Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reality

I JUST FLEW IN A PRIVATE LEARJET!!! I know, I couldn’t believe it either. It was the most incredible experience of my life. I’d never flown in one before so when I found out that one of my friends had an uncle who flew for Hess Jet, I asked if I could fly with him sometime. Well, it turns out he was making a trip to the Cayman Islands a couple of days ago and invited me along.  It was an Eclipse 500 (so technically not a Learjet, but close enough) with a cruise well over 300 miles per hour. We took off from the Chattanooga airport as the sun was just rising over the surrounding hills. I leaned back in the plush leather seat, propping my feet up as I watched the city lights fade beneath me in the morning sun. I was going to try and stay awake for the entire experience, but somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico my eyes drifted closed as the comfort of that luxurious jet enveloped me. I was awakened a couple hours later as we neared the private island where we were to pick up our passengers. The island was large yet I couldn’t see any runway. I asked Mr. Calyer, the pilot, where we were going to land and he started laughing. “Just you wait and see!”  He called in his approach on the radio and suddenly, one of the cliffs that were facing us began to open up, revealing a runway hidden inside. “Wow!” I thought. “I thought this was only in the movies.” I returned to my seat and prayed the pilot had as good an aim as William Tell. I looked out the window at the glistening ocean beneath. Beautiful music began emanating throughout the cabin as I leaned back in the seat. The music grew louder. I felt more and more drowsy. Suddenly, I was dreaming that I was back in my bed at home, with the alarm playing on my nightstand. “This is odd,” I thought. “Why would I go to sleep right before the most exciting landing in my aviation history?” I lay in bed contemplating on this most perplexing thought and hoping I’d wake up soon. I pinched myself. It hurt. I looked at my clock again and the word “work” seemed to be floating loosely around in my brain. Everything was so realistic; my fan, the room, the stuffed animals. “I’ve spent way too much time in that room I guess…” I desperately tried to wake up. Suddenly, I began to doubt whether I was dreaming or not. Reality seemed to be a loose concept as I struggled to understand what was happening. Oh dear. Perhaps the jet never happened. It was all just a dream…

I quickly got ready for work and then drove to the hospital. My dream had been so realistic that during the whole drive to the hospital, I kept remembering exact details from my flight. It literally felt like I had been on that jet. After getting report on my patients, I walked in to the first room. “Good evening, my name’s Seth and I’m going to be your nurse tonight! How ya doing?” I grinned good-naturedly as I walked over to the pt’s bedside. “I’m good! Did you know everything you learned in school is a lie?” Everything? Well now. I’m still paying off student loans so that bit of news was definitely not what I wanted to hear right now! First the jet was a lie, now all my schooling too? Am I dreaming again? I pinched myself just to be sure, causing nothing more than a second bruise to form. “I was not aware of that but I sure am appreciative of you for pointing it out to me.” Sometimes I become sarcastic no matter how hard I try not to be. “It’s true. What was the first thing you saw when you started Kindergarten?” “Well let me think for a minute. The couch. … My pajamas! … My mom?” “Oh you were homeschooled.” “Now that you mention it, that sure does sound familiar,” I laughed as I pulled out my stethoscope. “But you still had a globe,” she continued, “Did you know Satan invented that? The earth is flat.” I stopped right where I was. I’d heard these people existed, but I never thought I’d get to meet one in person. In my hospital even! Under my care no less!! “No way, is it really??” I gasped. “How do we keep from falling off?” “There’s an ice wall around the entire planet,” she seemed so confident I had to admire her spirit. “And what about the planes that have flown around the world?” “They were flying in a big circle.” “And Antarctica?” “It’s just the part of the ice wall the Masons want to tell us about.” “Hold on, the Masons are keeping this secret from us? That’s infuriating!!” “Yep, they’re in cahoots with the devil. They’re the ones that funded NASA.” “Right, because we never went to the moon.” “Exactly! It was all a film production. You can even see a Coke bottle sitting on the moon in the unedited video clip of Neil Armstrong.” “And Gus Grissom?” “He and the others were about to expose the whole program so NASA eliminated them. Every single astronaut that died did so because they were going to expose the lie. They were all 33 degree masons you know.” I was getting really excited by now.  Sometimes I have dull patients who talk about nothing more than Pokemon Go, other times I have combative patients, or angry patients, or sad patients, but never before in my life did I have a patient who had so much life-changing information to share!  I was riveted. “Do you believe in God?” she continued. “Yes ma’am I do!” “Well in the Bible, it says He uses the earth as His footstool. Can you imagine God standing on a beach ball?” We both laughed heartily; for different reasons I’m guessing. “And remember where God says the angels are holding back strife from the four corners of the earth? Where do you find corners on a globe?” There are times when I enter into a lively conversation and throw a different perspective into the train of thought, but clearly today was not one of those days. Today was a listening day. One assessment and 67 undiscovered truths later, I was ready to leave the room. “I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to you, young man!” she stated emphatically as I walked out the door. “I’ve enjoyed it too!” I wasn’t lying.

“Can you help me with one of my patients?” One of the other nurses met me in the hall. “Apparently she likes guys and she won’t do anything for me. I can’t get her to answer questions or take meds.” I walked in to the room. Immediately the patient perked up. “Well hello there young man! You look good tonight.” “Mmmmm, yes ma’am I do, thanks for noticing! But tonight’s not about me, it’s about you. Let’s get you some meds here.” “Oh of course.” I sighed. Tonight was just getting weirder. Was I still dreaming, perhaps? The nurse out in the hall caught my eye and began something which resembled a cackling seizure episode.

I walked in to another patient room to continue my rounds. A relative was sitting on the seat next to the bed. “Good evening!!” I said. “Well you look chipper tonight,” she said, not taking her eyes off the cellphone in her hands. “Well you look glum tonight,” I thought. But for all the times I say things and realize I shouldn’t have afterwards, I can thank the good Lord that He does have a check on my mouth every now and again. I told them all the reasons why I was chipper and why I was excited to be caring for them that evening. “You a believer?” Same tone. Same nonchalance. “Yes ma’am, I’m a Seventh-day Adventist.” “No way!” Her face immediately lit up and she looked up from her phone. “Have you heard of David Asscherick?” And so began a long story of how her and her husband had been invited to an Adventist church in their hometown when David Asscherick was speaking there.  He remembered them by name each evening when he saw them, which made a huge impact on them. When her husband unexpectedly died a few short days later, the church rallied to support her with welcoming arms. “I’m not Adventist yet, but I go to the church and believe everything they teach so far,” she finished. “I figured you were an Adventist. I could tell when you walked in the door. I’m sure a lot of people tell you how vibrant you are.” Whenever I was in the room, we spent the rest of the night talking about our faith and I shared my personal testimony with them.

Every night is different. I’m always meeting new people. Some make a huge impact on me while others I forget about a few weeks after they leave the floor. Sometimes I think I’m dreaming, other times I wish I was dreaming. I’ve gotten to pray with patients, talk with patients, laugh with them and cry with them. Yes there are the bedpans I’ve got to empty, the blood I must clean up after the AMS patients pull their IVs out, the vomit, the sickness, the drudgery of meds and diets and lab sticks. But at the end of the day, or night, I realize once again why God called me to nursing. I schedule 5 minutes during my first rounds - stethoscope down, computer off, my full attention on the patient - to have a heart-to-heart with them. Personally, I think it’s even more important than the meds I’m administering or the assessment I’m doing because we all want to be heard, understood, and cared for. I thank God that I was given the opportunity to do exactly that. This reality is far better than any dream I could hope for.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pursuing My Dream


Seth Sutherland, RN.  It seems almost surreal to add those last two letters to my name; those letters which have seemed to elude me for so long.

My journey started years ago when I decided to become a nurse.  I’ve always dreamed of doing mission aviation and I realized that medical experience is an essential skill to have in that sort of environment.  Becoming a doctor seemed like too much school for me, so I settled for becoming a nurse.  With that objective in mind, I enrolled at Southern Adventist University and became one of the many excited students ready to change the world right away.  But little did I know how many lessons God had in store for me over the next four and a half years, one of the most difficult being trust.

