Westerns and Biblical Fiction."  HEH. I have since broadened to historical fiction, pseudo-European/Indian historical fantasy, East Asian fantasy {dragons, my friends}, contemporary {which I never thought I'd touch}, time travel/dystopian sci-fi/martyrs&revolution, futuristic sci-fi fairy tale retellings, plus a Scottish/Korean medical fantasy {other-dimensional elves and von Willebrand Disease} and something that's a Victorian England/ancient Hebrew/Briton mix where the orphans are running the insane asylum {and that draws a lot from Korean dramas of the historical and the revenge variety}.

I become progressively genre-less as I march along, apparently. 
Genres I don't write? Horror, paranormal, straight-up romance, etc. 

Styles:
...I just kinda write the story how it feels right...cross-genre is obviously easier to write however I want...Erm...I guess I tend towards a smooth and thoughtful, deeper, more subtle sort of stye, though not necessarily as descriptive as it yet could be, usually 3rd person, occasionally 1st person, with somewhere between 1 and 10 POVs happening. {Or something like that.} I like cliffhangers and eucatastrophes {and catastrophes in general} and foreshadowing, occasional poetic justice moments {maybe more like prosaic justice moments}, and I'm working on improving my ticking clock and Chekhov's gun pieces. {While not losing the thoughtful feel of the story, which can be tricky.} I love unreliable narrators, but am currently rewriting a few because really they were just bad narrators and not helpful. XD 

Topics:
Good grief. Um...well, friendship, siblings, spirituality, hard choices, love, loyalty, race/cross-culture angles, messed-up authority figures, and medical issues tend to somehow make it into all my stories. Beyond that...the possibilities are endless.


2. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?

Sheesh, I dictated my first story when I was 4...did my writing career not start until I knew how to write?
The first several-page, beginning-middle-end, regular story I remember writing I finished when I was 8 and gave it to my younger brother for his birthday, all printed out and set in a yellow folder, but I'd written shorter stories before that, as well as directed some plays - i.e. it's been a long time. Some 20 years. Though I didn't really pull off the checks and balances and just let myself write until within the last decade. {Turns out I write better when I let down my hair and scribble ideas and dictate snippets and discuss ideas and don't force myself to work on that-one-book-I-decided-to-write-when-I-was-12 all the time.}


3. WHY DO YOU WRITE?

it's what I do. 
it's what I have always done.
why do you ask.


4. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO WRITE?

 WHENEVER I HAVE TIME AND INSPIRATION AT THE SAME TIME. Which lately has been sickeningly never.


5. PARTS OF WRITING YOU LOVE VS. PARTS YOU HATE?

Love:
Realizing what the theme or point or heartbeat of the story will be
Creating people, worlds, story arcs...
Seeing reader reactions
Working through and coming to understand an issue or a problem as I find I've written it into a story 

Hate:
NOT HAVING ENOUGH TIME 
Fighting with first and last chapters
The getting to the end of a book and finding my pantsing was not nearly as complete as I'd hoped.
Trying to keep my motivation and interest alive through editing and rewrites. {I know how the story goes now...the magic is a lot harder to grasp. This is why too much plotting kills my stories.}


6. HOW DO YOU OVERCOME WRITERS BLOCK?

Writer's Block is a phenomenon I've never really challenged. Either I have a moment and inspiration to write and I write or I have a moment and spend it wishing I had inspiration but find I need to review my story instead.
Writing is my escape and my fun - I did not pursue it full-time because a} I wasn't confident in my abilities to provide for my life through writing and b} I never wanted to force myself to do something I loved.
That said, if I actually want to write, I can usually sit down, read over story, and add some piece to something. Arielle's Quote Questes are super helpful as well.


7. ARE YOU WORKING ON SOMETHING AT THE MOMENT?

My main focus is changing some things about Contract to Time Travel because THE PERFECTIONIST CAN'T STOP MESSING WITH SCENES. Also, it's killing me to weigh dramatic impact vs medical accuracy. I mean, I try to keep both, obviously. But sometimes...



8. WRITING GOALS THIS YEAR?

~Finish what I'm working on above
~Send it to publisher/agent/march down the list
~possibly re-write Hope Sprang Up, that historical fantasy I wrote my first year in college
~KEEP WRITING SOMETHING {I've got the whole residency train to buck, so...yes, this is a goal.}


Thursday, April 20, 2017

don't abandon ship


And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

Sometimes we follow Him and the waves cover us and no matter that He neither slumbers nor sleeps now, to all appearances He is sleeping and we come to Him begging to be saved. We followed Him here, and most of us have absorbed enough of the prosperity gospel that those waves make us question a whole lot.

