Thursday, April 29, 2010

Graduation, Bridal Shower and Spring Term

Well it looks like Jon and I were able to go out of BYU with a "bang." Jon stressed over molecular biology all semester; the tests were difficult, the class was hard, the teacher wasn't straight forward and the grades were sporatic.

But of course. Jon still got an A. And got a 4.0 again! Jon has gotten straight A's for an entire year now (except for a teeny tiny A- but that doesn't count).

A while back we were talking to a friend of ours who is a doctor about Jon's grades and the potential of medical school. Our friend said very non-chalantly, "just get straight A's from here on out. You can do that right?" As if it were no big deal. Jon and I walked away from that conversation a little stunned, but that is exactly what Jon did. I am just so proud of him, he has really grown as a student and is using the gifts God gave him.

I was happy get all A's and A-'s, I am excited to go on to more school.

Besides the grades, the best part of the end of the semester was graduation. We were so thankful that Mom and Dad Van Wickle came, Aunt Nancy, Aunt Ruth, and Kathleen, Mom and Dad Tate, Grandma Clara, and my sister Amy. It was so much fun to see everyone and catch up. There was a lot of sitting, clapping and waiting, but I loved every minute of it and was so thankful we had such great cheerleaders.

We all enjoyed a delicious dinner at Brick Oven, and James and Jessica were able to join us. It was a perfect day- the weather cooperated, the graduation speaker was inspirational, and it really felt like a real accomplishment. The next day of convocations was especially enjoyable to me- I loved cheering for my classmates and seeing my professors in their doctorate robes.

Saturday evening my cousin Melanie and I hosted a bridal shower for Jessica. Unfortunately I had gotten sick that weekend- I think the stress of everything finally caught up to me. I had planned on taking tons of cute pictures and posting them, but instead I felt miserable lying upstairs and listened to all of the festivities going on. I felt horrible, but I was happy to hear how well things were going and to see the pictures later. My mom is a natural host, she easily took over for me and made the party fun.

I got to make Jessica's shower invitations, and I was really happy with how they turned out. I love her color choices of black and white with lime green. (sorry that there are two in one picture, you can click on them to see it bigger)

It was definitely a successful weekend and graduation.

We are already through our first week of spring term. Jon is studying his brains out for a super intimidating class he has, and I am loving my creative and easy courses. I will definitely post some of the projects I do for the classes!

Spring is here! (Even if Utah doesn't seem to know it yet)

Monday, April 26, 2010

We Did It!

We had a fabulous graduation weekend.
Lots of clapping, cheering, pictures, and celebrating.

More pictures and stories to come later. Unfortunately the weekend ended with me feeling pretty sick, but I am on the mend and back to school tomorrow!

Thank you to our wonderful family members who made the trip to see us and support us. It meant the world to us.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's Official

I have officially reserved a place at Loma Linda University's master's program for marriage and family therapy.

This has been a spiritual, emotional, exciting, and humbling journey for me. I know a lot of you are probably tired of hearing about it. It seems like every other day I had a new question or concern. My parents and Jon have heard every fathomable possibility when it comes to school, my life, and my future. They have been patient, wise and steady. This has been invaluable to me.

I want to document some of my story for when I question this decision in the future, or for when things get tough at school, or for my future children. So while this process could probably be a book in itself, and some of the spiritual pieces of it may be too sacred to share on this public blog, I wish to tell just some of my story.

When I graduated high school I used to say that I intended on going to four years of college and then being done. I don't think that is a very common attitude, but I had my mind made up that people who went on to graduate school just didn't know what they wanted to do in their life. I just wanted to get out there and make a difference in the world. So I went to college with that exact plan in mind. I ended up selecting family life as my major and fell in love with my classes. I had these strong, intelligent and beautiful female professors. I began to think, "I could do that, I could be like them." I don't think there was an exact moment, but slowly I began to think of going into marriage and family therapy.

As that idea came to life, I turned to my patriarchal blessing (a personal blessing given once in a person's life that talks about promised blessings they will receive if they life righteously). As I read the words new things started to catch my eye. Undeniable things. My blessing talked more about my future profession or service involvement than my family. I don't think that is because I won't have a family, I think God knew I needed some extra encouragement to go down a path I would not have otherwise considered.
I decided to apply.

