“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery
L.M. Montgomery said many wonderful things through her character Anne Shirley, but this one has been a sentiment I have felt throughout my life. I love Octobers. I know it might seem strange to write about just one month of the year but something about the crisp autumnal season & the reminiscing of what October means to me is just what I need right now.
I love Octobers for many reasons & one would be Anne, the one from Green Gables. Her author, I would say, was the one who first inspired my admiration. I love it too because of the memories of watching the VHS box set of Anne of Green Gables movies with my grandparents as a young girl. In some respects it is also just the way that Octobers just seem to embrace me when they come around. I guess most see the loss of beach vacations & lazy days, but the busyness & coolness of fall put me in my element. You see, what is more grand than green leaves turning all different hues & gently falling down to the earth? What’s better than a cool morning drinking tea? What’s more beloved than memories of family & youth? What’s more splendid than the end of hot weather and the beginning of a new season? Maybe it is not just fall, but the ideas of fall that I love. Maybe it is just that I have a lot of memories stored up in the autumn time.
You have probably noticed, but fall ushers in a lot of death. The death of warm summer nights, the death of most leaves & foliage that are not evergreen. Fall is also a season that I can relate to. It almost helps explain things for me sometimes. The idea that there is a place for death in life. That there is life in death & the end of something is not always permanent or bad. That no matter what I can know with certainty that from this autumn season, though it is taking something, it will give back & bloom again in another season. Octobers remind me that even when it looks hopeless & gray that it is not. Something better is coming with the cold & the rain & there will again be good things, but I must wait.
Octobers not only remind me of things like that, but Octobers point out to us in bold & bright ways that there is beauty in newness. There is a beautiful mystery & wonder in chlorophyll disappearing from leaves. Where I live, the mountains explode into color & the changing leaves become a huge attraction to tourists. People flock to the mountains just to take in the astounding metamorphosis & death of leaves. Just a simple change in color brings many out to just bask in the passage of fall to winter. Isn’t that magnificent? That even though we have so many outlets of entertainment, even though we have so much yelling at us trying to grab our attention…that all it takes is leaves. All it takes is nature at work & even if just for a season, the leaves are appreciated beyond normal as their green hues give way to yellows, oranges, & reds.
It is really quite strange that we find such beauty in the passing of leaves, appreciating their waning days, & how in the spring we marvel at new life & blooms. But come the greenness of spring & the days of summer, our obsession with the leaves withers away ’til the next fall. Octobers seem to give us new eyes. Oh, to have new eyes about the seasons & moments of life that seem like death. Octobers tell us many things, like that it is okay to change. Natural to change. That death of parts of you give way for new blooms.
Aren’t we blessed to live in a world where Octobers exist?
Don’t tell me I’m pretty
Don’t compare my face with the others that you have seen
Tell me I’m otherworldly and ethereal and beyond comprehension
Tell me that what I think matters and that what I say has merit
Ask me what my opinion is on the book you just read or why I think Pluto should still be a planet
Tell me a story that nobody else knows
Let me inside the vault of your mind and your heart that you keep closed
Tell me that the way I use words heals the hurts that run miles deep
Tell me my heart is full of compassion
Tell me that I matter and am brave even when I feel ready to sink
Tell me that my emotions are what make me strong
Tell me the truth when it’s hard, when I’m cruel and shouting and falling apart and blaming you for things that aren’t your fault
Tell me that I’m the one that makes you want to stay at home when the whole world is calling your name
Don’t call me pretty,
tell me I’m enough and complete without you
but that you’d like to walk with me wherever I’m headed.
Two whole people,
who say so many things but don’t tell each other that they are pretty.
It is going to get coffee and bringing back two
it’s words, it’s feeling, it’s comfortable silence, it’s loud laughter at midnight
It is commitment for the better, the sick, the haves and the nots.
It’s not just words spoken or things written on paper or empty promises forgotten on the back shelves of our minds
It’s a vow with a purpose, a goal with the end, to better not just yourself but each other in the world that we’re in
Working together, making more problems than solutions not a movie ending with the sunset in the distance.
