my soul magnifies the Lord

Here we are: on the other side of another leap in time that isn’t truly that at all.

2018.

And, just like a year ago, here I sit: sentimental and utterly in awe of all the ways my God has carried me throughout the last twelve months. (In fairness, it’s been a bit over a year since I did this; my top-of-the-year blog post for 2017 was several weeks into the year because that season was crazy.)

What you’ve probably forgotten if you follow this blog, and didn’t know if you don’t generally, is that last January I declared that 2017 was Narnia. Then I forgot all about that declaration and just lived life to the hilt, not remembering my metaphor until just recently.

Well.

2017 was Narnia in all the ways I’d hoped and never known to hope, and while last night was no “Last Battle,” it was an amazing culmination to an amazing year.

2017 was also a song. It began with one, and the sound reverberated through nearly every step, and it taught me something about myself.

My soul sings.

It sings a song so loud, so intense, that sometimes I don’t think I can bear it. There is a passion within me deeper than anything I’ve ever known, and my words can’t tell it and my tears can’t release it, and it’s so beautiful that sometimes I want to swan-dive into the sunset so that the radiance of it can wash over me.

And I don’t think it’s just me. But that’s hard to say because…well, the whole concept is just hard to say.

Soul-songs are one of those things that I can’t quite linguistically pin down. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t been trying for days and weeks and months. I totally have. I still am. And while I’m not sure how well it will go, here goes.

I believe our souls sing a song. It’s a song unique to each of us, and it’s shaped by who we are and who we’ve been and where we’re going and where we are. And, I think, it’s exquisitely beautiful.

In fact, if I could invent a world exactly to my liking, it’s one where we’d know our soulmate because we’d be able to hear their soul-song. Like, the brush of a hand against yours and you’d hear a song that would take your breath away and you’d know.

But that’s a rabbit trail.

I think our souls are constantly singing a song of us, but we don’t notice it because it’s so constant. However, there are things in my life—and hopefully in yours, too—that make the music swell up and fill my chest. And it aches a little bit, but it’s a good ache.

One of the (many) things that stirs my soul is the golden hour. You know what I’m talking about: those fleeting moments when the world is gilded in magic and it seems like anything can happen and might happen and will happen. And anything that happens…it’ll be good.

A few days ago I found myself gliding across the New Mexico desert on what could be called anything but a peaceful drive. My family is many things, but harmonious is not one of them, so put any number of us in the cab of a truck for five hours, and life’s bound to get at least mildly unpleasant for at least most of us.

For a bit, though, the sun was in that perfect spot and outside everything glowed and the shadow of our pickup truck raced along beside us and entranced my soul. And, despite the bickering behind me, my soul sang of freedom and vitality and all the things I’ve been learning to celebrate loud this year.

Of course, eventually the world faded back to normal, a transition fast followed by dusk, and the stars appeared, and we followed our headlights into the night. And my soul-song faded to the background and colored my dreams.

Since I live for those moments when my song swells, this year has been amazing. Because while 2017 has been some kind of year, there have been so many of those crescendos.

It’s incredible.

Perhaps not so startling, though.

After all, my year started with a song among friends, with my back pressed to a piano so that the music could drive deep into my soul and stick.

So why should I be surprised that it stuck?

My year has been so full of music. Concerts and corporate worship and late nights curled up on Gracie’s bed with the guitar and our voices. Unabashed dancing on my way to work. Radio hopelessly loud as I chased life all over the country.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

That has always been one of my favorite verses. Because it tells me that this song inside me, the one I’m just beginning to discover, it’s only echoing the one that’s being sung over my life by the one who’s put the breath in my longs and the blood in my veins.

In some ways, it makes me really sad that I’m not a musician, that my fingers will never be able to coax the music out of me and into the world through an instrument. Yet I find that so many others—the true musicians of the world—have so beautifully captured the various melodies of my heart that I can’t feel too sad about it.

In fact, there’s a lot of hope and security in knowing that, while our soul-songs are so unique, they’re also so similar. We’re not alone in our hopes and dreams and fears and insecurities.

2017 was Narnia and it was a song, and it was staring deep into the eyes of my Aslan and knowing myself better for it.

Now I stride into 2018, stronger than ever, ready to learn more and love deeper.

Last year started with a song among friends.

This year started with food.

Hallelujah.

