I wanted to post ten things by categories, in nice orderly fashion, but I just can’t do that. I’ll just have to list things randomly – the ones most close to my heart first. Here’s the list for today, followed by why I’m so thankful for them. I was going to do ten. Instead, I’ll do just four. They are the four that put fire in my bones every day.
1. For the Lord.
2. For John.
3. For Khalid.
4. For getting to go to grad school and fulfill my dream of doing scientific research!
#1: Thankful for the Lord
All I have and all I am, I receive directly from Him. What follows is really a letter of love and thanks to my Father for everything He has done in my life and for the gift of Himself, His love and His Presence. I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of 1% of how amazing He is. I had NO idea He was this good. I – literally – can’t believe it. He’s bigger, better and more amazing than my wildest imagination.
#2: Thankful for John
John has stuck by my side through thick and thin. He undyingly supports my dreams – both in college and now also in grad school. He gives up his own dreams to support mine. He works very hard in a job he doesn’t really like, so that he can support me. He says his biggest dream was fulfilled when he married me, and now, the rest is just icing. He doesn't care if he never finds a job he likes. But I pray better things for him.
He comforts me when I’m a wreck and terrified. He makes each day full of love and beauty in my life. He’s my shield. He protects me. He prays for me. He teaches me fun things – and we can be weird, nerdy and strange together, and it’s perfectly acceptable. He gives me a break from science. He laughs with me about silly things. We make-up nonsense together. He introduced me to amazing books, Brandon Sanderson and his writing podcasts, and supports my desire to write fiction.
He never raises his voice. In six years, we’ve never had a “fight.” We’ve had disagreements – “arguments” of sorts – maybe 4-5 in six years – but none of them very serious and I can’t remember any of them, really. He loves me without stint. He cares for me and speaks peace over me. He makes cute faces. He treats me with respect, like a precious treasure. He's never stopped loving me or telling me how much I mean to him.
John is a very peaceful man. As steady as a boulder. As constant as the tides. He never changes. He never moves. He’s so calm and is a wonderful anchor for me, who am more like an excited electron orbiting him, bouncing off walls. He doesn't mind that I'm so clingy. He likes it. He likes me for me.
The Lord gave me the perfect husband when he gave me John. John still doesn’t believe this about himself. But I pray that the Lord will show Him just what a warrior he is and how valuable he is to the Lord, because I can feel that from Him. That the Lord has great plans for him and considers him of tremendous value. I love John more than anyone. I love Him for who he is. He will always be my true love and have the number one place in my heart. I feel so blessed to call him my husband. It brings me such joy and peace to have such strength by my side.
#3: Thankful for Khalid
I am more thankful for Khalid than I can possibly express. Since the Lord just recently stunned me with such an amazing professor and with the excitement of grad school, I am most overflowingly thankful right now for what He’s done in this area. Therefore, I will spend a lot of time on it – trying – to get across 1% of what I feel. I never get tired of talking about it. >.> Hopefully, I don't wear out your ears hearing it! O.o Consider this a recap and then some, of my thanks.
Grad school – actually *doing* scientific research – was my dream since I was a kid. I can remember looking at colleges and people in labs as if they were deities, LONGING to be one of them. I couldn’t imagine doing anything more fun. I LOVED science. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could NOT love science. Why didn’t everyone want to do research? How could people even THINK about doing something else?
It was almost impossible for me to believe that doing it myself could be a reality, though I aspired to it. Even in college, it always felt so very far away. Science is part of me. It’s part of who I am and my purpose in life. I feel like it’s a big part of what God put me here to do. Like Eric Liddell said he could feel the Lord’s pleasure when he ran, I feel the Lord’s pleasure and the most excitement when I am immersed to my eyeballs in research.
