When I started driving, my family always gave me a hard time when we would ride together and I drove because I apparently always take the long way to anywhere. I take the way with the most turns, the most lights, the lowest speed limit. I never did it intentionally, I just took what I thought was the right way to go and it always took longer or was more difficult to get there (but it still got me there). After a while, I took these ways even after learning the shortcuts because they were my routes, they were my streets.
What a metaphor for my life. I am always choosing the long way around. I want the job that pays the least; I take the classes that require the most work; I try to date the guys I really shouldn't. I pick the hard way to do everything. I bring the struggle on myself. This is very frustrating, especially when I see people around me getting everything they want and it's also what society tells them they should want and it just comes so easy. And to be frank, a lot of these people are settling. They are taking what comes because it's what comes.
But I had this epiphany this morning: life is a struggle no matter what. There are going to be seasons that just suck and are hard to handle. So why not struggle and choose the difficult way that gives you what you really want in life, rather than the difficult way that gives you something that is just okay? If life is hard work, then work hard for a reward you actually want.
Please don't be fooled that I have any clue what I am talking about or any experience or perspective. I'm in the thick of all this as you read. Everyday my mind bounces between the safe, logical path in my life that would be good pay and a stable job, or the adventurous, risky path in my life that would be so awesome. My mind (and heart for that matter) bounces between the questions of "Do I really want this?" Or "Do I want this because it's what everyone else my age wants?"
So basically my mind is a giant empty room filled with those quarter-machine bouncy balls you got as a kid. And the bouncy balls are hyped up on caffeine. And on fire.
You know that scene from friends where Ross finds out about Rachel and Joey's relationship? He keeps trying convince every that he's fine with it, and does so unsuccessfully. Well that's me to myself and everyone around me, just saying I'm fine. And you know? I will be. I will be fine because I will choose to be fine, and you will be fine, too.
So I'm going to choose struggle because I haven't lost hope that the reward is worth the struggle. I'll let you know how that works out.
Dear Freshmen Me,
I know time travel isn't a real thing - yet - but maybe my life will suddenly turn into the movie The Lakehouse and I can somehow get this letter to you. As I approach the last weeks of my college career, talking with friends in the same boat as me, I've said many times "if I could just tell freshmen me this". So here it is: then things I wish someone would have told me when I was a freshmen.
I'm sure in four more years, I'll write another letter to you about what I wish I knew as a college senior. But for now, enjoy this life because it's over before you know it. You can't these days back.
I believe in you, and I believe in your future. Hold on sister, it'll all be okay.
I won't say that I have never been a procrastinator, because that would be a lie and I appreciate my readers too much to lie to them. I will admit to my procrastination, yet I almost always manage to swim to the surface at the last minute, dashing in with hot-off-the-press assignments and my charming smile that says "you don't really want to penalize me for being 12 minutes past the deadline, do you?"
But this time is different. The surface seems so far away, and I'm starting to feel the narcosis. The little munchkins in my head are starting to sound reasonable, telling me that obviously my professors are out to get me, that of course they get together in the wee hours of the morning for boxed wine and plan my dramatic downfall. Now, I know this isn't true. But if it was, at least I could blame my procrastination on someone other than myself.
The first two years of college were dedicated to keeping my grades up so I could study abroad (check), outsmarting a boy (now a mute point), and making Mckenzie proud of Mckenzie (mostly check). Well...now what? I've come back from the great adventure, I'm single as a Pringle, and my confidence and worth is found in the Lord. What now? What is the reason I wake up in the morning? Why am I bothering with all this? Why am I jumping through all these hoops?
I don't know, and contrary what my father always told me when I got in trouble, that is a totally acceptable answer right now. As much as I wish it wasn't, my current goal is to finish, and not fail. I wish I could tell you I can't imagine doing anything but teaching, that a high school classroom is where my heart has to be, that I can look past all drama and stupidity of public education and soldier through anyway. Sorry folks, but I can't tell you those things. To be quite honest, I see myself doing anything but that. Teaching is a labor of love, and I just don't know that I am made to love people in that way.
I am not saying that I won't ever "teach" someone something, or that I'm not going to continue my education degree. Nothing is changing. I will still be a certified teacher when I graduate; but I don't know what comes after that, and that is okay. I have 21 months to figure out what comes next.
So if you see me around, no I'm not sick or dying or depressed. I'm just in college. I'm scared to get a paper cut for fear of coffee spurting out where there should be blood.
