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How’s your patience holding up? Mine is running a bit thin, and it’s hard to hear this pandemic might go on another year before it’s “over.” My heart goes out to those who live alone and rarely go out. And we lift up in prayer those on the frontlines working endlessly to save as many as they can. We must also include those who have no work and fearing the future, hoping it might improve soon.

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Last week I came home from the office, still needing to chart, needing to be on a Zoom meeting and seeing SO many emails in my inbox from every hospital and medical organization I belong to, telling more about TODAY’s COVID-19 changes in what we should be doing and worrying about. I was overwhelmed!

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I don’t know about you, but the only thing in all my conversations, whether it be at work, home or with friends and family, is about COVID-19. As I’m winging my way across country from San Francisco International Airport to Raleigh to visit my new grandson, who was born March 10, am I possibly bringing the virus with me?

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My roses bring forth their last straggly bloom right around Thanksgiving, but already, in Northern California, by mid-January, they have what we call growing points, tiny buds on old stalks. Time to prune! My good friend Lana gave me a new purple (her favorite color) rose to plant in honor of my mom. It already has growing buds.

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It reminds me of how I need to keep growing in my faith, to let the Holy Spirit show me what stands in the way of hearing His voice and letting His fruit be more and more evident in my life. As I think of my New Year Resolution ( I keep having the same one each year because of lack of progress—to arrive early to events, not five minutes late) or my words for the year (release and receive), it brings me to God’s Word and how Jesus handled a very busy schedule.

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As we gather with families over Christmas and start out the New Year, I think of God the Father who “let His wrath go” that we deserve for our sin and sent His Son Jesus to take that wrath upon Himself. I think of the many people He met in his three years of ministry where He let things go, like with the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery or the prostitute who washed His feet with her hair.

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How are you doing on your bucket list? Do you even have one? Rafting the Grand Canyon wasn’t really on mine, but when my brother organized a group starting two years ago, I thought I should add it. Now after having survived Crystal and Lava Falls rapids, spending15 nights sleeping out under the stars, three nights with fine sand blowing on us in gale force winds, which seeped into everything, and squatting into the river to pee, one gets stretched into learning the lessons from the Canyon.

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When you read this, I will most likely be rafting down and hiking the Grand Canyon with my two brothers, sister-in-law and a couple of friends. My brother organized this trip a year and a half ago, and now we’re really doing it. Pray we all make it out alive!

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How was your summer? It’s hard to believe school is back in session. It seems like there was more road construction traffic during the summer on my way to work than school traffic now! We spent a lot of time in traffic driving to Lake Tahoe for long weekends to the Bavarian Chalet (not Swiss, mind you, she’s next door!) my parents built in the 1980s.

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How’s your balance? I started a “senior yoga” at my fitness club which is basically a stretch and core strengthening class. I really needed it! It helped me get over the muscle spasm left over from my spinal surgery last fall. One of the exercises is to stand on one leg and move the other leg to the front and the side, back and forth. AND THEN, reach down and touch my foot! Needless to say, the instructor keeps reminding us, if you are losing your balance, just put your foot down. It’s definitely a good core builder!

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Summer is a time for me of mixed emotions. I love the less hectic schedule at work although it’s crammed with yearly check-ups that can take more time than expected when issues come up. But I love seeing the college kids and find out how life is going for them. I’m always impressed when the guys still want to see a women physician.

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When was the last time you received an invitation? We first moved back to California when I was starting my internship year with a 1-year-old child. We attended a local church. The preaching and music were good, but we never really connected. I felt judged for being a working mom. We moved on to another church in Berkeley with more working women.

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I have to admit, I didn’t go for years because it’s such a long journey across the country and I promised myself to never fly a night flight again. My schedule dictated I had to this time. I never really caught up on my sleep, but there were so many good things happening at the conference that I stayed awake through it all.

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I had to put my faith into action the day before we were leaving for our GHO trip to the Ukraine. While at work I started feeling VERY achy and registered a fever of 101. (Flu neg-whew) I had a full day of patients scheduled the next day and we were leaving that night.