– Melissa
|my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior|Luke 1:46-47|

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tramping through Narnian snow

Last month I had the privilege to assistant direct a play by the name of Christmas in Terminal B with a local community theatre group. It was, overall, a beneficial and worthwhile experience, but it was also a real struggle since tech week landed squarely on my finals week.

Last year I spent threeish hours underneath a table in the makeup room of the theatre during finals week because that’s where I was mentally. That was without tech week for a show I was assistant directing—a show in which anything that could go haywire did go haywire.

Anyway…tech week saw me barely clawing my way to the rehearsal space, dark circles under my eyes, random economic principles and facts about European theatre spinning around in my head. The entire cast and crew were awesome at cutting me slack over missed cues and spacey moments, and were also great about letting me go early so that I could study or sleep or whatever that night required of me.

Marlo, our stage manager, even brought me a box of chocolates.

Not just any box of chocolates, mind you: one of the boxes that has a key on the lid so that you know what you’re eating.

“Life is a box of chocolates.”

I don’t know who said that, but it’s so true, especially when you don’t have the chocolate key. But I had it and it was great because I could avoid the coconut ones and the ones with caramel so chewy that it rips out your teeth.

But, you know, Finals Week cannot allow anything so blissful as that.

When I took the chocolates home that night, the box came open just enough in my backpack that all of the chocolates slipped from their cozy little nests and pooled at one end of the box. So much for having a key.

That’s kind of how 2016 and the first couple of weeks of 2017 have felt: there’ve been some really great moments (and some really gross coconut moments) but life’s shook the box up and I have no idea what the heck is going on.

2016 brought the blossoming of unexpected friendships and the completion of the first half of my oh-so-difficult college career. It gave me the most amazing experience of my life to date: Scotland; and it bestowed upon me the most pressing dream of my life to date: to get back to Scotland. It granted me my own room for the first time since Abbie joined the family back in 1997, and that’s been unspeakably awesome. I got to join a small group at my church in Abilene, and act in my all-time favorite venue, and help direct a show for the first time in three years. There were at least three amazing concerts that I got to attend, all of which I got to attend with one family member or another.

But 2016 also saw me wreck my sister’s/my truck, as well as the wreck of a couple of really precious friendships. It handed me a move and some really tough goodbyes, health concerns for my horse (though, really, that’s a yearly thing), and a feud with my sister that didn’t really start to get resolved until a month or so ago. And just college in general, with all its stresses and heartaches and people…all the people.

So now it’s 2017 and there’s a lot to unpack, but I haven’t found time for it amidst the tumult that is this year. I’ve changed my major from two down to one and I’m going to graduate a semester early because I Hardin-Simmons is crushing the breath from my chest and I couldn’t see how I’d have the air to make it to graduation unless something changed, so I made changes and it’s great and also terrifying. Dad’s got to find a job and my family might be moving again and it’s all so upside down and turned around that I can’t follow it anymore or even guess where things are going to land in the next week or so. I have multiple possibilities on the fire for the coming summer, and I’ve shuffled them all around and we’ll see how things fall over the course of this month so that I can make some real decisions. No idea where I’m going to be living this summer or—more critically—this fall when I’m back in Abilene for just one semester instead of two.

And all of that since January 1.

But January 1…

We started off the year gathered around a piano singing Auld Lang Syne. Me and my best friends in the world, just…together. Ha. Now I’m about to cry because gosh I miss them so much and plus I’m tired and also I haven’t cried recently so I’m about due for a poorly justified meltdown. But, yeah, it was fantastic, and then the day was together and laughing and more fantastic. Pretty auspicious start to a year, right?

2016 was a box of chocolates that somebody had shaken.

I think 2017 is feeling more like Narnia?

You know, because it started off magical, and then it’s gotten cold and snowy and wintery, but still magical, and eventually I’ll come out on top of this struggle and it’ll be good awhile and then the next books will come along and life will get crazy and hard again, but at the end there’s the Last Battle and we all come out all right and together again.

Can 2017 be Narnia? And can we meet Aslan?

Maybe. Maybe there’ll be a pirate adventure in here somewhere, and maybe we’ll get to the last pages and come together to sing Auld Lang Syne again, and maybe we’ll harmonize even more closely and hold each other even more tightly because of the battles we’ve come through and the Lion we’ve looked in the eye to see our souls reflected back at us.

I am terrified of 2017. But I think the Pevensies were a little bit scared too. So I think it’s going to be okay.

– Melissa
check out this music inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia