Happy Daddy Day!

Today is my first Father’s Day away from my father.

Weird right?

I have spent the last twenty-two years celebrating my dad with my dad, in the same house at the same party. But this year I will be celebrating him from 581.48 miles away. Yes, that is an exact mileage. I mapquested it.

I was the first born of my father’s children so I am the first reason he got to be a father. I don’t mean that in a selfish some-how-Father’s-Day-is-about-me way because obviously it is not at all about me. I just mean, I spent my life being thankful that I got to give Aaron Ross the official title of “Dad” and being so proud to call him mine.

A lot of people probably say this about their father’s, especially today, but I’m pretty sure I have the most incredible father in the world!

He spoils me rotten, in the best way, he loves me always, and takes great care of me and my entire family.

He made me who I am, from my ability to make up random song lyrics to my love of Sunday afternoon football (yes, I really do enjoy football. But only on Sunday afternoons) and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

When it is a holiday in which gifts for Dad are required (aka Father’s Day, dad’s birthday, Christmas etc.) my dad usually prefers love letters over presents. He always says he has everything he needs so he enjoys getting letters or cards that say how much he means to us kids.

It is a great gift really. And nice for the pocket book too, I have to admit!

So today, from 581.48 miles away this is my love letter:

Dear Dad,

Thank you.

For being wonderful!

For handing me money before I leave the house.

For counting down at the countdown at church so loud the entire sanctuary can hear.

For singing random songs way to early in the morning.

For teaching me how to check my oil even though I never do it.

For providing for me and caring for me.

For showing me what love is supposed to look like.

For leading by example as how to follow the Father in Heaven.

I love you,

Rachel


Change Happens

I have been a college graduate for over a month now.

Since graduation, what I thought was the end of the world, my world has experienced some large changes.

I am back living with my parents, though this is just a temporary arrangement in between my gallivanting across the country for weddings.

I now have almost more married friends then I do single ones. Okay, that was an exaggeration but only because I have tons of friends and there are still a lot of weddings to go this summer.

In other news, I have a boyfriend now. This is definitely a change, a very good one.

I wasn’t sure I was going to mention this but since the topic of conversation currently is change and this is one I am experiencing in life right now, I figured it was important to mention. Plus, he reads every blog post I write and I thought he might enjoy a direct mention of him instead of the subtle hinting ones that I have used in the past.

I remember as graduation was approaching, the thing I was most worried about was change.

I hate change, and now, here I am in the middle of the most change I have experienced at one time.

I’m no longer surrounded by twenty best friends everyday. I am out of my support system and the “home” that I have felt so comfortable in over the last four years.

I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off, in charge of a million things at once – thank goodness for that, I have to say – I needed a nap!

All the change and being away from what I’ve been so happy with for so long- it is a strange feeling.

I feel like I am discovering who I am all over again.

I’m relearning how I am going to behave in this new and different world.

It’s not just that school’s over and it’s summer.

The hard thing about this change is that a chapter of life is over and a new one has started.

My friend Whitney said, in a discussion on the topic of change, “It kind of happens without you giving it permission.”

And that is definitely how I feel.

I did not give my life permission to change completely but it did. And it isn’t even me deciding to actively make the changes- it is just happening.

I had no control over graduation or my friends getting married. I had some say in the boyfriend matter but why would I want to fight that?

But I guess the point of trusting the Lord is that when change comes that I have no control over, He does. He knows what is up even when I don’t.

He knew that it was time to leave the safety of college and move on to the complete upheaval of life after college complete with house bills (whenever I find a place to live), school bills, and married friends.

And as lost and out of control as I sometimes feel, I really am at peace with the changes.

I know I am where God has me and that makes all the change easier.

People, aka my mother, always used to tell me that change is a good thing. I generally tended to disagree due to the sheer amount of discomfort that change provided me.

But, if there were never any change there would never be any growth.

If the leaves didn’t fall off the trees in the fall, they couldn’t grow back in the spring even prettier then the year before.

So, my conclusion: change happens, get over it.

And believe me, this is as hard a concept for me to grasp as it is for anyone.


Day 0: The End.

It’s Finished.

Yes, it’s over.

Nearly three weeks into my last summer ever, and I am finally closing off the discussion of graduation. At least I think this is the end of the discussion but you never know. I may have to pick up my lamenting in a few weeks when I’m missing the fun-filled excitement of college. Though, with the summer I have planned this is highly unlikely.

 

Maybe I was tired of hearing myself whine or maybe all my processing, and whining, throughout the semester really prepared me for graduation. Either way, the day went by with much less emotional turmoil then I expected.

It felt a bit like a fairytale, and by fairytale I of course mean the “this isn’t real” part not the “happily ever after” part being that, while not as sad of an event as I expected it to be it still wasn’t exactly the best day ever. And while I wasn’t curled into the fetal position balling my eyes out, I wasn’t jumping up and down either.

Come to think of it, I actually did jump up and down some.

Shocking, I know.

Don’t worry it was for a picture not due to actual excitement. I haven’t changed that much in three weeks post graduation.