Did we see Him get into this ship? Were we supposed to follow Him here? Did He get off and we didn't notice? Is this punishment for something? What should we have done differently? 
WHY IS THERE A STORM KILLING US???

It wasn't supposed to happen like this, and now all we can do is scream for help. When we remember to do so. {And honestly...how long did these sailors watch the storm come up and start flooding their boat before they finally were freaked out enough to remember the Carpenter's Son currently sleeping through the storm might be able to do something more than they were accomplishing at the moment?} The disciples finally asked for his help.

And what does He say? 
WHY ARE YOU AFRAID?
They probably looked the storm and the water and the thought of drowning and...???WHY DO YOU THINK WE'RE AFRAID???

But look at the difference between the men cast into the fiery furnace and these caught in the storm. We are not careful to answer thee, O king. They did not second-guess their decision to follow Him, though it be into the flames themselves. They knew they were in obedience, they knew the choice before them, and they answered with assurance, even as they were bound and marched to a fire seven times hot enough to kill them.

I guess I can't say this for sure, but I'm betting by the time that calm came, the disciples were pretty wet. 
You know who didn't even smell like smoke? Who entered the fire and walked out unscathed? Men whose faith in their God was unshakeable. These men had already seen those of their rank and number slaughtered for disobedience. They had no illusions about what this king would do. These men had lost their families, their friends, their entire country and been dragged to this place as slaves. They were not depending on a magic get-out-of-jail-free card from the One they served. They knew full well what obedience might cost them, and still they answered fearlessly. 

But you know, Jesus was there with both of them. Maybe He had to point out the fear and faithlessness of the 12. Maybe they reached the shore dripping wet and uncomfortable in more ways than one. But Jesus did not leave them there. He gave them the calm they so desperately needed, and He kept them at His side, teaching them, showing them, helping them understand, until they too could answer fearlessly.

I have a lot of moments where I am like the 12. But I want to be like the 3. I want to make the enemy rage and I want to give God all the glory. I want to walk the path set before me without fear. 
I don't know how long it will take me to reach that point. 
But I am glad that no matter how long, He remains with me, and He will answer when I call.

a school/church near where I'm living

Monday, April 17, 2017

smells I love




 coppertone sun block ~ chlorine in an outdoor pool ~ the wind off my favorite of the great lakes ~ a fresh-cut christmas tree ~ air after rain {that's a given, isn't it} ~ shampooed hair ~ lysoled sinks {don't laugh; i used to work as a house-cleaner} ~ just-baked cinnamon rolls ~ chocolate ~ my lavender stuffed hippo ~ tea tree oil {even if it stings my eyes} ~ bread baking in my $0.10 bread maker {the price does change the smell} ~ the barn where i board my horse ~ the woods in summer ~ when you first get back and your house smells like home ~ peppermint tea ~ peppermint soap ~ also pine-scented soap {so i like the smell of clean} ~ lilacs ~ peonies ~  


smell the rain


Thursday, April 13, 2017

to hear His voice


So, recently I hit play on one of my favorite songs on youtube, expecting it to be sung by my favorite singer. The music was perfect, of course, but the first words sounded wrong. I was disappointed, but I kept listening while I tried to find the singer's name listed. As I searched, a few words sounded right...and I began to wonder if my ears were playing tricks on me. Maybe it actually /was/ sung by my favorite singer...this was an old song of his...he'd been a new singer then...there were multiple versions of him singing this song...and the more I listened, the more lines seemed to sound like his voice.
Then the next song in the playlist started, and with the first word I knew it was the singer whose voice I wanted to hear. No wondering, no confusion, no maybes - this was him singing the song.


Which is when it hit me how much that was how I listen for God's voice. There are times I think I hear Him...and the longer I listen the more I can convince myself that He's the one speaking to me...but when He does speak, there is no convincing necessary. It's so obviously Him I have no questions. He said my sheep know my voice and as impossible as that seems, it is true. 
Know Him...and we can know His voice.

drive-by picture of the river valley near where I grew up



Monday, April 10, 2017

sounds i love

originally inspired 



~ a bike crossing a wooden bridge ~ alexander scourby reading the bible ~ horses talking to each other ~ park eun tae's voice ~ josh groban's voice ~ basically any sound track/song that tells me a story or reminds me of a story I like ~ my mom reading books aloud, especially if it's a funny book ~ birds singing early in the morning ~ swishing of a long skirt when you walk ~ hoof beats, particularly cantering ~ fire crackling ~ my older brother calling me my baby-nickname (he's the only one who still does) ~ younger siblings asking me for prayers and advice  ~ baby laughter ~ waves against the rocks ~ the voices of my friends on video chat ~ the soft click of the keys when we communicate via chat ~ satisfied purr of a happy cat ~ the deep bark of our german shepherd ~ muted thud of footsteps in snow ~ snap and sizzle of water testing the heat of a frying pan ~ wind chimes in summer ~ a storm in the treetops ~ water boiling for tea ~ hymns sung in a small church ~ my grandpa telling stories ~ the crackle of fireworks in the sky


