Friday, August 29, 2014

7QT: Summer 2014 Updates #2

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Just some quick photo updates of our Summer 2014 adventures, since my last update almost a month ago.

#1 Went to Michigan to visit my parents again...

Remember my black kittens that used to be teeny tiny? They are big and bad now! But still sweet and cuddly as before!

#2 We celebrated our first wedding anniversary

First, we went to mass.

The mass was celebrated for our intention and we also carried the gifts of bread and wine up to the altar to give to the priest. It made me feel like I was in I was literally carrying gifts and laying them at the throne of God. I teared up a few times during mass because I had such a profound internal experience. God was so close. So strongly present. Jesus made me feel soooo loved and so blessed in my life and my marriage.

It was truly awesome!
 We then went to Naperville Riverwalk park, where we went on our wedding day to take pictures.
We just walked around and relived the memories.

Then we went out for some foooood! We each got a margarita and had chicken, beef, and shrimp fajitas for dinner.....followed by some cruising in the mustang.


#3 Silliness with my kitty

After her bath...

Cuddling with mama....

Silly picture taken from underneath a glass table....because the view was just so funny. Her big belly and fur flattened. I love her back paws in this picture, too.

"Let's go cook dinner for hubby, but first let us take a selfie"

Who needs a shredder when your cat tears apart every paper that moves! And it was windy that day so she tore apart all the papers that moved due to the wind! It was hilarious how frustrated it made her!

#4  Had an absolutely amazing first Advanced Placement Pharmacy Rotation (APPE) at an absolutely amazing Catholic Hospital (Loyola University Medical Center)


Sneaked a quick picture of our feet while
discussing some medical literature after rounds.
 Last Thursday was my last day (yup, 6 weeks have flown by so faaaast!) I feel like I just started the rotation and it's already done. Loyola, I will miss you dearly. Great docs, great pharmacists, great residents, excellent patient care.

The last day made me feel so, so happy though. My preceptor gave me a one-on-one evaluation of my performance. There are some pharmacy preceptors that make students cry, I heard, but my preceptor gave me a great evaluation (gave me an A!) and excellent feedback. She also gave me great advice for the future and told me that she knows I would have no problem in getting a residency and that she'd be pleased to write me a good, strong letter of recommendation for residency. I haven't heard many good things / compliments about myself from anybody in a while...not my family, not my husband. So it felt great to hear that somebody appreciated my hard work and my talents and my dedication to patient care and to learning.


 #5 Explored Loyola's Catholicism.

Catholic New World Newspapers everywhere you sit

Loyola UMC sure isn't Catholic by name only. I've seen Catholicism everywhere across the institution.
It made me feel like I was at home...

It was sooo peaceful to see a beautiful crucifix hanging above every patient's bed, pictures and quotes of Saints all over the walls of the hospital as well as the school of medicine (of course Loyola is named after St. Ignatius of Loyola and their Stritch School of Medicine is named after Cardinal Stritch), and Catholics books and magazines laying around the waiting areas.

One day I got to the 7th floor much early, before rounds started, so I sat down in the waiting area to read an article which I was supposed to read for that afternoon. 

I look to my right: Catholic Newspaper. 
I look at the wall in front of me: a shelf of Catholic books, brochures, and reading materials. 
I look at the wall in front: "Our Father who art in Heaven" on an angel-shaped little sculpture. 

I was like: Hey God, I could do this everyday! Why don't you just give me a job here after school and I'll be in heaven!

The best thing I discovered though, was their Chapel. That chapel is huge, almost like a whole church stuck in the basement of a hospital. And this happened on the Feast of the Assumption. What a perfect coincidence? It so happened that our preceptor gave us 2 hours of free time between 11am and 1pm, so I went exploring and found this GEM. I walked around, took pictures, prayed...and right before leaving to go to lunch, I bumped into a young lady that helped to arrange the flowers at the altar. I asked her about whether they have masses here. She told my about the days and times that they have mass, and she said "in fact, there is mass today at noon for the assumption." Another coincidence? Nope, I know that God sent me there to that chapel, right at the perfect time to come across this lady, and at the perfect time to make it to mass and then back to my duties by 1pm.