Someday - I believe someday soon - there will come the bigger-than-me, world-changing, mind-shattering end game motivation that will drive the rest of my life.
I promise I didn't forget about you. I promise I thought of you often. I promise that a hundred times I wished you were with me in some amazing place just so we could grab coffee. I promise I am still your friend. I promise that our friendship hasn't wavered.
But I need you to know something: I didn't text everyday, respond to every SnapChat, answer every Facebook message not because I didn't want to talk to you, but because my life didn't stop when I landed in a foreign country; if anything it accelerated forward in a way I never knew possible. I made friends you would love, visited cities that were missing only you.
Just as I feel the need to remind you that my life didn't stop and I wasn't ignoring you, I also have to remind myself that your life continued without skipping a beat when I left. You found a new routine. You made new friends. You have new inside jokes that I'll probably never think are funny. And my fickle self-esteem keeps me from thinking I have a place with you. I need reminders, probably too often. I'm not questioning your loyalty or love - don't read what I didn't write. I just struggle to put myself back into your life.
Please understands that when I shut myself in or run away for the weekend, it isn't because I don't want to spend time with you. That's what I want more than anything. I seclude myself because I'm not sure how to do anything else. It's the easy answer. It's the wrong one, but it's the easy one.
And understand that I'm different now. I'm not a different person, I've just squeezed two years of growing up into six months. I've experienced life in a way I will forever try to put into words but I will always fail. There is a part of me you will never be able to know and understand until you leave normalcy and live life with totally amazing strangers for four months and see things that have inspired humanity for centuries. And guess what? You can do that, and should do that, and need to do that. Please ask me how.
The next month could be hard, and might require us to put more effort into our relationship than ever before. I need you to listen and never understand, and I need to hear all about your life and have the opportunity to care. I need you to tell me to shut up about myself. I need you to warn your new friends about me and let them know just how cool I am. I need you to help me make this real life again.
Hope me not lose you.
Always your friend,
Mckenzie • Kenz • Kenzie • Makka • Mac Daddy • Dirty Mac • Sista Grigg• McGriggles • Mac Attack • Mack • Mankenzie • Big M
P.S. Thank you you for all the awesome nick names.
I own a lot a books.
No, I mean a lot. Since space is limited in my humble abode, I keep my favorites and current interests on the windowsill beside my bed. A staple that will probably never leave my beside is Jane Austen, whatever copy or collection it may be. Another constant is some grouping of the Bronte sisters, whatever I happen to be reading (and thanks to Ms. Keller, Wuthering Heights is usually at the party). However, more recently I have become strangely attached my copy of Margaret Thatcher': The Autobiography.
Has anyone noticed a trend? I love British women, especially ones that are good with words. And you want to know why now, more than ever, I love having them at my bedside to inspire, awe, and entertain me?
Because in the very, very near future, I will get to walk the ground the walked, smell the ocean air they smelled, fell the sea breeze they felt.
I have been so graciously given the designation as a Brad Henry International Scholar by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and East Central University.
"Big whoop", you must be saying, "what does that academic mumbo mean?" Well let me tell you: it means that I will be spending the 2015 Fall semester in the United Kingdom at Swansea University in Swansea, Wales.
I am so grateful and honored that the Global Education Committee and President Hargrave have selected me for this amazing opportunity
So now the stressful days: when am I leaving? What classes am I taking? Where will I leave? Who will I leave with? Do they have my special shampoo there?
SO MANY QUESTIONS. But the anxiety of the next few month will be so worth the adventure of a lifetime. I am so excited. So excited.
Thank you for letting me share this amazing news with you. This is really the chance of a lifetime, and I am looking forward to keeping you all up to date with my adventure.
Ta Ta for now
If you feel so led, here is a link where you can donate to help offset travel costs and living expenses: gofundme.com/q3raaees
I have been loving Meghan Trailor's new song All About That Bass. It has a really good message in a really fun way. This song resonates with me not on size, but with hair. That's right, I'm talking curls. I am not sure if you have noticed the crazy amount of craziness that sprouts from my scalp in the form of curls.Every twist, every spiral; my hair has always been my identifier.
Growing up, the only hair solutions I sought out were to take away the curl and flatten it all out. For a while, that's really all I wanted. The last time I straightened my hair was in August 2011 and it didn't curl the same for months after than. It was then that I decided I needed to take better care of my curls or they would fall out! Curls are my gift, and I had better learn to treat them right.
