I Must Go

As I near closer and closer to leaving for my mission, I’ve begun to get more and more nervous. Sometimes I feel like no matter how much I tell myself to trust in the Lord, I still worry. I think this is probably normal—a symptom of the often dangerous and scary world we live in. Anxiety builds as my mind floods with the possibilities of what can go wrong when on mission to a foreign country. These thoughts can sometimes overwhelm my mind so much as to almost push the call to mission out of my head entirely. “Go. You are worthy, you are needed,” gets squashed by “Am I really good enough for this? Should I really be going?” We all have weak spots where the dark side of life pokes and prods us. For me, that spot is uncertainty; for me, evil, or the thing that allows me to question God, is anxiety.

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His Call to Serve on Mission


On March 15th, I had a friend take the photo you see to your right. Upon looking at the picture, I realized that I hadn’t smiled like that in a really long time. I grabbed my phone and went to post an Instagram story. It said, “My heart is so full by the grace of the Lord … I don’t remember when the last time I smiled like this was. But God is so good, and loves me so fully; I have found the people, through Him, that make me this happy.” I couldn’t tell you exactly why I didn’t post that picture, but I think it has to do with where I was in confidence with Christ at that moment. 

I spent most of last term in a rough place. I truly had no idea why I was at Vanderbilt. I was constantly asking myself, “What’s the point of all this?” “What am I supposed to be learning?” “Why did God put me here, specifically?” I felt lost, confused, and very alone. 

At the time, I had been consistently attending a Christian Ministry group on campus, and while I enjoyed going, I was simply absorbing the information rather than truly internalizing it. And, at the time, I had no idea that these were not the same thing.

I grew up in a decently religious family, I’ve gone to Catholic Mass every (okay, most) Sundays for my entire life, and I have always considered myself a follower of Jesus. But, looking back on this, I don’t truly think I had received Christ. Why? Well, if I truly knew the power of the Holy Spirit and the overwhelming love of God, I don’t think I would’ve been asking myself why He placed me at Vanderbilt.

The picture you see above was taken a few days after one of my Christian Large Group meetings. The teaching that day was on the Holy Spirit, the one part of the Holy Trinity that no one had ever really taken the time to explain to me. Our Large Group leader explained the Holy Spirit as the convicter, the comforter, the guide of your life. The word “convicter” stuck out to me, and he continued to say that the Holy Spirit is the person that allows you to enter moments of darkness and despair in order to guide you back to the light of the Lord. He said, “The Holy Spirit is what says to us ‘To God, To God, To God. Turn to God.'” This explanation was life changing for me. I felt, in that moment, a hole in my heart begin to close. I felt, in that moment, the Holy Spirit well up inside me and say “THIS. This is why you were in such a place of darkness last term. Because you needed to submit yourself–fully, entirely, whole-heartedly–to God.”

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The Next Right Step

In my last post, Life Happens, I tried to emphasize that recently there have been some big changes in my life, and I’ve been incredibly happy! 

This is amazing, and I am so grateful to have made such wonderful friends who contribute to my happiness and support me in cultivating a healthy and positive life. But, something I noticed this week is that I also need to remember it is more than okay to have “bad days.”

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I am not a spontaneous person. This I know to be true about myself. I don’t know if I’ve ever said “let’s drop everything and go do something random.” I would never just decide one day that I wanted to skydive, or randomly make big decisions. I’ve even recently said that “I’m not a cross-the-street-without-a-light type of gal.” To put it in the simplest way possible, I am a planner.

Although I would consider being a planner a defining characteristic of who I am, there are some things I can’t plan for … and I’m realizing that is such a blessing sometimes.

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Life Happens

Five weeks from tomorrow, I will (attempt to) pack all of my dorm into a few small boxes and suitcases, get on a plane, and fly home for the summer.

I realized when I got back from Spring Break that I had almost no time left in my Freshman year at Vanderbilt. Somehow, move-in day feels simultaneously like nine months ago and just yesterday, but the reality is that our Freshman year is coming to a close.

That reality hit me incredibly hard, but it allowed another reality to sink in: in all these months that I was busy worrying about school, or being critical of the things I didn’t like about Vandy, etc, I guess that I hadn’t realized how much I’ve come to love it here.

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The Year to…

I know it’s already February, but since I’ve created this blog, I wanted to take 2019 to focus on writing more. I thought if I decorated a Bullet Journal, I might be more encouraged to pick it up and start writing. Even if I had no ideas about what to write, I could look at my front page, and hopefully something would come to me.

The inside cover of my Bullet Journal says “the year to…” with a graphic of a few things I wanted to remind myself of this year. Some of these things are directly linked to my writing, and some are not. But they’re all important to my goals and my use of that journal, so I thought I would explain what each of the graphics mean.

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Nothing Like Plastic

For the past several months, I’ve desperately wanted to see Mean Girls on Broadway. This is not only because it’s Mean Girls (I mean, come on) but also because I’ve seen the lead, Erika Henningsen (who plays Cady Heron), perform before, and I knew how amazing she was.

I was finally able to get tickets over Christmas break, and I was so excited! When I realized what day I would be going, though, I felt a strange sense of deja vu. My Mean Girls tickets were for December 30th, 2018, and this date felt eerily similar.

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Songs For Mama

My mama is the most amazing person I know. She is selfless and kind, but also a bad-ass. She is simple and wonderful and asks for very little. This always makes finding gifts very difficult, but this year for Christmas, she asked for a playlist. My heart melted when she texted me that, and so, the following playlist was created.

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Behind the Blog

Flashback to the year 2008. I was in the third grade, only eight years old. It was November break, and my friends and I were planning a sleepover. The movie “The Clique” had just come out, and we were planning to watch it that night. It was a really big deal… obviously. Probably equipped with Juicy Couture velour pants and pink glittery t-shirts from Justice, we sunk into the couch to watch the movie.

I honestly couldn’t tell you who was at that sleepover, or even what we did besides watch “The Clique.” I can remember, however, that the main character, Massie, wrote a blog. I can remember a lot about that blog, actually. She called it “The Current State of the Union,” and the page had two columns- one for what she deemed was “in” and one for things that she decided were “out.”

Why do I remember this? Well, at eight years old, I decided I wanted to write a blog, too. The very next morning, after eating half a box of pop-ems with my friends, I grabbed a pen and paper. I started, “Brooke Mackenzie’s State of the Union”… original, I know.

The point of all this is that I have always wanted to write a blog. Sure, it took me ten years to truly start writing one, but here we are… much to the delight of my eight-year-old self.

This blog originally began in August as a publication for a Vanderbilt University student-media website, MyCommonsLife. Over the past few months, writing The Girl Next Dore blog posts has become a huge part of my life.

I decided to create this website in order to grow and expand my personal blog. This has been a long time goal, and I am so excited to fully begin this journey. I hope you will come along with me!

Xo, Brooke Mackenzie