I guess I shouldn’t say I settled on nursing.  Actually, after I started driving ambulances at the age of 17 and hanging around medical people more, I realized just how much nursing fit me.  If you look at every profession there is in the medical field, none of them spend as much time with the patients as nurses do.  For me, that was the final straw in my decision to become a nurse; I love people and wanted to spend my life serving others.  Growing up, we hardly ever went to the doctors.  I can count on one hand the times I visited those horrid places called hospitals, and two of those visits simply were putting on and taking off a cast after I broke my wrist.  However, I was determined to not let my lack of real life experience hinder my learning.  The first semester was a breeze.  Being homeschooled definitely gave me an edge on the classes, especially in Comp 1 and 2.  I was accepted into the nursing program the very next semester and that’s when reality hit.

For me, learning how to be a nurse was like a child learning how to adult, an Englishman learning how to speak Khoisan, or a fish learning how to walk on land.  Even basic medical terminology was completely new to me.  Although the first half of that semester went well, the second half saw a dramatic decrease in my grades as I learned about something called pharmacology.  Again, I’m rather thankful I got water instead of Ibuprofen no matter how bad a headache I had, but the lack of medications in my life led to an atrocious knowledge deficit on such subjects.  Consequently, I became intimately aware of Southern’s passing grade of 78%.  Because I got a 76.7% test average that semester…

Christmas rolled slowly around and I felt like a total failure.  I’d never failed anything in my life (well, there was the time I hooked a stunt kite up to a sled and crashed into a tree, but I’m talking about major stuff here) and wasn’t sure how to deal with it.  My friends and family kept encouraging me that it was only a minor setback and I was still going to do well.  Consequently, that next semester found me sitting with the nursing class that used to be behind me.  I met a lot of cool new people and began to think things weren’t going to be that bad after all.  Near the end of level two though, I again began struggling with the tests and at one point nearly gave up.  I knew if I didn’t make the passing grade, I’d be kicked out of the program so I was going to just switch majors and take the easy way out.  Until I was in skills lab one day and the professor told a story and read Jeremiah 29:11 to the class.  To this day I can’t recall the story but I remember precisely how I got this overwhelming feeling that God was speaking directly through her.  The dream God had given me to become a nurse was as relevant then as it was when I first felt called to the medical field.  So I stuck that semester out, and the next as well.

But when my final grades came in after level 3, my test average was only 77%.  Due to the school’s policy, I was out of the program and would have to restart.  Failing only one semester away from graduation was heartbreaking.  Again, I questioned everything.  I didn’t know whether God was still calling me to be a nurse or not.  There was nothing more embarrassing then telling people I had failed a nursing class, again, and had to restart the program.  I went to the learning support center at our school and after working with me for a bit, the lady there told me I had ADD.  Although she couldn’t officially diagnose me, her entire job is working with students who have learning disabilities and she’s worked with many who are ADD and ADHD.  Suddenly things began to make sense.  The reason I can be so creative and sporadic, the reason I could feel completely at home in the clinical environment yet keep failing tests, became clear to me.  The nursing program is set up with computerized testing for every test, and about 15 minutes in to the tests, my brain would check out.  Unfortunately, most tests lasted anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.

Did I feel like I had a disability?  Not at all.  I just realized that computer tests and I did not get along.  But knowing why I was failing the tests didn’t ease the pain as I faced reality the next fall and began the long ordeal all over again.  If I were to document my spiritual journey during this entire process, space and time would fail me.  There were times I felt like a failure and didn’t feel like pursuing the dream anymore.  I told God that if He truly called me to nursing, He should have gotten me through sooner.  It was hard to see my friends move on and then graduate while I went back to “learning” how to program an IV pump.