But honestly, the day was so busy and crazy that I didn’t have much time to think about what was going on. Plus, my suitemate Emily, though I don’t think I can call her that anymore seeing as she isn’t my suitemate anymore, my friend Emily and I decided to “fake it till we made it,” aka pretend we are happy so we don’t spend the whole day moping. Which worked out pretty well for me.

I ended up actually enjoying the day.

Miracle!

It will probably sink in when school starts up again and I’m sitting, confined to my office, watching all the new and returning students move boxes in to their home for the year.

And I’m working from my office strategically placed where I can see all the activities, but not participate in them, because I am now a working adult – lame.

Then the fact that the dorms at OKWU will no longer be home will be real.

But no use worrying about it before it gets here.

Look how much I’ve learned!

I spent a whole semester worrying about something before it got here and it got here and it was okay and probably not worth all the worry. How’s that for a life lesson?


Day 2: Long Live, With You

Well, there are only two days left. And being that Taylor Tuesday didn’t happen this week, and, since there are only two days left, I decided to turn it into Taylor Thursday because it is important to me to get in one more Taylor inspired post.

And, being that this is the last one – at least while I’m still in college, I decided to make this an intense version of a Taylor post and use multiple songs instead of just one!

I know. Blows your mind, doesn’t it?

There has been one T-Swift song with several lines of lyrics that have been on my heart the last week or so.

The song is called “I’m Only Me When I’m With You,” and the part of the song that gets to me goes like this:

I’m only up when you’re not down.
Don’t wanna fly if you’re still on the ground.
It’s like no matter what I do.
Well you drive me crazy half the time;
the other half I’m only trying to let you know
that what I feel is true.
And I’m only me when I’m with you.

Facing the last few weeks of school, I have really tried to spend quality time with friends, several of which are having an equally difficult time with graduation as I am.

Yes, it is hard for me to be okay with graduation, but I think it is even harder on my heart when I see them sad.

It’s true that they drive me crazy sometimes, but I love them, and it is my time and memories with them that have made me who I am.

I’m me, the really crazy, bossy, giggly version of myself, when I am with them.

And I’m better for knowing them.

I’m less crazy and bossy and giggly, okay I’m still really giggly, but I am less of the bad stuff because of them.

And even when I am the one making them crazy, they still put up with me and love me anyway, which just makes them all the more important to me.

There is just something to be said for those people who see you grow up in lots of important ways. Those people who are right beside you while you figure out how to juggle family, school, and life, while you assert your independence and learn that loving God has nothing to do with your parents but is a choice and a relationship that, as a grown-up, you have to take full responsibility for yourself.

There is something to be said for those people who are there to make all the memories you will never forget, like 80s dress up days, late night conversations, and hours spent at the lake watching the stars.

It’s like another T-Swift song, one I have mentioned before, “Long Live.” This song gets me every time and almost always makes me cry, particularly the line that talks about “fighting dragons with you.”

Coming to the end of my college career, I feel like that is what I have been doing here with all of these people who mean the world to me. We have been fighting dragons. Dragons of hectic class schedules and difficult life circumstances.

Dragons, or obstacles, that have been both good and bad. And here, with these people, we have been fighting them together.

I have had one of the most difficult years of my life this year, but I haven’t been alone. I have had my friends right beside me, fighting with me.

“Long live the walls we crashed through while the kingdom lights shined just for me and you.”

We crashed through walls in our own hearts and lives, with the help of God and His “kingdom lights.” We overcame obstacles and learned important lessons. And we set out on the path to be even more of who God purposed us to be.

And then there is the line:

“I had the time of my life with you.”

This is the truest and most honest statement from any Taylor song ever.

At least true for my heart, and there is nothing more for me to say.

I had the time of my life, fighting dragons with you.


Day 5: The Place That Made Me, Me

The bags are packed
the walls empty
the beds put back where they were meant to be.
Now here I am, up and leaving
the place that made me, me.

How can I say what it was exactly
unless to say it came round gradually,
in moments and memories
and every story that I will tell about
the place that made me, me.

It gave me a chance to be just who I am
to boss around and take command,
to look past the glasses and little girl shell
to a woman God made so perfectly in the
the place that made me, me.

It gave me the courage to take a small chance
that He might have a much greater plan.
That it might be bigger then I ever could dream.
That it started right here in
the place that made me, me.

But this is just a place like any other.
It has walls and rooms and blue sky surround it.
It has little to do with the place that I found it,
but rather that God had his hand all around it,
the place that made me, me.

This place He is Lord, they so often say,
and in my heart that is true today.
It is because He reigns in me
that I can go, and grow, when I leave
the place that made me, me.


Day 6: Without a Paddle

Here is one of two short stories that I wrote for class about graduation. Enjoy.

Without a Paddle

It’s coming. Twenty days. The end of my existence. Yes, in approximately three weeks, my entire life is going to end.

She’s getting married and moving away and leaving me here all by myself in this stupid tiny town to live with my parents because I suck at life and I can’t get a job even if I graduate from college with a bachelors degree.

But no, no one will hire the girl who has no idea what she wants. I will be forty-two and single, still living with my parents, eating Ramen because I don’t have a job and my parents stopped feeding me in a last ditch effort to get me to move out. But it won’t work, because eating Ramen reminds me of college which I love and don’t want to leave anyway.

