When I Grow Up,

I want to be like my daddy, setting out to rescue a loved one from a flood only to expand that rescue mission, fielding calls and finding boats for others.


The Gulf Coast is in trouble, y’all. Hurricane Harvey is wrecking us; Houston and Dickinson are feeling it. Corpus and Rockport have already felt it. The rivers — The Brazos and The San Bernard — are about to feel it.

It’s last year all over again, but amplified. Times ten, times fifty, maybe even times two hundred. Because last year it was just rain from the north hitting our rivers, overflowing into our yards.

This year, it’s that, plus some. It’s the rain from the north running into our rivers, plus rain right on top of us. This storm that should have remained a tropical depression escalated into a category 4 when it hit.

We’re not really sure what Harvey is going to do. He’s “hard to predict,” as the weather stations say. All they know for certain is that we can expect 40″ or more of water.

Oh.

As of 10:35 A.M., we were literally just issued a mandatory evacuation.

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Faith

“God is so good to me! I got a job offer –”

I’ll be honest, friend, and tell you that as we sat there chatting in the Texas humidity, I spaced out a little bit. As you continued with the conversation we were already having, I initiated a new one in my head.

Would you still say that if you hadn’t been offered the job? What if you’d ended up staying home in B-County for another semester? Would you still proclaim with so much joy that ‘God is so good’?

I wasn’t motivated to spark this imagined conversation out of spite or judgement, friend, but genuine curiosity. And I was not asking you alone, but myself as well.


Our second day in El Salvador, one of my coworkers from university messaged me, asking if we had heard anything about being hired back in the fall. She saw one of our bosses posting about interviews, even though none of the existing employees had heard back about their existing positions.

It caused no small level of stress. Until I read Hebrews 11, the Heroes of Faith chapter.

Maybe it was the circumstance. Maybe it was being in El Salvador — a lot of things were put into perspective during that trip, but this most of all that day: the fact that God is good whether or not he comes through on something we want (or think we want). So I perched on the low brick wall I practically lived on when I had the chance to sit down, and I started writing.

God hasn’t promised to keep me employed. He hasn’t promised me lifetime security or comfort; he promised to be with me and to love me — and how great a promise that is, to love me at my best (which isn’t very good) and at my worst (which is, truth be told, pretty awful). Praise the Lord!

— journal entry, Aug. 4


That, friends, is the start of how we ended up here: home for the semester, most of my time blocked out for tutoring and piano students. And I’m not even mad about it (anymore).

Updates and Rambles

Location: Brew N’ Bake. Mental state: unfocused. Heart state: joyful.


I’m going to be home for fall semester, for a myriad of reasons. My parents and I made that decision together the day after I got back from El Salvador. This next semester is going to be spent knocking out a couple of classes at good ol’ BC, and tutoring in my beloved BCWC.

I should be frustrated. I should be seeing this as a step backward or like getting stuck in deep, wet, sticky mud.

But the break will be good. A chance to rest, to save money, to get involved in my church, to establish my game plan for the next two years — the wrinkles have been smoothed from my heart’s brow.


I have drafts upon drafts of posts saved — keep an eye out. I haven’t disappeared on y’all.

A little bit of what home has looked like this last week:

El Salvador

We made it to El Salvador, and my heart has already broken a hundred times over. This country and these people are beautiful, but to see it — I thought I was prepared, but how could you be? There isn’t a way to brace yourself for this.

— journal entry, Aug. 3


I’m not really sure how to begin writing about the mission trip. It was kind of a miracle from the start, from kind hearts in my life contributing to cover the full $1,200 cost, to when what I thought was a medical emergency turned out to be a fluke and the doctor cleared me to travel out of the country.

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I thought I had prepared myself for the difference in lifestyle, but now I think that it would have been impossible to genuinely be prepared. You can’t begin to comprehend until you’ve experienced it with your entire self, until you’ve seen it with your eyes and felt the weight and the reality of their circumstance in your heart.

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One of the first things that happened, one of the few things that has remained clear in my mind, was when we toured the community the first evening we were there. Aldo, one of the locals, took the “noobs” (those who hadn’t gone last year) to see the water cisterns that were put in, and a little girl started following us — Flor. Eight years old and oh so bold with such a large heart that I wonder how it fits inside her small frame.

She stuck by Faith first, holding her hand, liberating her sunglasses, and attacking her with overly-aggressive tickles. And then she branched out, holding onto both of us, leading us through the community, pulling so hard that sometimes we stumbled over the sharp rocks and debris embedded in the dirt road. She disappeared for a few minutes when we got close to the church, and when she returned she had pink flowers in her little hands that she divided between us, running ahead as we tucked them into our braids.