But that summer was a huge life changer for me.  I was facing one of the most difficult setbacks in my life and felt unsure whether God had truly called me or whether I was just doing nursing because it was a stable career and a seemingly good choice.  I considered other options.  I thought about dropping out and joining the Coast Guard.  I thought about dropping out and doing a lot of things, actually.  I was at an all time spiritual low.  And that’s when God opened my eyes to 1 Kings 19 in a whole new light.  As I read the story of Elijah, I realized that I fall into the temptation of wanting only the big things from God.  I wanted to see the fire, the wind, the earthquake.  I wanted to get my nursing degree.  I wanted to blaze through college, finishing fast and strong.  But God reminded me that sometimes His ways are made known by His still, small voice alone.  When I felt like a failure, when my hopes were crushed, when the future seemed bleak and forlorn, God was still calling me to listen to His voice.  And so I listened.  And as I began to open my heart to hear His voice once again, I could hear Him calling.  My calling.  A reminder that He still wanted me to be a nurse.  He still wanted me to follow my dreams.  Slowly I began to trust His calling.  I realized I had been trying to conquer school on my own and not letting God have complete control of my life.  Later that summer, I felt strongly impressed to rededicate myself to God through baptism and consecrate my life to following the dreams God had given me, no matter what.  And I’ve never looked back since.

The next year went by swiftly as I started back through the nursing program.  But this time, my attitude was different.  Instead of viewing this as a setback, I viewed it as an opportunity to meet new people and teach fellow students what I’d already learned.  I loved every minute of it (except for when I had to take the tests of course) and met people who changed my life in so many positive ways.  Around this time I got an official diagnosis of ADD after passing (or failing?) the Quotient test used in diagnosis.  At least I now had an real excuse whenever people teased me for my random jokes or off topic thoughts.  I had one final blow however when I failed to make the passing benchmark to graduate last Fall.  Again, the feelings of failure were almost too overwhelming as I struggled with whether I was even capable of being a nurse.  But although I struggled with computer tests, I kept excelling in the real life clinical aspect.  And once again, I chose to claim God at His word.  I began to realize that God’s callings are His enablings.  He worked a miracle on my behalf and I was able to repeat the last semester and successfully graduate on May the 8th, 2016!  But graduation wasn’t as meaningful to me as the nurse pinning on May 7th.  For it was on that day that the dream God had given me, so many years before, got pinned on my life forever.  I wore my grandmother’s nursing pin as my friend and professor Dana Krause added my own SAU pin to the family’s nursing heritage.  I recited the nursing pledge with my fellow nursing graduates as we dedicated our lives to serving others.

After graduating from Southern’s nursing program, the last hurdle to face was the NCLEX.  I took the test on July 5 and passed it with no problems.  And that was the day that God reminded me once again to trust Him.  Though it takes years, trust Him.  Though my doubts are more numerous than the drops in the ocean, trust Him.  Though friends come and go, though sleep becomes a thing of the past, though everything seems bent on killing my dreams, trust Him.  My dreams don’t end with nursing.  Far from it!  My dream of flying airplanes is still a reality.  My dream of being a mission pilot in a third world country is just as real as ever.  My dream of changing the world, sharing my story, challenging perspectives, will never be abandoned.  And no matter what the obstacles, no matter what the challenges, I serve a God who created my dreams, who created me, and who created the universe.  My God can’t be stopped.

And He WILL fulfill your dreams as well!  So dream on. Proverbs 29:18

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Haiti 2016


I’d been to Haiti once before but when asked if I wanted to go again, I jumped at the chance.  But this trip was different, much different.  Last time I was there, I was with a group from Southern who helped out at a little school somewhere east of Port-au-Prince while doing medical treatment and a bit of construction.  This trip we had a smaller group (two families, one Haitien/American, and myself) and stayed at a little mission compound where a lot of the locals would hang out.  I definitely got to interact with the people more and learn a lot about Haitian culture.  What they love, what they hate, what gives them national pride, their hopes, dreams, and fears.  There are so many stories I could tell, so many experiences I could share, but time does not allow me to share them all here.  Here are some of my favorite pictures with their accompanying stories.

