On Graduation & Overcoming My Fears

Finally! The day I’ve been waiting for. The moment I never thought could actually happen… This past Friday, I stepped on stage in my cap & gown and acquired my master’s degree in occupational therapy.

FotorCreated

What a long & trying journey it has been to get here.

Although many know the shear fact that I got pregnant during my first year of graduate school and had to take time off, most do not know that, at one point in time, I had actually decided I would not finish graduate school… that after my summer internship in 2013, I felt it was more pressure than I could bear and that it would be best for me to take a different route with my life. The time, energy & emotional exhaustion it would take to acquire my degree WHILE having a baby and paying endless tuition was simply not practical. How was I to finish grad school with a baby at home… no extended family around… and living off of one income? It felt improbable that I would finish and unlikely that I could even go back… So I decided I was done.

Luckily, I had (& have) very honest people in my life. People that listened and understood, but also pointed out my fears & questioned my motivations. They gave me personal insight and wisdom on how this might feel in retrospect. They encouraged me to go after my degree if it is what I want and to not throw in the towel simply because my timeline got shaken… No one has to give up a vocational calling simply because motherhood came sooner than anticipated.

Looking back now, I can confidently say that circumstantial obstacles were not reason enough to give up on my calling. We are not supposed to look at every road block and merely say, “I guess God has a different plan for me.” Obstacles are meant to be endured and overcome. And although I viewed my obstacles, initially, as signs to stop, I’m so grateful I had people in my life to advise me otherwise.

And as a side note, I certainly do not condemn any one who decides to stop pursuing a dream. In fact, I believe that in some cases, it takes a lot more courage to stop than to keep going.

In my case, however, the day I decided I to finish graduate school was the day I named my longing and went after it. I said “YES” to finishing what I had already started, despite wanting to quit… I am overwhelmed with joy when I realize that I actually did it.

Graduating, walking in my cap & gown and FINALLY getting my master’s (my dream since I was 18) felt like a huge accomplishment. Despite getting married, pregnant and having a baby during my program, I cannot believe I am finally finished.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to my incredible family, friends, mentors & all others who helped me get here and walked on this precious journey with me. I could not have done it with out your support.

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Homemade Playdoh (OT Things)

joshua playdoh Today feels like a good day to put some of my OT (Occupational Therapy) skills to use since I’ll be graduating in ONE WEEK!

In honor of almost being done (EE!), I decided to start a segment of this blog called, “OT Things”, in which I’ll give tips & tricks to help kiddo’s with their fine-motor, social & sensory development. Because that’s a part of what we do as OT’s 🙂

So, Playdoh. It truly has so many benefits for children AND they love it.

why you should make it, rather than buy it:

1. If your kid accidentally eats it, no harm done! It’s edible! (But I definitely do NOT encourage eating it, since it’s really high in sodium)

2. It’s cheap. There’s a good chance you already have all the ingredients.

3. If your kids are older like >3 years, they are going to get such a kick out of MAKING their own playdoh! It’s great bonding & fun for you and your little one.

4. Get creative with it! You can create whatever colors you want using food coloring. And for an added bonus, you can use Kool-aid to make it FLAVORED. Now the kids will really get a kick out of that.

Benefits of Playdoh for Toddlers:

  • Promotes Fine Motor Development Because there are so many different things you can do with playdoh, there are plenty of opportunities for skill enhancement: grasping, dexterity, hand & finger strength & motor control.
  • Engages Sense of Touch An overall wonderful and necessary sensory experience. This is especially helpful for children that need help with sensory processing.
  • It’s FUN! It keeps them entertained and engaged for long stretches of time. Not to mention all the different ways you can use it.

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Homemade Playdough recipe

Ingredients (You can double if you want more)

1 C flour
1 TBS oil
1/4 C salt
1 TBS cream of tartar
3/4 C boiling water
food coloring (optional)

Directions
  1. Pour 1 cup of flour into a bowl.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of salt.
  3. Mix in 1 tbsp Cream of Tartar. (You can find this in the spice section of just about any grocery store.)
  4. Add 1 tbsp of oil. For this recipe I used vegetable oil, but you can use any oil, and as long as it’s a kitchen oil, your playdough will be non-toxic and safe if a little one takes a tiny taste.  The sodium level is very high, so we don’t encourage this to double as a snack.
  5. Pour in the boiling water. Be VERY careful because this makes the dough HOT!
  6. Mix all the ingredients together until they form the dough. At this point, if you don’t want to add any food dye to your playdough, you’re finished!
  7. After it’s cooled, to make different colors of playdough, cut the dough in half and roll it up into balls.
  8. Now, punch out the middle of the ball to leave a little bowl for you to pour your gel food dye into.
  9. Drip your gel dye into the bowls. This is a great time to mix dye colors if you want to make another color.
  10. Knead the dough until the dye is thoroughly mixed. This is VERY messy! If you don’t want to stain your hands, use gloves, and make sure to put something down so you don’t stain your counter (like I did).

