Lights and Glamour and Humility

Night and exhaustion combined turn me into a sort of half-crazed lunatic who says whatever comes to her mind in whatever order it may come. I think I’ve demonstrated that by now.

But there have been several things bouncing about in my mind that I’ve wanted to share, and so tonight I’m going to strive to accomplish just that.

Which may be difficult based on the way I keep spelling things.

Hmm.

Anyway…

Since the last time I dropped in to say that life was going well, life has continued to…well…go well.

Thursday, in particular, was one of those days that show me why people can preach a ‘health, wealth, and prosperity’ gospel, because it was so fabulous and it was super easy to connect the dots and think, ‘I’ve been doing my devotions and praying and talking to people about my faith and so now I’m being rewarded and why didn’t I start checking all the little boxes of ought-tos earlier so life would quit being so dadgum difficult?’

Except God’s blessings aren’t dependent on our level of surface-level perfection.

And God’s blessings are every bit as present on the days when I don’t get out of class early, find out that I did indeed manage to test out of a class, learn about a concert that my dad buys me and my friends tickets to, get a call from my mom saying that she gets to fly out to see me in the play Hay Fever (which everyone should come see…) and enjoy three full, nearly-healthy meals.

But yeah, that was my glorious Thursday that my suite mate and roommate and I spent quite a while squealing over.

And then Friday was, by all accounts, a fair day.

And then Saturday I had to get my hair cut…which is stated in a rather displeased mumble and accompanied by a face that communicates that this is not a matter that I am exceptionally pleased about and no, I would not like to discuss it further. I miss my hair but am grateful for the opportunity to be in a show even if it requires sacrificing my hair. I keep telling myself that.

BUT Saturday night my roommate, suite mate, and I all got to go see the concert that we found out about on Thursday.

A while ago I gave y’all my rather unimpressed/confused thoughts about seeing the Newsboys in concert.

Tonight I want to (briefly, because I fear I’m getting loopy) share with you my thoughts about seeing Tenth Avenue North in concert.

First off, I adore Tenth Avenue North, and have since my dad introduced the band to me long before they were immensely popular.

Of course, Dad couldn’t remember the numerical value of their name at first, or even which direction they claimed, so for a time I thought the band was Ninth Avenue West. But life goes on and muddles get sorted out, and the sound of Dad singing along to their Over and Underneath album while we detailed the van beside our rental house in Carthage, North Carolina sticks with me.

Also, I’m pretty sure that there’s no other band whose songs I have cried to as often.

And I’m not talking about those hideous ballads, like where the kid’s dying and his family pulls together so that he can celebrate one last Christmas in September before he dies. I detest songs like those. Because I know that life is depressing. I see it all around me and it breaks my heart on a daily basis. But can’t we fill the airwaves with songs about how great God is in that tragedy instead of singing about how tragical the tragedy is?

Sorry if I just insulted your genre. Maybe I shouldn’t post offensive things on the internet. But…yeah, moving on.

The type of crying I’m talking about is in those moments where I’m feeling lost or alone or broken, and I turn on my ‘shuffle all’ playlist and all of a sudden I hear someone singing right to where I am, whispering the words of God over me or murmuring the silent plea of my heart.

Like, seriously, when you find yourself in a place of spiritual desperation, listen through an album or two of these guys’ and you’ll almost without fail find a song that’ll let you breathe, ‘That, that is what I’m feeling.’

So that’s the basis of my thoughts on Tenth Avenue North. I already love them as singers, song writers, and musicians.

But I like Newsboys as singers, song writers and musicians, too.

Tenth Avenue North (gah, I love the band but I’m getting really sick of a three word long band name to type out all the time with no logical abbreviation that doesn’t strike me as totally tacky…TAN…?…10AN…?…yeah…no) last night won me over as performers.

Okay.

So.

Unpacking that idea:

The first song played, as the lights came up and the audience shouted for joy, was their latest hit from their latest album. Everybody knew it. Everybody sang. It was great.

(Side note: I get a tremendous emotional rush from being surrounded by like-minded believers joining their voices in worship. Church sometimes makes me tear up for this reason, and there’s always at least one moment like this at a Christian concert. Just the beauty of being together, of being free to worship, of being the collective Bride of Christ—loved more than we could ever begin to imagine…mmm…it’s just so beautiful.)

From there the band jumped around from album to album, playing new hits and old favorites, and constantly constantly engaging the crowd in family.

At one point, we were all instructed to put our arms over the shoulders of the people beside us. Because we were family. We are family.

It made me insanely happy to watch each of the rows of people in front of us in the theater (there had to be about ten) start to sway to the music. As a group. A body. (Like I said, emotional rush.)

We danced together—except for the people who didn’t believe in dancing and just did ‘choreographed movement.’

Mike (the lead singer) talked about the symbolism of raising our hands in worship: that it’s not a holier-than-thou position at all, but it’s a reaching up and echoing the words of his daughter when she cries out, ‘Daddy, hold you!’ I love that picture. And I loved being surrounded by hands lifted in surrender and desperation and adoration.

I guess what I’m trying to impress upon you was that it was a night of family.

Not family and a band.