I was so thankful to God all day and in such high spirits, because I knew that it was HIM, working in my life to make me a holier person. Plus, it felt so cool to see the attending doctor we rounded with on week 1 and 2 at mass, praying and singing. So, so cool. I just didn't want to leave Loyola, it was too much like my little Catholic haven.

And here is baby Jesus...people gave Him a lot of BLING.

This would definitely be a workplace that I don't dread going into day after day after day.

Consider that, Lord ;-)

#6 There are so many perfect things about this picture.....

rain/snow outside (better yet if it was a thunderstorm)
hot coffee/tea/chocolate
yoga pants
long socks
and a stack of books.  





Yesterday and today, I spilled my heart and soul to you my readers, and to God, in these here blog posts, so please go read them:

Baby? Residency? All of the above? [Part 1]

Baby? Residency? All of the Above? [Part 2]

Have a great weekend ya'll! Thanks for reading!

Baby? Residency? All of the Above? [Part 2]

Read [part 1] of this post here.
(And thank you readers for your comments, encouragement, prayers, and articles to read. You guys are awesome and your support truly helps me.)

[Part 2]

Everything is just wonderful with my pharmacy rotations and I am loving every day. I hope You're not tricking me Lord! I hope this joy and passion that sprung up in me on this current rotation as well as the last one isn't just my own or isn't the devil's tool to trip me up. What I hope is that it is truly from the Lord and that it has ignited in me for a reason....and I hope all this knowledge, talent, and years of education and thousands of dollars of debt are not all in vain, I hope that God is behind it, building the house - and that my labor and toil are not in vain.

Of course I am ready to accept all for God's sake but it does scare me to think of landing a job where my learning and growth and passion come to a dead end. Right now, with the way things are going, with how I'm doing on rotation, what I'm experiencing externally AND [most importantly] internally, I have my heart set on pursuing a pharmacy residency.

....But I also kind of have an internal conflict because "where do babies fit in?"

You know Lord how much I already want to start a become a mother....but You've also put me through so much trouble and education for a reason, I hope. So while I  know how I feel and I know what I would LIKE to do with my career -  as always - I place it all in God's hands.

Whatever happens: residency, baby, babies, or all of the above, I accept God's will.

Residency + Baby would be best I might kill myself in the process or go insane....and be very, very POOR...and I would deprive my baby of a mother...since residents typically work 10-12 hour days and have to do research/projects on top of that. To expand on my idea of being "very, very poor," I just realized that we've been living from paycheck to paycheck since we got married...and that's with me working part time in addition to Greg working full time...and I realize that I'll be hit with a "second mortgage" once I graduate and have to start paying off my pharmacy school student loans (which will be six figures). If we were to have a baby before I finish my residency or find a job, we would most definitely not make it financially. Either our mortgage would go unpaid, or my loans, or the baby wouldn't have diapers/formula/clothes.

So this is why my heart is kind of split right now.

I want to pursue post-graduate training (aka Residency) and have a fulfilling career as a pharmacist, as a real healthcare professional, and not just an overworked, underappreciated, retail pharmacist who is forced to check and counsel on medications that do not align with his/her ethics/faith (i.e. emergency contraception / abortifacients).

And I also cannot wait to have a baby. It is very, very, very, very hard being the babyless couple on the block. I already talked about how the #1 most commonly asked question to newlyweds is: ARE YOU PREGNANT YET? or WHEN ARE YOU GUYS HAVING A BABY? And it breaks my heart to not be able to give them an answer. My husband and I just look at each other with this blank look...and I usually just respond by saying "We don't know...whenever God gives it, we'll take it!"

Back to my original point...

 The question is NOT what I want, but rather what plans the good Lord has for me, for us, for our future family. I think my future family would be better off if their mother worked at a job that makes her happy, versus a job that makes the most money...cuz "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

So right now...

I am just 100% open to God's Will.
And our marriage is a 100% open to life.

I know how I feel and I know what I'm passionate about at the moment, but I don't know what to do! From my understanding of my feelings and what lies in my heart and what kind of person I am (NERD x 300%....can never get away from reading, learning, you probably know by now if you've been reading this blog), I assume the Lord wants me to at least apply for least put me through that experience.