I told Jon and my parents it would be better to spend some money on the GRE, applications and interviews and then decide if I wanted to go. There was no hurt in applying. I was still not entirely convinced and some days I felt that going on for more school sounded like no fun at all. But most days I felt excited and hopeful. Not for the work, but for the experience, the learning and the people I could potentially help.

I only applied to three schools. I thought my mom put it best in our family letter:
One school I was pretty confident I would get into, one school I thought I might get into, and one school I could only hope to get into but would love to go to.
I didn't even get an interview at the first.
I got waitlisted at the second.
And got accepted at the third.

I want to note as well, applying to LLU was more on a whim. Just to have a school on the list my professors knew of. A "why not?" decision.
I am convinced God lead me to apply there. I am also convinced that God sees much more in me than I see in myself. If I were thinking logically and thoughtfully about my abilities, applying to LLU would not be something I would do.

In the interview process the decision was pretty clear. I loved my other school, I had a strong desire to go there, but I got a very strong feeling to leave that interview room and never look back. And to be honest, that feeling was so strong that I haven't had that desire. It really came to LLU or no school at all.

Jon and I tossed and turned about this decision. Since we have had no debt since we have been married the finances are overwhelming to us. I prayed regularly for promptings to know if this is the right decision.
One night I was praying and I said I didn't feel like I was getting any answers. Immediately conversations I had, things people had said and opportunities that had come up in the last few days entered my mind. Those were my answers.

I felt that I knew that this is what I was supposed to do. But before signing off on the decision I decided I needed to take this question to the temple. I went with the attitude that even if I received no promptings, it was ok, because I pretty much had my answer. I just wanted to be sure it wasn't a "no."

I had a very spiritual experience in the temple. My answer was clear. I felt like God was saying, "Oh ye of little faith," thinking you wouldn't get a prompting. More than any other emotion I was experiencing, I felt humbled.
My personality traits tend to be talkative and opinionated. Not the best traits for a therapist. But still, God knows so much more than I do. And he has reassured me time and time again that this is the right decision for me. I know that if I continue to trust in him he will magnify my abilities.

This has become a long story for what I intended to be short. But I want others to know this story.

Most importantly, I want to remember this story. There are so many other things that occurred, small experiences that changed my course. I wish I could remember them all. But in the end I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who is willing to answer my prayers and reassure me continuously.

I am so excited to attend LLU and feel at peace about my decision.

Friday, April 16, 2010

This Week's Adventures

It has been a great week...

First, last Sunday we went to Jessica and Daniel's open house /shower in Sandy. We were able to visit with the Utah-families, reconnect with cousins and see Grandma and Grandpa Tate.

These are my adorable cousins:

I like to title this picture "Engaged, Married & Pregnant"
And no, I am not the pregnant one. Congrats Lori!

Grandpa Tate has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, it is shocking and sad for the entire family. But he is still so sweet and loving. I am glad we got to see them this past weekend. When Grandpa came into the room he kissed Grandma, which was very cute. Also, when I was leaving he asked my name. I told him I was Rachel, but my middle name is Nadine (the first name of my Grandmother). He replied, "Ooh, just like my Nadine." I am glad he as moments where he is lucid and remembers the most important person in his life.

The best moment of the night is when one of the aunts said that we were also there to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa's 65th wedding anniversary (amazing, I know!). Grandpa said somewhat loudly, "no one tells me anything anymore." It gave us all a good laugh.

On Tuesday, the last day of class, Mark and Natalie were driving through Provo on their way down to Vegas. We were able to catch up with them, and Emilie and Nick and have dinner. It was so nice to see my BYU-Idaho friends since I wasn't able to make it to their graduation. We felt weird talking about the job market and health care at dinner. When did this happen?? I am so glad I made such good friends at BYU-I. Natalie and I:

After the dinner Jon and I headed to Salt Lake for our OK GO concert. They were soo good live. It was a fairly small venue, but was probably one of the best I've been in for a concert. Ok Go was great at interacting with the crowd and they were just downright fun.

