miracle child

On December 11th, at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, England, a young baby was born with a rare condition known as ectopia cordis and had been thought to have less than a 10 percent chance of survival. After three surgeries and with the help of about 50 clinical staffers, the child survived and marked the first ever success of this life-saving surgery in the UK.

(Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)

Parents Naomi Findley and Dean Wilkins named their beautiful daughter Vanellope Hope after a character from the Disney film Wreck it Ralph.

“Vanellope in the film is so stubborn and she turns into a princess at the end, so it was so fitting. The Hope part of her name is the fact that she has brought us hope, and my mum and dad, because even they, as grandparents, thought they would never get to see their granddaughter,” said Findlay.

Ectopic ordis, which translates into “out-of-place heart”, is a congenital malformation that develops during the early stages of development in the womb. The heart is abnormally located either partially or, in Vanellope’s case, entirely outside the thorax. This condition is extremely rare and it is estimated that there are only about 5 to 8 cases per 1 million births. Due to increased chances of infection, the baby will often die in the womb or soon after birth.

(Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)

Vanellope is truly a miracle child and a huge mark of medical achievement for the UK. I am continually amazed by the advancements in medicine and cannot imagine what is to come in the near future and the lives that are to be saved. Thankfully there are parents like Naomi and Dean who believe in miracles and choose to fight when the odds are stacked against them. Had they chosen differently, Vanellope would not be alive today. She is three weeks out and currently doing very well. I am so excited for her and her sweet family and the walking miracle she is to them.

cozy time

Today I went to the International Student Services Winter Warmup. It was such a sweet event. I was able to sip on hot cocoa and decorate cookies while listening to different stories from people I had just met. Two wonderful girls who are from Thailand and Korea shared their experiences as study abroad students at OU. They have absolutely loved their time here and believe Oklahoma may be the friendliest place on earth. Their transition has been so easy because people have been so generous and welcoming towards them.

I was able to share with them how I am planning to study abroad this coming spring of 2018 in Australia. I expressed some lingering doubt that I will be welcomed or able to form friendships with locals. They reassured me that I will have a wonderful time and will have no problem making friends. It was very comforting to hear from students who have just been through what I am about to go through in a little less than two months. They shared different tips on how to adjust to the change and different lifestyle and explained that keeping an open mind and being willing to introduce myself to people goes a long way.

I am thankful for events like these that have given me the opportunity to start conversations with people and hear their stories and receive advice. I love how OU does a great job of hosting a large variety of free events on campus for students to attend. It is definitely what sets OU’s student community apart from that of other colleges. Many of my friends from different universities will come and stay the weekend with me and are always shocked by the amount of friendly people they meet. I love this university and will definitely miss it next semester!

dia de los muertos

OU Student Life and OU Hispanic American Student Association hosted their version of Dia de los Muertos, a centuries-old Latin American holiday that celebrates the lives of departed family and friends, in the Lloyd Noble Center parking lot from 2 to 10 PM. Dia de los Muertos traditions include ceremonial processionals and remembrance altars, where deceased loved ones are honored with sugar skulls, marigolds and their favorite foods and beverages. In addition to those traditional elements, the OU Day of the Dead Street Festival offered live music and dance performances, sugar skull decorating, face painting, carnival rides, customized lowriders and food trucks.

Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with their loved ones.


I loved looking through all the beautiful hand made art, jewelry, ceramics, soaps, and other accessories. I was able to speak with several of the vendors and listen to the different stories behind each of the pieces. They are all passionate about their work and truly love what they do. One of the ceramic artists spends over a week creating the perfect bowl. She has to allow each paint of color to dry before she finishes it off with a glaze, giving it a shiny, smooth look.

Throughout the day, a spray paint artist was creating exquisite, jaw-dropping paintings. Getting to watch him as he created different pieces was one of the highlights of my day. It was truly incredible and he made it seem so effortless.

At this vendor, I was able to talk about the different ways people process death, whether by going into a state of denial or celebrating their life and legacy. A young woman began to share her faith in Jesus Christ and how she believes that in death we are truly alive. Her loved ones that have passed away are dancing in heaven with our Lord and Savior. Being a Christian myself, I was able to have a very encouraging conversation with her and we both shared similar views on death and how we process it. It was a really neat conversation and not one I had expected to have.

