might as well finish!

Per usual, it’s been quite a while since I posted!  My summer was much more full than I’d expected–full of unique opportunities at work, lots of family time and tons of driving!  Then the school year started and, wow, has it been busy.  I have the privilege of serving in leadership positions within a couple of different pharmacy organizations as well as within the school of pharmacy and it’s been stretching and challenging and so very worth it.  I wish I could dedicate all of my time just to those positions but, alas, I am still a student and those are naught but extracurriculars.

I’m in my last semester of focused modules (currently in oncology) then we’ll be doing capstone next semester (a review of everything we’ve learned the last three years!) then we’re off to rotations in May!  It’s hard to believe I’ve made it this far but, at the same time, there is a lot of hard work between me and the finish line.


If only you could have seen us after this! We were like zombies but instead of brains, all we wanted was chocolate milk.

When I ran the Nationwide Columbus Marathon last month, my absolute favorite sign throughout the whole course was around mile 23 (out of 26.2 miles) and it said, “What the heck?  You’ve made it this far…you might as well finish!”  At that point, Dad and I barely had the energy to keep putting one foot in front of the other but that sign made me laugh (something that’s very difficult to do at mile 23!).  That’s exactly how I’m feeling with school right now.  Year 6 is mile 23.  I’m only 18 months away from the finish line and I’m starting to feel weary.  But I’ve made it this far so….what the heck?  Might as well finish!


podcast highlight: Stuff You Should Know

A few years ago, I started listening to podcasts because I wanted something different while I ran.  Little did I know that this timid venture into a single podcast would open up an entire world of entertainment and education!  Since then, I’ve fallen in love with podcasts and follow a plethora of podcasters in widely varying topics and genres.  I think this medium is relatively unknown/misunderstood/underestimated and I would love to share some of the podcasts I’ve grown to appreciate.  So, periodically, I’m going to be doing a podcast highlight to share a specific podcast I’ve really enjoyed.

Since this is the first podcast highlight, I thought it would be appropriate to begin with the first podcast I listened to: Stuff You Should Know.


Who: Josh and Chuck are the hosts for this show and have been doing this for a while.  In fact, I believe their 1,000th episode will be late this summer!  Josh and Chuck work for HowStuffWorks, a company that puts out a bunch of different podcasts covering nearly any topic you can think of.
This show can be for pretty much any age group.  A lot of parents and teachers use these shows as an engaging form of education.  If there’s ever any potentially concerning content, the hosts are really good about including warnings in the description of the show and at the beginning of the recording.

What: Literally anything.  These guys tackle all kinds of topics from boomerangs to how to live off the grid to Evel Knievel.  They cover physics, medicine, politics, historical figures, animals, cannibalism…seriously anything.  They do thorough research but always acknowledge they’re not professionals in any of these topics and invite listeners to write in to add information or correct them.  If you ever want more information on a show, they include links and resources in the show notes on their website.

When: Episodes are usually around 45-60 minutes long and are released on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Recently, they’ve also started re-releasing an old episode on Saturdays to highlight some of their favorite past episodes.

Where: Episodes are available on Spotify, stuffyoushouldknow.com, and apple podcasts (just search ‘podcast’ in the app store), to name a few places!  You can connect with the guys on their website, Facebook and Twitter under both the show’s name and their personal profiles.
I like to listen to this show while I’m running and when commuting between my apartment and home.  I’ve also turned it on while on the road with my family and we still talk about the episode on exploding head syndrome! (Spoiler: it’s not quite a dramatic as it sounds)


an update: yes, i’m still in college

Well, it’s been more than a year since I last posted which means it’s time for another update from me!  Wow, where do I begin?  I am now in my second year of pharmacy school which means two and a half more years and I have my PharmD!  Honestly, part of the reason I’ve been so absent is that the past year has been a whirlwind.


