Future Surgeon?

Sorry it has been so long since my last post! I am almost halfway through my second year of medical school, and it has been a wonderful, stressful, joyful, busy ride!  Over the past year, I have started leaning back towards my first love in medicine...surgery.  I switched from it because I did not want the "surgeon lifestyle," but the longer I am in medical school and the more experience I get with different fields of medicine, the more I feel drawn to surgery.  I figure, if that is what God has planned for me, that is where I want to be, no matter the cost! However, I am keeping an open mind as I continue my classes this year and begin thinking about my rotations in the hospital, which start at the end of the summer.

As a testament to my renewed love of surgery, I am the Secretary/Treasurer for a surgical interest group for MUSC's College of Medicine, STAR (Surgical Training, Awareness, and Residency).  This week, STAR hosted our first suture lab of the year, which we have dubbed "Pizza and Pigs' Feet." We serve soda and pizza before following the instructions of surgical residents who are kind enough to volunteer an hour or two of their limited free time to help us learn how to suture on pigs' feet bought from the local butcher.

This was my first attempt at suturing EVER, and I loved every second of it.  There were definite ups and downs as I tried to learn the proper grasp to use with the forceps and the hemostat, the correct angle to use with the curved suturing needle, and various different styles of suturing.  By the end of the lab, I was pretty proud of my results.  I got a friend and fellow medical student to snap a couple of pictures of me and my pig's foot, containing my first ever sutures...possibly the first of MANY more to come!

Different Suturing Techniques:

I attempted the simple (over and over) interrupted and continuous, the vertical mattress, the horizontal mattress, and the subcutaneous ("invisible") sutures! :)

Left incision (top to bottom): vertical mattress, horizontal mattress, simple continuous, simple interrupted
Right incision: subcutaneous


Wedding Bells

Last week, most of my waking seconds were taken up by planning for and celebrating one of my best friends, Rachel's, flash wedding! Rachel had already been engaged to her awesome fiancĂ© Cory for 5 months, but because of various reasons, the wedding planning was not progressing, and the happy couple was ready to get hitched!  So on Tuesday night, after a Christian rap concert hosted by our church, a group of friends, including Rachel and Cory, headed to Applebee's, and the unforeseen outcome of this gathering was that Rachel and Cory decided to go ahead and plan the wedding for that coming Saturday!!! Madness.

That night, another friend, Chelsie, and I stayed up with Rachel until almost 4 am to start the planning.  The next few days were filled with so many incredible blessings, as friends and family joined together to make Rachel and Cory's flash wedding a beautiful reality.  On Saturday, they tied the knot, and the lovely couple headed to Asheville for a few days to celebrate their newlywed state.

The wedding came together so quickly and so beautifully thanks to the efforts of a group of people who absolutely love Rachel and Cory.  Many people at the wedding said that it seemed like it had been planned for months!  It was such a joy to be able to bless Rachel and Cory in this way :)  Here are some pictures from their festivities:

At Applebee's after making the decision to GET HITCHED on Saturday!

Chick-fil-A breakfast the next morning for more planning...
They are so adorable!!

Chelsie and I goofing off while Rachel tries on dresses

She found the dress!!!!

Rachel and her girls...friends, sisters, and mom :)

The three amigos :)

Cory praying over their wedding and their marriage before the ceremony...
Don't worry...they didn't get to see each other yet!

Mr. and Mrs. Burchard!!!!!!!!!

Me with my honey at the reception!!!
(I couldn't resist adding this one...ha)



My wonderful sister-in-law recommended the book Anything by Jennie Allen to me, and I am so thankful!  In this book, Jennie talks about how she and her husband, Zac, came to a place in their faith and their life where they decided that they were done with their safe way of doing things...they were willing to do anything for God.  Anything.

Think about it.  That is pretty scary, and absolutely amazing.

The book is so inspiring.  It calls us to step out of our comfort zones and to move beyond our pat answers and "reliance" on God...and to move to a place where we have nothing to hold onto except for God.  For some of the people that prayed this prayer with Jennie and Zac, anything looked like adoption.  For some, it looked like a career change.  For others, it looked like using where God already has them to impact those around them.  But for all of them, their lives were changed.  Irrevocably.  Beautifully.  Dangerously.

This book calls you to live a dangerous life, to reject normal, and to live for the bigness that each of us has inside of our souls.  We are made to be adventurers.  And the greatest adventure possible starts with us agreeing to do ANYTHING God calls us to do.

I highly recommend this book!!!!!!

You can also head to her website here to learn more about Jennie and her journey to giving God anything.



I decided to get some more inches cut off, and I was inspired by this look that I found on Pinterest!

I think I got pretty close, especially considering that this is air-dried, and until the past two years, my hair has been stick straight!  I am still getting used to the look and the length, but I do really like it.  And this is definitely the closest that my hair has gotten to an inspiration picture, so I am definitely going back to this lady again!


Bottles N Brushes at home

In our town, there is an adorable little shop called Bottles N Brushes, where they serve drinks and teach you how to paint a certain scene.  I had been DYING to go, but when we looked up the cost, thinking we would do a double date there with our friends, we were shocked. $35 each! I don't know about you, but on our music minister and medical student budget, that was just not going to happen. So we got creative!

We decided to do Bottles N Brushes at home! I had some canvases in my closet because I enjoy painting for fun every so often, and we got some more brushes and paint to use.  Our friends brought the wine, while we provided dessert.  And everyone had a great time!!!

Here was the process:

The girls decided to attempt some crafts we saw on pinterest that required some prep, so the night before we painted backgrounds, etc.

Then on our official painting night, we all got to work! The nice part was, since we weren't in the official class that the shop offers, we could each do what we want!

Eryc painted a fish.
Jennifer did an adorable teal and gold design.
Jen's sister, Mary Elise, made a couple of paintings for her classroom.
Mikey painted our dobie.
And I did a couple plain paintings over puffy painted words.

Jen's final product...it will go great in her hallway!

I used my artwork to decorate our guest room.
It is hard to see in the pic, so I added a few close-ups below.

We had such a great time, and the total cost was only about $10 all together!
I'd call that success :)


North Africa Debrief

It is difficult to express all that God taught me and showed me through my recent trip to North Africa.  In Africa, I joined a team of medical professionals and a few non-medical volunteers to try to show the love of God to the people we encountered by giving them our hearts and our skills to care for them in an area of great need: their health.

In the country we visited, many individuals, especially women and children, have difficulty getting medical care when they need it.  Also, the care received by those lucky or wealthy enough to receive it is not as well regulated as in the US.  We saw these hardworking people come in with joint pain and low back pain, and we were able to give them tylenol, physical therapy, and sometimes injections to help with their pain.  We saw women with personal issues that caused them discomfort and embarrassment, and we were able to give them antibiotics and other medicines that helped.  We saw children with malnutrition, chronic diarrhea, and various kinds of parasitic worms, and we gave them multivitamins, rehydration solution, and de-worming medicines.

One day, we had a roomful of individuals from a local disability home come in to receive care. We saw mothers and fathers care for their children with syndromes and deformities, looking at them with incredible love, caring for them with amazing compassion and perseverance, and seeking all of the good that they could for their children.

We saw children with problems as simple as ear infections that had changed their lives.  Numerous children had perforated ear drums from chronic, untreated ear infections. One girl, due to this problem, has been deaf since the age of one.  She cannot go to school and cannot communicate outside of her family, which has developed their own form of sign language, because of something as easily treated as an ear infection.

We saw many healthy individuals who came in with one complaint or another, but who really came in to have somebody listen to their stories and care about them.  Many mothers wanted reassurance that their children were healthy and they were doing a good job caring for them.

And that is what God allowed me to witness in clinic.  But I learned so much more than that!

God showed me the glory of His creation when we hiked the Atlas mountains for an entire day.  I was absolutely worn out and sore for days, but it was DEFINITELY worth it!  The absolute beauty of these mountains was stunning.  I took about a million pictures to be able to share what I saw with family and friends back home, but nothing could capture the vastness and grandness of what I saw being there.  We were surrounded by God's creation, and it blew me away.  God is beautiful.  God is good. I am blessed.

And the greatest lesson I came home with was when God revealed his amazing love FOR ME through my team's attempts to love the people of North Africa.  Never before in the entirety of my life had God been so real and so obvious in His love for me. He used the people I was serving with, the patients we encountered, the translators, the devotions our team did, and a book I read on my travels (Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller) to reveal His amazing, all-encompassing love for me.  As a chronic "performer" all of my life, the full acknowledgement that God loves me for me, and not for what I can offer or how "good" I am was beautiful.  The realization that it is not arrogant to think that God loves me in a crazy, passionate, and dynamic way changed my life.  And out of His astounding love for me, I could better see His love for others and how He was calling me to love and to serve others as well!  And this lesson, I hope to apply for the rest of my life.

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God"
-Ephesians 3: 17-19

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  
God is love.  
Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him"
-1 John 4:16


Is this real life?

My cumulative final for my entire first year of medical school is next week, and what have I been doing this week? A beach day and a water-filled adventure day...

Can this be real?!

Due to the set-up of our curriculum, I've only been able to do a tiny bit of studying this week, and until we do presentations to other members of our class on Friday, I plan to rest, relax, and catch some rays :)  I am loving this!!!

