Mackenzie Rollins | Weblog

.room with a view.

with 23 comments

m: what do you see when you look out your window? have you glanced out in a while to see what’s outside? can you name a few things off the top of your head, or do you have to go look to remember?

i see this:

and at night, this:

i’m learning much about appreciating the simple things in life. i think that is much of why god brought me to sarajevo. its so easy for me to get caught up in the chaos of life, of duties, of tasks, of deadlines. but i find myself removed from all of that. sitting. writing. looking out a window. think about it, i’m in a house full of babies in a city recovering from a horrible war. i live on a street that, only ten years ago, served as the front lines for Serbian forces. grenades were thrown from the very spot I’m now sitting. and yet I sit here enjoying the view from my own little window. the sun warms my face and dries my recently washed hair as I write. my feet, nestled inside feaux-silk walmart slippers, are even beginning to sweat a little. and I’m so thankful to be alive to feel the heat, to see the clouds dance quickly past, and to think of all that’s gone on in the place I find myself perched.

jack is sitting next to me, banging three plastic hangers with which i’m attempting to provide infant entertainment. a small line of sweat encrusts his eyebrows as he feels the heat in a similar way. three hangers, the warm sun, a little boy’s giggles…i wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. as I look out, the evidence of war infiltrates my view. directly in front of me lies a cemetery, harshly divided into a slate-filled collection of graves, and one full of memorials mostly white. the difference between sides…white equals muslim graves; black, catholic and orthodox. there are thousands of them. and yet, life has grown around them. grass fills the gaps between and people’s dwelling places begin shortly outside the cemetery’s edges. life has resumed, but clear divisions remain.

looking out to such a juxtaposition of pain and promise, of war and peace, of white and black, has taught me quite a bit simply by glancing through a pane of glass. i’m thankful that i’m learning to stop and absorb the lessons from this window. from the time I wake up, i immediately begin to think of what i’m thankful for, of the pain i’ve been spared unlike many here, of having eyes with which to observe my surroundings, and gratitude to have people with whom to do life. it also makes me appreciative for wanting and almost losing my own life a few years ago. my understanding of desperation and hopelessness would look differently if i hadn’t experienced nearly dying. i know that plays a direct role in my wanting to offer hope, no matter how minute, to the people here, because I KNOW its possible. thank you god for that. i see that there is restoration for time lost. for lives lost. for wars had. this is my prayer for sarajevo. i see the restoration in my own life and in the lives of many friends and know it is possible for this place.

what also strikes me when i look out the window is this: i have to first look past a huge cherry tree to see any of the things i’ve mentioned. that before all of the harsh realities of pain and sadness, of rebirth and renewal, rests a simple, life-bearing fruit tree… as if to remind me that LOVE IS TRIUMPHANT. i’m thankful that god is love. that he is here. that he loved me first. that he loves all of us first. and, in the meantime, he gives us things like cherry trees to enjoy. we ate homemade cherry cobbler last night, thanks to our neighbor jenny. it was quite a mouthwatering marvel.

my curiosity is getting the best of me, and i have to ask:

what do you see when you look out your window? what can you learn from the things you observe? what does it make you feel grateful for? i’d love for you to share your view with me. with us. lets all share. take a week, a month, however long you want to soak it all in. i bet there are valuable lessons from all of our views.


on a different but related note, lauren and jack have decided to move upstairs and share my room. we three now share a big bed and get to enjoy the view together. this morning, i woke up to this:

i think this is another part of the “appreciate the small things, kenz.” seeing petite fingers move around the edges of the bed somehow began the day with an instant smile.

my camera also makes me smile. i love love love taking pictures. much more than i love showering, or shopping, or painting toes, or anything else girls are supposed to really like. i walked the hour into town today to come to the cafe to write to you.

i passed the entrance to our neighborhood.

and the cemetery.

and for today, goodbye. i love you.


