Day 28: One More Month

Yes, it is officially one month until I graduate. I don’t mean the 30 days has September month. I mean that this day next month, the 14th, I will be walking down the aisle (oh sorry for the bridal reference, it’s an unfortunate side effect of wedding mania: See Wedding Mania {Part 1}, {Part 2}, {Part 3}), crossing the chapel stage, and turning my tassel with all my friends.

The point here is that this time next month I, Rachel Elizabeth Ross, the slightly-mal-adjusted-feet-dragging-please-don’t-make-me-graduate-senior-in-college will no longer be in college.

AHHHHH!!!!

That is exactly how I feel – AHHHHHH! I feel the need to fill in any new readers and let them know that this “A” followed by the keyboard sticking “H” is not a happy term of excitement but rather an expression of sheer panic, dread, and horror.

I simply do not want to graduate.

You know that scene in the Lion King when Timon and Pumbaa meet Nala and find out that Simba and Nala grew up together, then the lions “wrestle” and go off in the jungle to sing to each other in their minds, and Timon and Pumbaa figure out what is going on?

If you don’t remember this scene, it is crucial to the characters of Timon and Pumbaa but also, I fear, a great parallel for the rest of my college days.

T: “I can see what’s happening”
P: “What?”
T: “They don’t have a clue”
P: “Who?”
T: “They’ll fall in love and here’s the bottom, our trios down to two.”
P: “Oh.”

Not only are most of my friends falling in love and getting married, making this scene an obnoxious reminder of that unfortunate fact, but also I can see them all getting excited about leaving and my emotions don’t really mirror those. They mirror the next part of the Lion King.

At the end of that scene, Timon and Pumbaa bust out crying. Their tears are shooting from their eyes in the way only cartoon tears can.

Though I obviously cannot cry gun shot tears like a cartoon I will likely be crying pretty profusely for the next few weeks.

At any moment, I may burst into uncontrollable unnaturally projectile tears with no way to stop them.


Day 29: No really, I’m 23.

I have been twenty-three-years-old for a week now. And it is crazy.

Who thought turning one day older would make a difference. It does.

People always ask on birthdays if you feel any older. For most of my life I’ve answered that question with some sentence resembling “I’m only one day older then I was yesterday.”

But not this year.

This year I feel old.

At first this was a bad thing.

When my friend Emily stood up on her chair in the cafeteria to make everyone sing to me and announced that I was 23, it was a bad thing.

When I lay in my bed for a short nap the afternoon of my impending old lady doom, yes us old people have to take naps to get through the day, it was a bad thing.

When I realized that when someone asks me how old I am, for the next 339 days, I have to say 23, it was a bad thing. (This excluding the fact that in 339 days I will have to say I am 24, which is way worse.)

But then I realized something incredible.

When some guesses that I’m 14 years old I will be able to enjoy the shock on their face when I announce that I’m 23 and offer to show them my legitimate drivers license that proves this point. Though it still may take some time to convince them that it isn’t a fake id.

I have always hated looking young and people have always told me that I will appreciate it when I’m 40, problem being that I am a long way from 40 and it just annoyed me to look 12 all the time.

However, at 23 this looking young has provided some comfort because I don’t feel that old so at least I don’t look it.

My life doesn’t look anything like I thought it would at 23. I expected to married with at least one blonde or redheaded little baby living in a precious little house with my minister husband.

Ya, that’s not happening.

Nor am I living in a city somewhere in a flat with a friend taking the marketing world by storm with my incredible ability to boss people around.

Again, not happening.

I’m about to graduate from college and still feel like I’m 16, okay 19 on a good day.

But no, I’m old.

I realize I am not actually old, but it does feel strange to be 23 years old.

This is the age that I used to look forward to when I was younger because then, I would finally be a grown-up.

But while I feel old, I don’t feel anything like a grown-up. Hence the frustrating dichotomy of my current age situation: I look 12, feel old, and can’t believe I’m actually 23. But I am. And unfortunately, that is all there is to it and I can do nothing about it.


Day 30: Fearless

A few weeks ago, back in the days when I used to blog a few times a week instead of a few times a month, I wrote a blog about fear.

While I was thinking about this theme of fear, or the repentance of it, I figured what better T-Swift song to talk about than “Fearless.”

No this song isn’t really about repentance of being afraid, but the title is “Fearless” and it is about experiencing something, in the case of the song that thing is love, without fear.

The experience in the song is one that could generally be characterized by fear or, at least, nervousness and most new things, such as graduation, do. For the character, aka Taylor, it isn’t about the fear; it’s about the experience.

My favorite line of this song – okay one of my favorites – says, “cause I don’t know how it gets better than this.” Instead of focusing on the fear, it is best to walk through life experiences with an eye for the good, not the scary.