They also played one of their songs on the hand bells. Amazing:

Jon and I wore our sweet Ok Go shirts to the work party the next day. We're kind of nerds, but I like us:

Finals week is in full swing, we have been studying and sleeping and studying and eating, etc. We will be done soon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This week was packed full of projects, assignments, and prep for finals week. We only have two more days of classes, then reading days, and then finals. I am not especially worried about finals but I have many assignments due over the next few days. Things are starting to come together and I am feeling pretty confident about this next week. Jon and I are excited to be done!

This past week I was able to participate in the Mary Lou Fulton poster conference for the college of family, home and social sciences. It is basically a conference where all the various majors make posters for research they have conducted, to share it with people in the department and other students. Dr. Yorgason told me about this about 3 days before the poster was due. We don't have any results yet for our research, but I figured it would be a good opportunity nonetheless.

This is what the ballroom looked like, ready for the conference:

This is my faculty mentor and professor, Dr. Yorgason.

This is the poster I ended up making, I am pretty happy with how it turned out:

It was a fun event, we got served lunch and to talk to many people about their various research projects. There was everything from studying ADD in monkeys, to dating patterns of BYU students, and cultural meanings of surfing. It was really interesting and fun to see everything that BYU students and professors are doing.

This weekend I got to go with my soon to be sister-in-law Jessica to pick out her flowers! It was so much fun. The floral shop was adorable:

Jessica had many choices to make but she was really decisive with good taste, I was glad I was there to be a part of it. So many flowers to choose from!

We also managed to find the perfect bridesmaid dresses for the wedding. They are super cute, I am really excited I get to keep one haha.

Jon got to watch five surgeries for six and a half hours on Friday. He loooooved it. He likes to explain everything to me, and gets really excited about the surgeries they conducted. I am so glad he has this opportunity to learn more about his field.
I would post pictures... but ... you know. Just kidding, no pictures in the surgery room allowed!!

Wish us luck for finals! We can't wait to see our families in just a week and a half! The weather is so nice right now, I hope it stays that way. Happy spring everyone!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter family and friends. What a beautiful holiday. Sometimes I wonder why Easter doesn't get as much attention as Christmas, in many ways Easter is as important (if not more so). At least in terms of Christian beliefs. But part of me is ok with the fact that the holiday is lost on people. Because I think that is kind of the point. Easter is a holiday for those of us who believe Christ still lives. It is more than a celebration of birth, it is a celebration of the supernatural and divine experience of resurrection. Don't get me wrong- I love Christmas and all that it means, but Easter has a very special place in my heart spiritually. I know Christ lives, and it is through his resurrection that we all can have eternal life.

There is really no better way to celebrate Easter than watching general conference. If you would like to read or listen to any of the sermons given by our dear church leaders, click here.

Conference was well needed after Jon and my weekend. I did a lot more homework than I've done over a weekend in a long long time. Jon studied his brains out for his molecular biology test tomorrow. And we still have two and a half more weeks to go! But its ok... because today we planned the perfect break. It actually has a bit of history for us. Let me start from the beginning...

During my freshman year of college I had a roommate who loved some fun bands I had not heard of. One of which, was OK GO. Ok Go has this hilarious music video where they did a "backyard dance." I thought this was ingenious and shared it with Jon, while he was in school in San Diego. Later that year OK GO gave a FREE concert at UC San Diego that Jon attended because of me and my roommate's love of this band. The concert was on the last day of classes his freshman year, right before the start of finals. He thought they were fantastic live- and since then has purchased and listened to their music continuously.

OK GO is most well known for their fun and creative music videos. See examples here, here and here. (The last two are the same song but two different videos for it).

Well, as it turns out, OK GO is coming to Salt Lake City. And they are coming on the last day of classes, right before finals start, our senior year of college. It just seemed to good to be true. We are anticipating that it will be the perfect break after all our final projects are due, and right before we hit the books for finals week.

This little concert has lifted our spirits for the weekend. And we are looking forward to attending next week.