When the Crows and the Locusts Came

I woke up this morning, this last day of 2013 with a cold or allergies, a scratchy throat and achy ears.  It’s a fitting end to this year that started with my laptop crashing and taking with it 2 years of my life (including all the pictures of my students from my two years of teaching) and middled with me leaving the ministry I’d planned to work at for the rest of my life.  The musician Brooke Fraser has a song called Crows + Locusts, with a chorus that partially reads:

It was the year
The crows and the locusts came
The fields drained dry the rain
The fields are bleeding

It was the age, the foxes came for the fields
We were bleeding as we bowed to kneel
And prayed for mercy, prayed for mercy

For me, 2013 was the year the crows and the locusts came. Nearly everything I had ever planned or hoped or wanted for my future is no longer. In the place of those lost plans, though, other dreams grow instead.  I spent September through November of 2013, running around southern Mexico, learning Spanish, making new friends, loving my new Mexican family, finding a metaphorical second home, reviving my broken spirit, and discovering new ways to live my life.  Everything isn’t magically perfect, but life is better.

This year has been heart-wrenching, soul-wearying, and life-changing.  In less than  a week, I go back to Mexico for three more months of Spanish school and practice and other new opportunities.  2014 has to be better.

Brooke Fraser’s Crows + Locusts ends with the following lines, lines that describe how I want to approach this new year.

She limps on up to the top of a mount
Looks at the faltered harvest
Feels her sweat in the ground
And the burn in her nose

And the knowing in her guts
Something’s still gonna grow
She ain’t leaving ’til it does

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood

Podunk

Tomorrow my family is driving to Podunk to attend a funeral. Don’t panic, this is not a funeral of anyone close to me. My great-uncle died, my grandfather’s younger brother. The only time I have a memory of meeting him was at my grandmother’s funeral. 10 years ago. I was a little preoccupied at the time, and much younger (obviously), so I didn’t really care. There were lots of family I didn’t really know at that funeral and after-party, so no one was really a high priority for me.

Nevertheless, going to funerals, even in Podunk, is what you do for family. Even when it’s the strange side of the family, that you’ve seen twice. Maybe three times.

It’s really by the grace of God and my grandfather’s decision to go to college instead of living a migrant worker’s life that made the difference in me not living in Podunk now. My life is vastly different from that of my extended-extended family (I’m talking second cousins and beyond). All because of some good choices by people (my grandfather mainly) who I don’t really know. It’s crazy.

It may be a long drive tomorrow, but ridiculous stories are a guarantee. I probably won’t write about them here, but those of you who know me in real life will get to hear stories. Or if you’re dying to know, send me an email and I’ll write some down.

And the city we’re going isn’t really called Podunk. It just feels like it. And it’s an amusing enough name that I wish it were called Podunk.

Bye January

January went out some snow and February entered with full-on Blizzard Snowpocalypse. I’m at the end of Day 2 of Snowpocalypse Days and, as much as I love my job, I also love snow days. But more about those later.

So January, How were you? I mean, you were really a blur. At first I was still on break,then regular life started back up again. OH WAIT I DON’T GO TO SCHOOL ANYMORE. I don’t really forget that very often, because it’s really just so delightful. I don’t have homework, I don’t have class, I don’t have to wait around for class to start, I don’t have to get out of class at 10 PM and not get home until 10:30 only to wake up at 6:00 the next morning.

I can have a life now. I can throw myself even more into work. I can schedule dinner dates with friends. I can pursue other dreams. I’m letting God run the show, which is delightful. I guess that’s my theme of January: God’s running my show. I’m super excited about where he’s taking the show.  Most of the performances will be at home, but I’ll be going on the road a number of times this year. I’ve been to my dear Arkansas already and may be making journeys to other parts of the country over the next few months.

I had two snow days in January, a nice harbinger of things to come in February, I suppose. I was not super productive those days. I pretty much just sorted things in my room and watched Bones. And tried to organize my life.

Even in those times of unproductivity, God was still teaching, still beating things into my head. Things may be happening. I’m not sure what. I have hopes. We’ll see if it’s time yet. He’s speaking and I’m just going, doing what I think I’m supposed to do until He turns me down another path.

This season of my life may seem easy, comfortable to others looking in on my life. I don’t really care. Because I am happy, fulfilled. But even in that happiness and fulfillment, God is stretching me, having me do crazy things that are difficult and often stress me out.  My job is fulfilling and awesome but hard. The ministries outside my job that he’s calling me to are time-consuming and sometimes a stretch for my skills. The people he puts in my life are beloved to me, but sometimes drive me nuts. Never a dull moment, but my life is often completely overwhleming. I love it and what God’s doing.