Thursday, April 6, 2017

entreat & enquire



And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? 
And she went to enquire of the Lord, And the Lord said unto her, 
when does a picture of sky and water not fit a post, I ask you?


Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Rebekah is an intriguing person. Her family is extremely involved in whether or not she can leave to marry a stranger, of course,...but she is asked, and it is her decision from the start to talk to a stranger, offer him help, and eventually to agree to head cross-country to meet his boss. She also makes the first move once they reach Isaac, getting off the camel as soon as he's in view. She watches her husband pray for her to have a baby, gets pregnant, and then when she has a question she heads out to ask God herself. There's not a lot of hesitation in her story. 

Isaac is less interesting to me; bit of a mamma's boy {though okay, that one moment his dad almost killed him might account for that}, takes after his father's sins, even when they make less sense in him {and distant cousin does not a sister make}, but here too...the simplicity of it. His wife can't have a baby. He asks God to fix that, and boom, two babies.

Other details of their life are unfortunate, but focus on just this bit for a moment, on Isaac's simplicity and Rebekah's forthright personality. This is something I want to emulate, and Rebekah's attitude here is one I absolutely want. It's so easy when something seems weird to us to ask a friend...to call a mom...to google it...but picture a day in which every moment of confusion you immediate enquired of the Lord. 
How do you think that day would be different? 
I'm not sure where some things would turn out {is it baking soda or baking powder that goes in the biscuits? God...?}, but you know the kinds of confusion I mean. 

To have Him be my first thought on waking, my last thought on sleeping, my instantaneous reaction to every happening of life has been a goal in my life for quite a long time. Some days, some years, are better than others...but this was my reminder for today to again turn my heart to Him.

How attune is your heart to God? How long does it take you to ask Him when you are trying to deal with something?

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Book Sacrifice...








Way back in January, Melody tagged me...I'm possibly not doing tags anymore (time, my friends...time) but this seemed like a good one to end on. {I of course reserve the right to do any tag that overwhelmingly catches my interest in the future...XD}

I apologize ahead of time for any excessive attitude here. I might be a little passionate about books and have some opinions. We all do, you know. *ahem*


#1: An Over-Hyped Book
Situation: You are in a bookstore when the zombies attack.  Over the loudspeakers you hear the military announce that over-hyped books are the zombies' only weakness.  What over-hyped book will you chuck at the zombies?

...I'm going to say 50 Shades of Grey. There are others that were far over-hyped as well {I've lived through Harry Potter & Backlash, Twilight & Backlash, Game of Thrones & Backlash...all while wishing Christians would figure out how to write more blockbusters so it didn't come across as them being jealous of the next big thing, or simply hating on anything that everybody else seemed to like} but the idea of a book that practically everyone agrees is stylistically garbage while being about abuse/written torture-porn {ooh, he changes by the last book! Wow, how romantic...} selling millions of copies and 
getting made into movies? 
no comprendo. 


At least I'll have plenty of ammo to chuck at zombies.

#2: A Sequel
Situation: You are caught in a torrential downpour and you're probably the type who melts when you get wet.  What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself.

PROTECT ME, PROTECT ME, I AM MADE OF SUGAR. {I have been, in fact, called the sugar-child, as a sibling insult meaning I am the favorite kid. Yes, I am that child in the family. Don't hate us 'cause we're pretty.}

THEREFORE, clearly, I need to use a sequel to not melt. 

Okay, anybody ever read any books by Gene Stratton-Porter? I'll say right here that Her Father's Daughter made me sick, and I will even say that re-reading Freckles as a teen shocked me a little - she bought a little too far into eugenics ideals, and as such her books must be read carefully. 
That said...my mom read Freckles aloud to me and my siblings when I was very little, which started a lifelong {so far} love of wild-flower gardens and woodland glades that resulted in much transplanting and arranging and cute little gardens. {Until I planted some beautifully-flowering burr plant in my favorite place and it ate my garden just as I was getting busy with other life things. I abandoned my garden to the wilderness, but I do plan on more wild gardens later. Just maybe not that wild.}

Imagine my delight when I saw there was a sequel! I ordered it from the library, started reading it, and was immediately and inordinately confused.

To quote the last line of the Freckles Wikipedia entry..."Rather than go to Ireland and live as a lord, he will go to college in the United States and then join McLean in managing the lumber company, so that he can always be near the Limberlost."

Weird, then, that Freckles Comes Home is all about Freckles living with unpleasant people across the ocean. Weirder yet, he and his Angel and every other person who appeared in the first book apparently had a lobotomy in between the two books, because there is nothing in the story that makes sense. Turns out a different Stratton-Porter wrote the book, surprise, surprise.

Also, it might be a pet peeve of mine when kids of authors use their parents' names to write books. {DEAR FUTURE CHILDREN, YOU CAN'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU.} It's especially terrible when one's mother wrote a decently sweet book, and one's daughter promptly goes and destroys it.

{This by the way, is exactly what I think happened to The First Four Years. Rose, Rose, Rose Wilder...}



#3: A Classic
Situation: You're in English class and your professor won't stop going on about a classic that "revolutionized literature".  Personally you think the classic is garbage and you decide to express your opinion by hurling the book at his head.  What classic is that?

I have the unfortunate problem of never liking classics. To the point that there are very few "classics" that I've actually read. 

Gone with the Wind? ....I watched part of the movie.
War and Peace?....My mom handed it over to me and I made such a case over why I should not have to read such a book I was allowed to skip it.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn I just...Tom Sawyer was enough for me. I couldn't deal with Huck.
Moby Dick I read the Children's Classic Abbreviated version and was completely turned off.
Wuthering Heights...Couldn't get into it. I tried. They weird, my friend.
The Scarlet Letter I read it! I read it! I remained unimpressed. Uh...that's all I remember.
David Copperfield Also weird. Maybe I should try it again, now that I'm older...but I'm fairly certain that A Tale of Two Cities will remain the only Dickens I actually enjoy.
Uncle Tom's Cabin It's...well, by standards today, its issues are many. I'll respect the influence it had in its own time, but it's hard to like it. Hey, though, at least I read that, too.
Call of the Wild So depressing. Jack London's books are like the grown-up, super miserable sibling of Jim Kjelgaard's books. {Though guess which author killed himself.}

Okay, now that your estimation of me as a literary critic has completely tanked, what classic do I think is garbage? It really depends on by what you are judging them. Style, moral character, level of interest...I'd probably say Gone With the Wind, though I feel like The Scarlet Letter would be the safest thing to chuck at someone's head without having to worry about going to jail for manslaughter. War and Peace might ensure they never taught another English class again...


#4: A Least Favorite Book
Situation: You're hanging out at a bookstore (where else would you be?) when global warming somehow manages to turn the whole world into a frozen wasteland.  Naturally, your only hope of survival is to burn a book.  Which book would you not regret tossing into the fire?

And it can't be one I've mentioned otherwhere here? Well, least favorite book that I've read...this is hard, because I tend to banish least favorites from my mind pretty quickly. Who's got brain space for that? And it's hard to pick one...though the book that springs instantly to mind as a book that absolutely infuriated me is My Choice, God's Grace. I don't see anywhere that says it has to be a fictional book?
And let's just say...I've read books by atheists about abortion that were far more compassionate, far more nuanced, and far more understanding than this one. Few things are so awful as those who claim God's name while rejecting His Spirit and laws. (And common sense while at it.)



#5: A Series
Situation: There's a flooded stream you have to cross on your quest and you can't get your feet wet.  Which series (oh yeah, btw, you brought your whole bookshelf and also probably local library with you) will you use as stepping stones?

Nora Roberts. Which series? Any of her series. Any books by her. {That totally counts as a series.} I have never actually read a book by Nora Roberts. However, I say this based on a library sale I once helped organize, in which there were endless numbers of books by Nora Roberts to be priced and stacked. Any author so prolific, so devoured, and so discarded has perfect books for stepping stones. And that's without quoting this Amazon reviewer {who, by the way, liked her books}: "Her books generally do contain explicit love making and her characters, especially the men, may have occasional recourse to language somewhat stronger than the Bobbsey twins."

Yup. I'll make it through the stream without melting my feet or having a moment of regret for the books I'm destroying.