It’s the keeping of promises, honor, respect, honest, and pure.
It is taking what you could give in pieces to many and refusing to break it up.
More and more, those four letters are strung together and thrown around like confetti. Noticing the mess it makes because it’s beautiful but a pain to pick up yet we keep throwing because it’s a celebration, even after heartbreak we find healing.
Scared of hurt and unsure of ourselves,
sometimes it’s a flower we refuse to pick and just leave growing.
It’s the way we wonder if we’re insane.
It’s the way it hurts to give on hard days. When you don’t want to but the commitment is made
It’s muddy and unclear and an uphill hike both ways, yet we treat it like the resolution to our problems, a magical elixir, a fairytale ending.
But it’s a beginning. The sunset brings a sunrise. The romance brings reality.
If one thing holds clarity it’s this to me that it is a problem maker, a multiplier of frustration and a battle to fight for.
It’s not our solution, it won’t heal our hearts.
All I can say about it is that
Love is a start.
read this, I hope you listen on repeat
hear me speak
please be wild and free
don’t say nothing, for to not speak is to speak
stand for what is right, look those things in the face
do not fear death
meet it with fire and grace
grasp that precious life
trust through the doubt, have faith to thrive through uncertainty
cry and grieve when you and others are hurting
be love and be loved and be okay with letting go when love isn’t the answer
let intentionality drown you and bring you back to life again
Let holy moments convince you of the places where the veil between runs thin
see all of the glory in them, see all the glory within
live fearlessly in His close embrace
live out that grace
I like to dye my hair. It’s been black, purple, blonde, green, & most recently blue. Now you can imagine the reaction that I get to these vast changes in hair color. I mean, abnormally colored hair is usually judged immediately, since it’s a very obvious physical attribute. Everyone sees your hair. Some judge it well & others aren’t a fan. I mean usually people are polite or critical in a polite way, depending on tone, “Oh, wow, you’re hair is blue. How nice.” can mean so many things. But most people I know usually support me in my hair escapades. & of course, I have blue hair, so I don’t necessarily care very much about the opinions thrown at me but I do always appreciate the support when it’s found. People can be the greatest & the worst (a good topic for another day.)
But, to steer the conversation back, I feel like for me, it’s not really about what others think. There will almost always be spectators to the 6 foot tall girl with blue hair. But what scares me is the future. Oh! I get it now…that’s why the title is “Blue & the future.” Foreshadowing. Gosh–Ok, on track again– But see it makes sense…One day, in the near future, I will probably have normal hair that is a natural color. & as petty & unimportant as it sounds, when that day comes I’ll be sad. I don’t look forward to the day when I’m considered a professional. When I’m considered “too old” for “fun hair.” Now, I’m not saying that you can’t rock a sassy hairdo of any color as a professional or as a older person, I just mean for me, in pursuit of some sort of career in Law, it’s probably not going to be an option. I mean, I’ll do my best to be a blue-haired lawyer, but I don’t know how that will work out for me. I will let you know as soon as I figure it out. I’ll get back to you in a few years. But blue hair has taught me that some things are meant for seasons, & that after a while all things dye–er, I mean die.
If you, like me, tend to overthink the little things, like what your hair color will be in the future, then maybe you need this reminder just like I did. Life is meant for new things. New colors. Blue hair. But if I had blue hair forever, it might lose it’s charm. That new normal might become boring. As new & exciting as blue hair is now, maybe future me will look back & laugh at me at 21. But knowing myself, I’ll probably have my awesome professional hair & look back at photos & think about how exciting it was to go out on a whim & buy the wondrously named “Electric Teal” hair die. I’ll remember going home to put it on only to end up going to see the Tarzan movie with my dad. I’ll remember him talking too loudly in the theater during the movie, saying something funny or pointing out a plot error with the books & how I wasn’t embarrassed anymore when he decided to have loud mid-movie conversations with me cause who the heck cares anyways. I’ll remember driving back home & taking our new family dog, Amelia, out to the yard with my dad & laughing at the way she’s not good at fetch yet. I’ll remember cracking the hair dye seal at 11 p.m. & not finishing the dye job ’til 2 in the morning. Blue-haired, blue-handed, & ready to sleep. I’ll remember the days I haven’t lived yet, but I’ll look back to this season of life, to the love I feel for so many, to the songs I liked, the movies I loved, the people I share life with near & far, & I guarantee that somewhat normal colored hair me will say, “I’m glad for the blue hair days. Here’s to the *insert color here* hair days to come.”