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I know God was calling me to be brave and serve
for many years, but I was petrified, feeling like I
wouldn’t know what all the diseases were that I
would for sure see. But finally an opportunity
surfaced to go with Samaritan’s Purse over the
Thanksgiving break to Honduras in 1998, a year
after Hurricane Mitch.

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A long time ago (like 30 years ago!) my husband and I took a two-year Bethel class that uses strange pictures to teach the themes of the Bible. The lessons each week were very memorable since they included several important ideas for that week conglomerated into a picture that would help you remember.

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Over the holidays I was with my sister-in-law who is a puzzle lover. They had received a very challenging puzzle from their daughter of an underwater scene that my brother had taken while scuba diving. I’m not much of a puzzler since it feels like a lot of time I could be doing something else. I really struggled to stay with it and only preferred to work on the bright colors that were easier to piece together.

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I don’t know about you, but I have always been a
victim of my expectations. And the holidays can
leave me disappointed when I want things to go
my way and they don’t. When my kids don’t come
home, I just want it to be over and move on to
New Year resolutions that tell me to have no
expectations next year.

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In my month off from work after spinal surgery, my daily Bible reading took me through the book of 1 Kings and the prophet Elijah. After his glorious demonstration of God’s power and might on Mt. Carmel, he spiraled down into discouragement and a pity party.

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I’m very excited to assume the position of Chair for Women Physicians in Christ—and overwhelmed! When I was first asked to chair an ad hoc committee to explore the needs of women in CMDA in 1992, I never dreamed it would become such a wonderful group of women who care so much for each other.

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A highlight of the WPC year is our annual
conference where women physicians and dentists
of all life stages come together to improve their
medical knowledge and worship the Lord. The
integration of faith and work at this event makes it
unique, and the women who attend make it
special. Friendships develop and deepen as we
share experiences of life together.

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A number of years ago I purchased a Cocker
Spaniel puppy to help distract and entertain some
children I was caring for while their mother was
dying of cancer. We named him Cappuccino, as
he was buff-colored. The kids had a great time
playing with Cappy, who was adorable, but he had
multiple health issues over his lifetime of 12 years.

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This summer has been oppressively hot. My husband Andy and I had to cancel a week-long trip to Colorado to be adult guests at a Young Life camp in the mountains because Maddie, our Brittany dog, decided it was time.

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When was the last time you asked yourself “What kind of doctor do I want to be?” I don’t mean what specialty or what branch of medicine in which you desire to practice, but what kind of doctor do you really want to be? Many of us chose our specialty early in our medical school days, or even before medical school started.

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My husband is convinced that if even one person in a group outdoor activity does not come prepared for inclement weather, then bad weather will occur. For example, if all are prepared with rain gear, then it won’t rain. But if even one person forgets the rain gear, then there will be rain. I think CMDA staff may have decided to adopt this philosophy because this year the attendee gift for the CMDA National Convention was an umbrella with a flashlight built into the shaft. Historical data would show this to be a tremendously useful gift for this meeting.

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I had my annual physical recently, having called for an appointment last fall. She has been my doctor for more than 30 years and caught my colon cancer early so I’m still here today. Much to my surprise, she ordered several tests. Each test precipitated a referral to another specialist because they were abnormal. My appointment book is filled with doctor visits up the wazoo!

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We all face fear. Sometimes we are not even aware that we are experiencing fear. It may be subconscious, but show up in the way we handle conflict or difficult situations. Or, in the way that we avoid certain situations or challenging conversations.

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How do you respond when the mistakes of someone else cause you injury or do harm to a loved one? I have faced this twice this last week on a ski trip.

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January is back, with its dark, dreary days, cold temperatures and influenza in epidemic proportions (or so it seems). Every news station is talking about the flu and its increase in cases over last year at this time. No one seems to remember or mention that we had a late flu season last year and the total number of cases for the season may be no different than recent years.