If you want to join this tag, comment below so I can see what books you'd sacrifice. XD


Thursday, March 30, 2017

abandoned to goodness


There are many things I would not want to be abandoned to...but abandoned to God is not meant to be horrifying. We should be afraid of His holiness...but not of His will. His ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts, and so often we struggle with the following Him...why? As I've said before in some of these posts, I feel like it so often comes down to us not wanting to release that illusion of control, and fearing that His thoughts not being our thoughts means He wants us to do or to endure something terrible. It comes of us being already in the midst or having already undergone something horrific and pulling back from the pain, telling God we cannot bear feeling that again.

But... 



The goodness of God endureth continually.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.

To quote Rachel Starr Thompson's short summation "...the will of God is our highest good. The will of God brings freedom and joy and looks after all of our needs."* 

There isn't much question in the Bible that His will really is our highest good. 
The question is do we believe it or do we not believe it. 
Are we willing to wait for work together for good, rather than the all things are good promise that we want? Are we able to follow Him knowing My yoke is easy and My burden is light...even though it is equally true that in this world you will have tribulation? He tells us to cast our care on Him; He doesn't say we will have no cares.

Can we believe that the God who named Himself Truth is unwilling to be made a liar? Even if it is hard to believe that One so great could possibly care enough about us...we know He cares for His name and His glory. Dare we act as though He will not fulfill His own word? Dare we call Him a liar and refuse to believe that His will and His work are that we might have abundant life? 


We cannot, can we? 

But what then do we say when we are living the opposite of abundant life, when we taste no goodness, when we feel no joy? When we have none of the comfort that has been promised? When we have found no way of escape and our burdens are more than we can bear and He does not appear to be taking them from us?

I want so badly to have a simple answer to this. To know how to simply take Him at His word, even when I cannot see proof. To know what to say when the lives of those around me are pressed down and running over with pain. The Problem of Pain. 
We acknowledge it is a problem, but when it is our problem, the answers so many have found seem pat and unhelpful, leaving many to veer into either He is a liar or He is not real...or to head into He is Truth, therefore this all completely my/this other person's fault for not trusting Him enough/not believing Him/having sin in my-his-her life. The former is an agonizing wasteland, the latter insult to injury and sometimes the last piece that destroys a person nearly as well.


As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

David knew this pain. He knew the discomfort of family issues, he knew the loss of his other self/brother in arms (how have the mighty fallen), he knew the betrayal of the king he served and of the children he adored...he had enemies on every side, hatred and death everywhere he looked, so often because of an anointing he had never asked for in the first place. And what does he say in the midst of this?

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Not but. Not despite. Not anyway. Not still. 
No. My soul is cast down. Therefore. I will remember Thee.

I am not scholar enough to know for sure, but I don't think it's reading between the lines too much to note that the land of Jordan, from the valley of Arnon to Mount Hermon, was land originally taken from Og, king of Bashan, one of the last of the giants, one who came out to attack Israel, about whom God said, Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand, and then promptly did so. David's soul is in tumult, and so he is looking to see where he is and what has already happened there -- what armies destroyed, what giants slain, what promises 
God has already kept in this place.

Can we also look back on what He has already done for us? Can we fully embrace the fact that His ways are not our ways and remember that the all-seeing, all-knowing, almighty Father knows what we do not and that His comfort and His relief and His joy are ahead for us? Can then we move on to say, as David did,
Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. 

Can we trust Him, even in the darkness, believe Him, no matter what circumstances imprison us, and abandon ourselves to the love He has promised us?


Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.

view from one of the hospitals at which I rotated 







* from 1:11 Ministries, which I highly recommend. Sign up here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

return of the SNIPPETS

via pinterest



From a rather different project...a fairy-tale mash-up I'm writing with a sparkling friend. Guess away which of these traumatized high school characters is from which fairy tale...and I hope you enjoy! XD










Aiden Carlyle on Isabelle Morue:
Also smart and good-looking, which was was also more than he could say for a lot of students. He couldn’t really blame Gage LeGume for slobbering over her like a puppy. 
But someday he was going to take Gage LeGume’s poster-perfect face and put it through his locker door. 
It’d be the last thing he ever did, but it would probably be worth it.