One of the first things we learned about Haiti was that everyone wanted money!  This guy had a whole stunt routine down (kids, don't try this at home) after which he asked us for money.  Everyone's gotta earn money somehow I guess...

Our ride from Cap-Hatien to Ranquitte consisted of us sitting on top of an open truck while we drove through the Hatien countryside.  It was such an epic ride with the wind blowing in our faces!

Our ride on top of the truck soon ended when the clouds began to pour rain.  We pulled a tarp over the top of us and then rode the rest of the way huddled together with our luggage.  Definitely made for some fun memories!

The locals had a lot of hand-crafted goods that they would try and sell to us right outside the mission compound where we were staying.  It was fun to haggle the prices with them.

Every day, we would take motos from our mission compound in Ranquitte to the orphanage in Bas Pinal.  It was a blast to ride along the dirt roads amongst frolicking children and plodding donkeys.  My favorite part was when we dipped down into a creek bed and followed the stream a ways before climbing the bank near the orphanage.

This is the new orphanage compound which is being built!  They still need money to complete it but once done, it will provide much needed room for the children to live and play.

Almost everything in Haiti is made by hand.  This is one of the rebar supports that hold up the walls of the new orphanage they're building.  The whole thing is handmade and twisted together with wires.

One of the necessities on the trip was water filters!!  All of us had different systems; Miss Sheri had this Life Straw.  It was weird to get home and drink right out of the faucet again.

The kids were so cute!  I'm not sure who enjoyed the time and attention more, them or us.

This is Chauchou (I THINK that's how you spell his name anyways).  He was my moto driver every day, at least for the first couple days.  After that, he found out I love driving motorcycles so he let me do all the driving which was amazing!  I only stalled it out a couple times and one was only when a chicken ran in front of us while we were driving up a 45 degree (almost...) rock slide coming out of the riverbed.  The driving wouldn't have been half so bad if they were actually dirtbikes, but these are street bikes which makes them slide all over the place in the mud and stonebed.

Everyone got to help with projects, even little Caleb!  He only had one major incident with the paint and that was when a good friend of his swiped a paintbrush full of paint across his face.  Made him feel pretty blue...

We were doing a Bible study and this kid was goofing off with his friends on a nearby table.  I couldn't help but take some pictures of this future model.

If there was one thing Caleb loved more than anything else, it was mangoes.  Tons of mangoes!  The locals would bring them to him by the bucket fulls because he could always be seen eating mangoes.  The wonderful thing was that there were several mango trees on the mission compound so we could always eat mangoes whenever we wanted to.  And they were probably the most delicious ones I've ever tasted.

There were tons of goats and donkeys and chickens running around everywhere.  It was almost like living in a petting zoo for a few days.

One of the days we were there, we got to go and explore the local market.  Everyone from the surrounding hillsides would bring their fresh produce to sell.  It was crowded, hot, and super busy.  Definitely a far-cry from the grocery stores we're used to in the states.

Voodoo is very strong in Haiti still.  We heard several stories of demon possession and how the devil has a tight hold on the people of Haiti still through those practices.  This is a voodoo tree planted in the middle of the cemetery in Ranquitte.  You can see it's been burned on the bottom during their ceremonial rituals for the dead.

One of the days the women did a "spa day" for the girls at the orphanage.  They got to wash their feet and paint their nails, things that seem normal to us here but are a rare opportunity for them.

We did a lot of acting while over there!  During this particular evening program, Jessica portrayed Mary Magdalene as she pleaded with the kids to give their hearts to Christ.

The water that came pouring off the roofs were caught in large barrels to be used later.  Well, most of it anyway.  This boy had found a leak in the eaves and loved to drink the water straight off the roof!

On Sunday we took a lot of the older orphans out to a "professional" soccer game!  They were so excited and took showers before dressing in their best clothes for the event.

Haitiens definitely know how to play some intense soccer!  It was fun to watch them, albeit the sun got hot after standing for a couple hours in a throng of hot, sweaty bodies.

