I’m a sucker for fresh starts: a new chapter, a blank slate, and especially a New Year. Don’t ask me why, but something about it makes me want to sing “Unwritten” by Natasha Beddingfield and shoot some fireworks until the cows come home. Actually, I’m terrified of fireworks so I don’t know why I said that. But a fresh start? I’m all about it.
I always have. I made my first New Years resolution when I was, like, seven. And I’ve been making (and failing) them ever since. You know the girl who goes to the gym in January and then vanishes in mid-air come February 1? I am that girl. Or the person who talks a big talk about intermittent fasting, dropping soda, and doing Keto? Also, me. Which is crazy because I don’t even know what Keto is.
I say all of this to let you know that, I, despite my efforts, am no goal-setting, inspirational boss lady who can convince you to eat clean and do Crossfit. It’d be a miracle if I could convince myself to do that. So while I can’t offer you health tips and tricks for the New Year or inspire you to run a marathon, I can be honest and authentic about areas in my life that need improving and expose myself on the internet to hopefully encourage you. Yay blogging!
Here are the things I’m not bringing with me in 2019:
If you haven’t set aside some time to reflect on the past year, you’ve got approximately three days left in the year to do so. Find out which habits in your life need to be left behind and give them one big ole “TTFN!” You are the only person responsible for you, so if you want to see a change in your life, start changing! Alexa, play "Man in the Mirror."
Happy New Year, hunnies! Let's kick 2019 in the face.
To the girl who hated her first semester of college:
Wait, what? Is that even possible? You’ve flown the nest with big plans to make a plethora of new friends, obtain a 4.0 GPA and an out-of-state boyfriend in the span of a semester. You planned on finding the perfect church, joining the best extracurriculars and landing that on-campus job you wanted by at least week two or three. Every day would be a party: new, exciting, and filled with Cookout quesadillas and iced coffee. You would wonder how on earth you lived in your boring hometown for 18 years.
Maybe your plans prevailed. Your new friends are visiting you over break and you passed your Gen Eds with ease. But what happens when your plans flop? When the college you chose doesn’t feel like a perfect match after all? When you go a whole semester without finding those future-bridesmaid friendships everyone told you you’d find in college? When you miss home? When you feel alone and stressed and low-key miserable every day? Well, honey, that was me. And maybe, if you’ve clicked on this blog post because of its title, it’s you too.
For me, being home for Christmas break felt like being at Disney World compared to being at school. (Never been to Disney, but I’ve heard stories and have a remarkable imagination) I hated being at school. I wasn’t thriving in the slightest. Over break, I exchanged stories with friends from home about our first semesters. They beamed with pride about their colleges. They told hilarious stories about their hallmates. They explained how they just couldn’t wait to get back to school. I didn’t get it. They wanted to go back? I was begging God to slow down time so I wouldn’t have to. But of course, I would never tell anyone that. I needed people to think I was thriving like everyone else, so I posted the pictures and pretty much just lied through my teeth when people asked me how I was adapting. “It’s great! I love it! Yay college!”
If you’re reading this and relating to everything I’m saying, hi and welcome to “My Freshman Year Was Not What I Thought it Would Be” support group. This is a safe space. First off, know that you are not alone. I know it feels like you’re the only person in the world who isn’t head over heels in love with freshman year, but I promise you, you aren’t. Think about it. When you started college, you probably moved to a brand new city where you knew a handful of people, if that. You’re surrounded by strangers, trying to manage a college course load for the first time, and living in a little cement box that feels like a prison cell with stringed lights. Give yourself some credit, starting college is hard and whether you realize it or not everyone is struggling to adjust in one way or another.