The scholarship boys make life interesting for the wealthier students at this private school...
“Heyyy, Prince, let’s see whatcha got!”
He glanced back to see Fitzherst snatching at Randoph’s sketchbook just as the latter reached to put it away. Fitzherst was the only one who called him that to his face, and he’d still somehow managed to evade significant repercussions the past three years. 
“Decent. Decent effort, Randolph.”
Christian bit back a smile at the condescension dripping from Fitzhert’s voice. That evasion of repercussions was a miraculous testament to Randolph’s patience, really.
“You really think my nose looks like that, though? Really?
Randolph grinned goodnaturedly and waved for the sketchbook’s return. “I tried, Gene. It’s not my fault you have a weird-looking nose.”
“Oh! Blame the model, huh? I’ll have you know my nose is the best looking part of my face!”
Randolph laughed outright, and three rows back Fitzhert’s best friend Ladin raised his head from his desk with a horrified look. “Wow. Gene...Gene...Gene...That was a terrible comeback.”
Fitzherst looked blank a moment, then dropped the sketchbook on Randolph’s desk before bounding towards his friend. “Oh, shut up. Lemme see what you drew!”
Ladin’s horror turned into a smirk and he flipped his sketchbook around, holding it up so the rest of class could see an extremely feminine figure seated on the desk, ankles neatly crossed, and Fitzherst’s head set discordantly atop a long slender neck.
“I’m gonna kill you!” Fitzherst bellowed, and Miss Porter clapped her hands to her ears.

I have a special place in my heart for Christian Cavelli...artist extraordinaire with a special interest in shoes...
Christian swirled the tip of his grey pencil across the top of the page absent-mindedly, waiting for everyone to come in and settle down. It wasn’t like they were going to learn anything today - nobody ever learned anything on the first day of the school year - so their distraction was understandable. But if they’d only hurry up they could get on with the not-learning and it would be finished sooner.

And one of my favorite friendships ever...Aashiq Ladin and Gene Fitzhurst...
"Dude, smoking already?" Gene dropped a red and white peppermint onto his lap. "You smell."
He took the peppermint, completely unsurprised that Gene had managed to steal candy off Grim’s desk while arguing with him.
"Great to see you back, too, bro. And sheesh, watch it with the racist slurs, huh? How do you think that makes me feel?" He flung his arms out and Gene made one of his frighteningly insane faces in response.

And a particularly heartbreaking relationship...
Esme jumped in, slamming the door after herself and shoving the jacket over her seat’s headrest. “Ugh, I hate that thing. What is this, the army?”
Rajah grinned slightly, glancing over his shoulder as he pulled away from the sidewalk. “Don’t tell me you are in trouble already. What was the last thing I said to you before you got out this morning?”
She put her elbows on the center console, looking up at him with a laughing flutter of her eyelashes. “Behave yourself, Princess.”
He looked down at her, braking for somebody, and rolled his eyes. “Such a good imitation of me.”


Friday, March 24, 2017

~Menhir~Standing Stones~Masseba~


I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High...The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee...Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings...That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.

photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am, via google...
click the picture to go to article about Israel,
where I have never been and therefore could not take
this picture of standing stones in Israel.  
Over and over again the Bible talks about marking the things God has done for specific people, for specific families, for specific nations, speaking of them, remembering them, telling them that others might know more about Him.



I've already written up how I ended up in college...a gif-filled post on the strange awesomeness surrounding my admission to medical school...what I learned about following God without being carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease....quite a lot about the worst summer of my life and the miracle of Step 1...what God taught me while studying for Step 2...(i.e. you've all gotten to read quite a lot about my most stressful moments the last 7 years, and not nearly enough about the amazing times in between and how I fell in love with medicine and all the incredible people I've met and fascinating things I've learned) but I still find it incredibly weird to realize where exactly I am on the path God has put before me, how clearly He has directed me, and to see how He has led me step by step over the past 10 years since I first realized that I could be a doctor, and first thought about starting college with the goal of MD. 

The early admission program that allowed me to swap my final year of college with my first year of medical school was a huge blessing...the rural program I joined for my 3rd year of medical school definitely the most awesome part of med school...and the place and the people who have taught me all made med school actually work for me. I liked the faculty, I liked the school's focus on rural primary care, and things clicked. Except for that nagging question about what comes next? XD

Of course I started everything planning on Family Medicine -- it was one of the things my school is known for, and I had every intention of becoming their typical rural family doc. It was what I knew and what I liked.  And yet -- "What are you going to be? A pediatrician?" random people repeatedly asked me. "She doesn't care about this; she's going to be a pediatrician," one doctor said as she performed a urological procedure, having just met me seconds before. I always shook my head and laughed and wondered what was up with people. Family Med, guys! By the middle of second year, though, I was second guessing myself, frustrated with how little family med focused on pediatrics {which okay, I was thinking I wanted to know more about...}, and wondering how on earth I'd learn everything in 3 years of residency, and what would happen if I ever wanted to specialize, given I wasn't much of a fan of the available family medicine specialties.

And then there came one gorgeous blue day when I was staring out across one of the Great Lakes, praying for some idea of if God wanted me to switch course or stay family med...and in one of the larger DUH moments of my life, I realized I love kids, I've always loved kids, I want to work with children in the future, and what better way to take care of them than knowing how to be their doctor? I'm obviously going to be a pediatrician. Everybody else has seen it for years. 

But quick as the relief came, there came also the continued nagging feeling that it wasn't the final answer. I loved my elder patients, and I'd heard the "Oh, they're just a pediatrician" comments, as well as my parents and grandparents wanting medical advice that I would be pretty unqualified to give, should I become a pediatrician. I felt increasingly torn. I wanted to help children...but I didn't want to be limited to only children.

"I'm thinking med-peds...maybe..." It was a random comment from a classmate who changed his mind to emergency medicine shortly after, but it was the first time I'd heard of med-peds -- a specialty that started 50 years ago, and combines 3 years of Internal Medicine and 3 years of Pediatrics into an intense 4-year residency in both, leading to double board certification at the end and a future in full-spectrum primary care or further education with any fellowship desired.

The catch, of course, is that there are 86 programs in the country, compared to 500 Family Medicine programs, 438 Internal Medicine programs, and 198 Pediatric programs...and many of those 86 programs prefer high Step-scoring, research-heavy, genius applicants. (One reason I kept getting so stressed about those Step exams...XD) And, all those programs are pretty far away from my hometown. All but two. My school's program, and one that from here on out I'll be calling Mars. 

Meanwhile, not yet having discussed this with my school, I applied for my school's 9-month rural rotation. I went to the meeting, explained that yes, my homeschool background left me well prepared to do this sort of rotation, and named the top 3 places I wanted to do the rotation, with all my very good reasons behind my choices. My school said Cool...and stuck me in a totally random place


That random place happened to be the single rural place where I could have found a Med-Peds preceptor willing to spend most of those nine months teaching me and write me a smashing recommendation letter at the end of it. 

By that point, of course, I was sure I wanted to do Med-Peds, and finding myself intrigued that random people kept talking to me about Mars. It was a program that was the size I liked, in a place I liked, and basically on paper looked perfect. "It's gorgeous," patients told me. "I've been there and it was great. You'll love it." 

My preceptor gave me a weekend off to go to a conference there, and my mom and I went to a pediatric conference together and both found ourselves impressed with both the hospital and the city. 

I finished my rural rotation and went back to my school to see the person who would have to write me an Internal Medicine letter of recommendation. "Do you think I could possibly find a program to take me?" I asked, in the middle of somehow spilling a liter of fruit juice into my computer bag. ".......Yes," he said. "Of course."

I went down the hall to talk to my new advisor. "I want to apply Med-Peds," I said. He looked at my papers, and then at me. "You don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting into a Med-Peds program."

Great.

He looked back at my papers.  "No research, board scores that don't make up for it, and...how are you going to interview? I just got an email from the last person you talked to, and he said you were flighty and needed confidence."


Well, I'd been minorly distracted by the fruit juice frying my computer, and I'd already been told by a few people that Med-Peds was hard to match. And this conversation with my advisor was really not helping my confidence levels.

"What else do you have?" he asked, and I handed over my personal statement. 

"Oh," he said. "Oh. You're a writer. This...okay, this might be your ace-in-the-hole. You might get somewhere with this."

Doing what God wants me to do is my actual plan, but...I waited.

"You better apply to every single program in the country, though, and then apply to 7-12 Family Medicine programs here for backup."

I left torn between relief that he didn't think it completely impossible and wondering what exactly God had planned for me. This would have been a whole lot easier if I'd just fallen in love with Family Medicine and stayed in love with it and been sure that was what I was supposed to do. "Good thing you're not depending on what everybody else is depending on," my mom said, and I headed to meet with the Med-Peds program director at my school. 


"You need to match yourself to the programs you want. The programs that want you are the ones where you'll be happy," he said. "Don't apply to the ones that seem obsessed with their research. Apply to ones focusing on what you want." Well, that narrowed my selection considerably...

"Do you have any particular programs where you think I should definitely apply?" I asked, and barely missing a beat he said, "Oh, Mars. It's a this-size program in this-area, and I think you'd be a good fit."

Starting to get the message, God...

You already know about the interviews...but I think it's worth mentioning that every single other program had at least one interview that I finished going what was I thinking and how did I say THAT? except at Mars. One of the people who interviewed me that day was a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association, and the other...well, the other asked me for a story.

Those of you who are writers...what goes through your head when someone goes, "Oh, you tell stories...tell me one!"? XD But I grabbed the first one that came to my head {HIPAA compliant, of course}, one about a patient of my Med-Ped's preceptor who nearly died in the woods, and launched into the story. "Wow," he said when I was done. "Wow, I won't forget that anytime soon. Do you believe there are actually spirits on the land, those who have gone before?" 