If I apply and don't get in, at least I'll have a definite NO,  and I'll know God doesn't want me there...(Although I'd prefer if the Lord just let me know what to do now, before the application process officially begins in October, because it is a very long, difficult process that takes from October to March...and I don't want to waste these months trying to get into a place where I don't belong in the first place. But again, if what is in my heart at this present moment was put in there by God, then I'm okay...I just hope I'm not making all of this up and following my own dreams/desires, leaving out God's will).
If I do get in, then I'll assume it was God's plan since He let it happen, He put me in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. I feel very strongly about that. And I'm truly hoping that God is guiding that decision, putting those feelings there, making me who I am today.

Lord God,
My King, My Redeemer, 
My intentions are GOOD and my desire is only one: to follow Your Will in my life.  

I ask You only for one thing: DO NOT LET ME STRAY FROM YOUR PATH! 

I do not know what Your desires are for me, but I do know that I will blindly follow them. Here I am Lord, at Your service...
Make me a clinical pharmacist, a retail pharmacist, an assistant professor of pharmacy, or a mama of 5 before 30, or anything Your Infinitely Good Heart Desires to make of me...and I will BE IT and BE IT to the BEST of my ability! Don't worry about how I feel... and if my feelings are causing me to stray, remove them, send them away! But if my feelings are from You and Your plan for me is to do a residency, then make those feelings stronger! Make me an excellent candidate for residency! Give me babies before, during, or after.....or all of the above! I know that everything that happens in my life happens because You let it happen, and everything I have is from You. 

Therefore, I reject NOTHING that comes from YOU...whether it is joys; feelings of love, passion, and purpose; or feelings of disappointment; or crosses that break my back. ALL is GOOD that comes from You oh God. Do not let me stop You from shaping me, working through me, creating out of me the kind of woman You made me to be. I am completely open to Your Will. I ask for guidance and discernment so that I may make the best decisions for myself, my husband, for our future family, and for all the patients I will impact in my future practice.

Of course, not long after I finished writing this post, God put in my face Kendra's blog post from July, titled "Dear Newlywed, You're Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing." Thanks God. I guess you're listening ;-)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Baby? Residency? All of the above? [Part 1]

What it is that you're calling me to do God? Because I am utterly confused...

My husband won't speak.
So please, at least You speak to me, Lord.

He won't speak of babies.
He won't speak of residency.

We're too busy.

Running around like crazy...never enough time for a deeper conversation...conversation about our future...the future of our marriage, jobs, babies.
He wants me to just start working and paying off my student loans...but he doesn't understand. Ideal situation for him would be NO RESIDENCY and BABIES ON HOLD until I get a real grown-up job. And I understand him, partially. After going through 4 years of pharmacy school, my student loans will be in the $100k's, and he's anxious that we won't make it...That if we start having babies, I will only be able to work part time or not work for a while, and there is no way we can pay our mortgage, bills, and my students loans with his earnings alone. We are pretty much living paycheck to paycheck already...without babies, without being hit by my students loans yet (Those will start in May, after I graduate).

But what he doesn't understand or take into consideration is my heart and how I feel. I am yearning to start a have a little teeny human being to call my own...and to also have a meaningful pharmacist job where I can truly make a difference, and be intellectually fulfilled at the same time (# nerd girl problems). But of course, God's plans and God's will supercedes all of that. I cannot rely on my feelings, passions, dreams to tell me what to do with my future (since those are often unstable and ever-changing)...I can only hope those feelings line up with God's will. But if they don't, God's will is above all in my life. I'm serious. I'll give up my desires and dreams and blah blah blah if God could only tell me what He wants me to do with my life. I'm unclear right now and this brings a great deal of trouble to my soul.

I feel so unfulfilled. I need someone to care, someone to ask me how I feel and what my plans/ goals are.

I guess You are the only one I have Jesus.

So I will keep pouring out my soul to you, and resting in You...for who loves me more than You do?

P.S. I wish I at least knew what Your Will was...

I don't want to go through the super difficult residency application process, if I will end up not getting in because You didn't want me to get in, in the first place...or getting in but being unhappy because You had other plans for me and I convinced myself that residency is the way to go. So many unanswered questions many doubts...fears...unknowns. Lead me. I will follow you BLINDLY, no matter what/where/how. Even if it hurts.

To be continued....
Update: Here is Part 2

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Restlessness and Longing

Oh Lord, my body pines for you, my soul thirsts for you.

How long do I have to wait to come face to face with You?
How long until I can enter the mystery?
Until I can enter the eternal song of worship and communion of Saints in heaven?