I was heavily impacted by how generous and affectionate the people in El Salvador are, in spite of having so little. One woman, when we were checking on her water cistern, insisted on sending us back to the church with a bag full of fresh corn she had us pick off her plants. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal — I can’t count how many times my dad has sent people home with produce from our gardens in the past — but if you could have seen her home, friend, you would understand that it must have been a sacrifice. And she was so willing.

I pray for a generous spirit like hers.

Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, really spoke to my heart that first morning. After breakfast and before we started our prep for VBS (which, by the way, our team rocked — we got three VBS sessions worth of crafts done in an hour), I sat down with my Bible and with my journal and a styrofoam cup of coffee that sparked yet another conviction (but that’s another story).

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

— Hebrews 11:1.

I have faith that we are doing work here that will change lives and move hearts. That God can use the work of our hands to establish love and trust and peace, maybe not in this generation but in the future — with those who come next.

— Journal entry, Aug. 4

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Can I pause to brag on our translators? Because they were incredible, body and soul. Not only did they translate any time we had questions or confusion — even if it interrupted a conversation they were having — but they helped with just about everything else, too, from preparation to clean up and handling the kids in between.

Evening. VBS was tiring, but directly after we took water filtration devices around and dear gus, that sun. It wears you out hard. I can’t imagine how tired the construction team must be from digging holes all day.

— journal entry, Aug. 4

 

We showed a movie that night in the space between the church and their neighbors. We had rows and rows of plastic chairs set up, seats wet with the fresh rainfall that surprised us late in the afternoon. That is another moment that plays itself over again, vibrant in my memory: as we walked between rows, drying the seats of the chairs with loosely woven blue clothes, Pastor Nate and I got into a discussion about Biblical womanhood (which is going to get its own blog post in the near future), about the intricacies of beliefs that differ between denominations, that don’t save our souls or give us a one-way ticket into heaven.

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Another moment: after the morning VBS on Saturday, we took the kids down to their park, arming them all with a water pistol.

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Now. First, when you think park, you think a jungle gym and wood chips and some safety regulations, right? Wrong. We’re talking an overgrown grassy field and a rusted out seesaw. But to see those kids faces as we chased them around and around, squirting each other with those tiny little water pistols before passing out PB&J sandwiches, starting out with one per kid and then giving out extras when we realized we made too many. That’s my favorite moment. It’s the one that keeps coming to mind when people from my hometown ask me what the highlight was.

Those kids, friend. Their little faces and little bodies distributing bright smiles and fierce hugs. I can’t get over how much I miss them — from the littles to the teens. The young girls grabbing my hands to spin in circles, playing rock paper scissors for forty minutes with Susie, the boys endlessly tormenting me, Flor’s persistent tickling, the group’s game of ninja outside the church wall, Nancy’s hugs, all of the full-bodied laughter.

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Our tourist moment, before my phone died, when we were in the town to check out the work the construction team had done and to do some souvenir shopping.


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The goodbyes left me broken. Doug looked across the circle we pulled our chairs into for the last devotions and tried to tell me that there’s always next year — and there is. But that didn’t make leaving any easier.

 

Five minutes

Just write for five minutes and don’t stop. Why does it seem — feel — so hard? Why do the words dry out when I need them the most?

What else takes five minutes and so much agony? Brushing and flossing. I hate flossing; I can’t remember the last time I flossed. That’s disgusting.

Vacuuming the rug. Bathing Jane. Clearing the front seat for a passenger.

Where am I going with this?

It’s like there’s a cloud in my brain — it’s blowing the words that rally behind my eyes, keeping them from my lips, my fingertips. I’m not sure I have the strength to fight it.

Time’s up.

 

The Things I Was Never Brave Enough To Tell You

Knowing that the present would not be as it is without the past having happened the way it did, there are not many things that I regret in life. I can think of two things — two relationships that I would change. And this is about one of them.

You see, friends, I received an email the other day from an unsavory character. Someone that I would like to leave in the past, where he belongs. But, being the type of person that he is (re: narcissistic and manipulative), every once in a while he attempts to sink his claws back into my flesh.

I can still see the scars from when I tore myself loose three years ago. They look like a Spring watered by my tears as much as May showers. They look like silent car rides and ice cream cones dripping onto cement, a stomach that required an anchor to hold anything down. They look like emptiness and fear and self-imposed isolation.

But I firmly believe that there is always — always — hope. There is always healing, if you open yourself to it.

I did. And I have. And I continue to do so, in my relationships, my journey with Jesus, my music, and my writing.

This is to him.


I wrote a poem about you when my soul had cratered in, and over two years later it remains the most powerful piece I have ever written.

I hate that I wasted the best of my words on you. I hate that I wasted the best of me on you.

I hate that you got to me before anyone else did, that you tainted my skin with the touch of yours. I hate the way I gazed longingly up at you on your pedestal, the one I built for you with bleeding hands and a too-fast beating heart.

I hate that I made you a god. I hate more that you knew, and you thrived, and you ate it up the same way you ate my heart still bleeding straight from my chest. Do you know how long it took to grow a new one, a whole one, a strong one? Do you know what it’s like to be in my twenty first year with a three year old heart that leaps for joy whenever it sees rays of sunshine, a picture in a cloud, a puppy, a dandelion, an opportunity to splash a puddle with the weight of the soles of my shoes?

Did you know that you were abusing me, or did you not care? Didn’t you see that the weight of your needs and the force of your wants were like the weight of the world bearing down on Atlas’ shoulders?

You made an Atlas of me. You made many things of me: a little girl, frightened. A grown woman, beaten. A ghost, soulless.

Didn’t you see the light dying from my eyes every time you mocked me, hushed me, taunted me?

Didn’t you care? That you sucked the soul from me, that you acquainted me with grief and doubt, that you presented me with the now ever-present gift of anxiety and the forever looming threat of depression?

Of course you didn’t. Because you only cared about yourself. Because you were a narcissist and a manipulator. You were a liar and a predator. Because you lived in your shell of self-created victimhood, twisting and maiming anyone who stood in your way just to keep yourself afloat.

You remind me of a hollowgast. You remind me of a dementor. Feeding off of whatever is offered, a trail of broken hearts behind you.

I keep thinking about Jacob and Rachel — about the time you likened us to that famous biblical story — and it makes me laugh. Because you were so good at pretending to be honorable, at filling yourself with integrity, but you were so bad at living it out. How many times did you make promises you didn’t — couldn’t — keep?

There were so many promises that you didn’t — couldn’t — keep, and I made excuse after excuse for you, even after you’d left me trembling in solitude, reasons for your words and actions streaming from my lips with all the force of a waterfall.

I’ve stopped making excuses for you, for your behavior. I’ve stopped wondering about the possible why’s of the way you treated me. I’ve stopped trying to keep up with you, because I have a life of my own now.

I’ll say it again in case you’ve “confused my intentions” in any of this.

I have a life of my own now, one that revolves around people and places and things that bring me joy, not around someone who broke my soul. I write what I want to without worrying about the opinions of potential readers; I create music without concerning myself with a mistimed measure or wrong note. I stand up for myself now; I’ve learned to be strong (maybe a little too strong).

I take comfort in the fact that you probably wouldn’t like me now, if you knew me. You wouldn’t like that I wouldn’t let you mold me like clay, that my voice is confident more often than not, that I now know how to laugh at myself and my mistakes.

I am not who I was, and I see you for what you have always been and for what — in my mind — you will always be.

i suck at titling things

IMG_3962“I wouldn’t hate this weather so much if it would just stay one way all day.”

Lindsey’s voice warbled a little over the phone — consequence of the speaker phone on my end and the sea-side wind on hers.

It’s kind of like the sky is temperamental down here. It was drizzly when I woke up, sunny when I drove myself to the coffee shop for lunch, and then there were two hours of torrential downpours that I feared would keep me from leaving the college once I clocked out from my front desk shift.

But now the sky is just grey and hanging low like a heavy blanket, thick with humidity.


I spent two lovely hours in the coffee shop, drinking coffee and eating a sandwich and reading a book before I had to come back to the college for work.


A psychology minor, friends, will get me out of school by Spring of 2019. It’s an additional five courses to my degree plan (which I think I can handle).

I’m strangely excited about it. If I can just make it through my Summer courses, I’ll feel good about things (until things start up again in August, at which point I will promptly begin to panic again).

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a legitimate study method for prepositions

Just kidding about the panicking. It gets easier every semester. Although I am a little nervous about going back to UH — I checked the map when I registered for courses and some of my classes are on completely opposite sides of campus.

Let’s put a positive spin on that and just say it will be great exercise (especially considering I’ll be legitimately running from one to the other in the ten minute gaps I’ll have).