Christmas Yesterday: The Lord Is Sweet to Me
I got in a depressed funk without knowing why - felt like I should be doing something - I wasn't sure. Frustrated that I didn't feel like I was really following the Lord like I wanted and I certainly wasn't accomplishing much. When I prayed about it, I felt as if the Lord immediately surrounded me with His Presence. I felt Him last night much more than usual. He talked with me and helped me set some things straight.
His righteousness He gives to us - it doesn't come from doing things - and as we walk with Him, He works it out into our lives and produces more of the fruits of it that are actions. Knowing Him more is more a matter of being than doing. It's more like falling in love than keeping a list of rules or following a study schedule. The more time I spend with Him, the more I will love Him and want to be with Him. I don't have to stress about how much I'm not there yet or how much I don't do. He's bringing me there.
I keep forgetting that. It was very comforting. It's only been this year that I've really felt I could consistently talk to the Lord like a Person - it happened in fits and starts maybe starting three years ago. I wasn't sure that'd ever be possible to have consistently. It's still hard sometimes. But I never want to go back. And going to sleep with John, somehow, the Lord doused me with such wonderful peace, warmth and love, from Him. I felt like I fell asleep in His arms. It was a rare honor and joy to feel Him so closely.
Amazing Things Around Me and Answered Prayers
Amazing Things That Didn't Have to Happen
1. Data in the Salaita lab during the last two weeks - that didn't have to happen - actually, that wasn't even an answer to prayer - it was just something shocking the Lord decided to give me
2. Finishing the NSF proposal; with personal statement and figure - this was something I did pray about and the Lord made a way for it to happen - helping me get the figure made even though I didn't know what I was doing; He helped me write the personal statement and the research proposal both and helped me edit them - I prayed about all aspects of it and He made it happen.
3. The Lord gave me the title of the proposal, when I asked - "Exploring the Nanoconjugate Interface As a Platform for DNA Editing." I didn't come up with that. I was struggling with titles and asked Him - Lord, I need a smashing title for this proposal; please give me one. And the entire title popped into my mind like neon lights.
4. Winning the brand new convergence army and the tray to hold it on at Warmachine weekend - that was bizarre - two raffle wins back-to-back - I don't even know what was up there.
5. Getting the full pass on the Lynn cume - this was completely unexpected
6. Oak Hill getting purchased by Grace - another huge answer to prayer
7. Encouragement from student - the nice note I got from orgo TA student
8. Data in the Lynn lab - the data in the Lynn lab working out, which didn't have to happen, was a huge answer to prayer and very miraculously - everything had to work out literally just perfectly for that to happen - I had to see the right things, at the right time, talk to the right people and happen to get a one in a million chance picture.
Other "More Ordinary" Good Things
1. Survived the Weinert midterm
2. Encouragement from Stephenie about being a research scientist
3. The Lord took care of me and my work while I was sick
4. Good grade on Weinert proposal
5. Survived the Weinert presentation
6. Got a shockingly good grade on the presentation
7. Have had good interactions with Dr. Weinert
8. The Lord removed my terror of Dr. Lynn and helped me understand him better
9. Getting to stay in touch with the Salaita lab
10. The Lord sent people to pray with/for me when I needed it
11. Good grade in bioorganic class (A-)
12. Dr. Conticello liked my proposal
13. Good reaction yield on my 1st Scarborough reaction – 89% - and it was super fun
How Far I've Come In Grad School So Far
1) I Read Articles a Lot Slower
Back in February, when I was reading Kevin's paper in the Salaita lab for the first time, it took me three days to finish it. That's ~1-2 hours a day on two of the days and about 5-6 hrs on a Saturday, reading it at Gigabytes Cafe where John was playing Warmachine. I read it line by line, circling words I didn't know and looking them up - which was almost every other one. It took me a while. I wanted to really understand it as much as I possibly could and think critically about it, so Khalid would know I was serious. I did this for Dr. Lynn and Dr. Lutz as well.
Now, I can read the same size article in 30-45 minutes , understand it and have thought about it. I've also read 132 or so articles since then, counting from Kevin's.
2) I Understood A Lot Less
In beginning of February, I wasn't really sure what a nanoparticle *was.* Was it an atom? Or a collection of atoms? I had NO idea what a quantum dot (QD) was, outside of *maybe* having heard of it once, at UGA. I had never heard of DNAzymes before.
Now I've read quite a few articles on both nanoparticles, DNAzymes and a few on QDs. I've designed some of my own DNAzymes. I've read about how to synthesize nanoparticles and talked to and listened to research about both them and nanorods.