Let’s see if I can round up some highlights.  Last year I was president of my class and had the (terrifying) privilege of giving a speech at our white coat ceremony.  I attended GMHC (Global Health Missions Conference) 2015 with my classmates.  I had a Captain America movie marathon with my sister and cousin.  I arranged a sleepover with all 19 cousins on my mom’s side of the family.  I got to dress up and go to Junior/Senior banquet with one of my best friends.  I graduated!  I went to Cedar Point with my siblings.  I helped take care of my brother after his ACL surgery.  I got to help with my cousin’s wedding.  I trained for and ran my first marathon with my dad!  I went to MRM (Midyear Regional Meeting) put on by APhA (American Pharmacist’s Association) where I had the opportunity to meet a couple hundred student pharmacists in my area.  I got to explore a little bit of downtown Cincinnati with another of my best friends (and housemate), pretending we were professional adults out to brunch in our blazers.

It has been such a fun year, full of all kinds of stretching challenges and beautiful friendships.  My sister took a trip to Europe then moved to Texas and I miss her more than words can say.  My brother started high school and has been a champ recovering from his surgery and I am so proud of him.  My dad ran his ninth (yeah, you read that right) marathon and my mom ran her first half marathon this fall and I loved every chance I had to run with them over the summer.

These few years of my life are hard.  I’m stuffing my brain with more knowledge than I ever thought possible and and growing and maturing and just generally growing up and sometimes I just have to sit down and make it all stop for a few minutes.  But these few years are also beautiful.  I have wonderful classmates, amazing friends, a good job with awesome co-workers, a great church where I’m challenged every week, and I go to a school where the professors and faculty genuinely care about each student.  So, though I occasionally collapse on the living room floor when I can’t keep drug names straight the night before an exam, I really am loving this beautiful life.


watch your tongue, examine your heart

parisOver the last couple of days I have watched the world respond to the events of Friday and, while much of it has been beautiful support, I have also seen some discouraging responses.

While the hashtag #prayforparis has been trending more than any I have ever seen, I’ve seen much more anger than prayer.  Friends, this should not be our response.  Yes, we should be angry about the presence of sin and destruction in this world.  But we should not lash out in that anger.  I have seen some comments from several people saying we should bomb the Middle East, blaming Muslim people at large for these tragedies.

This is wrong.

Do not let your anger devolve into racism.  Yes, the people involved in these horrid acts may have been Muslim.  Does that mean every single Muslim was involved?  By no means!  Does that mean every Muslim agrees with and supports these actions?  Most definitely not!

So, in the wake of these events, be mindful of your words.  There are many Middle Eastern people living in America.  Let your words and actions be kind.  These are not the ones who committed the crimes; do not punish them.  Rather, put action to your beliefs and show them the love of the Christ you claim–the One who died for you while you were actively rebelling against Him.  Let this time be remembered as a rising up of the Church, an outpouring of love, a people transformed by prayer, not simply a time when everyone promised to pray for Paris.

“With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”  James 3:9-10 ESV


educate yourself: how to find accurate healthcare information online

The internet is a beautiful thing!  We can connect with people all across the globe; we can watch cat videos for hours; we can find facts and opinions on (probably) literally any subject.  In today’s culture, it is our go-to for information.  We no longer trek to the library and check out books, taking notes and comparing authors.  We simply types a phrase into a search engine and we’ve got thousands of websites vying for our attention, all claiming to have the information we want.  But with the unchecked ability for anyone to post anything on the internet, how can we find accurate information about things that matter?  Being in grad school with access to (almost) unlimited resources and having actual, real researchers teaching me how to do research, I’ve learned a few things I thought I’d pass along.

Number 1: Wikipedia is not a credible source.  Your teachers weren’t just saying this because they wanted you to look past the very first thing that popped up (seriously, why is it always the first thing?).  Anyone can edit that website.  Yes, anyone.  Did you see the mess it was after Peter Capaldi was announced as the next Doctor?