I don’t know how my life could get better than it is right now. No, it isn’t perfect. I have actually had one of the hardest years I’ve ever had, but, for the most part, it is perfect. But perfect or not, God is in it.

So, cheesy as it sounds, it can’t get better than this because God is with me, and I am going to live fearless.


Day 31: Landslide

The other day, following the very happy drive home I experienced about two weeks ago (which I mentioned in a previous post), a song came on the radio just as I was pulling in to school.

Okay, I may have rigged fate a little by searching through stations until I found a song that fit the mood I was in, but it was still on the radio I just had to find it.

And this is what I found.

It’s a song by the Dixie Chicks, actually someone else sings it, but I know the Dixie Chick version and while I am not particularly found of their politics on occasion, I have to say that I love their music. When I found a suitable song to match my feelings I started listening to the words.

“Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
Cause I built my life around you.”

When I heard these words driving in to school looking around the campus I call home,I realized how true this statement is of my life in regards to OKWU.

I have been afraid of change, afraid of moving on, afraid of what else could happen in my life all because I have built my life around this place.

I’ve built my life around the people I love from here, the opportunities OKWU has provided me, and the sense of belonging that I get here.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I know God put me here on purpose and I am so thankful that He blessed me with friends that make it hard to say goodbye and that I have had a chance to figure out who I am and what my gifts are.

But when I heard those words I think they helped me get ready for the change that is about to happen. Change comes at the hand of letting go of the thing, or place, I’ve built my life around.

“[I] climbed a mountain then I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well the landslide brought me down.”
The song is called “Landslide.” A landslide basically forces you down a mountain causing you to plummet to the bottom, hence the word.

And with the mountains of middle of the semester and Spring Break over, I am unfortunately on the downhill slide of this mountain and being forced to notice the bottom of the mountain instead of enjoying the blind elation of the peak.

So here I am sliding down the mountain picking up speed as I go, scrambling to slow down the process but knowing there is no way to stop, or even slow it down really.

There are a few more lines of the song that I found, when I later read the lyrics, to be appropriate to my life as well.

“But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too.”

As time passes I get older and I get closer to the bottom of the mountain. And as much as I hate it and wish I could stop it I’m sliding down but I am getting bolder also.

The time I have spent at OKWU has made me a much more mature, grown-up, and well-rounded person.

I’m sliding down the mountain along with the landslide but as time makes me older I hope it makes me more prepared.

There is one more line of the song that is perhaps the hope at the end of the landslide and the bottom of the mountain.

“So take this love and take it down.”

I am going to take the love and this place and these people with me as I reach the bottom of this mountain and look out on the rest of my life. And if I take that love with me it doesn’t matter that the mountain has passed or even if it is far in the distance because what I learned, including the love, will go with me long after the landslide.


Day 46: To Fear or Not to Fear

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

Today is the day the Lord has made, but so is tomorrow, and yesterday, and ten years from now, and four million years from now.

He made all those days.

I’ve spent the last 75 days being afraid of one day, just one. Of all the days in my life I am afraid of one.

May 14, 2011.

But the Lord even made May 14th, and as much as I don’t want it to get here, it will.

I have noticed recently through my own thoughts (as seen above), as well as what I have heard talking to a few of my friends, that there is a lot of anxiety and even fear when it comes to graduation.

I really should have thought of this more before, being that anxiety and fear are basically the premise of this blog, but I hadn’t really thought about it until this week – not consciously anyway.

I have realized in the last week how bad it is for us soon-to-be-graduates to feel this way, afraid I mean.

I’m not saying it is wrong to be nervous or uncertain about the future; I’m talking about the fear.

Fear comes so easy and so natural to us. When change happens we are afraid of it. And don’t you dare deny it you way-too-excited-to-graduate people! You are scared too, you are just masking it with over zealous excitement. Okay, maybe you aren’t scared but you probably are. Hurray if you aren’t. I’m just saying don’t pretend not to be if you really are.

Anyway, most of us are afraid…

Okay, most of the people I know facing graduation are afraid…

Okay…I am afraid.

But the Bible clearly states:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18

God does not want us to be afraid.

Believe me, as one who has struggled with fear, particularly in regards to change, I am right there with you, if you are on the afraid-train when it comes to graduation and not the over-zealous-about-graduation-train.

I am just realizing now that there really is no reason to be afraid.

Like I said, God made today and He made tomorrow, and He made seven years from now. (FYI I will be 30 in seven years – lame!) So if He made that day we will be rejoicing in that day also. That isn’t going to change, or it shouldn’t.

And not only did God make today and all the future days but He already knows how it’s going to go. He already knows May 15, 2011 for my life and for yours. He already knows my 30th birthday and what I’m going to be doing come August and how can I be afraid knowing that?

