The Wintrovert

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The time is 5:37 on a Wednesday evening, and I’m sitting alone at an empty dinner table eating my chicken paella and catching up on bills. The sun has bid me farewell nearly half an hour ago, leaving a blanket of darkness to cover my city. A bottle of wine sits in my kitchen and I consider opening it, pouring myself a glass, and snuggling on the couch to watch TV. Read More

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Accidents Happen

Indianapolis 3:57 a.m. — My bedroom is dark and I’m sitting in my warm bed listening to the hum of the humidifier. This is becoming my prime time for writing blog posts, those sleepless hours when my mind begins to formulate my feeling into descriptive sentences. But tonight it isn’t caffeine keeping me awake. No, I’m just rattled from my car accident.

So, remember when I wrote about letting go of comfort? Maybe I spoke too soon. This evening I was on my way home from work. The roads were pretty slick and the temperature was flirting with the single digits. Yeah, a recipe for disaster.

I was almost home when I lost control on an icy road. Suddenly I was forced to decide between hitting the guy in front of me and hitting the fire hydrant beside him. Reluctantly, and in a sputter of panic I chose the latter. And now I am without a car.

Talk about letting go of comfort.

A moment later a kind face appeared in my car window as I began to sob. I couldn’t get the door opened so he told me to roll down my window.

Why was I crying? I wasn’t hurt and hadn’t hurt anyone. I guess the shock of it was what triggered the tears all at once. And I couldn’t help but relate those feelings of shock to the night John was hit. And in seconds I was not crying for myself or my car. I was just crying for John.

I’m sure the witnesses were wondering how such a small accident could cause a girl to cry.

In all honesty, I left the scene of the accident feeling disturbed and achy . . . but I was alive. After the initial shock wore off I started to worry about getting through the next few days sans my beautiful Toyota—don’t worry I’m not one of those people who names her car. My car and I are friends, but at the end of the day it’s just a car.

Then I remembered my empty fridge and how I was planning to buy groceries on the way home. And then I wondered how I would get to work tomorrow and to class and back home. . . sigh.

Life is a gift that often feels like a burden.

“You’re lucky to walk away uninjured,” they told me. Am I really? Wouldn’t it have been better to say, “Well, time’s up. Now I can cross over from this side of heaven, a place that sometimes feels like hell, and graciously bid this world adieu.”

But of course not. In reality I’m not ready to die. As I was sailing toward the fire hydrant, bracing myself for impact, feeling absolutely no control over my car, I felt so afraid. And as I collided and watched my bumper explode, I felt only fear. The cold air bit me as I came out to examine the damage, exchange paperwork and phone my friends. My legs wobbled as I found warmth in a stranger’s car and waited for the police. It was a minor accident but definitely left me feeling shaken up.

Life is so surreal sometimes. The mundane is ruptured by these things called accidents where ordinary people experience extraordinary things. And you look up at heaven and breathe into the cold air, “Lord, why?”

Why Johnny, and not me? Why here in my neighborhood and not the forty minute trip I took over highways and under bridges where such an accident could have been fatal.

In high school I was in a car accident. Oddly enough I didn’t blog about it or even share it on social media. I was embarrassed and scared. It’s interesting to see where I’ve come and how I view life differently. I believe it’s important to be both authentic and transparent, to recognize life as difficult and cumbersome, and sometimes mundane and often scary. By recognizing our difficulties we learn to bare each other’s burdens.

These next few days will be far from comfortable, but I’m resting in Jehovah Jireh, my God who provides.

Letting go of comfort

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My friend Anna got married two days before Christmas. We sat in a cafe one Saturday in November and she told me of her wedding plans. Quietly, I sipped my coffee and listened, sort of wishing I had been invited. After John’s funeral I wanted, for some reason, to attend a wedding and remember what it was like to celebrate happy things. Am I wrong to say there is no happiness in death?

The following day, Anna asked me to play violin in her ceremony. So there I was, two days before Christmas playing music and feeling so much happiness. The song Anna chose for us to play was called “Shall not Want” by Audrey Assad. The lyrics begin,

From the love of my own comfort

From the fear of having nothing

From a life of worldly passions

Deliver me O God

As we played I thought of how everyone strives for comfort. Even me. Comfort is something I love, maybe even idolize.  I believe I hold tightly to comfortable things in the uncertainty of tomorrow. But then again, comfort is overrated.  I almost feel as if God is calling me to give up my life of comfort in this new year.

It’s sort of liberating to do the things I always thought of doing but failed to do because they lingered outside of what I deemed comfortable. Good things, of course, like praying for someone aloud, like buying a bowl of soup for a homeless man, like giving more that I feel obliged. These are all uncomfortable things but they involve living for the God of all comfort in a selfless and radical manner.

Last week in Virginia I found myself hesitating when God asked me to give double the cost of the conference to the Richmond church. I reluctantly penned my name in my check book and dropped the check into the offering box.

When I got home from the conference there was a letter sitting on my desk. Inside was a check from Anna for playing in her wedding. I really hadn’t expected her to pay me and to my astonishment the amount was exactly what I’d given extra in Richmond.  I began to realize that living comfortably is really overrated, especially when we serve the God of all things.

Something else I find uncomfortable is losing a friend. And even more so, seeing the ramifications of that lost friend, the hurting ones who miss him most. The aftermath is far more than uncomfortable to watch. It’s disturbing. But God has called me out of my comfortable space. I turn the page and see that this book of life has more characters that need love and comfort than I do.

My prayer is for God to deliver me from a love of my own comfort and to guide me through life’s desserts and valleys with a faith so strong I don’t need to rely on the comforts of this world.

Good Morning December

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This December has been a weird one. Since we lost Johnny in October, I feel as if the months are drifting by, unnoticed. Or maybe this is just me having to grow-up much faster than I anticipated.

December makes me feel like a kid again, especially now that I’m out of school and back in Indianapolis. The city transforms with lights and trees and decorations. The sky dusts the naked trees with snow. I sit in my living room and gaze through foggy windows watching a mesmerizing snowfall. Why is it that year after year the first snow never fails to leave me speechless? But something is missing. This year will be different because we’ve lost someone.

I think of Johnny’s sisters coming home for Christmas and how I will want to cry with them. I cry with his best friend as we write cards of condolences to comfort friends in this holiday season. It has been two months since Johnny passed away and the absence of our dear friend is still surreal.  I begin to wonder if the human mind can ever fully comprehend death.

When I wake up to a new day, with fresh thoughts of grief and sorrow I simply rise and say “Good morning December. Let’s get through this together.” For December is not just a month in the year. If December were a character in a story he’d be tall and burly with a fur hat and wide leather boots, and deep eyes that tell stories of Christmases gone by.

I know I promised to write about something new, to leave the subject of death alone and blog about a more vibrant topic. But, try telling that to the bare trees and the empty cornfields and to the frozen earth where the grass is turning brown. Death is ever present on this side of heaven.

I feel as if December is mourning John’s death too. The stale air, the dead trees, the blood stained sky above a cold morning sunrise. Together we grieve.

And yet . . . together we look to the Lord to bring us through these dark valleys and grant us rest in green pastures.

Christmas In The Office

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I’m never late for work because I have my morning routine down to a tee.

My alarm pulls me awake. Cold cereal and a splash of almond milk. My clothes wait for me, hanging in the closet. My keys are always where I last left them: on the key rack above the cordless phone, still collecting dust.

Yes, I’m never late for work, unless it’s snowed.

“Oops,” I whisper in the cold morning air,  allowing a few visible wisps of breath to escape my mouth.

Suppose I should get into the habit of checking not just the temp but the precipitation before I leave for work. Fresh powdery snow has blanketed the car entirely. I start up the engine, thankfully the engine keeps running, and begin wiping down the windows.

My little white ford focus rumbles down the road probably louder than the garbage truck that’s barreling toward me.  The rim of a coffee cup touches my lips and I sip the first of many coffees to come. Then I try desperately to wake up the heater. But the fan won’t budge; yes it’s frozen stuck.

“Damn it,”  I curse. The words hang sharply in the still air. Why do I only curse when I’m alone in the car: at my car, at myself, at my steering wheel when it’s jammed, at my brakes when they take longer to stop than I’d like. And I have no idea where the language comes from. These words just fly out of my mouth in a frenzy of anger or fear, and when all is well I think, “Where in heaven did I learn to curse like that?”

My fingers begin to numb and I race to work thinking about nothing else but getting back into my bed when this day is over.

I work for the State of Indiana. I have a little cubicle at a small agency down deep in the basement (Lower-level as we like to call it) of the South Government building. I slip through the door and see the little white head of our receptionist resting her face on a soft warm blanket on  her desk before the clock strikes eight and the work day commences. She’s adorable.

Winter in Indianapolis, that’s probably how I should have started this blog post. Winter before Christmas is very festive with lights and trees everywhere. But some people get carried away with the Christmas decorations. A tree went up right outside my cubicle and it gives a nice touch, especially with the lights.

But then strange appearances began. People were decking out their cubes with wrapping paper and candy canes. The smell of gingerbread cookies filled my nostrils on the way out to lunch. The aroma must have been from a scented candle warmer or an air freshener but it was so bizarre. “Merry Christmas” signs hang from doors and some people even have stockings hanging outside their offices with hand written names in green. What in the world? The weirdest thing yet was a woman who had a collection of Christmas plates fit for a Christmas castle sitting all spread out on her desk beside her computer.

Jeez Louis, is Santa coming in or something? I thought Christmas decorating stopped in college.

Guess not.

I love the traditional decorations: all the lamp posts on Meridian street tide red with bows, and the lights that hang from monument circle surrounded by an army of tin soldiers. But I’ll pass on the tacky lights and creepy Christmas decor. Please, keep that at home. 🙂