Number 2: Blogs are not credible sources.  Yes, I realize the irony of that statement.  But think about it; anyone can write a blog about anything.  Where did they get their information?  Was it from a credible source?  If so, they should cite that source so you can go check it out yourself.  (And you should go check it out yourself.)  If not, why should you believe them?

Number 3: Neither is the news.  I’m not saying they’re liars but I’m not calling them truthers.  The news is always biased.  Again, if they’re not citing sources, how can we believe them?

Number 4: Don’t believe everything you read.  So you know not to look at Wikipedia and you found a credible-looking website that’s not a blog.  That means you’re good, right?  Not necessarily.  if I had the cash and the care, I could pay to have an official website with my own domain rather than this free one.  That wouldn’t make my words any less opinionated.

Number 5: Don’t read just one source.  Please, don’t do this.  If one person tells you there’s a massive tornado heading your way, you’re going to ask someone else or check the weather or look at the sky or something before you drop everything and skip town.  You’re not going to simply take them at their word.  So why would you do that with the internet?  If you’re looking for information on Taylor Swift’s dating life, I don’t really care how few sources you use.  But if you’re looking for something important to base opinions and decisions on, such as (let’s get controversial!) vaccinations, look at many sources.  There are pros and cons to everything and no one person is going to tell you the full story.  You have to figure it out yourself.

So how do you find good, solid information?  This is going to sound like I’m a lying liar, but blogs and Wikipedia aren’t terrible places to start.  Keyword: start.  Find out where they got their information, go to those sources and start digging.  You are now a detective.  If someone says the flu vaccine is ineffective against a certain strain, find the study that reported that.  Find the primary literature.  What is primary literature?  The article written by the people who conducted the study.  There will be tons of big words, jargon, graphs and data sets that make no sense and some more stupid-big words.  But at the very beginning of the article there will be a section titled “Abstract”.  That’s your best friend.  It’s a reader-friendly summary of the entire paper.  If it looks interest, you can glance through the rest of the paper (Introduction is background information; Methodology is how they set up their research project; Results is the raw data; Discussion is the interpretation of the Results; Conclusion tells you what to do with the information).

Next questions: Where do I find these dense, stupid-long articles?
They’re all over the place!  Google Scholar is a great, free place to go to find articles and it’s easy to search.  Pubmed is another great place.  It’s probably a little different from what you’re used to as far as layout and aesthetics but it is a huge database of credible information.  Just like with Google Scholar, you don’t need an account to access most (if not all) of their information.  While this is still pretty easy to search, you can get some really specific search results if you use Boolean search terms.

Earlier I mentioned that blogs can be credible if they cite their sources.  I want to give you an example of one.  If you look around on this blog, you’ll notice that every time the author says something as a fact, there is a little number somewhere nearby.  Scroll down to the bottom of the post and find the corresponding number.  After that number there will be a citation for the article or website where they got their information.  If you’re skeptical or want to learn more, you can go to that article and check out the information yourself.  This blog is a great example of what you’re looking for.

Now I know some people might object to these articles, saying they are funded by pharmaceutical companies who just want to sell their product.  True, some of them are; but there are many more that are not.  There are also come very rigorous regulations in place to guide both research and its reporting.  Pharmaceutical companies aren’t the only ones funding research and not all research has the hypothesis that you should take X medication.  There are tons of articles out there about alternative treatments (see above blog) and they will tell you both the pros and the cons.  In fact, I would encourage you to look those up.  Just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you.  Perhaps your body doesn’t eliminate something as fast as you’re taking it in.  Could there be side effects if it builds up?  There may be research that has looked into that possibility.

Have you used resources like this before to fact-check what you’ve read on the news or seen on Facebook?  Will you use this process in the future when you hear about a new treatment option or are discussing a controversial topic?


an international adventure

This is a state sponsored hospital where treatment is free but medications are not provided but must be brought.

This is a state sponsored hospital where treatment is free but medications are not provided but must be brought.