Celebrating our friend Jason's Bday at Bowen's Island Restaurant

Beach day with friends from school!

Oliver hanging out on the shore with me!

Mikey and Berkeley swimming the afternoon away

Our friend (and Mikey's cousin) defying death! ha

Oliver is the cutest swimmer!

Mikey playing catch with some friends.  Berkle Bean is his back-up :)

Hope you are all enjoying this beautiful time of year!!!!
Happy May!


love your body

Hello all!

Lately, I have been struggling with self-esteem...I recently purchased a scale, and to my dismay, I found that the number it showed was not the one I had anticipated.  Luckily, I am surrounded by family (especially an awesome husband) and friends who reminded me that the number I saw is just that: a number.  It is not my identity.  It is not my value.  It is not even a real indicator of my health.

I workout 4-5 days a week. I eat (pretty) healthy.  And I am happy.
Ergo...who gives a rap what the scale says?

I am thankful for the people who have helped me get over my scale shock, but I am even more thankful for the reminder that real beauty is INTERNAL.  And beyond that, external beauty can be found in everyone...not just people who follow the unrealistic expectations set by our crazy culture.  I found the following list of ways to love your body, and I wanted to share it here to encourage those of you out there (and let's be honest, it is probably most of us!) who struggle with body image.  You ARE beautiful.  God made you to be just as you are.  It is time that we start being grateful for our bodies and all that they allow us to do, instead of abusing them or disliking them.  I want to start following some of these simple rules to keep me in this mind-set of loving my body and respecting what God has given me!!!

"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God--you're breathtaking!  
Body and soul, I am marvelously made! 
I worship in adoration--what a wonderful creation!"
-Psalm 139:13-14


Walk for Water!

I just signed up for the 2012 CharlestonWalk for Water, which is a money and awareness raising event for Water Missions International, a really amazing company based in Charleston that installs water purification systems in places without clean water around the world...it also trains individuals in the community on how to maintain the systems to make the project sustainable.

Here is a video to give you a better idea of what Water Missions International is all about!

I am trying to raise money for my team, Genesis (our church's young adult ministry), and if you feel led at all to give, please follow the link below!!!


Happy Birthday, Berkeley!

Our sweet, adorable, and slightly rascally dobie just turned one year old yesterday!!

We love her so much, and it is hard to believe she is already at her first birthday...



God is so good!

Today, I cannot help but be blown away by the grace, love, and provision of God in my life!  Even when things are not exactly how I would plan them, I know that God is in control...I have given my life to Him, and I know that I can trust in His goodness and His faithfulness!

Yesterday, I got two amazing pieces of news:

#1) My beautiful, amazing, rock star of a friend, Sarah, had her baby boy, Liam! She did a water birth at a local birthing center, and despite a somewhat long labor, she and Liam are now both doing great!! I haven't gotten to meet the little man in person yet, but that will be rectified this evening :) Can't wait!

Congratulations, Sarah!!!! Liam is such a heart-breaker already :)
(This pic is from her instagram page)

#2) We have the funds for me to go on another medical mission trip abroad.  Last January/February, I went to India with a group from Seacoast Church's Dream Center Medical Clinic, and I loved it!!! This summer, I have been given the opportunity to go to northern Africa with a group of students and medical professionals from MUSC (where I attend medical school).  However, due to not getting a paid summer research position that I applied for, I was not sure if Mikey and I would be able to afford this trip.  But God is good, and thanks to a sizable tax refund this year, I am going to be able to go! I am just waiting to get my official acceptance confirmation...I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to go on this trip, especially to do so without asking other people for monetary contributions.  Medical missions is something I am extremely passionate about, and this is just one more step in the path to a life that I hope to be filled with providing love and care to people in need around the world!!!

God has, once again, reinforced that I can trust Him with my life, with my dreams, and with my future!


Day 11: Makes me happy

So I missed days 3-10 due to my test week and a mind focused on nothing but the renal and GI systems.  But I am trying to get back on track!

Something that Makes Me Happy:
Presents for adorable one-year-olds

(this photo is courtesy of my talented friend, Sarah, and her instagram skills!)


Day 2: Words

Exodus 15:


My View Today

I am doing a photo challenge for the month of February, and I plan to update my pictures on my blog each day.

Day 1:  My View Today

I am so thankful for this amazing city, where I grew up, where i've attended undergrad and medical school, and where I fell in love.  It is a beautiful place.  MUSC, especially, holds a special place in my heart because it is the starting place of my medical career, which is a very surreal and remarkable thing!

My View:  Thankfulness for where God has placed me!

"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another" -1 Peter 4:10