Hasta Luego 2016!

Here we are–December 31, 2016. Just like that, another year has flown by. This year was characterized by college, friends, family, and travels both small and large scale. While I’m sad that life occurs too quickly, all I can say is that I am thankful to be where I am today. I’m healthy, happy, loved, supported, and so much more due to the communities that I have been blessed with. I’d just like to take a moment to recall some of my favorite memories with you.

  1. January: Learning about the HIV/AIDS social justice issue on my service trip to Chicago, IL
  2. June: Shadowing an OB/GYN and getting to use the doppler to hear a baby’s heartbeat
  3. July: Visiting Seattle, WA and Alaska on a cruise with my family
  4. July: Exploring Chicago, IL with my mom: visiting Navy Pier, shopping, eating delicious food
  5. August: Completing my first triathlon despite the terrifying swim portion
  6. August: Being a camp counselor to a precious foster child at Royal Family Kids Camp
  7. Summer: Hiking and exploring Milwaukee with my high school friends
  8. School year: Having my job on the ALIVE team, being a TRIPS leader, spending time with my friends, beginning research, connecting with my professors, and so much more

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I have high hopes for 2017. First, I have my children’s medical trip to Arkansas. Then, I need to make it through second semester of sophomore year. I will be taking Organic Chemistry, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Physics, and the Christian Tradition. While it will probably be another hard semester, I am excited to be reunited with my friends and professors. In the summer, I hope to do some kind of race, travel somewhere, and volunteer at Royal Family Kids Camp, Finally, the goal in the fall is to spend the semester in Quito, Ecuador!

There are so many amazing opportunities to look forward to in 2017, but I’m hoping this year to be less future-focused, but rather enjoy one day at a time. I feel like that’s the only way to help time slow down just a hare so that I can take in all of these memories. 2017 will definitely be a year of new experiences especially with the leadership roles that I am taking on and with the traveling that I will be doing. Most importantly, I hope that 2017 is a year of spiritual growth for me. I want to continue deepening my faith and challenging myself to trust God’s plan for me.

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Happy New Year!
Hannah

The Secret Life of a Selfless Giver with Selfish Tendencies

Anyone who knows me can attest that I genuinely enjoy helping people. Why do I offer to stay at work until 2:30am at times or tutor students in chemistry when I really don’t have the time? It’s because of that feeling you get when you know someone is appreciating the work you are doing for them. This world needs more goodness in it, and I want to help spread it, but I got to thinking, at the root of it all, is my service for the good of others or for myself?

Let’s rewind back to my high school days. My mind back then was focused on getting into college, so I did anything that would look good on an application. National Honor Society, Key Club, Spanish Honor Society… if it involved service of some kind, I probably dabbled in it. Sure, I enjoyed being able to provide service to others, but in reality, I only volunteered for my personal gain.

Now I’ve grown a lot since my days in high school. I now realize that life on Earth is so unpredictably short, so I need to fill my time with the things that truly matter to me. For instance, Royal Family Kids Camp will forever be a part of my life. I can genuinely say that attend camp to help the kids witness God’s love. If my heart wasn’t in it for the right reasons, I wouldn’t ever make it through the week because working with foster children is exhausting. These kids come with a lot of emotional baggage, and if you go in with selfish intentions, God won’t have the space to work in your camper.

That being said, though, I still have moments where my selfish inclinations start outweighing my desire to be selfless. At a stressful day of work, sometimes I only focus on my paycheck or the fact that this will help me get into medical school. Other days make me realize how much I love caring for my residents. Can I just say that I love elderly people because they are wise, witty, and all around wonderful? The other day, I helped a lady fix her drawer and they next moment she was giving me a hug because she was so grateful for my help. I love it when I can take the extra 30 seconds to make my residents feel happy, important, and beautiful/handsome.

I was reading my Bible the other day, and I stumbled upon 1 Corinthians 13 about love. Verse 5 spoke to me in particular stating that love “does not seek its own interests”. It was a crucial reminder to me that the love I share with the people I serve needs to be selfless. If I am giving of time to others, but I do it for my own accord, I‘m not showing Christ’s love.

In a few weeks, I will be co-leading a group of about 10 college students down to Little Rock, Arkansas for a children’s medical service trip at the hospital there. It will be really easy to get stuck in a rut of just seeing how this is a great opportunity for my future. After all it will be great leadership and medical experience. This trip, though, is not about making myself feel good; it’s about listening to the stories of the families I meet, encouraging others to have faith in the team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who are taking care of their child, and engaging with the children so that they can have time to relax and to just have fun. As I continue to get older, I hope that I work through my selfishness and instead serve others with unconditional, selfless love.

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Lots of love,

Hannah

The Question I Hate Getting Asked

Winter break is treating me well. There is nothing better than sleeping in (that’s til about 7:30am for me), reading in bed, and hanging out with family and friends. However, whenever I see people that I haven’t talked to in awhile, I always get asked, “What are your plans for the future?” or some other version of that same question. It drives me nuts because I have to come up with a concise answer when in actuality I should really say, “I have no clue what I am doing with my life. I’m considering about 10 career options at the moment.”

I hate being in this period of the unknown. For me, I always find comfort in having a plan (as well as back up plans). As far as the future goes, I just never feel certain on anything. For a year now, I have been pretty set on going to medical school, which seems like a great option for me. I love school, I am dedicated, and I genuinely want to help people. How can I be certain, though, that becoming a doctor will bring me the most fulfillment and joy? Medical school requires a lot of sacrifice and work, and if I decide to go that route, I want to be certain that it is the best option for me. I have also considered other health careers, such as becoming a PA, a nutritionist, or a physical therapist. If the medical field is not the right place for me, I have considered a career in public health or in food science because they both deal with health and nutrition in settings outside of a hospital.