Life will most definitely be just as exciting in the future, even without the blue hair. I guess blue hair really isn’t the issue. It’s just been the catalyst to teach me that this time in my life won’t necessarily be the place I need to be in in the future & I’m grateful. Things will change, thank God for the promise of newness & the mystery of what life has yet to bring me. I’ll miss blue hair & be sad the day it changes, but life will continue to move on & new things will gain importance & significance to me. I’ll live my edgy blue haired days now, enjoying the things I’m experiencing with it now, learning who I am & doing the most with this one wild & precious life*. I can now look forward, with the lessons life is teaching me now, to the day my hair will be “normal”, without regrets or fear. For whatever color my hair is then, I bet that in the future–life, work, friends, family, love, Jesus, & all the joys along with the sorrows that will be experienced now will be felt just as deeply & beautifully as I experienced them in the blue hair era of my life.
Here’s to all the hair eras I’ve had & have yet to experience–no matter the color–it’s good to learn that things in their season & in their time are meaning full & that there is joy in the beginning, ending, & even in the unknown.
Live like your hair is blue, whatever that means.
*Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”
Ever feel like you’re making a lot of noise, but you aren’t making music? That’s where I am. It’s like this:
Are my actions ringing louder than my words? I’ve been extremely guilty of saying & not doing. Where do my words meet my walk? Where does my love become evident?
I say this all because, recently, I’ve realized the enormous following that bitterness & hate have in the world we live in. See presidential candidates, hate rhetoric, boycotts of stores over acceptance of people, hate over mixed couples in ads, kids shot in the streets, & the way people talk about people who sin differently than they do.
Doesn’t that put it in perspective?
But my disconnect happens because I see in His word where God has called us to love Him & love others like He loves us. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace. Love. In the verse about love, 1 Corinthians 13 says:
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Is that me? Am I speaking yet shouting out something that can’t be heard? Am I getting so lost in the idea of who to love, when to love, how to love. In this world…exactly who do I choose to love?
In a recent conversation with a friend, I was talking about mercy & grace & was continually reminded by him that my mercy & grace isn’t what God’s is. In many stories, over & over again, I see Jesus not only loving people, but understanding their need to be loved. The woman about to be stoned, the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, Saul turned Paul, the thief on the cross. God did things that made other people uncomfortable. He accepted people. He loved the Gentiles. He healed the lepers. He forgave prostitutes. He saved adulterous women. He died for me. God’s sweet love story isn’t about telling others they are wrong. It’s about realizing our wrong & righting it & then loving other broken people into His arms. Why do we try to fix people when we are the broken too? Why are we not letting God work by continually trying to use our own human ways to fix what we cannot fix? All the great things we try to do, if not done in love, only hinder the love story of God. It sounds like the loud banging, chaotic noise of crashing cymbals that convince people that the story of love we are shouting at them isn’t one that convinces them that God died for them too. Because we build ourselves up. We say our sin isn’t as bad. We say what we think under the guise that it’s ok for truth to be offensive & to hurt because it’s facts so just deal with it. That’s abrasive, manipulative, angry, aggressive, & wrong. Truth is truth because it’s facts, & saying it in love makes it a much more convincing argument. That’s why grace & mercy are so important. Because God’s message is that what we say matters. How we say it matters. How we love others matters. When we stop trying to make our way the only way, we give God room to show up & prove that His way, that love is, the only way.
When we choose to say that someone else’s sin is worse than ours, when we try to dictate what God says–we start making noise that to hurting people sounds like clanging cymbals. It sounds like hypocrisy. It sounds like anger, bitterness, & rejection.
