Same Song, 2nd Verse? No, Thank You.

There’s been this undercurrent of weirdness running through my life recently.  I can’t pinpoint any one thing; everything has just felt kind of “off.”  Spiritually, I’ve felt like I’ve been slogging through chest-deep molasses, or maybe trying to push through a ceiling made from that stretchy, clear glue they use to hold stuff in gift baskets.  Physically, I’ve been making a BUNCH of changes as I’ve heard God directing me, so it’s all good but not yet “the norm.”  In the emotional and mental category, I’ve been learning how to deal with people with more grace, so you can imagine the types of individuals I’ve had too much contact with…this one is a work in progress.  My exceptionally strong sense of justice and righteousness wants to tell it like it is.  The push-and-pull can be tiring.

I guess, as far as years go, 2011 has not been a bad one, per se.  Good things have happened.  I finally finished my bachelor’s degree and graduated with a 4.0, then started grad school.  I got to take a few trips and fall completely in love with another state (something I never in a million years anticipated).  The hubby is playing music again and even got an upgraded cello.  My son is advancing in karate and is a whiz-bang reader; he’s also growing spiritually by leaps and bounds.  All three of us are, actually.

But bright spots do not a great year make.  I’m very sensitive to the spiritual noise around me, and sometimes it’s difficult to shut it out or even to filter it.  Maybe that’s why this year has felt so…cacophonous.  There’s a lot of negative stuff going on in the world right now, both on a global level and closer to home.  On the surface, many of the issues don’t seem to have a soon-coming resolution.

We’re about to go into a new year, and I, for one, want exactly that: a NEW year.  I don’t want a rehash or continuation of the past.  I want trembling, pale green new life to burst forth from the soil, defying the odds and blooming, bearing fruit.  I want the windows flung wide, the corners swept out, and a fire burning oh-so-intensely on the hearth.  I want blazing light in darkened places  and the clarion call of justice where there has been the singsong taunt of wrongdoing.  More than anything, I want to hear a new song being shouted from the rooftops – I want to add my voice to the chorus and not just move my lips silently because I think I can’t sing.

For all the noise, there have been promises, too.  I believe that 2012 is a pivotal year, a crucial year, even.  I’m not sure I can effectively communicate what I’m sensing, but I believe that the Lord has all kinds of plans for it.  Obviously, people who don’t believe in God won’t accept this, but those of us who trust in Him should be searching out what He’s saying, and we should be lining ourselves up in agreement with His every word.  We need to be singing that new song:  He [has] put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will look on in awe and put their trust in ADONAI (Psalm 40:3, Complete Jewish Bible translation).  <—- Do you see why?   This new sound, this new song, is the sound of the Body finally growing up, growing together, becoming the great warrior she is.  It IS our agreement with His will.  It is the sound of identity, of unity, of victory.

So I ask, will you sing over 2012?  Will you add your voice to the chorus, too?  Even if you have previously only been silently moving your lips?  You need to hear me:  YOU have something to sing.  YOUR VOICE is part of the sound.

Happy New Year, my friends.

Love and Haight and Ashbury

Thanksgiving was lovely this year.  J, M, and I spent it with my ex-in-laws in San Francisco, and yep, you read that correctly.  In fact, that’s what the “Love” part of the title refers to: we love them dearly, and they love us, too.

***We interrupt this program to bring you a special message.  Listen closely; this is important:  Once upon a time, in another life, I was married, and not to J.  It was a marriage that should not have been, yet, in God’s amazingly gracious way, He gifted me by way of that marriage with two of the most wonderful people I know.  And when that marriage ended nine years later, those two wonderful people – who had always accepted me as another daughter – not only wished me all happiness and joy in my life going forward, but they enthusiastically embraced my new husband and my son when the time came.  Now they call my husband “Son” and my son “Grandson.”  M doesn’t yet understand all the history, but he does understand that these two wonderful people love him unreservedly, and they do the same toward his mom and dad.  We spend as much time as possible with them, given that they are hundreds of miles away.   And as far as I’m concerned, despite the large number of people in my life who find this situation weird/baffling/crazy/unbelievable, it is none of those things.  It is proof of the goodness of God and the grace that rules when He is allowed to be Lord of a situation.  We now return to our regularly scheduled program.***

One of the best things about visiting San Francisco was that it was a homecoming of sorts for the hubby.  J is a military brat, and he spent a couple of years living on the Presidio there, 25 years ago.  He felt a strong sense of belonging in SF, so it was a lot of fun to cross things off my bucket list (like eating in Chinatown and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge) while watching him greet and interact with the city like it was a long-lost love.  He showed me his house, his high school, and some of his old haunts.  In turn, I made him visit places he’d never been, like the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park and the Musee Mecanique on Fisherman’s Wharf.  It was a LOT of fun.