All in all, I’m straight up confused. I think it bothers me so much because at the end of the day, I want to follow God’s plan for me. I want to seek the vocation that he calls be to pursue, but I so often try to control my future. I’m in a constant internal battle between trying to surrender to God and trying to take matters into my own hands. I honestly pray that I can be free of the anxiety that comes with the unknown future. I wish I could be better at living each day as its own, rather than planning for the years to come. Hopefully, I can learn to trust  that God will show me what I am passionate about through my interactions with others in my daily life. Right now I know that I am passionate about serving foster children and caring for those who are vulnerable in society. I am interested in traveling, health, all things science (NOT PHYSICS), and social justice issues regarding malnourishment in the world and environmental problems. All I can do right now is have faith that God will show me the path that I am supposed to take based on the opportunities that he either gives me or closes off from me.

Rather than tensing up when asked the dreaded career question, my goal is to work on making peace with the fact that I do not know. Instead it is a great opportunity to let God be God and to allow him to really work through me. If you have any encouraging words or advice that helped you decide on your career path, feel free to share them with me!

Lots of love,
Hannah

My Teenage Years Are Over…

I woke up this morning and realized that it was my birthday. It was like I somehow had forgotten that this day was coming even though I had been thinking about this birthday for a while now. The fact that I am 20 hasn’t really sunk in yet, but it’s crazy to think that I have been alive for two decades.

Twenty years is long time to be alive, but it feels like these past few years have especially flown by. Even though time it going by quickly, it’s so amazing to see how God has been working in my life. Firstly, he allowed me to find some of the best, most compassionate friends I could ever ask for in high school. They constantly ground me in my faith and they challenge me to live a Christian life with more authenticity. Secondly, God has blessed me with such a supportive family. My senior year and even now at times, I still feel at odds with my parents, but the more I am away at college, the more I realize how much they unconditionally love me. Family is something that I cannot take for granted, especially after spending so much time with foster children. The older I get, the more I realize how precious having a family really its.

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My brother and I this year as we searched for the ideal Christmas tree.

I’m especially grateful for the past year and a half that I have had at college. God has allowed me to learn more about myself and what I am passionate about. I have had the opportunity to partake in a lot of mentorship roles both with college freshmen and with children at a local elementary school. I’ve also been mentored in a way by my professors who are always there to support and encourage me. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better college community.

So now I am here, at age 20. I really have no idea what my future holds, but I’m eager to see what opportunities God has in store for me. I’m excited to see how my story unfolds as I learn how to trust in God more fully. I’m at a place where I really want him to do whatever he pleases with my life instead of me trying to plan every moment of my future. I just know that ultimately I will find the most joy by following God’s will for my life.

As far as birthday plans, I really have none. My parents and I are going to go out to dinner (the restaurant is TBD) and then later we will have Dairy Queen ice cream cake because that is a family tradition. Otherwise, I am just going to rest, read, and relax with my cat (who never leaves my room since I keep it so toasty warm)!

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Sleeping Beauty

I hope you all have a lovely day! Stay warm 🙂

Lots of love,

Hannah

I’m Alive!

Wow, this is the first night in almost two months where I have had nothing to do. This feeling of nothingness is so blissful– I never want it to end. Today I finally made it to the end of the semester. I had my physics and organic chemistry finals yesterday and then my genetics and theology exams today. I know, it was a horrible line-up. The timing was not ideal, but I managed to power through to the end. I’m so happy that this semester is over. Even though I have thoroughly enjoyed living with my friends and being able to spend time with them, this semester was tough. I felt as though I always needed to be on my A game because if I ever wasn’t, then I would hopelessly fall behind on my work.

But here I am. I came out on top. I don’t know how I did on my finals, but I can honestly say that I did the best that I could have given the circumstances. Also, with all of the people stressing out around me, it was so hard not to get caught up in it all. It’s so easy to get stuck in the cycle of feeling the need to succeed all the time. I used to feel that way (and I still struggle with that at times); it would cause me so much anxiety that I couldn’t sleep and my stomach was constantly a wreck.

If there is one thing that I learned from this semester, it’s that school doesn’t define me. I will fully admit that I am a nerd. I love learning. It’s a part of me that I love, but it can also make me lose sight of the big picture. I am here at school, not for my own good, but hopefully to gain skills to do God’s will. School is not about what information I can regurgitate on an exam or how much better I do in a class compared to someone else. School, along with the other aspects of my life, is never supposed to be centered around me. I’m supposed to be giving all the glory to God.

With that perspective in mind, I was able to get through the stress of finals. God gave me strength, peace, and wisdom to know that being at college is a privilege that most people in the WORLD never get to experience. He has given me the opportunity to learn in an environment that challenges me to think critically and to explore new perspectives. No matter how well I excel at school, I trust that God is going to use me for some greater good. I don’t have to be better than anyone else because I am already good enough in God’s eyes.

That being said, I am really excited for a much needed break! I can’t wait to relax at home with my cat (and with my family and friends). Campus is beautiful here, but it’s bitterly cold. In 24 hours, I’ll be in my room with the space heater cranked up, snuggled in a warm blanket. Nothing is better than going home. I cannot wait! Plus it’s my birthday on Friday, so that will be a fun time too!

If you are in the midst of finals, I pray that they go smoothly. Just remember that this is one small phase of your life. Don’t let these measly tests cause you so much anxiety.

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My own winter wonderland here on campus! Like I said, it’s lovely to look at (not so lovely to have to walk in).

Lots of love,

Hannah