Why psychology degree, why are you so stupid?

Oh please can I just lay here forever under these covers and pretend the apocalypse of my college career is not about to shock me in to the real world and ruin my life?

Jackie, seriously, get a hold of yourself and get out of bed…

You know what I want? To stay in college forever. To never leave the walls of this room, this building, this school.

I want to rewind time and start college all over again and play it over as many times as possible…“Asking God if He could play it again.”

Shoot, I need to change my oil…

There is nothing good in this. I’m not getting married. I don’t have a job offer. I get to…Oh! My parents.

. . .

Thirteen days to go and I never have to listen to this teacher explain Maslow’s Hierarchy ever again.

Okay, Mr. Steward seriously you have told us this about a million times. Does he really think I’m an idiot who can’t remember the same instructions he tells us every class period?

“For the final next week, you will need…”

Was that a four page paper I turn in, or six pages?

Do teachers not know we don’t listen to them when they speak monotone? He needs a new suit jacket. I think that may be the only one he owns…

Oh shoot he’s looking at me. Pretend you are paying attention, nod, smile. Close Facebook window…I wonder if he knows I do nothing in this class? …I’m probably failing.

Oh man, what if I’m failing?

What if I don’t graduate from college in two weeks because of this stupid-never-paid-attention-could-have-done-the-entire-amount-of-class-work-in-one-week-so-I-was-insanely-bord-all-the-time class?

What if I don’t graduate because of this one stupid, boring class?

Okay, breathe, write my paper today, email professor about my grade. I only have two weeks. Is that going to help? Is there extra credit? I turn stuff in…I spend too much time on Facebook. I should not have a laptop in class – like I could really live without it…

This is so boring. Ooh scratch paper, yeah doodling!

Mr. Steward, the monotone is killing me…

“Wah, wha, wah-wha, wa, minutes left of class. So class, I was wondering how all you seniors are doing with graduation. Are you all excited?”

Oh, that question! I hate that question. No I’m not excited about it. It is the bane of my current existence. I want to veto graduation and blow May 14th off the calendar. I want to stuff socks into all those stupid engaged kids mouths and tell them, in some extremely convincing and hostel tones that they need to keep their mouths shut because not all of us get to leave and get married. And it is stupid that everyone is excited.

“Jackie, how about you? Are you excited?”

. . .

Five days. Country music has the highest number of suicides. Albert Ellis, cognitive therapy.

Here it is. Normal class is done. This life is over. It’s just over.

Noam Chomsky linguistics and how people learn language. C.

This can’t be real. I cannot squish the love and excitement and joy of the last four years in to five days and still have a heart that is in one piece at the end.

Intake, session, review goals, summary, new set of goals or strengthening passed goals.

It’s ripping out of my chest and being stomped on. Walking across that stage in a few days, they may as well through my heart on the floor and let all the graduates trample over it as they walk across smiling as they go because they are all happy to be graduating.

My school president is going to shake my hand and tell me congratulations but really he will be simultaneously reaching in to my chest to rip my heart out while closing the book on the best four years of my life, which he helped create, being that he is the president.

. . .

It’s today…

The End.


Day 16: To-Do List

It is a sad thing when “Graduation” becomes a headline on your to-do list.

Yes, “graduation” has officially made its way on to my to-do list, right before “homework” and after “bridal shower stuff.”

It isn’t much of a list yet but for me, an addicted to-do list maker, it is bound to get much more detailed.

To Do:

Design invitations

Mail invitations

Pack winter clothes

Take home carload of stuff I haven’t ever used this year and am unlikely to use in the future

Buy dinner for all the people who made graduating possible

Find money to buy dinner for all the people dinner who made graduating possible

You get the idea.

Thus far, there has only been one truly horrible to-do item on this to-do list. And by horrible I mean make graduation feel real and almost make me cry and through a temper tantrum kind of horrible.

The culprit for this horrible reaction: “pick up cap and gown.”

Last week I was forced to pick up my cap and gown by the school’s alumni office. They called it grad fair and had candy and presented it as this happy-go-lucky-yeah-for-graduation moment, which I was, of course, fully against.

My friend Dalynn and I went together to go pick them up and as we reached the bottom of the stairs (the “grad fair” was upstairs in one of our campus buildings) I stopped cold and pronounced, “I can’t do it. I just don’t think I can.”

Dalynn, equally as unwilling to graduate, reached out her hand and said, “hold my hand.” We, like two little girls post-temper tantrum, walked up the stairs to pick up our caps and gowns, both willing ourselves not to burst in to tears in front of all the alumni people who just assumed we were excited to graduate.

Graduation Cap Wearing

Then, in a paradox of emotion that probably makes no sense due to our aversion to graduation, Dalynn and I walked down from the grad fair to the cafeteria for dinner with our graduation caps on our heads.

We even stopped for a photo-op and quite enjoyed our silly costume parading around campus.

That item checked off the to-do list, and the graduation invites almost all finished and in the mail, I am just one step closer to graduation. One step I would much rather turn around and head back in the opposite direction, mind you.


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