3) I Was Not Very Confident In My Researching Skills
Well. I'm still not terribly confident. But I've improved! In February, it was a surprise to me that I could even read a paper and use it for something. I was amazed that I was IN a lab, getting to do things - by myself! In February, I had not done protein expression in 3-4 years and never by myself. I had never used a Typhoon fluorescence instrument. I'd never been left to my own devices before with my experiments - I thought I had - but no, not really.
By the end of this month, I have expressed protein about 5-6 times successfully and learned a way to correctly isolate it, flash freezing it in liquid nitrogen. I found and learned how to image small DNA and RNAs on a Typhoon fluorescence instrument with both dye and fluorescent tags. I was able to understand buffers a lot better. I got a chance to work with and think about peptide nanotubes and read articles about nanotechnology that I had no experience in. I've designed and written three different, short proposals, for one of which I performed an initial experiment (Lynn).
And I'm now in an inorganic lab doing organic chemistry like stuff and metallo-reactions I have absolutely no experience with! It cannot help but be fascinating.
So, I feel like, I've learned an unexpected ton and come a long way from where I started, struggling to read Kevin's paper and not really sure if I could do protein expression by myself or not. And yet, I've hardly even touched the surface of the information and skills that await - I still have no idea about anything - pretty much. I'll be fascinated to see what happens in this next year!
Some Things I'm Hoping For
I feel like, now that I've seen a taste of what the Lord can do, I won't be satisfied with anything less than a completely CRAZY, bizarre and un-normal lifestyle, ad infinitum. I'm asking Him to show me what to pray for in this next year.
I also hope that I can really dig in and learn a crap TON, especially this next summer. I want to exponentially blow the roof off anyone's expectations, even my own (which is hard to do) and do something amazing! What exactly, I don't know. But, I'm going to be attempting it. Maybe it won't happen and I'll get stuck on something hard and difficult not working. That's ok. Eventually, it'll get unstuck and THEN it'll explode into amazing! I intend to be stubborn about it. This is another reason for multiple projects. If one is stuck, hopefully one won't be. We'll see what the Lord wants me to do - I'm always going to be asking Him to show me.
I hope that the Lord can pull me deeper into Himself, into prayer and His Word, help me love Him 4x more and walk with Him 4x more closely in this next year.
These are SOME of the things for which I am praying.
About Today, and Slightly Frustrated, Mostly with Myself - Pray the Lord Helps Me with This
I like being around family. However, I'm not much of a talker and after a point, I feel as if, I can't spend any more useful time sitting around - or so it would seem. It's just a fact that the things I like to talk about - the Lord, science and chemistry, aren't necessarily interesting to other people, and what they like I don't really like either. Our families talk about the Lord, sure but - when people talk about the Lord, they tend to talk about "church" and not really HIM, if you know what I mean. It's not the same. Oma is one exception.
So I end up not saying much and feeling isolated. If I put forth considerable effort, I can talk very vibrantly to a lot of people about things I don't find interesting, but most of the time, I'm not willing to do that unless there's a good cause or there's a considerably good reason. Alas, I'm a mostly selfish person, so I find no reason motivating enough to do this, retreat into myself, and spectate instead. I've asked the Lord to help me with this.
And sitting there makes me itch to do something productive and speculate on the frivolity of life. Am I seeking the Lord enough? Should I be doing something? I'm sure I could be using this time productively ... I could be reading! Or playing a game! Or... reading!
The Lord's been showing me I don't have to use every moment "productively" and I don't "need" to be doing something every second. But sitting around makes me itch. At least I'm with John! This is the biggest redeeming quality and something I truly appreciate. I feel badly that I don't contribute more to discussions or to family things in general and must seem like a terribly boring and uninteresting person to all our family members - alas! Science is my life! And most of them don't think it's cool.
Pray that the Lord helps me be less frustrated and find joy in everything, even the chores I have to do I'd rather avoid. He can, you know. Brother Lawrence talks about it in Practicing the Presence of God. I also pray I'll be a less selfish person and can talk better to people somehow. I really love being in grad school. I feel like it's the only place I really fit in, aside from maybe a few other rare places. This has always been a problem in the past - it's not new. The Lord is so good to me. I finally have a place where I fit! I can talk to people about science all the time. And there are even a few people I can talk to about the Lord and what He's doing. I am truly blessed.
Sorry for complaining - I'm in a bit of a frustrated mood - I know the Lord is using these things to help me become who He wants - He uses everything! If I wasn't with family, I'd complain worse - I know I would - and I have fun with company - I really do. And I really love them all to death. There are just some small frustrations. I suppose everyone probably feels like an alien now and then.