Here on Earth...
I am unfulfilled.
I am restless.
I am empty.

The only things that keep me going are:
- Your Presence in my life
- Your Love in my heart
- The Hope to live with you for eternity

Today at mass....
I was in heaven.
My body was here.
In the church pew
Staring at your body hanging from the cross above the altar.
But my soul was most definitely in heaven.
(Thank you for this foretaste of heaven, here on Earth)
And I didn't want to come back.
No, I did not want to come back to earth for even a split second.

It felt so good to be so absorbed in Your presence...
to be soaking in your love eternal.
I imagined myself resting in your arms, Jesus, and it brought all the comfort I needed.
Never before have I felt your love in my heart so strongly.
Never before did I want to embrace you so badly.
Never before did I want to just leave it all behind and dwell in your house forever.
That very moment, my soul exclaimed in the words of Saint Paul:

From this moment on, 
"it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

You blessed me with a lot of things here on Earth.
Truly a lot.
But none of that compares to how I feel when I am in your presence.
None of that fills the God-shaped void that is in my heart.
None of it gives any rest to my soul.

For as St. Augustine once rightly said:

And this is how I feel every moment that is not spent in Your presence...

So Lord, hear my prayer:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

7QT: First Wedding Anniversary Edition

Join Jen and the gang for a 7 Quick Takes.

So on Sunday, Greg and I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary. 

Yay, we made it this far!

Not that I had low hopes in us for surviving our first year of marriage, hehe.

But seriously, I'm glad he was able to put up with me under the same roof all year, so far ;-) He will be a Saint for it one day.

And I still don't know what we're doing to celebrate on Sunday...well, going to mass to thank the Lord for all the past year's blessings, that's for sure. That's the only sure plan for now. How the rest of the day plays out, we shall see. But my idea was to go the same park where we took our wedding pictures and just walk around and relive the memories and take some pictures. And maybe we could visit that park every year on our anniversary and take a picture in the same spot and establish a little tradition like that... It would sure be nice to one day look back at all the pictures and see how we've aged matured together.


 Our little wedding memory display. 
Our engagement wine glasses, our wedding invitation, unity candles, wedding champaign flutes, and a Mr&Mrs picture frame (bought from Kohl's, in case you were wondering).

Darn...we look really, really happy in that picture. Must be love. :-)

 #3 Christ in the center of our marriage and our kitchen

Though our first year of marriage wasn't all roses and butterflies, we tried to keep the greater reason, the greater purpose of our marriage...the purpose of God bringing us together despite our differences, at the forefront.

 We put Christ in the center not just spiritually, but literally. Our kitchen is the center/heart of our home, and I placed Christ in the center of the kitchen counter (He was the first thing I placed on that counter as soon as we finished remodeling and I cleaned the kitchen post-construction...and He's been there ever since, in that exact spot. He is the first and foremost.  He's in the center of everything that goes on around here.

#4 "I'm ready to do this...."

At His Altar....His Cross...His feet...
Where we make the lifelong covenant that no man shall separate. 

For months, I would go to adoration and pray in front of this same altar, in front of the Eucharist. And tears would stream down my face just imagining the two of us in front of that altar, in front of Him, with the Holy Spirit coming down upon us, binding our lives together into one. 

Indeed, the day has come...and gone.
Oh God was it worth the wait...yes, yes it was. 

#6 Sweet memories.... 

 "So, what's the most important thing you learned in your first year of marriage, Agnes?" - you may wonder...

And this is my answer:

Let us not shoot for romantic fairytale love. If we base our marriage and set our expectations around that kind of love...our marriage ain't gonna last very long. Why? Because this is life. Crap happens in life. It is that crap that needs to mold us and bring us closer to God and to each other, instead of tearing us apart.

So let us not shoot for a romantic fairytale type of love. Or crazy, passionate Hollywood type of love.
Let us instead, shoot for love that is deep. Love that is deeply grounded in Christ. Love that is profound. Love that is beyond mere feelings of passion.

That's the only kind of love that will OUTLIVE the crap that happens to us in our life. That is the kind of love that will put on its boots, roll up its pants and sleeves, and say "let's get through this pile o'crap together" instead of pushing your partner to the ground and running to get ahead, to be ahead, to be better...or shouting at him/her, or blaming, or fault-finding, or nagging. None of those will get us anywhere in our marriage...definitely not forward.