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WPC Pulse: October 2015

Have you felt overwhelmed lately? Too much to do and too little time? Are you having trouble concentrating or even remembering things because you are so busy with life? I am sure you can answer yes to one or more of these questions because most people that I encounter these days, especially physicians, are overwhelmed. You may be overwhelmed with the office, EMR, family, church responsibilities or a combination of them all.

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WPC Pulse: September 2015

Have you felt overwhelmed lately? Too much to do and too little time? Are you having trouble concentrating or even remembering things because you are so busy with life? I am sure you can answer yes to one or more of these questions because most people that I encounter these days, especially physicians, are overwhelmed. You may be overwhelmed with the office, EMR, family, church responsibilities or a combination of them all.

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WPC Pulse: August 2015

Over the years, I’ve had patients describe to me how exhausted they feel caring for their elderly parents, even when they don’t live with them. Now I understand. When with them, I am constantly assessing how they’re managing, and I am watching for changes. When I’m away, any phone call could mean a disruption of my day or even a disaster. And if they don’t answer the phone when I call, I have to struggle not to panic.

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WPC Pulse: July 2015

Where do you find YOUR strength? Recently, I was convicted while reading Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s devotional book Come Empty: Pour Out Life’s Hurts and Receive God’s Healing Love. One of her studies quoted Isaiah 30 and, as I read the old prophet challenging Israel, I was reminded of the contrast between a medical training view and a biblical view of strength.

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WPC Pulse: June 2015

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done” (Genesis 2:2, ESV). I recently had the opportunity to do a five-week Bible study at my church entitled Breathe: Making Room for Sabbath by Priscilla Shirer. Point #1 was about the importance of taking a Sabbath each week for our spiritual health. But it was much more than the traditional “take Sunday off.”

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WPC Pulse: May 2015

There are many things in this world to get addicted to, but I discovered a new one recently – jigsaw puzzles. Or rather one particular puzzle (if you’re interested, it’s a 1,000 piece Norman Rockwell “At the Doctor”) which combined seas of variegated gray-green with devilishly cunning piece arrangement – the better to mislead the unsuspecting puzzler. And all the symptoms of addiction were there: obsession, denial, loss of control, withdrawal from other more important activities. For about two weeks, when I closed my eyes, I saw gray-green.

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WPC Pulse: April 2015

While studying the life of Moses this year in a small group Bible study, I have savored learning about Moses—his triumphs, his failures, his leadership skills, his intimate relationship with Yahweh and how he foreshadows the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. I studied expectantly these wonderful truths, yet I somehow felt distant from the Israelites and their plight. It was as if I thought I am too different as a Gentile believer, redeemed by grace, and on this side of the cross to truly identify with the Jewish people, freed from a life of slavery and traveling to the promised land.

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WPC Pulse: March 2015

There is a definite lag time between what God is teaching me and what I have managed to learn, but—be that as it may—I think God is trying to teach me to slow down and include soul rest and relaxation in my list of daily essentials.

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WPC Pulse: January/February 2015

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV 2011).

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WPC Pulse: December 2014

God called me to be a missionary physician when I was 25 years old (all of us Christians are missionaries wherever we live). Eight years later, I am now in my second year of medical school at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. I thought that my long journey getting into medical school was difficult, but being here has taken the challenges to a whole new level – personally and academically. So if God has really called me to medicine, why have I been so miserable?

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WPC Pulse: November 2014

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?’” (Mark 8:34-36, ESV).

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Fall is here…evidenced by the falling leaves, the cool crisp air and the kids settled back into the routine of school. But October has a different meaning for me. You see, those pink ribbons have special significance for me as a breast cancer survivor. Just like I grieve the end of the hot summer days I love, I lament over the changes I can’t stop and seem to just endure the trials.

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WPC Pulse: October 2014

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17a, NIV 1984). “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all’” (Proverbs 31:28-29, NIV 1984). My heart is full after the conference in Philadelphia. How amazing to meet and talk to other Christian female physicians who are living through similar experiences. But we are much more than that, many are wives and mothers. And we are daughters.