One day, M stayed with Grandma at her request (well, more like demand 🙂 ), and J and I spent the day exploring.  After a full day of traipsing across the city and driving down the RIDICULOUS Lombard Street, J decided I needed to see the Haight/Ashbury area, so off we went.  We parked on some side street at about an 80 degree angle (with the wheels TIGHTLY turned to the curb, I might add), and J actually convinced me to stand under the famous intersection sign for a picture.  I even pasted on a dopey grin and made peace signs, if you can believe that about picture-phobic me.  But alas (or maybe not, lol), the picture was not meant to be, for right after I set my Canon T1i to full-auto mode for my darling hubby and assumed the aforementioned position, some dude decided he needed to walk by.  I promptly insisted he go right ahead, and thus began a VERY interesting exchange, made all the more “interesting” (haha) by the locale in which it took place.  This guy couldn’t have been more stereotypical-ex-hippie-who-came-of-age-during-the-dawning-of-the-Age-of-Aquarius if he tried, which made me smile.  He noticed my Texas State University shirt and, instead of passing by, stopped to chat.  Apparently, to him, it was out of place in San Francisco.  J then made the comment that Austin tries really hard to be the Texas version of SF, so it wasn’t so odd, after all.

[I should add, here, that people make a WHOLE LOT of assumptions about the hubby and me when they see us together.  Because he is black (his descriptor of choice, by the way), he is automatically assumed to be a die-hard Democrat-slash-liberal; no self-respecting black man would be anything else.  Because I am white and married to a black man, I, too, am assumed to be very liberal; apparently no proper conservative woman would find herself in such a predicament.  It just wouldn’t be fitting.]

Sometimes, I have a lot of fun with the assumptions.  This was one of those times.  Our new friend proceeded to speak for five full minutes about his horrible experiences in Houston, TX, about how everyone there is hypnotized by Fox News, how they’re all backwoods conservatives who support corporate greed, and so forth.  But he was sure that not EVERYONE in Texas was like that, especially if we lived in Austin.  At this point, I very sweetly smiled and said, “You’re looking at two conservatives from Houston, and no, we’re not all like that.  And we don’t think corporate – or governmental –  greed is good either.”

I guess if you could actually hear a pin drop on a busy city sidewalk, you would have.  And then a lively discussion ensued.   Dude said emphatically that all he was asking for was fairness for all.   J and I agreed that we would like that too, but  that you can’t legislate morality, so more government intervention is not the antidote to corporate greed (of course, we feel that it’s ultimately a heart issue that only God can change, and we alluded to that without beating the guy over the head with Christianese).  Back and forth we went, way too much to recount here, but the funny thing was that all of us had similar goals and desires.  We did not agree on how to attain them, but we had an extremely civil and thought-provoking conversation…right under the Haight/Ashbury sign.  🙂

One thing Dude said was that if we’re really a so-called Christian nation, we should realize that Jesus would be helping poor people out.  I love it when people who aren’t Christ-followers tell me what Christ would do, but he was partially correct.  I told him that it’s possible to be culturally Christian without actually practicing the faith, and I think that’s what we mostly have in America.  But also, Jesus WOULD help the poor.  He just wouldn’t do it through the government.  He would expect his body – us – to do it.  But since in our culture allowing the Church to perform that function would be seen as a dangerous liaison between church and state, it ain’t gonna happen under the current system.  Dude didn’t say much to that, but I could see the wheels turning.

By the time the conversation wrapped, the sun had almost set, and I stepped back to snap a picture of the intersection signs.  Dude shook our hands and told us the chat had totally made his day.  He walked off, and we crossed the street to get ice cream.  That 30 minutes on the corner was an amazing opportunity for us to speak truth into a stranger’s life, a chance to tear down stereotypes and preconceptions, and proof that people on both ends of the spectrum have a lot more in common than they might initially believe.  I LOVE stuff like that!  And I love God’s sense of humor – I can just see him laughing as he chose the location for this meeting.  I can’t wait to see what he sets up next. 😀