Marriage can be hard sometimes.

Wait, no.

Marriage is hard. 

In fact, it can be so hard sometimes that we just cannot think we can do it any longer...that we just cannot carry the burden, the suffering, the negative thoughts, the weight of the cross.

But. This is what life is....that is what marriage is. You cannot avoid the ups and downs. There are fun times and there are times of darkness and boring times of everyday sameness and "marital monotony." (I think I just made up a new term). We have to bear them all. That is the covenant we entered into... that is why we must strive for our marriage to live up to that covenant that we swore in front of the one who instituted marriage in the first place. If we can accept blessings from God, then we can also accept difficulties. If He sends them to us, then He wants us to go through them and to learn and to grow and to become stronger through those difficulties.

Since love is partially based on passion, on feelings, it WILL fluctuate, just like our feelings fluctuate. And feelings fluctuate pretty frequently and oftentimes pretty unexpectedly. Feelings come and go.  Feelings of happiness and feelings of depression. That is inevitable. But if our love is deeply rooted in Christ...if it is founded upon The ROCK, the foundation that is Jesus the Lord, feelings become just like the wind, sun, storms. If the house is founded on The ROCK, on solid ground, and not on sand...storms and hurricanes will not even touch it. This was the theme...the topic...the homily of our wedding mass one year ago: Building your house, your marriage, on the Rock.

 My 3rd grade level drawing/illustration of the house on the rock.

As long as we have Jesus in the center of our marriage, in between us, I know that our marriage is safe from worldly influences...from the culture of death that tries to rip us apart every chance it gets... from the evil one that lurks behind every corner, trying to devour us.


Friday, August 8, 2014

7QT: Summer 2014 Updates about pharmacy rotations, cooking, traveling, and going to weddings

I have not participated in Jennifer's 7 Quick Takes for a while, so I thought I'd give you some updates as to what's been happening in my life over the first half of summer.

These are some of the things we did this summer:

#1 Painted our deck as a semi-final project in our house transformation.
(The final project, one day....not now though...will be to finish our unfinished basement to serve as a man cave for Greg, a nerd cave for me, and/or a play cave for our future kiddos, hehe)

#2 We traveled to Mexico
to finally spend some time together after a pretty long, difficult, lonely first year of marriage, which was sprinkled throughout with moments of post-marital bliss and gratitude. The trip was truly a blessing for our marriage! It was lots of fun too! A separate post and more pictures to come!

In front of Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe Church), where we attended Sunday mass (funny story about that to come in an upcoming vacation blogpost).

Inside Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Church in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I brought along the book: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are...which I found to be very inspiring. I'm still working on the book since pharmacy rotations got in the way.

With my feet up in the air!!! Yeah! (Our suite was on the 12th floor!)

#3 Prior to the start of my pharmacy rotations in July, I basically worked my butt off full time.

This is just a random picture from a power outage we had one day due to a huge storm. We came in and basically did nothing but clean and organize for 3 hours since we had no power = computers down and fridges/freezers down (so we had to put all of our insulins, vaccines, and other refrigerated medications onto a big refrigerated truck)

#4 Cooking experiments continued.....
as always...I think cooking just runs in my both of my parents absolutely love cooking and are very good at it.

Creating a pasta sauce (pesto style, with some of my own kinks and tweaks) that comes from veggies straight from my garden. Super preservatives, no canned foods or sauces, no dairy/fats....just veggies.

Nothing like enjoying the final result of your healthy, delicious cooking by eating outside on the deck in the beautiful weather, with a glass of wine!

And some other home cooked meals...

Polish beef stew / strogonov

#5 Rotations started (read about that here and here) and I can be my nerdy self again! Yaaaaaay!

#6 We got our pharm school class pictures...

Where's Waldo Agnes?

The only picture in which you can actually see me, out of the three. I am in the 2nd row, 8th person from the left.
Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy Class of 2015
Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy Class of 2015
Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy Class of 2015

#7 We attended a couple of weddings
 ...and took some silly selfies! 

And some normal pics as well ;-)

That's all folks!
As always, leave some love in the comments.

And since you're already here, go ahead and read my post from yesterday: A Quick Rant about pharmacy rotations, residency, self-discipline and the Will of God

Yours in Christ,