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WPC Pulse: September 2014

“Is Jesus a part of your DNA?” This challenging question came to our group at the close of a recent Bible Study Episode I’m attending with my husband. “Whoa,” I thought, “That’s a pretty deep question.”

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082014Pulse

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, NKJV). This has become a really important verse in my life over the last 10 or 15 years. I don’t know if any of you can relate, but I’ve had a bit of struggle with performance and with basing my identity on how much I was able to do. I’m not totally sure, but I think this started as a young child – maybe even at birth.

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Flying Loaves July 10, 2018

Has anything like this ever happened to you: respond to an email that contained some personally sensitive information and find out weeks later that your email response was never received? Or you send an email with some personally important information and it never is read by the intended recipient? All of this because of a lost email.

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062014Pulse

As a family physician, I see patients almost daily who are struggling with anxiety. If God is important to them, I usually challenge them to memorize Philippians 4:6-8: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV 2011).

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The Only Way July 24, 2018

Grace is Not a Blue-Eyed Blonde is the title of an old book. It talks about Christian grace in our daily living. Grace is not paramount in our society these days…nor is it often talked about in the church. What is grace? My dictionary has 21 different definitions or descriptions of grace. The grace I wish to have daily is theological grace: “a pleasing or attractive quality of the spirit of God manifested in my daily actions with people.”

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However, as we gathered for a family party, I felt more sadness than joy. Eric has struggled with several health issues since infancy. Like his dad, my son, he suffers from atopic dermatitis, an extremely itchy skin disease. Especially in infants, it is almost impossible to prevent scratching, making it prone to infection and scarring. It disturbs sleep and causes irritability.

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he whole process of symptoms, differential and diagnosis is one with which are all familiar, but this past week I made a new personal diagnosis. I have research-induced asthma. Not so much wheezing, but distinct chest tightness and impending sense of doom. The context for this discovery was my first ever research elective – an entire month designated to making staggering progress on one’s neglected half-baked research project.

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When patients of mine have sciatica, they are miserable.

But sometimes it’s hard to convince them that their leg pain – or foot pain, or toe pain – actually originates in their back. “My back doesn’t that hurt much, Doc. It’s the leg that’s hurting so bad.”

Sciatica is like that.

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The day began as an ordinary day, driving the nearly three hours from the home in Springfield, Missouri I share with my spouse of seven years, to Kansas City where I continue to work practicing urgent care pediatric medicine full-time for the Children’s Hospital. I arrived for the noon opening of the urgent care clinic to find we were two providers short that day. In other words, we were at half-staff from a physician standpoint.

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Why has God designed things so we learn most of life’s biggest lessons under stress? I’ve had this assignment to do a devotional for a long time and I have written it twice, but here’s my third attempt because my family is under stress and I am seeing God in the midst of it.

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The Thanksgiving season is upon us. Sadly, the holiday is becoming dwarfed by other expanding fall traditions and an ever earlier commencement of the Christmas extravaganza. The enemy is constantly on the prowl (John 10:10), encouraging us to be too busy and distracted to give thanks. In reality, this period of thankfulness is paramount for preparing our hearts for the Christmas season. Thankfulness displaces the focus from oneself to one’s Provider and Sustainer, often quieting the discontented heart, leading to a more purposeful (and less harried) approach to honoring our Savior’s birth. I desperately want to lean in deeper to my Sustainer during this season.

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It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I recognized one of my mother’s spiritual gifts was encouragement. I was fortunate to grow up in a home with it. Many other children and adults received her encouragement over her 100 years of life.

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Rigor—relevance—relationships—these three values are at the top of my high school senior’s school webpage. It made me think about how those values might be applied to Women in Medicine and Dentistry.

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That’s how I feel about my own life lately. I want to tell you that it has been a quiet week in the Galbreath household. But I’d be lying. I want to tell you that we never argue or complain or criticize or compete with those we love. But I’d be lying.