My friend Meghan and I ended the day at, of course, a food truck. We split some delicious empanadas while watching all the students and families roam from ride to ride and vendor to vendor. I am so thankful that OU hosts events like Dia de los Muertos, where students and families can share stories, enjoy good weather and delicious food together, and learn about this rich, fascinating tradition.

italy week: joust for fun

This semester was my first semester attending an Italy week event. I can’t believe I haven’t made time to attend more of these events because they are hilarious and such a fun time with fellow students. The College of International Areas Studies hosts a plethora of events from pasta making to Italian entertainment night. These events give students a look into life in Italy and what they can expect if they choose to study abroad in Arezzo.

Fortunately, I was able to go to Arezzo the summer after freshman year with my PCS class. It was one of the most incredible two weeks of serving the local community and participating in different culturally significant events. I love how OU is advertising Arezzo because I highly recommend studying abroad there. I wish I had spent more than two weeks there because the people are wonderful and there are so many other areas I wish I could have visited around Italy.

For Italy week, I went to the joust competition on the South Oval on Friday afternoon. It was hilarious and, although far different from the real thing, it was almost just as entertaining. It reminded me of getting to the traditional joust competition in Italy when I was there two years ago. I remember laughing when we were told we would be attending a joust because I didn’t think that was still something people participated in. When I got there, I was amazed at the work the locals put into hosting this event. It was truly spectacular and such a lively time. People get about as worked up in support of their team as we do about OU football. After today, I really hope I can return to Europe some day and see more of the art, history and beautiful cities in Italy and the neighboring countries.

can it really be year 3?

Year 3 of college… is this for real?

Can I really be over half way done with college?

I remember moving into my freshman dorm room like it was yesterday. Heck, I remember graduating high school like it was last night. Yet, somehow that was so long ago and I am about to watch as many of my 4th year best friends graduate and move away to start their roles in adult jobs. No more internships or summer breaks. That will be me in one more year. Crazy.

As college flies by, I realize just how much I enjoy this season of life. It is far different from any season before it and any season after it. I know my life is going to change significantly when I graduate so I am trying to really sit back and appreciate where I am and the people I am with. Some of them, I most likely will not see again and that is a sad realization.

This semester, I am taking anatomy with Dr. Gordon and I’ve been told it is one of the most time-consuming, difficult, and fascinating classes at OU. I am super excited and determined to succeed. This will be the first science class at OU that will actually teach me essential information for when I am a practicing physician’s assistant. I know I am going to be blown away at how incredible and complex the human body is and I cannot wait.

However, I know I will have to make sacrifices this semester and potentially say no to events, activities, or time with friends that I would normally have said yes to. It might be sad and lonely at times, but I know it will be worth it. It may even give me the opportunity to invest in people from my anatomy lab or lecture and be a friend or study buddy to them.

I am praying and asking the Lord to remind me, when I do feel frustrated, lonely, or fearful, that He is my portion and His power is made perfect in my weakness. Through tough days and joy-filled days, may I continue to see His love in everyone and everything. May this be a semester of kneeling before the Lord in humility and listening for His voice in the quiet mornings, on the bustling south oval, during dissection in lab. He is ever present and abounding in love. I choose to rest and receive in this constantly busy, chaotic time.

 

fear not

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

As the end of my sophomore year approaches, I am once again seized with fear. Question after question filters through my mind, “What will summer be like? Will I enjoy being in Norman taking classes or will I be lonely?What will next year be like? Will I lose friends? Will junior year be as great as sophomore year?”… on and on and on. Doubt creeps in and I begin to cling to every second of every day, not wanting this year to end. My heart was heavy and I felt like I was having to say goodbye to a loved one forever.

After being in a slump for the majority of the day, I decided to offer these fears and doubts to the Lord. I spent time in prayer, begging Him to filter my thoughts with His peace and promises. Later that afternoon, right before a final, my mind was flooded with scripture. The Holy Spirit brought verse after verse to mind. Each one for a purpose. He told me to lean not on my own understanding but allow the Shepherd to lead me beside quiet waters and restore my soul. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Sarabeth, I delight in you. I have not given you a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. In Me, you can run and not grow weary. I am the strength of your heart and your portion forever. Run to Me! Trust Me! I love you.

I felt an overwhelming, undefinable sense of peace wash over my body. It is one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. In that moment, I knew the Holy Spirit was overflowing within me, reminding me of my value and of His truth that is an anchor for my soul, firm and secure.