Make love your highest goal. Not because it makes sense. Not because you choose to. But because love, love is what God gives us abundantly, without limit, without expectation. Because His action–it speaks louder than our chaotic noise. It speaks louder than our attempts to sort out who we should accept or not accept.
In the end, don’t you think it’s better to love like Christ loved us, than to turn our backs on the people standing right beside us that are hurting & dying to be loved?
If you try to tell me that I’m the only sinner that Jesus died for then I can’t believe that. If someone hurts you, love them like Jesus. Do we really get that? Do we understand the magnitude of what that command means? Love others like I love you. Jesus loved us so much, so greatly, that His love manifested itself & led Him to death on a cross. That’s love. Dying for people that hate you, work against you, shouted for your death, are different from you, that sin against you, & those that want to kill you.
Yet we struggle to love those we see at different. Well, I don’t want that to be me. I don’t want to look at others and forget that the first person I’m responsible for is me. I see the way that I break every single one of God’s commandments. I think bad thoughts. I murder people with my looks. I lie. I break God’s heart, & just because my wrong is different, does not make Jesus any less capable.
Jesus loved. It was crazy. He loved His betrayer Judas & He loved His beloved John. He loved & He didn’t stop because it wasn’t convenient for Him. He didn’t think about it & then come down off the cross. So how about we follow suit. How about instead of wild statements about who is going to hell or who God doesn’t love or accept, how about we make a wild statement through our actions by loving people the way God said to. Why try to enforce our own take on Christ’s word & why not actually try being the hands & feet of Christ. Because the Christ I read about, the one I sing to, the one I worship, didn’t die for only my sin. But for it all. Find me a verse that says He didn’t die for it all, & I’ll be convinced. Show me the way Jesus’ example said to stop loving when it’s not convenient & I’ll stop. But until then, I’m gonna believe what God said. At that’s that He came for it all & He died for it all & He rose again for it all.
Stop not loving people because it’s not convenient for you. Because Jesus died on the cross for you & for the transgender person using the Target bathroom. & if you think Jesus stops loving & stops forgiving, then I hope you stay out of Target, because I’m trying to love God & find a cute craft to do without being told that someone doesn’t deserve the love that by that standard I don’t deserve either.
Keep your words & your loud noisy cymbals away from the everliving, powerful truth of God. Because the cymbals of your actions & the cymbals of your words are distracting from the life changing, life giving words & love of God.
Unconditional, no exceptions Love.
God calls us to that kind of love. So forgive. Pray. Be used to love others.
Are you going to? Or is this generation’s legacy going to be that we couldn’t love like Jesus because we were too busy making our own judgements about Christ’s words?
If we don’t love one another the word of God will never be truly heard. Love has the power to change people’s lives. As a Christian, you experience that grace & love everyday. If we really want Him to be great, if we want to be known as Christians then please,
let go of your cymbals & start letting God’s love be louder than you.
I almost went the whole day, I didnt even notice. & then I did.
It wouldve been four years today
spent with you
The 27th will never be an important day, it cant be/
I still (& I guess Ill always) remember the first moment
front of a store, I smiled because your shirt had a pun
& now I sit here tears falling
& think that way back then if I knew what I did now
I wouldve stopped at appreciating at your corny teeshirt
& let you go on//
whats worst is that while I sit here & cry you probably havent even thought about it. Not at all.
How do sweet moments turn into memories that are becoming grey & fading fast?
& not to be mean & not to be cruel but in retrospect I know Im happier sitting here crying than I would have been if I had stayed with you.
It doesnt make it easier & it doesnt mean I regret that time with you. It just means our time was over. It’s past tense.
This 27th was four, not anymore, but it would’ve been. But,
I am where I am & I am where I’m meant to be.
I’m happy–I’m me, & even with subsiding tears I truly believe, right here right now with every tear gone,
I’m moving on.