Grad school was a big question mark to me. I was so excited about it – but it was also a huge commitment – and I was really, really worried about finding a lab family and a professor that I could enjoy working with. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to find the right environment. I cannot overemphasize what a really BIG deal this was to me. So I began praying about that, intensely, starting the summer of 2009, while I worked for Melissa Patterson. I prayed the Lord would lead me to a good lab family and a professor I’d enjoy working for. Once I finished my B.S. in biochemistry, I knew exactly the kind of person I wanted to work for and asked for:
1) Someone really enthusiastic about science. So many people in science that I knew in college were so “ho-hum” about it. I couldn’t understand how they could be doing and learning some of the most amazing things I had ever known and be like – oh whatever – I just want to make money in industry. Or, yeah, let’s just get through these tests and be done with it. It staggered me. It broke my heart. Most people treated my biggest LOVE as if it were common junk. Occasionally I’d find excited people – but far fewer than I expected. I wanted the person I worked for to share my excitement.
2) I wanted to work for someone who’d enjoy interacting with me on a regular basis and talking about science. Someone who didn’t feel like I was a waste of their time and just wanted to talk to me as short as possible and get on to their “real work.” I couldn’t imagine finding such a person. Most professors are not this way.
3) I wanted to work for someone who liked questions. I tend to grow a lot of them. I didn’t want to be an irritant to my boss. So, I prayed the Lord would let me work for someone who LIKED them.
4) I wanted to work for someone who I didn’t have to fear.
5) I wanted to work for someone who’d treat me like an equal and who’d value me. That was another thing I considered absolutely impossible. Most all professors I know, even the nice ones, talk to students as if perhaps we could be useful someday. But that day is not yet. I knew I wasn’t there yet. But I hoped for someone who’d treat me like an equal, even though I wasn’t yet one.
I can tell you quite assuredly that no research professor I *ever* saw in my whole life fit these characteristics. That’s why, when I asked the Lord for this, I felt as if I was asking Him to part the Red Sea. “Give me my idealistic image of the perfect professor, please, thanks.” I never thought He’d take me seriously. I would have settled for someone I was merely not afraid of and who’d let me work in peace. I was so scared of working for someone who would terrify me and to whom I’d be an inconvenience.
So, I prayed about this for four years. And then, the Lord gave me Khalid. And I fell on my face in SHOCK. Khalid is EXACTLY what I asked the Lord for. He exists! I felt as if my jaw dropped and I thought, "Wait... such a person is REAL?!" It turns out, you could say, I was always looking for Khalid – I just didn’t know it.
In the beginning, I was suspicious and uncertain and asked the Lord to give me the evidence that this was the right place and person. He did that. THEN, I got REALLY excited, for two whole months – complete euphoria. One month – euphoria over grad school and being here. Second month – euphoria over the Lord leading me to Khalid. But for a long time, I kept doubting the whole thing – because it seemed awfully too good to be true. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I couldn’t believe God would actually answer my prayers so perfectly. But slowly, the Lord removed every one of my doubts. He showed me that He really was doing something amazing and it was really for real.
Now, I just pretty much swim in continuous amazement and overwhelming thankfulness to the Lord, every day. I cannot fathom it, still. I’ve seen that He really is exactly that good and He’s doing way better things than I ever hoped. He did the impossible for me. He pulled a miracle before my eyes. He gave me the exact person I prayed for – and better. He gave me a friend! Who I can enjoy science WITH! Such an incredible gift – one so close to my heart – there is nothing greater He could have given me except John and Himself. Khalid is seriously the most priceless treasure I have ever known in my academic career and, really, beyond that and then some.
Because of what the Lord did, grad school is not merely exciting – but with a fearful question mark. I feel like, the curtains on the stage of the rest of my life just opened to reveal – the most beautiful vista I had ever imagined. ALL OF IT IS EXCITING AND AMAZING!! And it’s all because I have Khalid. Even if I don’t stay and work for him as a research scientist like I would hope for, I will still be a 100x better person and 1000x more in love with science and life, for knowing him. So at the very least, I’m 100,000x blessed. If Lord willing, I can stay, I’ll suddenly become 1x10^9 blessed, twice over, exponentially and unendingly. The bank will break. The number of blessing will be too large to record.
