We're 7 days into the new year and each day that's passed since it started, I've sat here tweaking a blog entry. The same one for 7 days and I can't seem to get my thoughts hashed out clearly enough to make it flow right. So I decided it was time to set it aside and move on. Maybe I'll come back to it later. It a nutshell, it explains why I, who, much to the chagrin of my poor family, am normally the bearer of all things personal and embarrassing, was such an aimless blogger for most of last year. Very difficult year. From start to finish. But as the year wrapped up, I found myself feeling good about where I am in life. As I mentioned, I tried to put it into words, but some of what I'm feeling good about is new revelation and I haven't been able to fully process it all, to figure out where I go with it. I do know I've found the desire to write again. Apparently not enough to be able to make a blog entry cohesive enough to publish. But enough that I found myself writing a sappy, sentimental article about canned tomatoes for my latest assignnment for Fiskars. I think I toed the line on crazy, but I was pleased with it when I finished and it works.
A few things from the past few weeks.
I finally got a job! Such a frustrating, discouraging, icky process. The whole resume, sell-yourself-as-more-capable-than-Jesus-himself thing just feels dishonest to me. Everyone knows all the applicants are plumping up their resumes with important-sounding adjectives and deception about how irreplaceable we were at our last job. And yet we still have to do it. Shawn went through this midway through last year and I was getting irritated with him not selling himself better, but I had to eat crow when it came time for me to do it myself. I spent an hour filling out an online application for one company and I got to the last question. "If we met your former boss at a picnic, what would he say about you?" Really. I typed one sentence, looked at it, and wondered if I really wanted to work for a company that made me answer such a ridiculous question, especially for an entry level job. I just closed out the application without submitting it. You can call it pride but it felt more like preserving dignity.
The company I eventually got a job with has been awesome to this point. I don't actually start work until Monday, but I've been treated very professionally so far through phone interviews and paperwork signing and such. No silly questions. I didn't even have to test with them. For those of you who don't know what I'll be doing, it's medical transcription. Every other company I applied with requires you to test, and I have no opposition to that. But this company accepts that I just finished training through one of their preferred schools and trusts, based on past experience with others, that I am worth investing time and resources in. And I'm assuming that there was the most important element, common sense. I just graduated so I have the experience of a new graduate. No humiliating hoop jumping required for explaining why I'm qualified when I have no experience yet. The pay and benefits are more than I hoped for. And I got a sweet schedule! I expected to have to work nights for at least a year. I was literally depressed about it. Instead, I got an 8 a.m. to 4:30 shift. Unbelievable. The whole package is such a blessing I'm still pinching myself. The only thing that didn't work out in my favor is my schedule is Sunday through Thursday. And that means my church services will be experienced through podcasts. I'm hoping that, after working there for a while, my Sunday schedule can be adjusted. I've heard a lot of good things about their flexibility with scheduling.
Moving on. A few months back, the David Crowder Band announced they were dissolving. I don't think that was the word they used, but I know I read somewhere that they clarified they were not "breaking up." I guess (hope) that means they are keeping their options open for future albums together! So, knowing that their touring would cease, I started looking online to see if they would be touring in our area. I found they were going to be in Branson 3 days after Christmas. Even better, they were performing at a youth conference with other bands. Caelan was excited because one of his favorite bands, Switchfoot, was going to be performing as well. There were several other bands, including Toby Mac, but we were both anxious about our 2 favorites being there. I knew a few of Switchfoot's songs (more than I actually realized) but I didn't have their music on continuous repeat like I did David Crowder. I came away from their concert a big fan. I've been to a lot of concerts and they put on one of the best performances I've ever seen. But that isn't what most impressed me, as much as it did.
This did. Crummy photo but worth sharing. Jon Foreman walking through the crowd of teenage kids shaking their hands, touching them, and looking them in the eye as he sang Restless. We're talking about a man in his mid-30s and teenagers, so if you don't know anything about him, I should mention it wasn't creepy or seductive-like! It was moving. He could have stood on the stage, looking out over the crowd singing, and they would have been screaming and cheering for him. He could have taken it a bit farther by reaching down and slapping a few hands. Instead, he connected with them. He made them feel like they matter. I can't share all the photos I took of him working his way through the crowd here on my blog. But if you're interested, you can see them on my Facebook or Flickr accounts.
Caelan bought their newest CD while we were at the concert because it was autographed. In addition to countless You Tube videos, we've listened to the CD nonstop since we got home. Curious to know more about them, I looked up their website and found a link to articles Jon Foreman has written for The Huffington Post. Amazing writing. Rich and deep and though provoking. Don't those 3 descriptives together read like a cliche book review??? It's the best I can do right now. It's nearly 2 a.m. and I'm too tired to be creative or even search a thesaurus. I'm being a bad work geek! Go read some of the articles and you'll understand what I mean. I'll be cliche again and continue with, but I digress.
I finished reading through all the articles Thursday and found the consistent theme of loving others, especially the unloved. He seems to have found the delicate balance between not just being able to speak to Christians and non-Christians through his obviously God-centered music, but also being a unifying advocate for the need to help others (and exmplifying it, not just preaching it) without expecting that it has to be or can be mandated. I understood it to all stem from caring for everyone he comes in contact with, appreciating every audience, doing free acoustic aftershows in the parking lot for teens, in general, from having the kind of heart for other human beings that the bible tells us we should. The whole idea that someone seems to be genuinely fleshing that out is part of what my typically skeptical mind is processing. I struggled so much over the last year with what it means to truly love others and how often I fail at it. More accurately, with people who have character traits that make them hard to love. Really struggled. I even asked Shawn early in the week if he thinks that being intolerant with people who annoy you, for whatever reason, is something you ever overcome in your character and he said no. He thinks it only gets worse as you get older. Not what I wanted to hear. And not how I want to be. It just seems the older I get, more I feel I don't belong in this world. Or at least I don't want to belong in this world. That probably sounds really gloomy and may even concern someone. I don't mean I don't love life. I actually fit in quite well here, in ways other than my struggle to love the way we're supposed to. I love my peeps, my dogs, my hobbies, I love the miracles and the awe of things that cannot be explained. I love the beauty of knowing that there is Grace in spite of our ugliness. I love all the little details of my life. It's just disheartening feeling there's no hope that humanity as a whole will ever get love your neighbor as yourself right, even if we were challenged to try it just for 5 minutes. And it's oddly liberating to know that, even though I fail at this miserably on my own every single day, I no longer revel in the moments of, "I showed her." They make me regretful and sad and longing for the day when it won't be like this.
And I have one final tidbit of my life to share, one that I am both terrified about and completely honored to be a part of; I've been asked to co-author a book. That's as far as it progressed to this point. I'm praying that it's something that grows wings and takes flight. I suppose I could make some little mechanical wings, How To Train Your Dragon style, and force it off the ground. But it's not my story to share. I'm simply there to pull it all together and dress it in words that help people feel as much of the raw emotions my friend has had to work through as possible. Her story is so full of pain, but it is also full of her love for God and her patience with Him and her acceptance of the life He has allowed for her.
So, like I said, that's it in nutshell. It may not seem very pithy to you, but if I fully explained all that was going on in my mind right now, you'd agree this was the abridged version.