My first #DanesandBrains post delved into my plans for the future, how I think Denmark will play a major part of that and my goals in regards to the culture and the people. This post seeks to be more introspective and address some fundamental life lessons that I would like to learn while in Denmark.


Many of you do not know this, but I am only 18 years old. For the past two years of my college-career I have been living life as a fraudulent 18-year-old; my brain living in one age and the rest of my soul living in another. Some of these thoughts were shared in the post I wrote right before I entered college two years ago, so I will refrain from delving into them too deeply, but some things have still been left unsaid.

| Embrace Adulthood - Brains | 

Now that I am 18, I can not just pretend to be an adult anymore. Rather, I am one. I truly noticed a difference within myself when I turned 18. It's hard to explain, but it is almost as if something previously hidden within the depths of my soul suddenly revealed itself and changed how I thought about myself in regards to the world. I no longer have to cringe when someone finds out my age and either starts heralding me as the next Doogie Howser or treats me differently. I no longer have to hope that I will be accepted by my friends who are all older than me. Ultimately, I no longer have to question the reason that God led me to go to college at such a young age. I have reached that age where I am considered my own person and am given the reins of life.

I am not used to thinking about myself in terms of an actual adult since I faked it for so long. It will take time and serious effort on my part to realize and accept that I am strong and confident and am not to be taken for granted or looked down upon. Having been brushed off by many people who have made snap judgments about who I am based upon my age, I know this will be difficult to overcome.

A subset of being an adult means making decisions when things may or may not be clear. Over the past few months I've realized more and more that I am a black and white type of person. Give me goals, expectations, and instruction and I will go above and beyond the call of duty to meet those goals. Give me choices and options and I struggle to even make a decision because each option presents a different set of results. This all ties in to my fear of failure and the depths that I go to avoid even getting close to failing. In the past, it has bothered me that differences of opinion in the church are not clearly defined in the Bible. There are some grey areas and as a logical person who wants a clear directive and focus, I have struggled with this and still do. Lately, I have seen this manifested in my life within the smallest aspects. Just yesterday I was picking up some hamburger buns from the store for a 4th of July BBQ and I called my Mum twice to make sure that I was buying the right ones so I wouldn't disappoint her, waste money or waste time. It is a good quality to want to do things right the first time, but it is not a good quality to want everything to be one clear, straight decision where I can't make a mistake. That isn't how life works.

I am learning that life is not black and white. A few years ago photography was my thing; I still enjoy taking snapshots of life and photography has taught me many lessons. Black and white photographs were never my favorite. They seemed to lack a depth, clarity and warmth that color pictures so naturally possessed. Like those black and white photographs, life is dull and shallow when we cannot make choices representative of who we are as a person. We become robots in a pre-programmed world.

Living abroad this fall I am not going to have the support network of my parents, my close friends, and my church family; I will be alone in a sense. My tendency has always been to turn to others for their opinions whether it be about a biblical issue or what hamburger buns to buy at the store. In Denmark, I will be forced to make those decisions on my own. I may not know what to do and I certainly will fail time and time again. However, through the process I know I will grow as a person be the strong, confident adult I want to be and ultimately learn to rely on God more than any other time.


Thirty-five days from now I will begin a new chapter in the book that is my life. Thirty-five days from now I will be lugging two massive suitcases and a hiking backpack through the airport. Thirty-five days from now I will say goodbye to all that I know and love and hop on a plane that will take me to my new home for five months, Copenhagen, Denmark.

People have asked me if I'm going to miss America or if I am anxious about this experience. Honestly, I am not the least bit worried about leaving home to go live in a foreign land. Considering my natural tendency of wanting to control my life as much as possible, I am amazed that I have not experienced that with Denmark. However, there are still thirty-five days to go before I leave...

This summer has given me much time to begin to define the goals and mindsets I want to pursue while I am abroad this fall; but these goals and mindsets fall under two categories: Danes and Brains. I'm not going all zombie apocalypse on you, rather, these two main goals embody how I want to live in Denmark and what I want to do. The first of these is Danes:

| Reach the Danish People & Make Relationships - Danes |

Many of my friends over the years have expressed the desire to be a missionary one day and live in a foreign country and spread the Gospel. I have always supported them and their calling, but I have never once thought that long-term missions would be my thing. I even went so far as to tell God that He wouldn't ever call me to missions. Ever since the Cancer of Biology course I took at Duke TIP during the summer of my freshman year of high school, I have wanted to cure cancer in some way, shape or form. Currently, I'm studying Genetics and English with the plan to pursue my Ph. D. I have always thought of the U.S. as the place to be for anything science related because of the great universities, varied forms of research and grants available. I have always thought that I would live in my hometown for the rest of my life and use Genetics to cure cancer at Duke University.

I have now learned that God has a sense of humor and that God has different plans for me.

A few weeks ago my church began advertising a mission's conference focused on a type of missions that I had never really heard about before called 'Marketplace Missions.' This kind of missions isn't focused as much on raising support and going somewhere to build houses or teach kids, rather it is focused on taking your skills and your job specialty to another country to get a permanent job and reach people who could otherwise not be reached by missionaries. God completely pricked my heart when I heard about this conference. Part of me knew that this fall semester I would be overseas taking my "job" as a student to a foreign land. Eighty percent of Denmark is Lutheran, the majority of those eighty percent don't even know what the Gospel is. Every day, I will be interacting with people that do not understand the gravity of where their soul is at. The Danes are a people that are very private, which means that one of the only ways to share the Gospel with them is to become friends and build a relationship with them. Living in Denmark for five months this fall is the perfect time to do this.

The other part of me realized the amazing opportunities that I could have moving to Denmark after I complete college to pursue my Ph. D or a Master's degree. Many companies offer programs to study and work in their labs but pursue your Ph. D at the same time.  My host dad actually works at Novo Nordisk which is a Biotechnology company headquartered in Denmark that I would absolutely love to work at. Not only would I be challenged in my professional life there, but I would be interacting with many scientific professionals who are closed off to anything religious.

This missions conference is in two weeks and I cannot wait to see how God is going to reveal more of His plan to me. Within the space of two months God has changed my heart of complete and utter selfishness to a heart that is ready and willing to move to another country to love the people there.


My Film and Lit professor handed my paper back with a look that said 'You could have done better on this.' As I flipped through the crisp pages marked up with my teacher's illegible handwriting, a comment caught my eye: "You have two main ideas in this paper and the evidence to support both; you need to only choose one." My heart sank in my stomach as a realization hit me.

I have known for a long time that I am a person who wants to be approved by people and honestly who doesn't want to be approved of by their peers? I was born a people-pleaser as evidenced by my strict adherence to the rules as a child and the length I go to make things right with people when they're unhappy with me or a situation. This has led me to be less confident than I truly am. Many times in conversation I've stated my viewpoint on an issue like Creation vs Evolution only to be responded to with scorn, contempt and anger and then someone's own viewpoint on the same issue. It's those moments where I lose the battle every time and seek people's approval. I choose to bow down to other people's opinions in agreement to gain their favor and acceptance. Instead of this favor satisfying me (which I know it will never do) it instead drains me of the confidence I have in myself and causes me to reexamine everything I thought I knew about a topic just because I believe that those around me must know how to answer a question better than I do. I definitely listen to the opinions of people around me, especially those who are older and wiser, but I tend to conform to those opinions without even considering their implications.

Besides being a people-pleaser I am also a perfectionist. I hate to be wrong and I will do everything possible to avoid the shame in being a failure. This fear of mine has manifested itself in my life in ways I did not even think to be possible. One of the ways I normally mitigate this fear is to create ways for me to be right always. This seems contrary to logic since the very definition of right is subjective and limited to when there is a wrong for it to be compared to but I digress. In conversation one of my favorite phrases to use is 'I can see it from both sides.' This phrase has gotten me out of any argument as I basically become Switzerland in any discussion. It has helped when dealing with touchy subjects but in the end I am not challenged to stick to one side while believing it, defending it, and learning about it. I end up becoming lazy and not "standing firm" in my faith as 1 Corinthians 16:13 says I should be as a Christian.

Not wanting to be wrong has not just come up in my conversations however. As soon as I saw my professor comment about the two competing ideas in my paper, I knew that this habit and shortcoming of mine was making its way into my writing unknowingly. While writing that paper I remember worrying that I would make a conclusion that was wrong and thus be given a bad grade. To prevent that I wrote in such a way to make two conclusions possible, without realizing that by doing that, I neglected the whole point of the assignment and that those two conclusions in reality, were totally antagonistic to each other.