John doesn’t believe that he’s amazing, so I don’t expect Khalid to understand why I think he is either. But it’s true. I’ve searched a long time. I know. Khalid cares about his students. He’s incredibly empathetic, sensitive and kind. He interacts with them regularly. He’s extremely positive and enthusiastic about science. His excitement fills me with such joy and reciprocal excitement – that’s exactly how I feel about science – and I wish all people were likewise. I feel like he understands my excitement and doesn’t think it’s weird, but encourages it. It’s incredibly heartening not to have to peg down my enthusiasm several notches, when I talk to him, in order not to seem weird. Around him, I can be myself, excited no holds barred, attack things with gusto, and share what I learn with him – and he actually enjoys hearing about it and will talk with me about what it all means and new possibilities, as if he thinks I’m worth talking to. There’s almost no greater joy I could ever have.
I pray continually that the Lord blesses Khalid SO much, that he cannot receive it all. I've been praying this for a while. I feel as if perhaps He's told me that He is doing so, but it’s in ways I cannot see. I really hope so. But I won’t be satisfied until I can SEE it. I want to see evidence of this. So I will pray that the Lord enlarges Khalid’s capacity to receive more blessing, and that He will continue to dump it on him – whatever he most wants or needs – in buckets and buckets until he’s impossibly buried in it. I love him so much and want the Lord to express my thanks to him for me, by doing this. I will keep praying that, until I can see it. No half measures here. The Lord doesn’t give half measures. But, I’m just making SURE! I want Khalid to be as happy as I am. I’ll also continue to ask the Lord to help me recognize and pray for more specific, rather than general, blessings. It’s important to me.
#4: Thankful for living my dream of doing research
I love doing research. I love reading papers. I LOVE thinking about science. I love doing experiments. I love talking to people about it – anyone and everyone, and especially with Khalid. I even love my experiments when they don’t work – because then I’m FASCINATED by why they aren’t working and I LOVE figuring out what’s wrong with them.
I love almost everything about grad school. I love everything about science. It’s the best, most amazing fun I could EVER HAVE!! I feel like it must be a crime to be this happy. I didn’t know it was possible to live one’s dream. People always talk about having dreams and then, they gave up on those and outgrew them – those were just childhood fantasies. […] NOT ME!! I’m not one of those people. I’m living mine!! I cannot tell you what incredible unending thankfulness and joy I feel, toward the Lord, who gave me these beautiful gifts.
FIN: It all comes back to the Lord, the Giver of goodness great and small
If you don’t feel as if the Lord has blessed you this much, don’t be discouraged or sad. Just by giving us Himself, He’s given us something beyond riches that we cannot even fathom – just that one gift – and I’m just starting to understand how big THAT one is. Even so, I’m nowhere near scratching the surface. Ask Him to show you the treasures He's given you and He will. Sometimes, the enemy tries to distract us and make us think we're not blessed when we truly are.
There’s one thing I’ve learned and that is, to pray and ask Him for your dreams, and NEVER give up and one day, when you least expect it, He WILL answer you. He’s just setting up things along the way and perhaps molding us and shaping us into the people He can use to be on His mission. Maybe He has better dreams for you than you do. His dreams are always bigger and better than ours.
I also think sometimes, we give up on Him and go chase lesser dreams. He doesn’t want us to do that. He has our dreams and then some in His pocket. I feel as if He’s shown me that He’s increasing my faith right now so that I can pray bigger prayers and dream bigger dreams. Life is truly nothing more than a huge playground of FUN and AWESOME as I watch the Lord throw power, blessing and love around bigger than I ever imagined seeing.
I’m completely overwhelmed. I wish I could express it. I’ve done my best and it’s not even close. I wish I could shout to everyone I know about the goodness of the Lord. I feel enough joy that could fill an ocean and I still can’t feel or appreciate all of the sheer amazing that He’s done in my life so far and just this year alone.
Thank you, Jesus, for all these things. You’re amazing. You’re so much more amazing than I knew about. I can’t believe it! I’ll spend the rest of my life thanking You. Wow.