Written by Mackenzie Rollins

June 8, 2007 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

23 Responses

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  1. i already mentioned this in my email to you, but when i look out my window, i see a rich and selfish nation, chasing after material things that will never fill them up and will perish in the end. we’re so consumed with buying more and more and more things and finding satisfaction in money and materialism, that we lose sight of our need for god. and as negative as that is, its a sweet reminder to me of how i should be living my life… how i should be different from that. so when i look out my window, and i see how rich we are, and i see how blessed we are, i am reminded that god blessed us so that we can bless others. not to spend on ourselves, trying to fill up our voids, but to give to others….to care for the widows and orphans, to give to the needy… that’s what life is really about. thats what living like christ looks like. so even when looking out my window often disgusts me, god has used that to remind me of what life is really about and to show me what i should really be chasing after. ive been given a new perspective. thanks for getting me to think.
    love you kenz.


    June 8, 2007 at 3:34 pm

  2. Welp, my backyard is pretty basic. Grass and such and there are other houses around because I live in the burbs. However, our neighborhood has morning doves everywhere. And that’s what I wake up to, the sound of those doves making their coo-ing noises. Love it.

    Thanks for this entry. I am continually encouraged by you girls.


    June 8, 2007 at 3:49 pm

  3. I am thankful that I have the largest bedroom window in our house. from my computer desk I can see typical landscaping such as large rocks, considerably smaller rocks, and all sorts of vegetation. I also have a clear view of our front door and mail box. A moderately busy street runs just past our front yard, with houses on the other side. I can always see people walking up and down the sidewalks, with their dogs and children. As this is one of the older neighborhoods in Des Moines, their are many large oak and maple trees.
    There is a family that lives right across the street from me. The husband is a pharmacist and they have two small children. They also let their large golden retriever walk around, untethered. His name is Bono.
    I have been watching these flowers outside my window. All winter long, they remain catatonic like everything else in Iowa. And then something happens. Spring. New life.
    A similar thing happens to the kids in the neighborhood. As soon as the mercury hits around fifty degrees, they all bust out the bicycles they got for christmas. New life all around.
    My neighborhood has a high concentration of Bosnian refugees, who came here in the mid 90’s. Consequently just down the street we have a Bosnian bakery, two eateries, and a couple of grocery stores that have a great selection of pivo, and really delicious cevapcici.


    June 8, 2007 at 5:29 pm

  4. Mackenzie, I am always completely in awe of everything you write. I hang on every word. Thank you for this entry and I will continue to look forward to others!

    Elise Brooking

    June 8, 2007 at 11:30 pm

  5. Mackenzie, a man from the Dallas Morning News is here in Guatemala. He is going around the world, trying to find Dallas, and people/Americans, that want to go to different countries to help in aiding suffering. He’s a really neat man s far. I told him about you. He said he might try to find you. haha. So if he does, that is neat.

    I love you. Thank you for your pictures.

    Lauren, I told people here about the weird belief about being sterile, they thought it was very very odd. Thanks for posting that, we all got a kick out of it!


    June 9, 2007 at 5:50 am

  6. Also, I love taking pictures too. But painting toes is a very close second.


    June 9, 2007 at 5:54 am

  7. m: to jpstainger, thanks so much for telling me about your view. i’m envious of the oak and maple trees lining your streets and have always wanted a golden retriever. you’ll have to enjoy those things on my behalf. bono, as in U2? (you know, if i could choose to see anyone in concert, it’d be U2.)
    have you tried the bosnian pastries? do they have the traditional meat pies? they’re freaking incredible. bosnia in a pastry. i’m planning to write a little about that soon.
    cevapcici? what’s that? can’t say i’ve experienced it, but there’s a market next door and i’m going to hunt for it..i’ll do it in the style of the old show, “supermarket sweep,” only my timer is self-set so that my computer will still be here when i return from the amazing discovery. i might even have to buy some to try. do you know any of the refugees well?


    June 9, 2007 at 12:30 pm

  8. m: as far as painting toes, you can enjoy that one for the both of us.


    June 9, 2007 at 12:30 pm

  9. m: amy, what’s his name? is he one of their international correspondents?

    i love you too, dear.


    June 9, 2007 at 12:33 pm

  10. as I look out our window I see mama and daddy birds taking something to the babies that have taken up residency in our white and green birdhouses. I awaken to the chirping of lots of little birds. I am always amazed they find our silly houses that have been there for 10 years. I’m always so glad they come back. Also something dad and i have never seen before is tons of monarch butterflies in the trees. And then you see the jays swooping down to get them. I think the incredible amounts of rains have brought them out. I love you, mom

    Kristin Rollins

    June 9, 2007 at 3:17 pm

  11. I see brilliantly bright sunshine and skies that go on forever over the roofs of my neighbors houses. I see ivy that’s threatening to overtake my back patio, my windows, my roof and quite possibly my garage door and I don’t care. I want to let it take over because I love to look at it. I hope it finds its way through the cracks in my brick home and starts taking over inside as well. Well, maybe not, but it would be kind of cute if it did, don’t you think? I hear lawnmowers and dogs barking and kids playing basketball in our cul-de-sac. I smell heat and humidity and the fabric softener coming out through my dryer vent. I taste the warm, comforting, sweet coffee with cream pouring down my throat as I contemplate. I feel overwhelmed by my senses. By the fact that I live here, in this house that I own, with this family that I love, with this love that extends to all of you, my brothers and sisters in their own houses all over the world.

    Thanks, Mackenzie.


    June 9, 2007 at 3:36 pm

  12. Thanks for helping me think about the view that I have. When I look out my window I see huge old oak trees full of birds that sing all day and all night. I know that they sing all night because they carry on full conversations just outside my window. Isn’t it cool that God made birds that can sing all day and all night? When do they sleep? These are my thoughts at 3:30 when they wake me up. Then a few hours later I hear a different song. Taryn is singing her morning song of Mama, Mama where are you? Open door please! That’s my favorite view. The view into my little love’s door when she welcomes me in with a sweet good morning. (as I’m writing this she’s moving the mouse around, saying watch me, mama!) Oh the blessings we are showered with. Thank you for prompting me to appreciate them intentionally.


    June 9, 2007 at 4:15 pm

  13. To Mackenzie. Yes. I know Esmir, The Refugee (among other titles). I actually haven’t seen him in for few weeks. He and a friend went to Croatia to fix up this house they bought, just north of Dubrovnik. They hope to rent it out to tourists.

    I have heard countless stories from people who I meet in passing, or while taking a break from work. My mother, back in the early 90’s, helped teach Bosnian women english. My mom speaks broken Croatian ( as my whole family is Croat), which allowed her to connect with many of them on an intimate level. She would come home and start crying after listening to the unimaginable stories.

    As for the cevapcici, I hope I am spelling it right. As I understand it, it is the official food of Sarajevo. Its made up of pita, split in two, stuffed with sausages, and served with a dense type of sour cream ( at least thats how they do it here in Iowa).

    also, my screen name (as well as my icon) doesn’t seem to explain that I am a boy. I am not sure if that has gotten across through this series of correspondences, but nonetheless it is true. Now that that is officially established, let me also state that I, Jason, do not paint my body. Nails or otherwise. At least not usually. Dobar dan.


    June 9, 2007 at 10:47 pm

  14. m: jp, i realized after i said i didn’t know what it was, that you were talking about the bosnian meat pie. yes, we’ve had them and OH MY GOODNESS they’re incredible. the cheese is the fat that’s skimmed off of fresh milk here and i could eat it by the bowl. (some may see this as gross, i see it as sheer genius). i knew that you were a boy because we’d asked rob if he knew you. ya’ll should go to croatia to your friend’s rental house and come see us in sarajevo. its always a good time here.


    June 10, 2007 at 4:27 pm

  15. m: i love that so many views include birds. i haven’t been a fan of them since i was a little girl. why? because my mom forced us to keep parakeets in our room while growing up. she insisted on them being there, although i never understood it, as they were put in a cage in darcy and i’s room, rather than a living room or other large family-oriented space. both darcy (my sister) and i were scarred by the all night chirping and bird-poo-covered baby dolls and toys. we’d chunk pillows at them throughout the night, and often awoke pillowless and without sheets from our attempts to hush them. not to mention that bird poo was the last thing i wanted to find in my cabbage patch doll’s diaper. but, i guess i can see that my mom just loved them for their song and i’ll try to appreciate them for that now. i also feel a little guilty for having set the last pair of them free. they wanted it. i might be the only one that knows that, but its inarguable that their last chirps in the house were cries for freedom.