I'm slowly learning how to address these issues in my life. They are by no means easy as they touch the core of who I am as a person and thus are even harder to pin down and tame than other sins I struggle with. Christ is redeeming me each and every day and showing me that I don't need the approval of others and that I am wrong, because I am a sinner, but that He is never wrong and has transformed me from a dirty, rotten, horrible sinner, into his child.


My life is fragmented, broken into pieces. I am not in a state of sadness, rather one of confusion as in a way I am trying to put myself back together again and find what unifies these fragments in my mind.

I feel like I am trying to jump and grab these fragments of myself, yet they are just out of reach. I am constantly bombarded with the voices of desire to be a geneticist, writer, theologian and artist, all of which clamor for my attention like street vendors on the vias in Rome. It is like a kind of schizophrenia, except one in which all the voices are good, but you don't know which one to listen to at the moment because you want to listen to them all. I have the desire to do so much with my life, yet I am trying to do it all at one time.

Currently, I am waiting to hear back from eight different cancer research summer internships that I have applied to.  I have no control over anything at this point and for a planner and control-freak like myself, it is difficult. Through this time stuck in a mindless limbo of waiting where all I can do is watch the clouds roll across the sky, I have realized how easily I anchor myself to worldly things to have a sense of clarity and meaning. In examining my constant pursuit of knowledge, I can see how what starts as curiosity becomes a fascination which turns into obsession. This is due to not knowing where I am going to be in the next few years, what I am going to be doing or how I'm going to get there. In a world filled with endless possibilities, I want to leave every possibility open to my pursuit, if I so want it. This leads to fragmentation as I pursue knowledge in many different areas that only cause myself further confusion. Ultimately, it distracts me from my purpose and goal in life, which is to glorify God. 

I am fragmented and broken into pieces, each piece rough round the edges from failure and hurt from trying to do things my own way and in my own time. But Christ picks up those broken pieces. He puts them back together. I may be fragmented on my own, but in Christ I am whole and made new every time I come to the foot of the cross and that is what I cling to in these times of uncertainty.


We all know the feeling when we finish a good book or an interesting movie, we wish our lives were like Starlord and filled with spontaneous dancing, like Katniss Everdeen unable to choose between her two love interests, and even like Harry Potter, saving the world one horcrux at a time. For a day or so our minds ponder what life like this character would look like and we try to embody their spirit by making decisions maybe they would make. However, after a few days, the realization dawns that those books/movies aren't real life, and we can't live like the characters in those books/movies. Why does this always happen?

This semester I have the privilege of taking a Film and Literature class where I read Sherlock Holmes and X-men comics and watch The Matrix and Fellowship of the Ring. Amazing right!? An English major nerd couldn't ask for anything more fun. However, I am now learning and identifying the ways that movies and books skew our idea of reality. 

When you read a book you see the world through the narrator/author and their focus on certain parts of the world as they understand it. If you think about it, you are never exposed to the full reality of a character in a story, you are only exposed to what the author wants you to be exposed to through the character's eyes. When you read a book, it's hard to understand this because you see the reality of the story as what the author tells you but you are actually just being manipulated into an understanding of the reality by the author. 

This is the exact same in movies and film. A good example of this is a talk show, even if it's not a movie. In a talk show what do you see as a viewer? You see the people sitting in the chairs having a conversation. You see the backdrop. You see the cup of coffee on the desk. However, if you are in the audience of a talk show, what do you see? You see the camera jerry rig moving around the set. You see the producer whispering frantically into a headset. You see a makeup artist waiting for a break to touch up the talk show host's makeup. Your understanding of the show is based on what the producer wants you to see, which is not all the work that goes into the making of the show, but the perfected product. 

For this reason, books and movies can be very dangerous if not understood properly. People love to escape the world we live in by reading a book that will take them away, or watching a movie that depicts another life to live. 

I argue that this is the case because movies and books depict life in an unreal and skewed manner, and a way in which we want our lives to look like, but know deep down, will never happen because it's unreal and skewed. All of this is accomplished through rhetoric, which is the way you use words in order to argue something or get something across. This is used all the time in everyday life. The words you say may sound one way, but mean another if throughly analyzed. Politicians do this all the time through making something sound a lot better than it actually does. 