I am not here to sell you on a product, a method, or some hair movement. What I am trying to do is tell you that curls are beautiful, straight hair is beautiful, blonde, brown, purple hair is beautiful. I have a proposition: Why don't we all stop putting terrible chemicals so close to our brain to get rid of curls, make curls, change colors, or do whatever to our hair, and find some nice wholesome products that will make our hair beautiful by restoring it to it's natural, healthy state. I want you to look at my hair in a 3 year time span (above) , the first 3 years of not treating my hair like crap. My hair now (the far right) is the healthiest I remember my hair ever being. It Curls, it bounces, it springs, it shines, it does it all..well, almost.
My point is this: stop burning, frying, and melting your hair. Just let it be.
Every inch of you - including your hair - is perfect.
Hey Y'all! Its been a while!
I have had exactly twelve days of classes, zero late assignments, one surprise A on a quiz, and countless nights of good quality rest. Wait...is this college? Am I in the right place? I know it's early in the semester, but have I really managed to keep track of all my assignments, study on a regular basis, and even keep up with my laundry? Why yes, yes I have. I guess its farewell to the Follies of Freshmen and hello to the Sophistication of Sophomore.
Anyone who has survived freshmen year at university, especially away from home, knows that there are moments throughout the year where you do some really dumb stuff. I don't mean like trouble with the law or silly pranks. What I am referring to is the moments where you think "Sure, I'll start a load of laundry at 11 pm!" or "Unlimited cookies in the Caf? Yes please, I'll take seven". Don't forget my favorite Freshman Folly, and perhaps my most common and frequent offense: "I don't need to exercise, I walk to class!"
What do these three follies have in common? KEEPING YOURSELF HEALTHY. An adequate amount of sleep, a semi-healthy diet, and a little sweat makes college that much easier; even a little enjoyable. Most students played some sort of sport in high school or were physically active in some way. When you get to college and stop all that, your body notices. Big time. And in case you didn't know, its not normal for an 18 or 19 year old to get winded going up two flights of stairs or work up a major sweat by walking to class. Those should be easy things to do. When you take the time to work up a sweat on purpose, you don't do it on accident near as often.
I am no health guru. don't be fooled. However, I know that I am happier and much more pleasant to be around when I am in the gym or on my bike regularly, consuming things that don't clog my arteries, and get between 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
I used to say "gosh it's so hard to be healthy" and now I get so mad when people say that. No, it's not hard. That 60 minutes you spend watching Orange Is the New Black can go by so much quicker on any number of cardio machines in the gym. Most machines even have a place for you to set a tablet or phone. I can bike 15 miles in the length of an episode of OITNB. I have a choice: sit on my butt and watch Netflix, or lose my butt while watching it. To me, the choice seems obvious.
Another line people use is "healthy food is too expensive". To quote one of my personal heroes, Dwight Schrute: False.
I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and bought all my weekly fruit for $8. That is 7 breakfasts and 6 snacks. I usually eat a piece of fruit and granola bar for breakfast. A box of 8 bars is about $2.15. Lets do some math:
My breakfast per day: about $1.44 and about 170 calories (I even added the price of my K-Cup coffee).
A McDonald's breakfast: about $5.20 and about 615 calories (with coffee).
The choice seems really simple to me. So get out of your Freshman Follies and into The Sophomore Sophistication. My choice to lead a healthier lifestyle has made school so much easier this semester. Not only is it good for you be healthy, God commands it.
1 Corinthians 10:31 "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
So make the choice. Its easy. A sign of maturity is taking care of yourself. When you treat your body like crap, you feel like crap. Our body's were designed and created to be amazing machines to be put to use as vessels to share the gospel; we need to start treating them that way. Don't let your bad health be the things that holds you back from following God's will and furthering His kingdom.
Well here it is folks. Mid-August, Wal-Mart never seems to calm down, the shelves always seem to be empty of whatever you need, campuses everywhere are full of young freshman looking for classes and trying to figure out just where do I get a parking permit again? And here I am in the midst of it all with just enough experience to be comfortable in my quaint college town that I've grown to love.
As my roommate and I attended our hall meeting this afternoon after all the freshman had moved in, I realized just how much I am where I am supposed to be; how things seem to just line up to my surprise, how I have this peace about what I'm doing and where I am and I can only thank God that I am experiencing His divine orchestration. When I began school last year I admit that college was not what I was expecting. I had watched too many movies to accept that fact that I was going to a small division II school in a town smaller than the one I grew up in. I had fantasized too many times about times about stepping on to campus and being overcome with emotion and instantly becoming best friends with the first 5 girls I saw. I read too many college recruitment pamphlets to fathom that I wasn't at a school of 45.000 and that I would probably come to at least know or recognize most of the people I saw daily. East Central University wasn't at all what I was expecting. Looking back now, I knew that it wasn't but there was still a hint of something that wished it would fill every college fantasy I had ever had.
But I had to face a hard reality - I was here, not at the fictional university my young mind had dreamed up. I also had to tell myself that THAT WAS OKAY. The fact that I was at a small state school and not some big division I didn't make me a failure, it just made me me. I am so in love with where I am in life and coming into my sophomore year, I am so happy that I can say that and believe it! Growing up around military families that move frequently, you observe that people spend their lives complaining that this place isn't as good as the last and the next place will be even better. I won't accept that. I won't accept that its abnormal to be happy just where I am. I have a wonderful opportunity for a quality education, I have supportive parents who support me in so many ways, I have a Godly boyfriend who encourages and pushes me to grow in Christ, I have fantastic friends that always bring me joy, and a church home with people that care about me and serve me while I serve them.
I didn't end up at my fantasy school in my Hollywood movie of a life but I am so thankful I didn't. As my life stands right now, I am happy. No regrets of the past and no anxiety for the future (2 Corinthains 5:17; Matthew 6:25-26). As I sit with my roommate in silence and sweat in this AC-less dorm, I can say with genuine honesty that there is absolutely nothing in my life that isn't as it should be. For in this moment, I am happy.
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come."
Matthew 6:25-26 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body what you will put on.Is not life more that food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?"
Yesterday I had a blast being on top on the rock-wall with Syd and Kaylee. Syd is from Arkansas and lived in Costa Rica for two years as a missionary. She loves CampWOW so much and is such a joy to be around. Kaylee is a precious lady from Arkansas as well who is so sweet and funny!
I love going up top because I freak the kids out a little with how I like to stand to take some good shots. The strap I use to clip in to the top is just long enough for me to stand on the very edge of the zip line platform and lean back and be standing but no weight on my feet, all on my harness and the strap (see right). They always ask "doesn't it scare you to do that?" or "what if you fall?". It's always a great opportunity to share to gospel and show them that just as we have to have faith in Christ to protect and care for us, we have to have faith in the equipment and workers that we will be safe.
And plus, it's fun.
I met a really sweet girl names Brooke who did the cargo net about eight times in a row the previous day. It's really funny to see this small children that haven't been tainted by fear anxiety and are so up for anything! I think she actually did the hard wall the day I was up top.
I mention Brooke for one reason: we had on really similar rings! I caught what I thought was a great pic and just had to have a reason to share it. This girl is also so kind every time I see her around camp. I can only hope I was that sweet as a child, but I know I wasn't. Here is the shot:
Thank y'all so much for stopping by again! Have a great day!
This summer I have had to pleasure of serving at Camp Walking on Water (WOW). WOW is a non-denominational Christian camp that allows larger churches and groups of smaller churches to plan and put on their own camp at the WOW camp grounds in Gerty, Oklahoma. Churches bring their own speaker, their own band, and put together their own schedule. Its a different format of camp than I was used to growing up but I can see the appeal for churches that are too large to register for a "program" camp and rent cabins space and so on.
Let's start with the grounds. The property is in the beautiful hills of southeastern Oklahoma. And with all the rain we've had her, everything is still green even in mid-July. It is going to be so beautiful this fall. There is a waterfront area that buts up to a hillside covered with trees on the west side of the property, so that means beautiful sunsets every night. Also, there is a mysterious orange glow in the sky at night that makes for some really cool long exposure shots (It's not that mysterious; its some sort of industrial plant). Our maintenance guy, Kirk, does some amazing fireworks shows. Check out some of these beautiful pictures I've had to opportunity to take this summer:
My job at WOW this summer is broadly put at "tech". What that means is music, sound, video and photography. Photography and music are the things that take up most of my time at camp. Each day, I take photos of all the activities kids are doing and post them to a website where parents can purchase digital downloads as well as merchandise. The rock wall and waterfront are where I spend most of my time.