    June 10, 2007 at 4:47 pm

  16. l: jason, i think it’s cevapi with a thing over the c, unless they spell it differently in croatia (then again, what do i know?)…either way, mmm, mmm. jack ate most of mine. meat drowned in grease and some sort of dairy substance is good for 9 month olds, right? i’m really interested in seeing mackenzie eat a bowl of it like she wants to. i don’t think we ever thought you were a girl, just a boy into painting his toenails…
    tania, i show jack pictures of taryn on facebook, and he can’t say her name yet, but i know he’s thinking of hooking up with her later. i see it in his eyes and the way he drools. he likes the older women…


    June 10, 2007 at 4:52 pm

  17. I see my weird neighbor’s little Catworld – a chainlink-fence construct enclosing half a dozen carpeted towers and caves of various heights and colors for three overweight orange cats. I see that the cats could not care less that their owners have gone to such lengths to provide for them. I see the futility of cat ownership. I see the cats taunted by freedom, limited by corpulence and narrow mesh. I see no birds, though – coincidence?

    I see my window blurred by the rain.

    I see the moon creeping out, obscured by the trees and weeds of my backyard jungle. It’s the same moon that is just about done hanging above your part of the world. I think that’s neat.

    What a great thing this blog is. How unexpected to realize I am blessed by your far-off travels. The pictures, the writing, the courage – it’s an honor to witness. I love y’all.


    June 12, 2007 at 2:53 am

  18. m: derek, i’m surprised you said that about the cat owner. i see you as possibly doing the same thing when you finally get settled in dallas. dallas derek with dozens of demanding and dissatisfied cats. its coming…i’m waiting for it.

    i guess as long as you’re in dallas, its ok.
    i miss you brother. thanks for sharing your view, and just know that i’m gonna love it when you come enjoy this view with me : )

    i love you love you.


    June 12, 2007 at 2:41 pm

  19. l: “i see the futility of cat ownership.” amen, brutha. kenz and i were laughing out loud reading this in the middle of the cafe. i think i’m getting you and your fiancee a kitten for a wedding gift.


    June 12, 2007 at 4:15 pm

  20. Yes, thats the stuff. There is one restaurant in particular, just up the way, that has the freshest greased sausages and milk fat. This food makes me feel like a better person, which scares me a little. I don’t know how they spell it in Croatia. I have seen it spelled a couple of ways. I just picked one. I like your way the best. Its shorter.


    June 12, 2007 at 9:05 pm

  21. I see two little girls with goggles strapped to their faces swimming in the pool as the rain pours down on their heads. I hear their laughs creeping in through the door as I watch my father and our two dogs hopelessly run for cover under some trees.

    I don’t think they have a care in the world. Its made me wonder when I started to care so much and miss the days when I couldn’t read a clock.

    I’m glad you are enjoying the simple things. This blog has been a great blessing, thank you both for your honesty. keep writing i’m praying for y’all.


    June 13, 2007 at 3:18 am

  22. I bet I am the only one that sees 8 baby chicks running amongst a pen, pecking and chirping…butterflies fluttering by…squirrels jumping from tree to tree making the trees look alive…dogs laying in the shade…and a big fat orange cat along with them all. Pure harmony. The joy these creatures bring to my children are priceless. The memories that are made with them etched in stone. A mother’s heart smiling at her children’s joy forever in her heart. This is how we are so privileged!

    Monika Amick

    June 14, 2007 at 3:11 pm

  23. Hi MacKenzie. I am yoga friend from Lauren….nice to meet you!!
    Gosh I am thankful for your georgous photos and words.
    That photo of Jack’s little hand is too cute!
    Tristan, my 3 year old, came into my bed around 6:30 this morning (he does this a tons). He gets all cozy up next to me, grab my hand and we both reached for the kiss…then we are off to sleep some more…happy, content. Living in a suburban american town, I too get caught up in the fast lane…sometimes wanting more, spending more, doing more….but always feeling less inside. I think it is sad that I have to make an effort not to get caught up in all this. We are bombarded with stupid ad to spend, spend, spend….I don’t like that about the world around me. I just turned 34 and I have learned so far that little things make me happy. Simple happiness I call it. Like drinking diet coke while eating pizza…but one of the sweetest feeling is what I feel when I look from my bedroom window. I have a big bay window and right from my pillow I can see a tree. I love to see the leaves move to the rythm of the wind. It makes me feel grounded to connect with the trees. Please take some photos of trees for me 🙂 xoxo


    June 15, 2007 at 6:45 am

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