Sunday, January 29, 2012

Love anyway

After two weeks of stress, frustration, and pure exhaustion, I successfully passed my final grad school comprehensive exam. I was assigned to a group of four other graduating MPH students and given the task of developing an effective strategy for preventing a pertussis epidemic in Utah. I learned so much about pertussis (whooping cough), immunization policies and programs, statistical analysis in real life, and effective program planning and evaluation. Perhaps most significantly however, I learned more about myself and about life.
We had a bit of a conflict with one group member who struggled to complete her portion of the work correctly, on time, or even at all. I was sort of thrust into the role of group leader, and as such was the one who had to confront this girl about her performance, or lack thereof. I prayed every day that she would meet her deadlines, but each time found myself spending extra hours either helping her finish, or finishing for her. When the final paper and presentation were complete and we were informed that the whole group had passed, I felt relieved. However, I'll admit that I was also slightly disappointed that this girl who had contributed so little still received the same reward as the rest of us who had worked so hard. It really bothered me, until I thought about it a little differently. I had to remember that sometimes life just isn’t fair, but you just have to love people anyway.
I thought about Christ and how many times he had to rebuke people, help them see what they were doing wrong and call them to repentance. How many times did he do this, but they still didn’t listen? I thought of when the people chose to release Barabbas and crucify Christ instead. I know that this was necessary, but at face value, clearly it wasn’t fair. Yet Christ suffered it willingly and loved both Barabbas and even those who threw him to the wolves anyway.
Did this girl deserve to pass? I don't know. That decision was out of my hands. But what I do know is that in life, nobody deserves to fail. We all came to this earth to take the same test. Some of us perform better on it than others, but the bottom line is that Christ wants us all to succeed. He understands our strengths and our limitations, and I'm sure it pains him when we choose not to do our part of the work correctly, on time, or even at all; yet he loves us anyway. He puts people in our lives to help us when we are weak, and He atoned for our sins to finish what we will never be able to finish ourselves.
As challenging as the experience was, I'm grateful that the Lord gave me the chance to strengthen my testimony as well as my intellect.

The Good Doctor

"Umm, I need to tell you something about hard things. Sometimes if something is hard, you just try and try and it will get better." Pearls of wisdom from 4-year-old, Josh
Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
If there's one thing I've learned over the last several months, it is that I can do hard things. I can do hard things because I am not alone. I have the Lord, great friends, a supportive family, and a true saint of a husband. Actually, it is my saintly husband to whom this post will be dedicated.

I have been married for seven and a half months. I love my husband. He is the best. My husband is going to be a doctor...a really good doctor. Okay, so I know he's only in his first year of medical school, but I can already see that he's just one of those people who has a gift. Actually, he has lots of gifts. He knows everything you could imagine about anatomy; he actually understands biochemistry; he can look at cells under a microscope and tell you whether they came from liver or lung tissue... But best of all, my husband really cares about people. You know how the scriptures describe God as no respecter of persons? Well, I guess I sorta think of my husband that way. He loves everyone regardless of their background, race, income, education, ability, etc.? I think his love for others is one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with him. He can make a child feel important, a teenager feel respected, an adult feel appreciated, and an elderly person feel valued. He makes me feel all of those things every day.
My husband is my biggest fan. And I am his. He is supportive and cares about my dreams as much as his own. I remember my final breakup before meeting my husband. I had been planning for a long time to go to India, but held off because the guy I was dating wanted me to stick around. When we broke up, I remember thinking, "It doesn't matter that he didn't care about India. But it does matter that he didn't care that I care about India."
Almost four years later when I was dating my husband,I found myself in a similar situation, planning a trip to Africa. But this time it was different. This time,I was dealing with someone special who could see how important this opportunity was to me and rather than holding me back encouraged me to follow my dream.

My husband has given me that same encouragement to finish graduate school, even though it means that we've had to live in separate states for the last six months. What a lucky girl I am to have such a wonderful husband!
He is patient, kind, thoughtful, cheerful, optimistic, helpful, selfless, generous, humorous, fun, adventurous, smart, honest, gracious, humble, determined, diligent, faithful, and genuine. He is everything a good doctor and a good husband should be. I'm glad he's mine!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I found some old note cards hidden between the pages of my Book of Mormon as I was reading the other day. Written on the cards were verses of scripture and some of my own thoughts about light. I'm not sure why, but light really began to intrigue me a few years ago. I'm not just talking about the physics of light, but really, the deeper meaning of light.
I remember starting to truly contemplate it while I was on my mission as it related to the gospel, to my investigators, to my responsibilities as a member of the church and as a missionary, to intelligence, understanding,truth, purity, vision, hope, and Christ himself.
I can't think of light without having the vision of a beautiful African woman I met in a camp for internally displaced people in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. She and her family had been driven from their home after the 2007 post-election riots and violence, and were living in a patchwork tent of sticks, and pieces of plastic tarps and bags. She invited a group of us into her tiny shelter and told us about her life, her children, her battle with HIV, and her hopes for the future. Someone asked her what her most valuable possession was and she pulled out a small blue metal lantern that had been given to her as a humanitarian gift. What a profound impression that moment left on my mind and heart. How simple a thing to be so grateful for--light. And it wasn't just the physical glow of the flame in the lantern that meant so much as what I believe it represented. That light represented sight, vision, and hope. That light was not only what allowed her to see in the darkness of her piecemeal home, but figuratively through the darkness of trouble and despair. It was what illuminated her path and gave her greater vision of the bright future that she so desperately wanted for herself and even more for her children. It was that light that allowed her to see the words on the pages of tattered books donated by volunteers who had given her another gift of light--understanding and knowledge.
Does light mean that much to me? And is that light, in every sense of the word something I treasure as one of my most valuable possessions? Just something to think about.