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Jesus offers us sight – spiritual sight. But so often I forget to ask for it. How frequently do I need to pray for His insight on a problem? Most often it’s not enough time to get all the things done I think I need to or wisdom on how to help a difficult patient or a puzzling medical problem.

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Recently, my 11-year-old daughter was screened for a research project at Case W. It will compare functional MRI scans of bipolar children with healthy children at two-year intervals to look for differences in development and function.

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Sandwiched between Georgia’s infamous statewide snow day and Valentine’s Day was a day that I will never forget. That dismal afternoon I received a letter from the dean of my medical school indicating that I was being “dismissed from the Class of 2012” and “invited to join the Class of 2013 in August.” Although I knew that I was in danger of such a pronouncement because I had failed two classes, the news was nonetheless devastating and unexpected.

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m sure you’re wondering why I’m sharing this story with you. But my mom, as only moms can do, made a really astute comment when I shared my fears about not matching into a residency position. I haven’t quite brought myself to tell her about this guy. Somehow it’s easier to tell a bunch of strangers.

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I think the Lord brings all believers to a point in their lives where they have to say “uncle!” Some sooner than later, frequently over and over. Submitting to His will and His ways always goes against our flesh, our human nature. Let’s face it. Submission is a bad word in today’s culture. But this battle began way back in the garden, when Adam and Eve resisted the will of a loving Creator and insisted on sharing His throne.

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Resolved: The state of the country and world does not trouble my heart. I will faithfully pray for our leaders and nations, but know my true citizenship is in heaven.

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This fall, I have been attending a Sunday school class called “Grasping Truth – one step closer to applying doctrinal truths to everyday living.” 1Timothy 4:16 challenges us to, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (NIV 1984).

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I’m on a flight from San Francisco to Charlotte for our annual Marriage Commission meeting. I’m always amazed at the ability of this full airplane to get off the ground and get me across the country in a little over four hours!

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Recently, it feels like I’m wading through a storming season in life. I feel the strain of increasing work demands that often overshadow the fulfillment I find in working as a physician. Despite significant job uncertainties, my husband and I became excited when we discovered that our family would be growing. However, my joys were smashed when I discovered that my HCG levels were dropping and my pregnancy was coming to an end. In my prayers I often ask that God would work things out for my good and His glory.

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Last January, I had the opportunity to join an amazing group of women on the House of Hope mission trip. While the entire trip was incredible, I was taken aback by the normalcy of prostitution. Even its local name, “sitting in the chair,” was commonplace.

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Why is praying so hard? It’s not that I can’t find the words—and that does not matter, I have the Psalms and “the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26, NIV 2011). No, it’s finding the time…slowing down long enough to be still.

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When considering the freedom Christ won for each of us on the cross, I love to think of the final courageous scene of the movie Braveheart. Mel Gibson portrays William Wallace, the Scottish warrior leading the revolt for Scotland’s freedom against England’s abuses and oppression. After all of his fighting for the people, he is betrayed, captured and, while being tortured to death, still shouts with his last breath, “FREEDOM!!!” What a picture of Christ.

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Lately, I have felt like one of my teenagers as I have been given the same meal everywhere I turn for spiritual food. “God’s POWER is made perfect IN your WEAKNESS.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV 1984).

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I grew up in a Christian home and I don’t remember life without Jesus. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor and I attributed it to a God-ordained calling on my life.

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I think many of us are called upon by our churches and community to speak on various topics. That is my assignment for this month at my church’s annual women’s retreat. It is always a challenge to think of what to say, or better yet, what God would like me to say.

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What is it to be a leader? I don’t see myself as a natural leader, but whether I like it or not, my job makes me a leader. As a doctor I am leading each of my patients to a life, we both hope, of better health.

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I’m guessing (and hoping) that I’m not the only one…not the only WIMD-er who sometimes runs into identity issues with being a woman doctor/dentist…not the only one whose kids’ friends can’t remember to call her “doctor”…not the only one whose patients sometimes express their concern about whether or not I’m old enough or practiced enough (or male enough?) to take care of them…not the only one whose kids have been told by someone “only boys can be doctors.”

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