The day before we flew out, we visited the Citadelle Laferrière which sits high over the town of Milot.  Built in the beginning of the 19th century by one of the leaders of the slave revolution, it is often referred to by the locals as the 8th wonder of the world.  It was an intense hike up to the top, but the view was absolutely worth it!

Looking down from the Citadelle, it was easy to see just how high we really were.  Haiti is such a beautiful country.

It was such a blessing being able to visit the orphanage there and helping out with various projects.  I'll be producing a short promo video for Haiti Helpers soon but in the meantime, check out their website to learn more about the projects and current needs! www.HaitiHelpers.org

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Letter to Myself

On Thursday I took my last test while in nursing school; a Kaplan predictor with 150 rather difficult questions.  It was an early morning, an eight o’clock test.  While driving to SAU, the misty fog rose heavily from the asphalt as the morning sun met the remnants from last night’s storm.  Not an unusual sight but breathtaking every time I see it.  I pulled into the parking lot and walked into the LRC.  The testing center.  The room where my fate has been decided for the past 4 years.  A wave of nostalgia washed over me as I looked around at the Adult Health 2 class taking their final in the same room.  I remembered the first time I took that test; it was the first and only time I’ve had a legitimate panic attack.  Mid test I realized I didn’t know the content well enough and my heart began to race, my head felt light and nauseous, and I needed out.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  I got a drink from the fountain and sat down again.  I prayed.  The questions began to swirl on the computer screen and my mind raced, bringing back loads of useless information to my recollection.  I didn’t pass that test.  Consequently I didn’t pass that class.  But it wasn’t my first disappointment with having to repeat classes, nor would it be my last.  I’ve somehow managed to squeeze two years of nursing school into four.  The number 78 will forever be etched into my brain as the magical number which decides whether I pass or fail.  76-77.3% final test grades don’t make the cut.  Trust me, I’ve tried.

So here I am, a 23 year old super senior who’s a junior by credits, who just graduated with my associates degree in nursing.  Do I feel behind, like I’ve been held back from starting life?  Ha, far from it!!  I view these extra two years in school as a gift from God that has changed my life forever.  In fact, looking back over the past 4-1/2 years I can’t help but see how God has divinely led my experience.  I decided to pen a letter with advice to my younger freshman self, a timid 19 year-old with so much to learn.  If you don’t mind, I thought I’d share it with you.


"Hey Three-stroke!
Yeah, I know that’s your current nickname given to you after you were made to believe a three-stroke engine actually exists.  I also know you don’t spread that name around much because it’s kind of embarrassing.  But it’s ok, we all make mistakes at times.  You just have to laugh at your blunders and move on and become a stronger man for them.  Trust me, that’s a skill you’ll need to develop rather quickly.  You’re so insecure with yourself but that will change.  You don’t know what you believe, whether you think jewelry is alright or not, whether theaters are evil or tolerable, to name a couple.  But it’s ok, you have the next few years to figure out what you believe and to begin living your life based on personal convictions rather than family traditions.

You’re literally going to know no one when you first arrive.  But here’s a little secret, Southern Adventist University is full of amazing, incredible, top-notch, godly people who are just waiting to be your friends.  When you (ahem, your grandparents) pay that depressingly large amount of money each semester, you’re not paying for a degree.  You can get that at a community college for 1/1000000th of the cost (roughly).  No, you’re paying for an education.  An education on life.  Friends.  Your walk with Christ.  Service.  How to be a missionary today.  You’re paying for the opportunity to interact with people who will lead you to the foot of the cross on a daily basis!  You’re paying for the opportunity to join those people on trips to Guyana, Brazil, and Haiti.  Never, ever, underestimate the worth of godly friends.  Their value is beyond compare.  Join SA, get involved in the events, be random, wear that alien costume so when you meet your friends later you can look back at your first picture together and laugh.  Breathe some helium and sing One Direction on the promenade with your best guy friend.  Film an SA promo with horses galloping across the campus.  Dress up as a scarecrow and let people take pictures of you on the promenade.  Get out there and make new friends!  Never let a person pass you without attempting to make eye contact and brighten their day with a word of encouragement or a smile.  You’ll find a lot of bee-liners on the promenade; you can recognize them by the earbuds they wear.  Accept that challenge!

