Christmas Break book reviews

Alas, this poor medical student cannot go even two weeks without giving herself tasks to accomplish.  This break, I chose to catch up on some reading...I found a few good books and dug in! Here are my thoughts, recommendations, and warnings:

Books a-c:  The Hunger Games series

Technically, I did not read these books over Christmas break, but used them as study breaks during the two weeks before as I was cramming for my final block exam.  However, I am including them here.  They are AMAZING! My sister in law started reading them last year, and although she recommended them highly, I was skeptical because of their premise...a future world where children are required to battle to the death.  BUT while that very brief synopsis is accurate, it does not accurately portray the amazing character development and social questions raised by these amazing novels.  I really enjoyed these books.  They are quick reads...once you start, you can't put them down!  Plus, the first movie (portraying the first book of the series) comes out soon, although I am a little concerned that the film will not live up to the book and the world it created in my mind.

Book 1:  I am Nujood:  Age 10 and Divorced

This book was also really amazing, but very different.  It is about a 10-year-old girl raised in Yemen, her life growing up, her struggle after her father married her off at 10 years old, her mistreatment by her husband, and ultimately, her courage in fighting against the injustice of her situation. The book is written by Nujood, with the help of an established author, so you feel like you are hearing the story straight from this brave young girl. Her tale is heart-wrenching, but it is also very educational and inspiring. Her victory over her situation has inspired many young girls in similar circumstances to fight for their freedom as well. And when you buy the book, proceeds go to Nujood and her family. I really enjoyed this book, and I think it is a great read...I finished it in a day.  Go buy it and read it!

Book 2:  Let's Take the Long Way Home

Gail's story is a memoir of friendship, of struggle, of life, and of loss.  This book was not an easy read for me.  I almost stopped reading it a few times, but I just couldn't let it conquer me...so I persevered.  I am glad that I did.  The story is very touching.  Gail talks about her special bond with her best friend Caroline, their relationships with their dogs and the added bond those relationships give to their relationship, and the connection they share due to their similar struggles with alcoholism and smoking addiction.  Then, Caroline gets cancer, and Gail walks us through the days of Caroline's battle...and ultimately, Caroline's death.  I definitely had to wipe away a few tears.  This book was very touching, but also very troubling.  If these topics interest you, I would recommend the book.  Otherwise, it might just make you cry.

Book 3:  The Other Wes Moore 

This book was a very interesting.  I enjoyed it a lot.  It explored how two boys could grow up with the same name, with similar situations (no dad around, living in the rough inner city of Baltimore), but have two extremely different stories.  Wes Moore, the author, turned out to be a Rhodes scholar, a military officer that was highly respected, and a man with multiple other impressive accomplishments.  The other Wes Moore is spending the rest of his life in jail after being convicted of armed robbery, a crime that resulted in the death of a  security guard who was also a husband and father of five.  This book is the first Wes Moore's attempt to understand the complex paths that lead us in different directions in life.  It was very insightful, very interesting, and incredibly inspiring...it makes you want to make a difference in this country!  I highly recommend it.

Now throw in a few not-worth-mentioning brainless novels, and you have a pretty good idea of how I've spent my free time :)  Hope you have all enjoyed your Christmas and have a great New Year!!!


Oh Night Divine

This is my absolute favorite Christmas hymn.  Please take a moment to really pay attention to these beautiful words...

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!


One Semester Down...

It is a little bit crazy to think that I have completed my first semester of medical school!  The past few months have flown by...filled with a lot of studying, a lot of discovery, and even more appreciation for the amazing gift I have been given...working towards doing the thing I was made to do.  Amazing.  I am so thankful, and quite frankly, astounded, that I am one semester into this experience.  That means I am 1/4 of the way through my medical school classes and 1/8 of the way trough med school as a whole.  Do I even know enough for that to be true?! I hope so!

Two days ago, I received an email from one of our associate deans congratulating me on completing my first semester successfully.  This afternoon, I get my final grades back.  Over break, I am going to be working on getting a research project set up for next summer.  But mostly, I am going to enjoy this glorious break that consists of lots of time with people I love, lots of reading, lots of working out, lots of sleeping, and very, very few thoughts about school! That can wait for January 3rd! :)

Merry Christmas, everyone!


This weekend was full of so much fun (and not nearly as much studying as planned)!  On Friday night, Mikey and I went to the MED (ministers, elders, and deacons) dinner at Magnolia's downtown for his work.  The food was delicious, the company was amazing, and after the dinner was over, we even got to spend some time with two of the younger couples in ministry at our church!  We had a great time :) Here are some pictures we took that night!

At the MED Dinner

With an awesome little nutcracker that I fell in love with when we were wondering around waterfront park :)

At the pineapple!!!

AJ and Allison at the pineapple downtown

With my beautiful friend Chelsie :)

And then on Saturday night, we had an ugly Christmas sweater leaders christmas party for Genesis, the young adult ministry, and it went great! It was catered by Qdoba (YUM!), and we did an awesome white elephant gift exchange.  I even enjoyed playing the game mafia, which isn't normally my cup of tea :)  My wonderful friend Sarah even took some pictures of us, and I will post those when I get my little hands on them :)


Watch and Pray

Last night at Genesis, we sang these words:

I hear the Savior say, "thy strength indeed is small. Child of weakness, watch and pray. Find in Me thine All in All!"

And then this morning on the bus I read these words from James 1:3:

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow!

Both of these messages spoke straight to my heart. I have felt my faith being tested over the past few years...moving, marriage, faith struggles within my once very Christian home, battling depression and anxiety, waiting for things like having my own family and my own home in order to follow the call I believe God has placed on my life to be a doctor. Through all of this, I have been very aware of the incredible blessings all around me...my husband, my family, a few very amazing friends, a larger group of friends to laugh and goof around with, the first real steps into becoming a doctor, a home, plenty of food, freedom to think and believe what I choose, a wonderful body of believers with whom I can seek God. But with all of these blessings and all of my love for God and belief in Him, my faith...my simple trust in God to be who He says He is and to love me as He says He does, has been tried. And I have found that my strength is not great enough to make it on my own...so I am dedicating the next few weeks until Christmas to giving Him thanks for the smaller blessings of life that I tend to overlook, to doing at least one thing every day just to honor Him and bless someone else, and to praying at least one time every hour I am awake. This is my attempt to refocus, to reunite with my Savior...I want to watch, giving thanks for what I find, and I want to pray, hearing more from God about who He is and what He has for me.

I am sharing this on my blog because I may post some of what I experience and discover over the upcoming days...maybe every day, maybe just once or twice. And I also want to encourage anyone who might be reading this to know that God is bigger than our questions, bigger than our fears, and much bigger than our inadequacies.


The best way to spread Christmas cheer...

Is singing loud for all to hear!!!

Yesterday, MUSC hosted their annual Holiday Tree Lighting event for kids from local schools and programs, along with some of the current residents of the Children's Hospital.  I was happy to be a part of the event, reading a little bit about Advent and how Christians celebrate the Christmas holiday.  We also got to sing some Christmas carols with the kids, visit with Santa, and enjoy some of the MUSC Children's hospital staff doing a flash mob dance to "All I Want for Christmas is You!"

A great way to kick of the holiday season! Hope you are all enjoying this wonderful time of year!

The Flash Mob getting their groove on!

Santa greeting the kids!