Family.

Broken individuals united by our desperate need for a savior.

I paid to go to a concert.

Instead I got to be part of a worship service/party.

With impressive lighting effects and a bunch of normal guys who happen to be well-known for their worship lyrics.

And that normality? It just made them all the more impressive.

I still ache to have a platform, to get to make a difference like that.

And Tenth Avenue North is an amazing reminder to me that what I’ve visualized is actually possible.

God can be given all the glory through flashing lights and microphones and platforms.

So anyway, it’s pretty late now and I’m not in bed the way I told myself by the time I told myself I was going to be. I’m still pretty giddy from last night (obviously, I think) and all I can really leave you with is an invitation to check out the music of Tenth Avenue North if you never have, and a reminder just how great it is if you are familiar with it but haven’t played it in a while.

And remember…

We’re not meant to live this life alone.

– Melissa
No Man Is An Island by Tenth Avenue North

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A Glowing Review

It’s Tuesday.

I know this because I went to my Tuesday classes and did Tuesday things.

But in all reality, it doesn’t at all feel like a Tuesday.

Not that I know what day it feels like.

Not that it matters.

It just oughtn’t be Tuesday.

On an entirely different note, you must pardon me if my speech patterns (or typing patterns, seeing as how I am actually typing and not speaking at all) seem a bit odd; I’ve spent the last few hours in rehearsal, stumbling through an accent I sincerely hope wouldn’t offend anyone British who happened to happen into Van Ellis. There now. I think it’s wearing off a bit. By the time I conclude this post, I might actually be sounding like a Californian valley girl again.

Ha.

As if I ever strive to sound like a valley girl.

Sometimes I do, I know. I say ‘like’ far too often, and occasionally I get that funny high pitch to my voice when I’m very tired and am acting childish.

Not that valley girls are childish.

I’m digging myself into a hole. I can sense it. Send your complaints to my mother who won’t forward them to me and all that jazz.

Skipping to a new topic again, it’s been a surprisingly pleasant week.

Or maybe there’s nothing surprising about it at all: I serve a great God who loves me enough to tell me so.

When last I posted, I was rather dreading the coming semester. With good reason, based upon past experiences. But Monday started rehearsals for the coming show (expect me to keep mentioning this and expect me to keep urging locals to attend) and Tuesday provided a really good conversation, and Wednesday delivered more of the same.

It’s almost as if I’m getting into the swing of things. Just as everyone has been telling me I would.

I’ve got a new roommate this semester, and she’s absolutely delightful to spend time with. In fact, we keep starting conversations that are actually about conversating (new word; you’re welcome) rather than procrastinating even though we find awhile later that we’ve entirely neglected to do whatever it is that we were supposed to be doing before we started talking. It works out so nicely on so many levels.

And she has Lego Pirates of the Caribbean for the X-Box. Which we played today.

I repeatedly ran her character over with a pig so that she couldn’t get anything done.

Then she ran me over with a horse.

These are signs of a truly remarkable friendship.

Another highlight of the past days has been the spur-of-the-moment trip I took to San Antonio for the weekend. It’s always lovely to see my cousins, and as per always there were lots of adventures.

Mainly involving me falling in love with adorable animals and then my heart breaking because I can’t have pets in the dorm, or they belonged to somebody else, or both.

Quite tragic, really.

But I got in good snuggle time with horses and dogs and cats and cousins.

And my talented cousin put up with me squirming around and generally being quite ornery as she helped me figure out twenties-style makeup.

And somehow I jinxed another cousin so that every time I happened to come through the room, his character happened to get killed in his video game. Whoops… Sorry, Jonathan.

And I didn’t get lost once in the four hour drive back to school from San Antonio and I managed to stop the fuel pump at exactly $20.00 when I was fueling up!

Yep. Good weekend.

Good week.

Good semester?

It certainly is looking that way.

I think perhaps the biggest factor in the peace and contentment I’ve felt over the past days is (true confessions, here) that I’ve finally started to begin my days with a quiet time. It’s one of those things that I’ve known for so long was vitally important, but knowing something can be quite another matter from knowing it, and even knowing something doesn’t always translate into practicing that thing.

Days seem so much brighter when I start them right. I don’t know why I never did before now.

All in all, I may not be over-the-top excited about this semester, but I’m not dreading it any more.

What is there to dread, anyhow, when God’s in control and my task is simply to follow where I’m lead and overflow onto others the crazy, mind-blowing love that’s been shown to me?

Feel free to remind me of these sentiments the next time I’m in a hole or up a tree and I’m questioning the miracle of grace or how I could possibly continue plodding onwards.

God’s got a plan.

Somewhere deep inside of me always remembers that.

And I’m so glad that all of me remembers it just now.

Now, however, I should sign off, as I sense that inner Noël Coward coming back and I rather fear that I shall suddenly break into quoting vast quantities of lines that probably wouldn’t make any sense to you at all.

Ah, also, I advise that you don’t get hiccups around me. There’s an entire scene of mine devoted to hiccups, and I will quote all of my lines as soon as you first hiccup, regardless of how little sense they might make when paired with whatever you’re replying to me.