I thought that once I was technically an adult, life would all gradually line up into place & things like the present & future would become clear. Reality has hit me square in the face & I now realize that that magical thing we imagine as adulthood is not as it seems to childhood us. I used to think that people who were in their twenties had things figured out. Big news here–no one does. I would love to have the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with eleven year old me & drop some truth on younger me. No one has anything figured out, & here’s the thing, it’s not mandatory that we do. When I was eleven-ish year old me I guess I just figured that adults had the answer. & no one, can you believe this, no one told me any different. I looked with unrealistic expectation to the time that I would be 18 & an adult & carefree. JUST KIDDING. No one told me that as the years accumulated more & more that the things I was responsible for & cared for would increase, questions would still be there & multiply & even be unaswerable, & things would be less figured out than ever. I mean, people even gave me what seemed like a handy guideline. Be a kid, stay in school, graduate high school, get a job to learn responsibility, do the right things, see the right people, get into college, go to college, have a career, have a family, have a hunky dory life that seems super simple all boiled down into a nifty litle time line. Well, thing is, life isn’t a string of years sown together as much as it happens to be many things along with being a series of events, actions, choices, & decisions that lead us each moment to moment. Apparently one just doesn’t grow up & figure things out.
Good news lies amongst my sarcastic comments & hollow ideas of what I thought growing up would be like. Being older doesn’t have to equal having it all figured out. Isn’t that a glorious realization though? That no matter how many books, movies, tv shows & the like end with tidy little endings with nary a hardship, that’s not how life is. I don’t have to have perfect start or ending, a “one true love”, or anyone pushing along my story line other than me (& Jesus, not leaving Him out, actually He’s about to make a huge entrance into this post. Spoilers.) No neat, tidy bow needed. For so long I thought that at one moment or another some life altering thing would happen or some dramatic turn would point me to the right way or thing to do. But turns out that the human experience is trying, failing, trying, failing, & repeating this cycle until we succeed & move forward. We aren’t defined by our past loves, or our past mistakes…we aren’t held to an unrealistic standard or goal. My life isn’t a line stretched out with important dates picked out. It’s not the bad choices I’ve made, the people I’ve left in my past, or the people I’ve chosen to stick with. What defines me right now hasn’t & won’t always. & even in this place where I don’t know myself, my plans, my life, & my future, I have hope. The stuff I didn’t choose, whether that be a person, going somewhere, or personal decisions–get this–that’s the past. That’s something I can’t change. & the past has been where I was choosing to remain. If I would have done this, maybe chosen this person over this person, done this better, had the best attitude, been the smartest, known what I needed to do… I could be doing something. I could even be pursuing my dreams. That “dream” within a dream. The thing I was meant to do. The person I was meant to be.
Let’s put on the brakes here though, because I’ve recently come to understand that I am that person. I am running after my passions & I don’t have to be looking back at all the things I could’ve, or should’ve, or might’ve done. Because in the end, looking back won’t change anything. I’m finally learning a vital point of information about myself–I am not, never have been, & never will be the one in control. I’m finding myself in the present, no longer concerned about what I could’ve changed. I am learning, living, making mistakes, stressing about things that won’t matter in five seconds, & about 99.9% of the time I’m clueless about my future at the same time that I’m worried about what to eat for lunch today. BUT, crazy thing, that’s where God comes in. Let’s start at the very beginning, just for emphasis & fun. He made Adam & Eve the very first humans & He continued to love them when they strayed & chose disobedience. He created Abraham, who sold idols in a foreign land, to be a part of His plan & God chose him knowing each misstep that would happen along the way & He still blessed him over & over. He created Moses to be raised up in the house of his peoples’ oppressors & to lead his people out of Egypt & God knew his failings before Moses knew to whom his heart belonged. He created Esther to be a bride & to be a warrior of prayer & a brave woman in a time where she wasn’t supposed to be. He made John to be a man after His own heart, but that didn’t make John perfect. He created Peter, & He knew that Peter would deny Him, but His love didn’t end. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, lady, we get it, what is your point?) I could go on endlessly giving out examples of imperfect people that God loved & used & knew, even though at times in their lives they were lost, hopeless, unfaithful, disbelieving, critics, liars, cheaters, lovers of man instead of God…I hope the point is received. Because the point is in each one of those people, & many others, I see me. I’m Adam, eating fruit I’m forbidden to eat. I’m Abraham when God tells me to believe that He will be a faithful fulfiller of His promise, yet I choose to do my own things. I’m Peter, denying, questioning, not understanding. & I can’t even begin to explain, but like God’s word points out in extravagant ways, even though He didn’t have to, He loves me. That’s why He says no, don’t. Obey my laws. & yet, even when I fail, He is still faithful to me & to my future. Even when I take others as my love, He faithfully fulfills His never ending, perfect vow to me to love & provide even in my disbelief & foolishness. I am blessed though I fail. Not by my own ability. But by One that surpasses me so vastly I can’t explain. Though I don’t know what is in store, I can faithfully cling to the fact that the One who created me– He created the world. He created Abraham, Esther, Job, John, & all those in between, & He cares in an unfathomable way about every step I’m making & that no matter what the future holds, it isn’t dependent on me.
Happily, it is dependent on my Abba Father, one whose decision confound me, but that I follow because I believe He loves me much more than I love myself. He redeems me time & again, beyond times that I deserve & He continually shows me in my life & the lives of those around me, that He won’t ever give up, even when I do. In my complete failure, my life is to ever praise & point to God. Maybe my idea of how my life should be doesn’t look like I imagine because my plan is way off. & I’d rather my course be directed by God than for the reins of my life to be given to me. “Me” can’t do this & even when “me” tries to take control, I can rest safe in the fact that when I let go, God doesn’t. I have proof. Look at Eve. Look at David. Look at Rahab. Look at Mary. Look at Paul. Then,
look at me.
Maybe now I can stop looking back to the things I thought my life would be like. These nonfactual, childhood thoughts that I conceived about how my life would be like don’t begin to define who I am, where I should be, or what’s in store. Learning contentment in the unknown & in the One I know & trust above all is not an easy task or even enjoyable. It’s rough. It’s hectic. But it’s perfect, because He is perfect. Wherever I go, I don’t want to say, “This is how it should be.” I want to say, “How should this be Lord?” I want to let go of the false, I want to let go of the past. I want to let go of the future & caste my worries in the direction of my Creator who knows exactly when I inhale & exhale. I want to let go of now, because it’s not about where others are. It’s not about what peers say, what my family wants, or even what my own self says I need to do or be. Telling my heart to not go after what it selfishly wants now is hard. But I’d rather have truth, joy, rightness, goodness, & faith than to have the old, childish lies I continually find myself relying on & believing. What He has planned for me is a better plan than “me” could ever plan for me. & this year, more than ever, I need to let go of control of my life. It’s not mine & it’s not what I think it needs to be. It’s His. So here’s to an adventure where I never know, but one where I hear His voice, feel His leading, & say, “I don’t know God, but You do. So let’s go.”
Here’s to the hardest (but best) year coming. Here’s to God’s thoughts, ways, will, & life plan for us all. Look back at all those in Bible & realize He didn’t just help & lead then & that He doesn’t just have interest in me either. When you read that “look at me”, read it about yourself. Because right where you are, or right where you’ve been–that’s where God meets you & heals you & directs you into a love relationship with Him that not only changes you but changes your whole entire life. He’s got a plan & a purpose for each of us, & they start with love & truth. Not the nonfactual childhood thoughts about how we thought life would be right now. Walk forward in His truth & watch your life become His & watch how it becomes one more beautiful than you could ever have imagined.
Take that eleven-ish year old me.
I am aware that the next time I go out
I might see you again
And it’s formidable only because
seeing you for the first time
since I saw you for the last time
makes right now
seem like some kind of white noise, blank space purgatory
And every time I think I see you I turn around or drive away and
I need more oxygen and my pulse goes into frenzy until I realize it wasn’t your truck and the hair was the wrong color
I still worry that today will be that day
Not that I don’t want to see you or that I hate the thought
But it’s that seeing you would remind me that what we had was not what I want
It is different
and hard to adjust
which is why I avoid and run and hide away
pushing that inevitable day further away where we’ll either pretend to have never met
we’ll say hello again.
and the thing about that is
goodbye makes hello seem like the worst part.