It was as if He was whispering, “Beloved. Be still. I am with you always. Lean into my embrace.”

I believe it is absolutely necessary to take time to mourn what you are leaving behind. As I reflected on this past school year, I was filled with gratitude toward the Lord and the people He placed in my life during this season. So many faces came to mind and my heart was filled with love for them and appreciation of their investment in my life. Countless memories, late night chats, ping pong tournaments, spike ball games, study sessions, and weekend trips came to mind. Rather than miss them and wish I could go back to those moments, I was content to remember how wonderful they were and how close they bonded me to my sweet friends. After every year, I am filled with mixed emotions. I have such a bittersweet relationship with change. But, this time is different. I can feel the Lord molding me and transforming my mind. Rather than wallowing in the fear of the unknown, He beckons me to approach the throne of grace and receive the peace that surpasses all understanding.

I am filled with excitement for all the Lord has planned for my life and for all the people who He will bring in and out of it. This Earth is filled with His wonder and I cannot wait to seek it out every day. Send me, Father! For wherever I go, You are there also.

uniquely loved

Oh how I miss the joy of leisure reading!

Growing up, I was an avid reader. I would find hidden and cozy spots in my home and would curl up and read for hours on end. When I got in trouble, instead of grounding me from watching TV or playing my Nintendo DS, my parents would take my books away.

I would read anything from Nancy Drew and Harry Potter to The Hiding Place and The Mark of the Lion Series. I love fantasy, romance and mystery novels that leave me hanging after each chapter, causing me to force my weary, drooping eyelids to stay open so I can finish just one more paragraph. When my favorite books would end, I would almost always cry, feeling as if I had just lost a very dear friend. With each final close of a book, it was as if I was saying goodbye to the characters I had become so fond of.

I find it fascinating that an author is able to weave such beautiful, intricate stories that bewitch you until you’ve read the last word. They can create such brilliant and moving novels that, even though it could be fiction, when something heartbreaking happens to a character you love, you grieve with them. You become emotionally invested and attached to someone you’ll never meet. When I finished the Harry Potter series, I was pathetically glum for days. At eleven years old, I felt like Harry, Ron and Hermione had become my best friends and it was hard to let them go. I think the reason I had become so attached to that book series was because of the creativity it sparked within me and feeling like I could relate, on some level, with each of them.

Just like singing, playing a musical instrument by ear, or being able to multiply large numbers within seconds, I truly believe their are many gifted authors that have a unique ability to put in words what I could never imagine. Since the Lord is abundantly creative, it seems no surprise that His children would be also. We are made in His image and likeness and therefore filled with His qualities.

As I have grown in my faith and in friendship with my Savior, I look at many things differently. When I was eleven, I never thought about the creativity of J. K. Rowling being a gift from the Lord. Now, when I read novels, I rejoice and laugh because I am loved by a creative, humorous, wonderful God who has blessed each of His children uniquely.

To share just a small portion of how incredibly creative God is, I have attached Genesis 5.

“From Adam to Noah
5 This is the written account of Adam’s family line.

When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind”[a] when they were created.

3 When Adam (man) had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth (appointed). 4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 5 Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.

6 When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father[b] of Enosh (mortal, frail, miserable). 7 After he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. 8 Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died.

9 When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan (sorrow, dirge, elegy). 10 After he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters. 11 Altogether, Enosh lived a total of 905 years, and then he died.

12 When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel (Blessed God). 13 After he became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. 14 Altogether, Kenan lived a total of 910 years, and then he died.

15 When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. 16 After he became the father of Jared (shall come down), Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters. 17 Altogether, Mahalalel lived a total of 895 years, and then he died.

18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch (teaching). 19 After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died.

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah (His death shall bring). 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 26 After he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27 Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died.

28 When Lamech (the despairing) had lived 182 years, he had a son. 29 He named him Noah (comfort or rest) and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” 30 After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31 Altogether, Lamech lived a total of 777 years, and then he died.

32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.”

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.

I find this to be quite remarkable. That in the earliest chapters in Genesis, God had already laid out His plan of redemption for mankind. Hidden in the meaning of their names… now that is CREATIVE! Our God is truly and awesome God. How blessed am I to love and be loved by Him.