Theatre life.

Enjoy your evening, or morning, or whatever it is that you’re currently experiencing.

And remember, no matter what you’ve been up to or however far you think you’ve fallen, there is never a time when you can’t start over any more.

– Melissa
Relentless by Hillsong UNITED

Random tidbit that I could’ve included before I signed my name but wanted to put down here instead: did you know that “copying, posting or reposting on the Internet” of the NIV (New International Version) translation of scripture is prohibited? In other news, if I post any scriptures, from now on I’ll be using the NLT or ESV…

a brief word of complaint regarding the nature of life

What does it say about me as a person when I’m genuinely ticked off that my new facebook profile picture has gotten 60 likes?

I’m not annoyed that I got too few likes.

Quite the opposite.

For whatever reason, I am bothered by the fact that I have gotten too many.

And, like, there’s absolutely nothing annoying about that.

Maybe I’m just feeling weird after the first day back at prison—I mean, back at school.

Classes went well; I like my professors and I think that it shouldn’t be too difficult to attain good grades in most of my classes (biology is tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes…). I just ended up crashing for a restless hour-and-a-half long nap at 4pm. I seriously kept waking up thinking I was in bed at home and heard mom coming to wake me up and tell me to stop being lazy.

Rehearsal was good too, and I’m sure I’ll warm up to the idea of the new haircut the director’s proposed. Bangs won’t take that that long to grow out again afterwards.

I should be entirely satisfied with today. Instead I’m binge-eating goldfish crackers (I swear, they put something into these things to make them totally addictive because this kept happening to me and Grace on the drive over here too) and fuming about the now 62 likes my profile picture has gotten.

In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, good grief.

Hungry Hungry Miles

Perhaps one of the crueler inventions of an already callous world was the idea of making someone drive 1453.4 miles to a destination she didn’t want to ever attain. Perhaps I’m making a mountain of a mole hill. But either way, I am officially exhausted from three days of traveling.

I never wanted to learn to drive.

Now I never want to drive again.

(I’ve actually loaned my car out for tomorrow afternoon, which is neither here nor there.)

Semester numero 2 commences tomorrow.

Not excited.

The thing about 1453.4 miles is that it gives you a lot of time. Even with talking to your little sister and with making her life difficult and having your life made difficult by her and with the occasional scattered phone conversation and with music and music and music and with trying not to hit or get hit by anyone on the highway, there is plenty of time. Time for thinking and mulling things over.

I mull things over a lot anyway. That’s actually part of the reason that I have a blog. That, and I love having an audience. Even if it’s only, like, two of you and my parents. Simply the idea of having the opportunity to speak to the world is enough to satisfy me.

But to get back on track: mulling things over.

I wrote, like five or six good blog posts over the last three days.

In my head, of course.

If texting and driving simultaneously is illegal, I can’t imagine what typing out a blog post on a laptop while driving is.

No, I can imagine what it is.

It’s insanity.

Which I did not partake of.

And now all those wonderful, well-thought-out thoughts…they’ve vanished. Lost in the oblivion of physical weariness and emotional weariness and a battle against an already aching homesickness that I refuse to give the reigns of my semester to.

Now all that I can manage is a muddled attempt to shatter the walls around my thoughts and a garbled attempt to tell the people who care about me that yes, I’m alive, and yes, I did make it back to this place after all, and no, I’m not going to drop out of school this semester, and yes, I do need your prayers. Desperately.

I miss my awesomely weird friends. I miss my wacko sisters and my zany brother. I miss hugging my mom and butting heads with my dad and making fun of my idiot horse to his face and getting nuzzled anyway.

Everyone has told me that the first semester is the hardest. Which would, in theory, mean that these next four months will be easier than last go round. But I’m afraid to hope and then get my hopes dashed.

But at the same time, life without hope is like a blank canvas.

No, it’s worse than that:

Life without hope is like a wooden frame rudely stripped of its canvas covering and hung in the art gallery all the same.

The next week is going to be full of reacclimating and adjusting to a plate full of new classes and rehearsals every night.

But Christmas break was a beautiful mess, and I’ll try to scrape up some time to rehash some bits of it.

Maybe some of those lost thoughts from all those miles will come back if I ask very nicely.

Most immediate, though, is my need to call it a night and let these tear-watered eyes get some sleep. Tomorrow’s a new day, full of possibilities and classes and people whose scars run just as deep as mine.

Have you ever pondered that: that each of those million-or-so cars that zoom past you on the highway is full of a person who’s thinking about something and who loves someone and who’s going somewhere? It blows my mind. Every time.

The world’s so big that it scares me. But it also makes my problems pale in comparison.

Yet he sees each tear I cry and hears me when I call.

Wow.

On that (rather unexpected by my-weary-self) note, I shall bid each of thee a good night and a beautiful and blessed tomorrow.

Make a difference. Or at least don’t be afraid to try.

– Melissa
He Knows My Name*

*When I was in fourth grade, our little children’s choir sang this song. This version isn’t as good as ours, of course, but it’s still a beautiful song. Also, the YouTube video linked is titled differently, but don’t be confused—it’s the same song. Just mistitled.