This summer I had the opportunity to be part of the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy trip to Honduras. I’d been hearing about the trip since I started at Cedarville three years ago and knew it was something I wanted to do.  This was my

first mission trip out of the country as well as the first time I was part of a medically focused mission trip so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Rather than trying to guess, I decided to set all expectations aside and simply wait and see what God would do.

Our team leader has been doing this trip for several years now and many of the kids eagerly await his return each year.  The kids at this school sang a song for us when we arrived.

Our team leader has been doing this trip for several years now and many of the kids eagerly await his return each year. The kids at this school sang a song for us when we arrived.

Our hosts, Larry and Angie, have lived in Honduras for many years now.  One of their daughters, who is now a nurse in the States, was born and raised in Honduras and traveled with us as a translator.  While Larry and Angie are in the country as missionaries, they recognize that Scripture commands us to meet physical, as well as spiritual, needs.  It was in this way that we came and worked alongside them, making our work part of something bigger and long-lasting.

The main focus of our team was visiting schools and 11391311_10203193435235285_2908251452567988628_nproviding fluoride treatments for the kids.  We visited seven different schools and met kids ranging from kindergarten to about eighth grade.  When we arrived at a school, a couple people would visit each classroom with a translator and use a crocodile puppet to teach the kids how to properly brush their teeth.  They then handed out toothbrushes and toothpaste and sent the kids outside to the courtyard to brush.
Once they were done, the kids lined up and the rest of the team worked on pasting 11107164_10203193434475266_3348894119027795186_nfluoride onto their teeth.

When I heard what, exactly, we were going to be doing, I couldn’t see how fluoride treatments could make much of a difference for the kids.  Here in the States, it’s something we do more for cosmetics than health.  But when I sat down across from a little boy with eyes wide, revealing how nervous he was and I saw the rotted teeth in his open mouth, I realized how much the little container of fluoride in my hand could help him.  10502158_10204564304362897_3582409918368933220_nNot only were we helping him keep his teeth healthy, but we were also preventing the sickness that could come with rotten teeth.

One day that  really stood out to me was the day we spent on the island.  This island is just off the coast, a couple minute boat r11391210_10204548670372057_8647342281984426411_nide when the tide is in or a half hour walk when the tide is out.  What sets these people apart is that the Spanish they speak is so full of slang that they basically have their own dialect.  They have difficulty communicating with others which has secluded them almost entirely.  This seclusion and language barrier has created several issues for them.  Because they cannot communicate well, they have trouble selling the fish they catch, which is their main source of income.  If they can’t sell their fish, they can’t buy any other food.  Thus, they eat mostly fish which has led to the children being malnourished10502234_10203193431075181_7430821502444691518_n.  When the kids first began arriving at the school for fluoride treatments, we thought they were all young.  Eventually we learned that we could not judge their age bytheir size.  It’s difficult for me to reconcile the image of those tiny bodies with the overindulgence I see daily in America

11264870_10204531100852830_5964514515299409176_nI have always been aware, in the back of my mind, how privileged I am and how many people don’t have that privilege and that has affected some of my decisions.  But now I have names and faces and voices to constantly remind me that there are people who have a fraction of what I do and have a full life.  Those beautiful children will always be on my mind, reminding me of one of the reasons I decided I want to be a pharmacist: so I can someday provide for them.


discovering faith


I wish I could feel my faith.  I know I have faith that God exists, that he made all, that he has changed my life and even caused specific things in my own life to happen.  I believe that and I cling to that belief.  But often I feel as though that’s all I’m doing–clinging to something I don’t really understand but know won’t let me down.

I feel like I’m stuck in a pool of still water.  I suppose the change I’m asking for is one that often comes through hardship and I certainly don’t want that.  What I want is to really know, deeply love, and completely trust the God I believe in.

When I wrote these words in my journal I had no clue what I was asking for.  While I realize that the events of the coming months were not because of my prayer, looking back I can see how God was preparing me for the events about to take place.