If I could tell my freshman year self three things, this is what I would say:
October is here and the fall-loving girl in me couldn’t be more ecstatic. This is the season of potato soup, sweatshirts, and bumping Taylor Swift’s Red album like it’s my job. Like every other basic white girl in the world, on the morning of October 1, I arose from my bed with a smile on my face. Clothed in a sweater and leggings, I embarked on a journey to class in hopes of encountering cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and maybe, just maybe a slight frost on my car. Those hopes soon dwindled into yesteryear as I was faced with, yet again, 95 degrees and back sweat from the short walk to my car into class. What the heck, mother nature? WYD? It’s October but it feels like the armpits of Satan himself. Last time I checked, having heat flashes was not on my fall bucket list.
Can you relate? Ok, Karen, we get it, you’re from Vermont and your falls are perfect. But all my southern friends can commiserate. It’s hotter than Zac Efron in the Sahara eating jalapenos out here. It’s been 100 degrees since April and we can’t take it anymore. So mother nature, if you’re reading this, help us out. Please bring us some cooler temperatures. My heart needs to wear a flannel.
So, in the spirit of summer, I mean, fall, I present to you 9 Things to Do This Fall!
So have at it, people. These are my suggestions for how to make the most of the season. You heard them here first!
I’ve always loved words. I was the girl who got an adrenaline rush when the teacher said the words “free write.” Remember that nerd in elementary school who actually enjoyed learning vocabulary words? Yeah, that was me. Writing was my thing. It was my outlet. It was one of the few things I was confident in. I actually remember staying up late frantically tapping the keys of my mother’s desktop computer until I finished the story I was writing. Sometimes it was a fiction story. Other times, it was a poem or movie script. Sometimes it was a knock-off Taylor Swift song about a boy I had a crush on that I embarrassedly performed in the spring musical. True story. Just ask anyone who went to Irmo Middle School in 2011. Anyways, the point is I’ve always loved writing and it’s a pretty big part of who I am.
I’ve always felt like I have a story to tell. An urgency to express not how I feel, but what I believe is true. Words carry a lot of weight for me. Not just because my love language is words of aff, (tied with quality time if we want to get specific) but because I believe in the power words have to inspire, encourage, and give life. I’ve also seen how words can do the opposite. When used recklessly, words can damage relationships, destroy self-worth, and tarnish reputations.
But I want to use my words for good.
A couple years ago, the Lord started stirring in my heart a desire to start a blog. I’ve always been a little hesitant because 1) I don’t feel like I fit the mold for what one would call a “blogger girl” and 2) as I’ve mentioned before, failure terrifies me. I didn’t want to give off the impression that I have it all together and write about how everyone should exercise thirty minutes a day, eat clean, and wear clothes only from boutiques. Because I’ll tell you right now, that’s just not me. I do not have it together, I can’t promise you that I exercise thirty minutes a day and I’m a lot more chicken tender than I am avocado toast. I was afraid of looking like Cady Heron when she showed up to the party in a zombie bride costume when everyone else was dressed cute. Missing the memo. Sticking out like a sore thumb, if you will.
On top of that, I didn’t want this thing to flop. Nothing scares me more than failing. I really hate the thought of putting my dreams and goals out there for everyone to see only for it to come crashing down...amirite? If there was some risk of failing, I wanted nothing to do with it. But it’s 2018 and I gotta get over that. So here I am, getting over it and launching a blog because I’m not getting any younger.
So I present to you, Words Like Honey. If you’re new, welcome! I’m truly so glad you’re here. If you’ve stuck around over the last two months and haven’t unfollowed me yet, you rock. In all seriousness, it means the world to me that you’re here, reading what goes on in my head, putting up with my bad jokes, and supporting me as I do what I love most. I love the heck out of every single one of you and I pray the words you read on this blog will always be kind, sweet, and rich...like honey.
Trust issues: We’ve all got them to some extent. Maybe you’ve been burned by someone you thought was a friend or had your heart broken by someone you thought was the one. If you’re me, you have trust issues because a porch swing you had complete confidence in decided to go crashing to the floor right as you plopped yourself down in it one time. That memory is still a painful one, because of the bruises to both my backside and pride. Ever since that day, I’ve been wary of porch swings. Those things are deceiving. Sit with caution, people.
In all seriousness though, we’ve all struggled to trust at some point in our lives. It’s no secret that the trust issues Drake sings about are in fact real. However, in the spirit of vulnerability (something I will always strive to bring to this little blog), I feel like I should tell you about some trust issues of my own. I’m talking about trust issues with God.
I trust God with my salvation, but I have a hard time trusting Him with my life on earth. Yep. I believe He’s saved me from my sin and I believe He’s got my eternity taken care of, but when it comes to this life, I fail to fully surrender my trust to Him. Anybody else?
This is especially relevant for me because of the current season of life I’m in. The season right before my comfortable college world fizzles into yesteryear and I’m thrown into the real world like a rag doll. OK so that was dramatic, but you get my point. I’m constantly thinking about the future, scrambling to make plans for my life after May 11, and dealing with the very real fears and what ifs about tomorrow. You know that Sunday night feeling? It’s technically still the weekend, but you can feel the doom and dread that’s coming on Monday? Welcome to senior year. It’s a blast, let me tell ya.
Will I get a job?
Who the heck am I going to live with?
I’m wrestling with questions like these, but more than that, I’m wrestling with questions like this.
Will God provide?
Do I trust that God is taking care of me?
Do I believe that His timing is perfect?
I’d like to say that I can confidently proclaim that I trust Jesus with every detail of my life, but truthfully, this is still a work in progress. I can confidently say that God is teaching me about faith and what trust in Him looks like. One thing he’s proven to me is that He is worthy of our trust because He has always been faithful. It’s not like the Lord has a track record for being unreliable and flaky. He reminds me to look back on all the ways He provided for me in the past. Rather than getting hysterical, he tells me to get historical.
When I look back in retrospect, I can’t think of a single time the Lord has let me down. Maybe something didn’t turn out the way I thought it would, but the detour He took me on proved to be the better route. Looking back, I see that things were sometimes messy and painful. I don’t look back and see a seamless, picture-perfect life where everything was rainbows and sunshines every day of my life. We all know that life just doesn’t work that way as much as we wish it would. However, when I look back, I can see how the Lord used the mess, brokenness, confusion, and pain for my good. I grew during difficult moments. I learned in the midst of pain. The Lord took care of me then, and He’ll take care of me now. And He took care of you then and He’ll take care of you now too.
Let’s be honest, trusting in the Lord is hard. Kind of like trusting porch swings. The difference is God is good, dependable, true, consistent and worthy of our trust. Porch swings are not.
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-24
Hi my name is McKenna Best and I love songs that sound like fall, the beach right before the sun sets, Mexican food, and big t-shirts. Oh and I’m terrified of failure. Wait, what?
Yeah, honey, welcome to my Ted Talk about how the fear of failure once dictated my life.
This fear dates back to the first grade; when all I really cared about was eating chicken nuggets in the cafeteria and watching Lizzie McGuire before bed. Life was good. Yeah! by Usher was playing on every radio station and Orlando Bloom was at the peak of his career. What could possibly go wrong? I’ll tell you what: first grade math. I know, I know. It sounds stupid, but let’s not discredit the difficulty of the multiplication times tables for 7-year-olds.
Every day after lunch, the class gathered around the whiteboard for a math lesson. At the end of the lesson, the teacher called on students to solve a problem on the board. Talk about a living nightmare. One day in particular, I got the special privilege of getting called on. Long story short: I solved the problem, it was nowhere close to the right answer, the class laughed, I cried on the inside, and I’ve been afraid of numbers ever since.
For years after that, I was afraid to even attempt understanding math because I assumed I wouldn’t be able to do it. It reflected in every report card. Just ask my parents. They were always thrilled to see that my grade in math was the same as the temperature on our thermostat. I passed by the skin of my teeth every year, but I had zero confidence and genuinely believed that my brain just wasn’t capable of comprehending Algebra.