How can I be afraid knowing the God of the universe – who I also have with me at all times –  is the one who made all my days; past, present, and future?

Answer: I can’t. Well, I shouldn’t.

If God is big enough to create all my tomorrows, He is big enough to get me through them as well. Even the 46 tomorrows that get me to May 14th.


Day 51: Our Song

The Gang

Today’s Taylor day is coming a little early – shock I know. I am finally getting out the Taylor post I’ve been working on for over two weeks now. I just couldn’t get it right before, but with a sudden rush of inspiration it came to me.

The post took so long because instead of just commenting on a Taylor song I decided to re-write one of my own.

“Our Song” has always been one of my favorites and when thinking about this year this seemed like the perfect choice, only the lyrics didn’t seem to fit.

I’ve spent four years building friendships and making memories with the people here at OKWU. We, meaning my friends and I, laugh at the same thing, quote the same movies, and know the ins and outs of who each other are and want to be. Thus, I figured it was about time for us to have a song!

So here is my attempt at the song to encompass the last four years of my life and my love for the people I have shared it with.

I was driving in here
The very first year
In the front seat of my car
I had just one shot then
To make best friends
And now you have my heart
I look around, slow the busy down
And say, “Hey I think something’s wrong.”
It ain’t nothing
I was just thinking
How we don’t have a song
But we say

Our song is our memories
Staying up late, laughin in the hallway
When we tell a joke we talk real low
Cause he’s right there and he don’t know
Our song is the way we laugh
The first day that I missed you
And I should have
And before we go, before we say the end
Asking God if he could play it again

I was walkin back in this place we live after everything that day
Had been all wrong
My heart was trampled on
Just lost and gone away
Got to the hallway
Fell on my way
To the place we live
There you were
Waitin on me
With a smile that said

I’ve tried every friendship, looking for the right one
Waitin for something to come along
That was as good as our song

I was livin out life
With you guys in the place that God sent me
I looked back on our memories
And it was beautiful to me


Day 53: The Road to Home

There is a stretch of road between Tulsa and Bartlesville that I know very well. I’ve driven this highway almost a thousand times over the course of my years at OKWU. (Okay, not really a thousand but a lot, so many times in fact, it feels like almost a thousand.)

I know every turn, house, lake, fence, tree, and cow along this road.

Okay, probably not every cow, but I really do know most of it by heart.

I know that when you reach Ramona and you have to slow down to 65 miles an hour it takes exactly 18 minutes to get to Bartlesville after you speed back up. That is, if you drive exactly 74 miles an hour – possible for me only with cruise control. (Because I can’t stay a constant speed, not because I have a lead foot.)

From the Wal-Mart distribution plant just around the next corner it takes 15 minutes and once you reach the speed reduction signs just outside of Bartlesville it takes approximately 8 minutes. I can never quite get this one exact because the stoplights vary as does the in-city traffic.

I have my favorite spots of the road picked out as well.

The big brick house off to the west hidden between trees. Oh to live in that house!

The cross road where my cousin almost died in a car wreck. Not a favorite, exactly, but this spot always makes me think of him and stop and pray for a moment. Well, not stop because that would be dangerous in the middle of a highway!

The small valley between two hills, lined with houses and covered in trees, that is perfect when the sun sets right in the middle.

Then, my favorite spot, off to the right just before Bartlesville. It’s a little pond surrounded by a slightly disheveled but never-the-less precious fence. The pond is especially beautiful in the winter when it is covered with a thin layer of ice and when the sunset reflects off it. And it always has a cow or two with a nose stuck in the water.

This road is the road that leads me home.

I’m either traveling from school back to my real home or from home to the place I’ve called home for the last four years.

This road and I have shared tears and prayers and lots of both.

I’ve had some of my best conversations with God while driving on this road.

(Oh, that reminds me, don’t tell my dad that sometimes I drive and cry. He might lecture me on the dangers of this. It is generally entirely accidental and I try not to do these two things at the same time, but sometimes I just can’t help it.)

Today I came back to school on this same road. Good ‘ol Highway 75 and I had a great trip.

The sun had just started to set and the 80-degree weather felt wonderful blowing through my windows.

I had the music playing, a mix of country and worship (of course), and my favorite purchased-in-England sunglasses on.

It could not have been a more perfect drive, peaceful and joyful.

But this trip was different then most. Usually I roll down the windows and sing at the top of my lungs to the radio. But today, it was almost as if I was taking in every second, every turn, tree, house, and cow, and committing them all to memory.

This isn’t that last time I will make this journey but it was one of my favorites.

I’m sure you will hear about it when I do drive it for the last time as an OKWU student but I think I will always think of it how it was today – perfect.