Psalm 147:5
“Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”

travel abroad fails

Today was filled with laughter and hilarious stories thanks to my fellow global engagement students. It’s global engagement day and I went to the study abroad story time session where I was able to hear from several students about their time abroad. Because it was very laid back and informal, many students shared travel mishaps or unexpected adventures.

Louise Kuehster studied abroad for entire semester in Dalian, China. While there, she decided to run a 50k. However, it was not your average 50k. For the majority of the run, it was so uphill that she would have to grab tree branches to try and pull herself up the path. All the while, trying to stay on the path and not fall to her death. Much of the run spent trying not to tumble and also searching for markers that would identify some type of path. The entire run took her 9 hours and sounds like the most exhausting adventure one would never want to do again.

Another fun story was when Andrew Moore studied abroad in Italy. One day, he and a group of friends went on a search for a secluded beach they had heard about. The trek to the beach ended up being way longer than expected (far over a mile). When they got to the end of a tunnel, they had to pay a random toll and then climb down a rope to then continue on toward the beach. When they finally reached the beach, it turned out to be a nude beach (lol). It wasn’t quite what they had expected but hilarious and fun nonetheless.

I really enjoyed getting to sit back and listen to other students share fun stories from when they have been abroad. It made me even more excited to study abroad in Australia this coming spring. (WOOO can’t wait). Hopefully I will come back with some entertaining stories to share 🙂

third time’s a charm

On February 9th, I was able to hear Sister Rosemary speak in the Oklahoma Memorial Union’s Meacham Auditorium for the third time since being a student at OU. Once again, I am overwhelmed at the amount of compassion this woman has for people. She is utterly selfless, spending all her time advocating for women and women’s education. Sixteen years ago, she co-founded Saint Monica Girls’ Tailoring School in Gulu, Uganda. At this school, disadvantaged women are taught various trades, how to sew, knit, cook, clean and many other skills so that they can become self-sufficient women who are able to provide for their children.

Education professor Sally Beach asked Sister Rosemary, “So what can the College of Education do for you?”. Sister replied, “You can help me start a school”. The College of Education is going to collaborate with Sister Rosemary in starting another school by creating lesson plans, teacher guides, and a curriculum that prepares students, many of whom speak little English, for the primary exit exam so they can continue their education.

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For the third time, I am overwhelmed and humbled by Sister Rosemary. She is a visionary. She is purpose-driven. She is not focused on the materialist, secular things of this world. Her eyes are set on an elevated path. She is kingdom minded and eternity driven. Rather than invest in herself, she pours out all she has to offer into others. The Lord has many crowns for this honorable woman. I know she, being her humble self, will give those crowns right back to our Savior.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6: 19-20

Sister Rosemary is storing up treasures in heaven by investing in all of God’s children. I hope to be half the woman she is and am so thankful to have been able to hear such inspiring words from her yet again.
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Watabarikiwa Sister Rosemary! Watabarikiwa!

 

King of Calypso

Last week, on Wednesday, February 8th, I was able to hear from the “King of Calypso” himself. Harry Belafonte, one of the most successful African-American pop stars in history has been a well-known human and political rights activist for numerous years. After receiving two incredibly sincere, heartfelt introductions, Belafonte took the stage. Rather than boast of his achievements and current goals, he simply told, with both humor and passion, his life story. Belafonte, who suffered from dyslexia, struggled as a teen to succeed academically. After dropping out of school, he became a janitor. This job, that seemed hopeless and grim, ended up changed the trajectory of Belafonte’s life forever.

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After completing his shift, rather than being given money, he was given two tickets to see a play. He attended the performance out of sheer curiosity, having had no former knowledge of theatre or the arts. The play was about black life, performed by black actors and written by a black playwright. He was enthralled by what he saw and realized afterwards that he had found his calling. Through hard work and determination, Belafonte was given opportunities to showcase his talent. As his fame increased, so did his platform. Because he longed to use the stage to impact people, he decided to learn multiple languages and begin to sing songs about social and human development for a variety of audiences.

Harry-Belafonte-with-guitar

         Sociology is the study of human behavior, society, and organizations and how they develop and function. This event applies to sociology because a brave man recognized his ability to change the social issues he did not agree with and knew were hurting and misrepresenting his culture. He recognized the value of human life and decided to use his power and access to help people who were being unfairly stereotyped and stigmatized. Belafonte has and continues to impact lives all over the world as he advocates for change.

harry_belafonte