There are so many other things I just avoided altogether growing up because I was scared of failing. I lived with the mentality that if there was a risk of failing, it just wasn’t worth trying. And to be honest, I still struggle with that mentality today. Unfortunately, the fear of failing academically is still alive and well (pray for my Media Law grade if you think about it) and I’m incredibly afraid of this blog flopping like a fish out of water. However, the Lord is teaching me to push past the fear of failure and do things that scare me because ultimately my validation is not found in what I do.
If you know me at all, you’re probably aware of my extreme Coke addiction (the soda, of course). Well, a little over a month ago, I made the heart wrenching decision to quit for a month. For all you people who only drink water, eat clean, and shop at Whole Foods, this probably sounds like a piece of fat-free cake to you. But to a girl who used to live for the burn of a carbonated beverage, this was going to be a challenge. And it was.
But I did it. My body didn’t spiral out of control when I didn’t give it a Coke with my Chick-fil-a lunch. Sure, there were some caffeine headaches, groggy afternoons, and moments where I came thiiiiiis close to giving it all up, but I did it. I did the thing I literally thought was close to impossible. You see, in my time of fear and trial, little did I know I was slowly being refined by the fire that came in the form of a coke bottle. The Lord used this silly, Coke-free month to remind me that as soon as I got over my fear of possibly giving into temptation, I was able to succeed way more than I ever thought. I say all of this to tell you that you can in fact do anything you put your mind to. If I can go a month without drinking soda, you can do anything, but the first step is getting past the fear of failure. If we let fear get in the way of our goals and dreams, we may never put into action what the Lord is calling us to.
The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend over leftover spaghetti on a raging Saturday night. And by raging, I mean “posted up in my favorite chair in my pajamas eating leftovers and talking about life.” You know, like how cool people do on the weekends. The conversation jumped from topic to topic; from school to relationships to awkward stories to dreams to fears to just about everything in between.
Like many 21-year-olds who are nowhere close to marriage, our conversation led to the fact that we are in fact single. Yes, contrary to what 16-year-old McKenna envisioned for my senior year of college, there is no ring on my finger and the only aisle I’ll be walking down in the next six months is the snack aisle at my local Wal-Mart. However, this is not a post about singleness. Although, I could write a dang book about that. We all know there are many perks of being in a relationship, but to me, one of the most fulfilling and life-giving aspects about it is being deeply known by another person. Can I get an amen, ladies? Honestly, if this was a love language, it would be mine. I’ve always had a real desire to be known; not in a "I want everyone to know me" way, but in a deep, personal way. Want to make my day? Casually mention my favorite La Croix flavor. Actually remember when my birthday is. Not only will it really impress me, it will make me feel super loved. Just ask my friends. Remembering a small detail about my life will get you a one-way ticket straight to my heart.
So in the midst of the little pity party I was throwing myself that night, I explained how nice it would be to have someone who knew everything about me and still loved me despite of that. “You know, like how Billy and Megan do,” I said as I began to list all the couples in my life who are happy and thriving. Then, God slapped me in the face with truth. That’s exactly how He loves me; He knows everything about me and loves me despite of it.
Even if I had a boyfriend that remembered all the little, irrelevant details of my life, he still couldn’t know me and love me like God does. Even my closest friends, the ones who have my order memorized at my favorite Mexican restaurant, cannot know and love me like God does. My parents, who know me like the back of their hand and have seen me at my worst, even their love for me is not as deep as the Lord’s. That’s when it hit me; I am fully known and truly loved by someone. And He just so happens to be the God of the universe.
My first thought when my alarm goes off in the morning. He knows it before I think it. The last thing on my mind when I fall asleep. He remembers it. The number of times I say the word “honey” in one day. He’s shaking his head at how high the number is. God knows me. My hopes, dreams, fears, secrets, the number of hairs I missed when shaving my legs. He knows it all. He’s completely aware of the ugliest parts of me and still he loves me.
I once read a quote from Timothy Keller and it’s stuck with me for years, “To be loved but known is superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.” Don’t miss that. You, yes you, are fully known and truly loved by God. So whether you’re single or married, have hundreds of friends or just a few, you are known, valued, and loved for exactly who you are by a God whose love knows no end. And I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me.
If you’re a senior, or have been at some point, you’re probably familiar with all the “lasts” that come with this year. “This is our last first day of class!” “Aw, our last second day of class!” “Ugh, I can’t believe this is our last two-hundred and seventh day of class!” Truth be told, there are a lot of emotions that come with this thing… emotions I did not know I was signing up for; sadness, nostalgia, sentimentality, happiness, crippling fear of the future, i.e. I knew coming into my senior year that I wanted it to be the best one, because after all, it is my last one. So I made a bucket list, came up with a slogan to live by, and set some goals for the year. Do I want to eat at every restaurant in Anderson? Heck yeah! Will I live if that doesn’t happen? Oh, honey absolutely. I’m all for checking things off the bucket list, but these are the things I really want for my senior year:
So in the words of Shania Twain, “Let’s go girls!” Let’s kick this year in the face with joy and confidence that the best truly is yet to come. Stay tuned for an abnormal amount of High School Musical 3 references because lucky for you, I’ve got more than I’m willing to admit.
I’m going to start this blog with a statement that may offend some of you. I hope that you will be able to see past its controversial nature and continue reading, but I’m just going to be blunt. Here goes. I don’t hate Taco Bell.
I know, I know. Some of you gagged just thinking about eating a Doritos Locos Taco and you’re judging me internally for admitting that I don’t hate the Bell. Do people call it that? They should. But before you click away, just hear me out. It’s cheap, it tastes good (don’t @ me) and well, that’s about it. However, when I’m craving something greasy and in the mood to raise my cholesterol, I’m going to whip my car into a Taco Bell parking lot and call it a day.
Unfortunately, while Taco Bell is great in the moment, it almost always leads to… well, I think you know where this is going. All is well for about two hours and then it hits you like a freight train. Read between the lines so that I don’t have to physically type it out on the Internet. My point is that as much as I love Taco Bell, I know that it’s not always in my best interest. It’s good in the moment, but I pay for it later.
Sin is a lot like Taco Bell. It’s cheap and easily accessible. It brings temporary pleasure. It feels good for a little bit, but it leaves me empty every time. Deep down, I know it won’t satisfy me, but something in the moment tells me it will. When I’m hungry, I want to be fulfilled but I turn to things that won’t do it. Ever felt that way?
That’s the thing about sin: it’s DECEPTIVE. It looks attractive, appealing, and promising. In the moment, the enemy has a way of making sin look like the best thing since sliced bread and indulging in it can even bring feelings of happiness. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s fun and exciting and feels good, but it doesn’t fulfill.
I really think the Lord has a sense of humor. He probably looks down and laughs at how often I try to find satisfaction in things other than Him. Like ‘“Oh, McKenna honey, you’re such a dodo. Don’t you see that I am all you need?” Although, I don’t think the word “dodo” is in God’s vocabulary. And let’s be real, “honey” probably isn’t either as much as that pains me to admit. But really, how many times does God have to show me for me to realize that He’s the only thing in this world that is truly going to satisfy my heart?
You see, I believe that God has more in store for us than Taco Bell. He has better things to offer us. Sin can offer us short-term happiness, but it can’t promise eternal joy. Jesus Christ satisfies. He fulfills. He brings real peace and ultimate contentment. He’s the only thing in this world that is ever going to be enough for me.
And He’s the only thing in this world that’s ever going to be enough for you!
So quit eating at Taco Bell, honey. I’m totally kidding, feel free to still to eat there. But stop filling yourself with things of the world that won’t satisfy your heart. I promise that a life lived with Jesus is the best possible life you can choose to live.
My story starts off like a lot of people who grew up in the south. You know who I’m talking about. The people whose mom was in charge of Vacation Bible School, excelled in bible drills, went to Awana, endured youth choir, and literally had perfect attendance in Sunday School. No seriously, I had perfect attendance one year and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my greatest accomplishments. When I was 11-years old, I gave my life to Christ at summer camp. I realized that although I went to church all the time, I did not have a relationship with Jesus. I finally understood what it meant to be a Jesus follower, so I prayed and asked God to come into my life as my Lord and Savior.
During my first few years as a Christian, I was in middle school, so my days were consumed with Justin Bieber, vanilla bean frappuccinos, and writing songs about my crushes in my room at night. (Yes, I did that) Middle school in general was just an incredibly awkward and uncomfortable time in my life, but I was thankful that my time in junior high was free of any true tragedy or hardship.
In high school, my walk with Christ was challenged for the first time. My grandmother, who was more like a second mom to me, died suddenly. My family struggled to adjust to the loss of the woman who held our family together. We still do. Meanwhile, I was wrestling with issues of my own. For years, I’ve struggled majorly in a couple areas, but as I look back on all that God’s done in my life, it’s evident the ways that he has used my struggles for good.
Here are some of the ways God has done that:
I’ve tried to find joy in anything but Christ. For years, I thought that I could find joy in being loved by another person. “If I could just get everyone to like me, then I would be satisfied” was my thought-process. Or the age-old, “If I could just get a boyfriend, then I would be satisfied.” I genuinely obsessed over being well-liked and loved. I searched for approval and acceptance in all the wrong places and it always left me feeling empty, hurt, and unsatisfied. Why? Because no thing on earth can bring me true joy, ultimate satisfaction and genuine contentment, except for Jesus Christ. I kept hoping that earthly acceptance would be enough. But God grabbed a hold of my heart this past summer and showed me that sin in general was like paying the fare for transportation, but it never actually taking you where you want to go. No love on earth was actually going to fill that void in my heart. Only Christ.
I’ve grappled to love how God made me. If you know me, this may come as a shock to you because I may appear to be somewhat confident, content and self-assured. At least I try to look like I am (lol). But if we’re being real, I have definitely come to hate aspects of my personality and the way that God wired me. When it comes to insecurities, I’ve got just as many as the next girl. For years, those insecurities dictated my life. They were the reason I overthought everything, couldn’t sleep at night, and constantly lived in a state of fear. And if I’m being honest, sometimes they still do. But with all of these things I’ve struggled with in my life, Jesus has brought restoration and healing to every part of my brokenness.
Today, I’m nowhere close to perfect. I still struggle and I know that I always will. But Jesus continues to unlock joy in my life, show me more of His heart, and His faithfulness proves time and time again. I’m confident that He isn’t done writing my story and He isn’t done writing yours. A piece of scripture I constantly cling to is, “And I am confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6. Jesus is in relentless pursuit of your heart and He’s never going to stop going after you. He won’t give up on you and He will finish the good work He began in you because that’s the kind of God He is and that’s the kind of love He has for you. I promise that a life with Jesus is the sweetest, most abundant life possible and it’s my prayer that you experience it.
McKenna Best is a Carolina girl currently residing in the Instagram influencer capital of the world. She believes in Jesus, dancing in the kitchen, and slow mornings. McKenna is an assistant youth director and spends her afternoons working with middle schoolers in West Nashville. In her free time, you can find her eating Chipotle, making an excessive amount of Spotify playlists, writing in a coffee shop, watching The Office, or spontaneously buying a plane ticket somewhere. She is passionate about equipping youth to unlock their potential and be all that God has called them to be, whether that be through teaching Bible lessons, or writing articles for a variety of online platforms