In books, the author presents the world and characters in a certain way in order to guide you into thinking a certain thing, using rhetoric. A great example of this is through Fifty Shades of Grey. Disclaimer: I have not read these books, nor do I ever plan on reading these books, but based on the various literature I have read about these books, I feel like I have a grasp of what goes on rhetorically, through them. If you listen to people defend this chronicle of sexual abuse, they defend it by using the argument of Christian Grey actually loving Anastasia Steele at the end of the series. While this may have come to pass throughout the books, it does not justify sexual abuse. Through rhetoric and the way he presents the reality of Christian Grey, E.L. James manipulates his readers into the acceptance of sexual abuse, thus paving the way for a lot worse to be written in books. 

In movies, manipulation into a certain way of viewing something is also done. Through camera angles, shadows and expressions on character's faces, a movie director can change your feelings and thoughts about what is going on thus changing your idea of what is going on. This is shown especially through Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. In the scene where Bruno tells Guy that's he's murdered Guy's wife Miriam, Bruno is behind a fence, which is indicative of him being behind bars. As he continues to tell Guy about what he did and try to convince Guy to murder Bruno's father, Guy ends up behind the fence thus indicating his knowledge of information that could put him in jail since people already think he might have murdered his wife. Hitchcock then does a shot looking through the fence to Guy's apartment where it is unclear through whose perspective we are looking which equates the murderer Bruno, with the innocent Guy. 


Just the placement of the actors and the shadows along with the script of the actors cements in the viewer's minds what Alfred Hitchcock is trying to get across through this movie and what Patricia Highsmith was trying to get across in her book Strangers on a Train: that anyone can commit murder. 

The danger of books and movies is when we find dissatisfaction in our lives when we don't have the luck of Ben Gates in finding hidden treasure, the power of Katniss Everdeen and the romance of Rose and Jack. We cannot base our happiness in life on the lives of characters in books and movies. As you can see through the examples above, reality is manipulated and shaped based on what the author/director wants you to understand and get out of the book/movie. We have been given life, and life abundant, but we need to enjoy it through living it, not through living according to a book or movie. 


Ever since I took the Myers-Briggs personality test my senior year of high school, I've known that I'm different from the populous as a whole. In looking at the introvert or extrovert breakdown, I hit right in the middle of both of the qualities, with a few more percentage points on the extrovert side. At first I was puzzled. How could I be both an introvert and an extrovert at the same time? When people asked which I was I would just reply that I was both, only to get confused stares, which I myself understood as I didn't understand being both either. I didn't want to be an introvert as I loved people, and wanted to talk with them all the time, but I didn't want to be an extrovert and be loud and boisterous either.

In the past month I've been researching the whole introvert/extrovert discussion, especially as it has been in the limelight on Facebook and many other social media sites. I would look at the characteristics of an introvert and relate with some but not all, and I would look at the characteristics of an extrovert with the same trend. Today however, I finally figured out that there is a midway point between these two polar opposites. I am not an introvert, or an extrovert. I am an ambivert. *cue superhero music*

An ambivert has about 50% extrovert characteristics and 50% introvert characteristics. We're really good at attunement, which means that we look at a situation and based on what would work better in the situation, choose to be more of an introvert, or more of an extrovert. Basically we combine the best parts of being an introvert with the best parts of being an extrovert! Since there are all these lists of what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert, but very few about being an ambivert I decided to make one about how I specifically am an ambivert. I put together this list by analyzing the qualities of being an introvert or an extrovert and seeing what matched up with my ambivert nature.

I-There are some days where I must be alone with my thoughts and not talk to people. This often comes after a period of giving myself extrovertly and not having much alone time.

E-However there are other days when I crave socialization and someone to talk to, laugh with and joke around with. This comes after I have been so immersed in my studies all week that I need to get out of my cave and be silly with my friends.

I-I'm very good at listening, when I'm in a one on one conversation, but in a whole group of people I want to joke around and be the center of attention and it's harder to focus on one person when so many other people are around.

E-I love to be in big groups of people only if it's with friends or acquaintances. I'm not as much a fan of mingling around a party and meeting everyone. If I am at a party, I will stick with those I am comfortable with but will happily meet new people if my friends are on my side.

I-I find small talk a pain only in certain settings. If I'm at a party, I love to crack jokes and stay very surface-level in my conversation; however, if I am talking with someone one-on-one I want to talk about deep things so that our conversation is meaningful.

E-I bring out the outgoingness in my friends. However, a few friends who are totally extroverts, bring out even more outgoingness in me which I appreciate.

I-I can formulate my thoughts much better through writing. This is a highly introverted trait, but I find that I can truly understand and ponder a situation if I have written it down and thought about it. I learn better through writing, hence I have a blog. This is also why I have a prayer journal, as I can't focus on God as well unless I'm writing to Him.

E-I love coming home and just talking, and talking and talking about my day, what I did, what happened, who I talked to. This kind of goes against the previous point, but I also sometimes just need to talk if I have been quiet all day.

I-When I come home from a long day at school, I need time to decompress. I am learning more and more the value of taking time to destress and take your mind off of the day by having some downtime.

E-I love talking on the phone. Most introverts absolutely hate talking on the phone, but I truly do love it much more than texting, and I'm trying to call people more and more as it is so much easier to talk with them and hear about their life than shooting off a quick not very thought out text in between classes.

I-I'm a very deep thinker. If you've read this blog before, you will know that I like to think deep. I don't think deep all the time (especially after using all my brainpower at school), but when a deep thought comes, I will chew on it until I am ready to write it down in order to understand it better.

E-I don't put things off. If you know me, you know that I am a planner. And even if we aren't going to be doing something until five days from now, I will already be contacting you, figuring out details and putting it on my calendar. And if I put something on my calendar, you can be darn sure I'll be there.

I-I love to people watch. Oh man this is so much fun. From "Oh wow look at that outfit" to "I wonder why that text made her smile" to "He must've had a rough day." I could do this for hours and be content just by myself, thinking.

E-I can break the ice. I hate awkward silences or lulls in conversation. I feel like it is my responsibility to prevent those lulls even if my questions or topics of conversations cause the awkward silences. Awkward silences make me hyperventilate and feel like I am failing in my ability to be social.

I love being on both sides of the spectrum. There are challenges with that, but it's fun to be different.


For those of you who do not know, I am a Genetics major (also an English major, hence I have this blog). For me, writing things down is how I process them and how I clarify all of the thoughts whirling around in my head at any given time. This blog post is basically me detailing this Genetic concept that clicked for me this week. It was a time when I knew that I am right where I need to be and that I have been validated in the field I have chosen.

To begin, the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Its main job is to create ATP which is used for energy in the body. Genetically, the mitochondrion has its own genome called mtDNA and in zygote formation the mitochondrion is always inherited from the maternal side. This is why there are such diseases as Leber's disease, which is where a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA causes blindness to be passed from the mother down to all the children. It had always puzzled me how this disease was passed just from the mother and that the father in all cases, had nothing to do with the phenotype of the children, they all had Leber's.

This week in my Genetics class we were learning about the different modes of inheritance and one that stood out to me was cytoplasmic inheritance. In this form of inheritance, it is not random like normal Mendelian inheritance, but just depends on how the cell splits apart in telophase II of meiosis. It means that the gametes produced will get different organelles and amount of cytoplasm. In females at the end of meiosis, an egg is formed along with three polar bodies which are not usable. An egg is a cell obviously, but the important fact to note here is that the egg has cytoplasm which has organelles in it, and thus mitochondria. Sperm however, have very little cytoplasm because the most important part of sperm is the DNA and the speed in getting to the egg. When the sperm and egg come together, the egg is what contributes cytoplasm and what organelles are in the cytoplasm, which includes mitochondria. 

From here, the now zygote will divide and keep creating new cells. The mitochondria that are passed on to each cell are going to be from that original mitochondrion since mitochondria have their own DNA. This explains why in Leber's disease, the mother passes the disease on to all her children. It is not an X-linked or autosomal disease, but rather one where the mutation is on the mtDNA. If a mother is affected, her mitochondria are mutated. When she has children, the egg that she contributes to reproduction will have those affected mitochondria in it. As the cell begins to duplicate itself and the zygote begins to grow, all of those other cells have the same affected mitochondria since the original mtDNA was affected. Because of this, every child of that mother will have the disease and the females will pass that down to their kids, but not the males, since they don't contribute cytoplasm in the coming together of the sperm and egg. 

It was a great feeling to have a hypothesis, research it, and find out that your hypothesis was indeed true, and that you were correct in your thinking. Genetics is where I am supposed to be and it's a great feeling!


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