{So, random side note, I find it a little weird that both my med school interview and this residency inteview veered into spiritual things, when none of the other residency interviews did, but also it was awesome.} 

After all that, I was told that I interviewed well and that Match Day should go well for me. Encouraging, to say the least.

Which doesn't mean by the end of interview season I wasn't worn to a frazzle and hadn't fallen in love with 4 programs, even though I kinda figured Mars had to be first on my rank list, given the number of things pointing to it. An established program, in an area I loved, close to family, with many fascinating people involved with great training, a program that's been ahead of the curve for years in all kinds of awesome things...

Meanwhile I was flying to other states and eating alligator at resident dinners and finding out the murder statistics of different cities and being properly awed by innovative on-call schedules and residents who booked night trains to the mountains in between hospital days so they could go skiing and cities where "normal" blood sugar measurements were practically off the charts and the patient population was different from where I'd been or exactly the same and being amazed by people in general and all the possibilities. There was that one program with the crazy director that I mentioned (I love her), and then there was one at a Catholic Hospital, where everything was missions-oriented and the residents were a joy to hang out with the entire time. And of course, a program where it became quickly clear that it would be the hardest of the {obviously already very hard 4 years of residency}, yet I'd be surrounded by passionate people giving their all...not as unnatractive as it might seem, despite little pay and a lot of work. "If you match there, you're going to get shot," my mom said. "If I match there," I told her, "That part of my autobiography is going to be titled Kevlar and Keflex: The Residency Years." 

Monday we found out if we matched or not...I was in the middle of an orthopedic surgery clinic day, and if I got an email that said Sorry, you did not match I was...I don't even know. There was definitely peace that people were praying for me, and I got the email and carried on with my day, knowing that I'd matched somewhere, and didn't have to jump into the panicked Scramble, searching for an empty spot throughout the week. It was a good day and such a better week than it could have been. 

The night before Match Day I was among the 35,969 US and international applicants waiting for one of 31,757 residency positions (of which only a fraction were Med-Peds, of course)...and my mom said "I feel like if you open that envelope tomorrow and it says anything other than Mars, you're going to feel like it's not God's will. But that won't be true. Whatever that envelope says will be God's will." 

And I said, "I don't know...maybe Mars was repeatedly underlined for me only so I would have something to focus on and hope for throughout this past year...so I wouldn't start this whole thing feeling lost...maybe its purpose was only to give me a goal. If it's any of my top 4 spots...I'll be thrilled. If it's one of my top 6, I'll be happy. If it's the others...I'm gonna get good training and it'll be better than I think it will be." 


Then I had to go to sleep and wait one more night before finding out where my life was headed. Southwest, southeast, midwest, moderate climate, hot, cold...guys, there are so many questions in your head when you've pre-signed a contract with a long list of places and you don't know which one or where you're going to live and work and learn for 4 years. 

Med Schools being big on drama {who knew}, the ceremony dragged on forevvvvver...{with everyone going "Oh, everybody seems nervous and excited...it's because it's St. Patrick's Day today, right?" -___-} But I was delighted that one of my med school advisors, who had encouraged me hugely a few times in medical school when I really needed it, had returned from his new job in another state to hand over the envelopes to his advisees. We all had to march across a stage and get our envelopes from our advisor, and then sit down and wait for the exact time when students all across the entire country open their envelopes simultaneously. {Seriously. The Drama.} Organization being a bit lacking, by the time my entire class managed to get across stage, we'd been waiting several minutes past that time and a friend was texting me from Taiwan asking me to let her know the next day and I was like I'LL FIND OUT IN A FEW MINUTES. And she was like I am staying up then

And finally we could open our envelopes. 

Which is when I became one of the 291 people who matched into Med-Peds this year who found out where they were going to go.

{You can tell the drama rubbed off on me, right? XD Okay, this blog post has gone on wayyyy long enough and I can't even listen to myself anymore.}

I'm going to Mars.

It's going to be harder and crazier than anything I've ever done, but come July and God's continued grace, I'll be starting as a post-graduate year 1 med-peds resident physician in a lovely town God has pointed out to me repeatedly since I first heard about med-peds being a thing. I don't know how hard and I don't know how crazy, but I know He's made this happen and when I start to wonder, I will only have to look back to see these moments in my life where He has made things crystal clear. He has a plan, and He's showing it to me one step at a time. I have no idea where it leads, but so long as I am closer to Him at the end of it, I know it is going to be incredible.





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