Adapted slightly from: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/206/play-dough

Therapist or Missionary? Learning to do Ministry within Vocation

Ministry vs. Vocation
The year I graduated from college, I needed to make a seemingly life-altering decision: Do I pursue full time ministry or graduate school?
My senior year of college, I got accepted to my dream school; the top occupational therapy program in the nation admitted me to start pursuing a master’s degree there. Through God’s grace, I had achieved the goal I’d been striving for since my freshman year of college. How could I now choose between this and full-time ministry? Was one option more spiritual than the other? I struggled for weeks with this decision, asking dear friends and mentors to pray for my discernment process: what was God’s will for me? After a month of going back and forth, I realized I had been asking God a very simple question: which path will render me a greater agent in Your kingdom? I had leaned left and right continuously until finally realizing that God was not pushing me in one direction. He had purposely left both doors open so that I could see that His ultimate will for me is to glorify Him in whatever I do, whether that be graduate school or Christian ministry.

The Big Decision
I had seen my very same “ultimatum” play out in others’ lives countless times before. However, almost every time, I had seen the same ending: people choosing full-time missionary work within a Christian ministry over a vocation or pursuit of a higher degree, as if this was the right or “more godly” decision. Although, I admired these choices, I felt strongly that the Lord could just as effectively use me within my graduate program for ministry and for the world. I decided to pursue a master’s degree, despite the fact that it would require substantially greater discipline and discernment to devote myself to ministry within graduate school, but I was up for the challenge. God had made it crystal clear that my time acquiring a master’s degree would be spent not only preparing to become an occupational therapist, but also reaching colleagues in my program that do not know Him.

An Outlet for Ministry
Starting graduate school happened to take up an incredulous amount of time. Moving to a new city, attending a new school, while also attempting to succeed in classes proved more strenuous than I had imagined. Despite the overload, I knew that although I was a student, my primary title was, and always will be, God’s kingdom agent. After months of discerning and getting acclimated to the new environment and culture, I decided to create a space for studying scripture on campus. This would be an incredible way to bring Christ to those intellectuals in my program who may never step foot inside of a church. I reached out to a classmate who shared a similar conviction and together we started the “Faith & Occupational Therapy Group: Discussions on How Christianity Aligns with Our Profession”. We sent out invites via facebook and email, while also personally asking peers to join in. The group generated a fair amount of interest and people started coming instantly. On average we had between 10 and 20 people every time, going through scripture from the gospels, asking questions about Jesus and even learning how much He loved to heal and humbly serve those around him. We had Christians and non-Christians alike participating in the dialogue and getting to know Jesus on a deeper, more relatable level. Every week, I could feel God moving in the hearts of students; through our conversations, He was helping us to see that faith and vocation are two things that need not be separated, but in fact, are better when meshed together and are more effective in unison.

God’s Faithfulness in Risk-Taking
God truly blessed our willingness to step out in faith. We surely had our doubts and fears when creating the group and even more hesitancy when inviting our non-Christian friends to get to know Jesus; but we quickly learned that God is calling us to step out of our comfort zones and into the mission field. In moments where we felt afraid of starting something counter-cultural, we would ask ourselves, “where would we be if Jesus didn’t say ‘yes’ to where God called him?” This question helped us see how important it is to treat vocation as ministry, just as Jesus did.

Bringing God’s Kingdom Here on Earth
As Christians, we all have certain callings & passions and it may not necessarily be vocational ministry. We can, however, use those passions to bring God’s kingdom here on Earth, no matter what our job title may be. His will for each of us is to increase kingdom fruits (love, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, etc.) in our jobs and to proclaim His good news to those that don’t know him. He’s called us to heal the sick, help the hurting, bring in the marginalized, serve the poor & proclaim His good news where ever we go.

How do you feel about ministry within vocation?