McKenzie’s First Evening at College

McKenzie called home at 11:00 and ask that I post this on ‘Mom’s website’
From: McKenzie Smalley
Date: August 16, 2011 11:11:15 PM MST
To: Dad
Subject: First night at college

So it’s my first night at Arizona Christian University. Me and Dad moved in today and it went great!  Me and Tianna’s (my roommate) room has been voted the cutest room here so far!  I really miss everyone at home especially my boyfriend Jonathan and I really miss my Dad but I know I’ll have fun here too. Although today was a fun and new exciting day there’s still that part of me that really wishes my mom could have all been a part of it with me!  I know I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for her and the influence she had on my life. But I have to hand it to my Dad he did a pretty good job of getting me here :) I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for him.

There’s another part of me that is nervous for this new chapter that’s about to begin in my life.  What makes me a little nervous is that almost all the people here don’t know my story and the fact that I’ve lost my mom and that’s hard for me because in high school everyone knew that about me and here people will most likely bring up my mom and I’ll have to tell them I don’t have a mom anymore and that she passed away.

But one thing I do know is that God brought me to this college for a reason and I know He will protect me and watch over me here. I am so thankful I get to attend a Christian college. God has really provided for our family and I know that He will continue to provide for me if I stay faithful to Him and keep my heart focused on Him. So I guess now I just have to listen to Him and get ready for the amazing plan He has for me in the future :)

Day Before McKenzie Goes to College

AUGUST 15, 2011 (day before McKenzie goes to college)

Many of you have asked, “How you doing Juno, with McKenzie going to college”?

OK, so today (thinking about McKenzie going to college tomorrow) is a little more emotional than I thought.   Feelings are a mixture of missing Bonnie and sending McKenzie off to college.  For McKenzie she is between worlds….saying goodbye to friends she has know for 7 years and a ‘very safe and secure world’ and stepping into the unknown with knowing one person.  I’m so grateful she’ll be doing that at a small Christian university….no doubt reminding me of my wonderful college days with years filled with a deeper discovery of my faith, to a new level of genuine friends, friends who were in our wedding and 20 years later all of them showing up and supporting me in MI for Bonnie’s memorial service (and to think we weren’t even in a fraternity together).  Those are the hopes I carry for McKenzie as she begins Arizona Christian University.

Anyway, here are some of my thoughts from this morning (that’s what I get for running at 5:15 AM):
Well its more than obvious that most of the world doesn’t miss a beat despite my own grieving process.  This week I’m once again reminded that the grief journey is full of unexpected feelings and emotions, its a mysterious blend of sadness and gratefulness.  I’m fully and painfully aware that it has been 21 months since Bonnie’s entrance into heaven.  Some people would think that’s a long time and maybe I ‘should be over it by now’ – if that’s the case then I well behind ‘the grieving curve’.  My experience has been that this grieving process is a long and hard road to walk down.  At times its like living two worlds – the public world in which I need to function and be productive and my private world in which I enter into the mourning process once again.

At this season in the grieving process, its filled with both grief and gratitude. While Bonnie continues to be deeply missed, I also live in the reality of having been blessed with a wonderful daughter that I’m still called to care for and love and to partner with God in nurturing her into all the she can be (so yes that means going off to college [we are both glad it’s only 45 minutes from home]).  The reality of the hope and power of the resurrection is my foundation.  The blessing of the wonderful encouragement of deeply faithful friends is the new reality in which I live.   The combination of both faith and friends (and I’m grateful to say my faith community – Mountain Park Community Church) gives me energy and strength to face each day.

So while the painful and sad reminder of Bonnie’s absence is intensified on these special occasions, it is critically important for me to slow down and pay attention to that place in my heart that is also filled with sincere gratitude and gratefulness for the relationships God has blessed me with.  How God brings those two extreme emotions (brokenness and thankfulness) together remains a mystery.  Thanks for being part of the mystery in my life.

In His peace that passes all understanding,