A couple weeks later, I received two phone calls within the span of a weekend.  Two family members had been diagnosed with cancer.  On top of that, my cousin’s husband of one year was still battling the melanoma that was spreading throughout his body.  I was lost.  I didn’t know what to pray or even how to pray.  I tried over and over but all I could say was, “Please, God.  Please, God.”

In the coming months, I tried to have the kind of faith I see in those I look up to.  I tried to believe that God was working all things for good and that we would someday look back and see His plan.  I tried to faithfully read my Bible and pray and worship.  I tried.  But I discovered that sometimes the best thing–the only thing–you can do is sit and cry out to the only One who knows the ache in your heart.

In July we celebrated the end of my aunt’s chemotherapy.  It was a welcome ray of sunshine in the midst of what was turning out to be a difficult year.  My grandpa’s chemo had started off rough but they had figured out the issue and things were going better.  As the summer progressed, I clung to that hope.

Fall came and my cousin and her husband celebrated their second anniversary.  Oh, the joy that surrounded that day!  As weeks went by, though, the melanoma began to make itself evident.  There are no words to describe the next couple of months.  December saw his admittance to hospice and steady decline in health.  I didn’t know what to do for my cousin.  All I wanted was to fix everything, to take away the pain that filled her and renew her joy.  Again, my prayers consisted of two words, “Please, God.  Please, God.”

In January, the day we all dreaded came.  I went home for the funeral with an ache in my chest.  When I saw my cousin, I could do nothing more than hold her and attempt to take some of her pain so she wouldn’t have to carry it.  I had no words for her; no Bible verse or prayer.  I just hugged her and cried with her.  Even now, when I pray for her, I can’t say much more than my simple cry, “Please, God.”

While the ache of losing a loved one is a lasting one, we all breathed a small sigh of relief when the calenders flipped over to 2015.  Twenty fourteen had been a hard year, one that has left scars that will never disappear, but it was over.  Through all that had happened, I had learned the value of simply resting in God.  I no longer felt like I was stuck in a pool of still water.  I did not understand one bit the circumstances of the previous year but I was clinging to the simple fact that he is God and he loves me.  And even while I wept, he surrounded me in his love.  I discovered that faith is something that is both a feeling and a decision and it looks much different on the outside than it does personally.  Sometimes, though, you can’t feel it and you have to make the decision to believe anyway.

Apparently, though, we weren’t done.  Last week our neighbor’s daughter, a girl not much younger than me, was suddenly hospitalized and passed away a couple days later.  “Reeling” and “shocked” are the words that come closest to how everyone is feeling.  All I could think was, ‘Twenty fifteen was supposed to be better.’  I won’t lie, the words “why, God?” went through my mind more than once.

My family had tickets for a Rend Collective/Chris Tomlin concert the next day.  Oh, the beauty of how God orchestrates our lives far in advance!  Rend Collective opened with six songs, immediately ushering us into God’s presence.  As the words to My Lighthouse filled the room, I was struck by how amazing it was that my whole family, after everything that had happened in the previous fourteen months, was standing with me worshiping.  ‘This is faith,‘ I thought.  ‘This is what I was looking for.’  I had tears running down my face from the ache in my heart but I could still stand and sing, “I won’t fear what tomorrow brings; with each morning I’ll rise and sing; my God’s love will lead me through; You are the peace in my troubled sea.”

I still haven’t figured out how faith works or how it develops.  I don’t understand how my simple crying out seemed to lead to a development of faith.  At the time, I barely even had the faith to pray for healing.  I don’t understand why all of this happened–I don’t think we ever will.  But as I was singing, I discovered a deep longing for Heaven had developed within myself.  While I will do God’s work on this earth for as long as he has determined I should, I am no longer satisfied with this world.  I was not created for this temporary place with its short joys and lasting pain.  Rather, I was created to be with God!

This is by no means the end of my journey in discovering and developing faith.  I do, however, hope and pray for a year filled with joy and healing for my family.