In other news, I have a new favorite band, The Civil Wars. I’d had some of their music but it hadn’t really grabbed me yet. They had a new album out yesterday, and since EVERYONE in the world was on Facebook thanks to Snowpocalypse, a lot of friends were recommending it. And I love it. Especially “I’ve Got This Friend.”  Try it, you might love it, too.

February, you’ve already been a little crazy. Don’t disappoint. Bring the crazy. God does his best work when life is crazy.

Whoa

November, really?

I look at a calendar and talk about the day with small children every day.  Still, November is a surprise. My life seems to always move at breakneck speed, never slowing down.

I made an important decision in October. Sharing this decision with others has led to entertaining conversations.  One example:

Friend: “So, how’s school treating you?” [expecting the answer of, fine, busy, etc]

Me: “I hate it, I’m quitting.”

Friend’s Face: Disbelief

It’s getting past my bedtime so I don’t particularly feel like writing much about my decision to go a different direction in my graduate education.  I’m pretty excited about it, though.  Mostly, though, I’m excited about having a few months to find a life, make friends with people my own age, and look for a different [and most certainly more expensive] graduate program.

Every month of this year, my life has completely changed in some way or another.  I decided in October to completely change the direction of my life. That’s kind of a big deal. But, it somehow seems like just a natural progression.  Like I had to start a program I won’t finish in order to learn that it wasn’t what I wanted. It’s going to be weird not finishing something I’ve started.  And liberating.

So November, what craziness will you bring?  If it could involve a group of friends where I live, a man, or really, just a social life, that would be fabulous. Most likely, November will be like every other month this year: unexpected.

Unexpected November is unexpected!

Oh, and I think I’m going to attempt something resembling NaNoWriMo. With no plan except a vague story idea. We’ll see how this goes. It will probably never see the light of day.

[why am I giving myself a new project in the midst of the insane busyness that is my life? probably because I don’t want to do the homework for the classes I have to finish for the degree I won’t be continuing….]

So Long August

This month has been INSANITY. And I love it. At least most of it.  I have fabulous thoughts about this month and I hope to write them down someday.  However, because of the insanity, I don’t know when that will happen. Maybe Labor Day weekend?

Probably not. I’ll be sleeping. Because I wake up every day at 6 AM. And I work 40 hours a week. And I’m taking 9 hours of graduate classes.  And I’m attempting to maintain friendships of those near and far, including 24-hours only trips to Arkansas and meeting up with friends near and far for snatches of time.

I don’t have time to read, I don’t have time to sleep, but that’s ok. I love my life right now. Except I don’t love grad school.  Maybe that will change.

September…bring me sleep.

Also, bring the Little Light House $500,000. If you read this and haven’t heard yet, the school I work for/adore is in a contest on Facebook to win $500,000. Go to Littlelighthouse.org and click on the Kohl’s Cares link and VOTE for the Little Light House!

[Also, Ravelry/UU, I miss you. Someday…I may have free time again and I’ll come back.]

Bring it September.

God Uses Change?

The truth is, God uses change to change us.  He doesn’t use it to destroy us or to distract us but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion, and destiny.  I hate to display such a firm grasp of the obvious, but how will we ever change if everything around us stays the same? Or what will ever cause us to move on to the next place He has for us if something doesn’t happen to change the way we feel about where we are? God is thoroughly committed to finishing the masterpiece he started in us (Philippians 1:6), and that process means one major thing: change.

Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurity: You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us, p. 80

Fabulous

I just spent a week in Jackson, Mississippi.  As the title of this post suggests, it was fabulous. I want to write on and process all of it.

However.

Real life is here. And sometimes, real life is unpleasant. I have wanted to scream a thousand times in the last couple days. On occasion, I have. Even though I need to process my trip…I can’t. I don’t have time.

I am overwhelmed.  With the exception of the bright and glorious sunshine that was my spring break in Jackson, March has been filled with frustration.  March is almost over. April, my most favorite of months is about to be here.

April 2010. Don’t disappoint. Please be as fabulous as other Aprils (except 2008, when I was sick on my birthday. Not ok, April, not ok) of my life. Attempt to be as fabulous as Jackson 2010.

If April goes well, I will officially remove my trip to Jackson from March to April in my head. If April doesn’t go well…..

I’d rather not think about that possibility.

The end of March has been just as frustrating as the beginning. March held such terrifying promise, only to be more terrifying than promising.  Yes, I realize that sounds crazy. If you lived in my head, it would make more sense.

April means many wonderful things: Easter, my birthday, spring, the winding down of the school year (although this year I have more mixed feelings about that than usual, seeing as this is my last traditional school year ever), the finishing up of projects, flowers, warm weather, and more.

April, come quickly.  And please, don’t disappoint.

Lord, come quickly. And please, send me a memo.

WordPress, you better press this. And please, send me freshly pressed apple juice.