Then there are girls.  Let me just stop here and say hey, they’re people too!  Stop being so nervous and go talk to them.  Ask that one girl to banquet!  You’ll end up going as friends in a group but hey, the goal was to be there with her and that happened.  You’ll borrow a friend’s van and be the gentleman while driving her and her friends all the way from Thatcher South to the gym, complete with an umbrella due to the rain.  Oh and never miss an opportunity for a vespers date!  They’re probably the cheesiest things you’ll ever do, but they’re memory makers and keep Southern’s nostalgic tradition alive.  Even that super awkward one will earn you another priceless friend in the end.  You’ll have a lot of girls who become close friends and people will tease you about having a “harem”, but don’t let it go to your head.  Your duty as a man is to protect and guard those girls’ hearts.  Don’t play with their emotions!  I know you will make mistakes but in the end, just try and make things right.  Don’t get physical with them; the sooner physical intimacy starts, the sooner emotional intimacy stops.  Don’t regret anything.  This only holds you back from truly living and loving.  If you did something wrong, make it right and learn from the experience.  Making things right might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s worth it.  Oh, you’ll also meet a really sweet and beautiful girl that you’ll really really like.  So ask her to be your girlfriend!  Just do it, in a romantic way of course.  Life may take you both down different paths in the end, but that’s not what matters.  What matters is that you opened yourself up to another person, became vulnerable, loved deeply and shared moments which will stay with you through the rest of your life.  You will learn what it truly means to love.  Any boy can say “I love you” when the lights are low, the flowers smell sweet, and the music is softly playing on the radio.  It takes a man to show “I love you” when you separate and you’re both reeling from the pain.  In the end you’ll be alright, you both will stay friends, and life will move on.

Because life really isn’t about you, kid.  At the end of the day your heart will only be at peace if you have made a difference in someone else’s life.  Sure it’ll take you a few extra minutes to give your friend a ride to class, but do it.  Yes you may have ten assignments waiting back in your room, but go talk to that student about to cry in the library.  You’ll find out they hate themselves for things they did the night before and before the end of your talk, you’ll be crying and praying together.  Each time you have to repeat a class, don’t ever complain that you’re falling behind.  No, God has now placed you into a new group of people and there is at least one or two that He has called you to reach.  Don’t be disappointed by failure, be humbled by the calling.  Don’t waste your time trying to make a perfect grade.  Ten years from now nobody will even care what score you got on that quiz.  They will only care whether you know how to heal them and if you care enough to make them feel loved.

Because everyone needs love.  Of all the lessons you’ll learn during college, the most important is the fact that everyone is searching for love.  Some in all the wrong places.  God has given you an immense capacity to love and it is your privilege to channel His love to all those around you.  Show them that you care because they’re worth it.

And hey, while you’re there, you might as well learn a thing or two so you can pass your classes.  The nursing program is great and all but they’re so friendly that they’ll keep you in there unless you keep your grades up.  So keep that in mind.

There’s really so much about college you’ll experience that I have no room to write it down.  It will change your life.  You think you’re cool because you’ve taught public school and saved people’s lives in the ambulance and lived all sorts of cool places and experienced more than the average kid your age.  But don’t let that fool you.  A life of past glory is a life of current decline.  Live in the moment, take that new trail, leap into that waterfall, take her to that concert, jump onto passing freight trains with him, teach them how to insert an IV, film the work down in the Amazon, laugh until you cry, cry until the tears heal the heartache, embrace the pain and savor the pleasure.  Live.  Really truly live.  College will be some of the best years of your life.

But hey, even as I complete my college life I know that I have incredible years ahead of me!  God is faithful and His calling is sure.  Until I die, my best years are yet to be lived.  And as always kid, live your motto: Follow the anecdotal path.

Good luck!  Graduation will be here sooner than you realize but don’t focus on that, enjoy the moment.”
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