What Does Revival Look Like?

I was chatting with a friend last week, and she said something that has stuck with me. She said, “Revival doesn’t look like they thought it would.”

My friend was talking about a particular category of church people, those mostly of an older generation (though not all) who often talk about praying for revival. For the most part, when these church people pray for revival, they have a very particular picture in their heads. If God were to answer their prayer, in their minds, America would look a lot like it did in the 1950s. For them, revival has a lot to do with people going to church on Sundays and adhering to traditional Christian values.

I’ve always figured the things I hope and pray for are bound to look different than I imagine. After all, Jesus showed up and looked nothing like the Messiah was expected to look. He did not act like those praying for deliverance expected a deliverer to act. He was God but nothing he did or said looked like the God of the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus tried to revive and reform Jewish teaching and practice, but the leadership wasn’t having it.

I’m married to a United Methodist pastor. Here in Mississippi, we have watched a handful of churches walk away from our denomination and we are awaiting decisions from our General Conference that will change the face of the Methodist church. To many, this is scary. To me, this is scary. However, this week, I have felt challenged to look at what is happening through another lens.

Regardless of which side of the human sexuality debate we fall on, the future seems unsteady. Things are going to change. And those praying for revival are missing it. Here it is… a revival that does not look or act as those praying for it expect.

Why are these questions and issues rising to the surface in our church? They are surfacing and making waves because of people who love Jesus and want to ensure we are following Jesus truly. Across the country, people from many generations are asking hard questions of their leadership, their tradition, their scripture, and their God. We are asking tough questions and begging others to engage in these conversations with us.

Revival has never looked like a quiet return to the way things used to be. Revival means a new day, a new life, a resurrection. In the case of the modern church, what looks like falling apart may actually be waking up.

Some animals shed their skins as they grow. Some animals shed their shells and look for bigger homes. Many times throughout history the body of Christ has had to shed her skin and her shell.

If you want to know what revival looks like, look at Jesus.

Revival will look nothing like tradition or status quo. Revival will look like uncomfortable changes, breaking bread with those the church has previously ostracized, stepping away from positions of power and nationalism. Revival will look like Jesus and Jesus looks like change. Jesus looks like love.

Scripture speaks of not putting new wine in old wineskins, and it seems like revival could mean letting go of the old wineskin of the UMC and embracing a new wineskin. That doesn’t mean the Methodist Church dies. That means she lives.

She lives revived, brand new, changed into a closer likeness of the Christ.

It’s still scary. The unknown will never cease to elicit fear, but it doesn’t have to paralyze us. It doesn’t have to tear us apart.

Revival doesn’t look like comfortable.

Revival looks like Jesus.

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Apropos of Nothing

I love spring weather, but my allergies are ridiculous this year. Even after taking my meds this morning, I walked into Spanish class with puffy red eyes, smudged eye makeup, etc. I looked like a 15-year-old girl going through her first breakup. I’m sure my classmates were tired of blessing me every time I sneezed. I did take a Benadryl on top of my regular allergy pill, and that finally kicked in. So I quit sneezing but was groggy the rest of the day.

It is that point in the semester that I am mentally finished. I have been in class basically non-stop since January of 2017. I even took a full load last summer. I love school. I really do, but I am looking forward to taking summer to regroup.

Should I study abroad in Madrid?

I am reading a book that includes that whole concept of falling in love with anyone if you answer a certain 36 questions and then stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes. I find the concept fascinating.

My youngest son has his first girlfriend. THAT makes me feel even older than being on a college campus makes me feel.

I turned in my last poem of the semester today. Bittersweet. I have really enjoyed writing so much poetry this semester. I mean, aside from my novel-in-verse manuscript. That is coming along well enough, but I think writing outside of YA is really good for me too. It helps me to stretch my writing muscles in various directions.

I started a new job, writing product descriptions for a farmhouse decor company. That means I am officially a paid writer. I won’t be winning any pulitzers for my ethereal descriptions of rustic finishes and antique inspired charm, but I am getting paid to write. It’s a nice feeling.

I started watching “Love” on Netflix yesterday, and I think I have my new binge show. Not that I have time to binge any TV right now. I have a Spanish final I am super nervous about. Plus my other finals, of course, and the last assignments of the semester as well.

I am doing an open mic at school next week.

Okay, I think I am done rambling. I just hadn’t blogged in a while. I’m sorry there is no substance to this post.

Have a picture of my cute kitten, Edna Millay:

Photo Mar 17, 4 31 19 PM

Currently: Edición de Pascua

Current Books: I had a gift card from my birthday, so I bought myself Amanda Lovelace’s new volume: The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One. On audio during my school commute, I am listening to Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid. I just finished Maybe the Saddest Thing by Marcus Wicker (I get to take a workshop with him next semester!). Most of my reading is from textbooks right now. At least I have interesting textbooks.

Current Playlist: I just bought a song that I heard at the start of the Justice League movie, “Everybody Knows” by Sigrid.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Window shopping on Poshmark and ThredUp. I don’t end up buying anything, but I spend way too much time browsing.

Current Color: I’m into purple lately. This wasn’t a conscious shift. I just noticed that I have bought a lot of purple items lately.

Current Food: I had O’Charley’s for dinner last night, thanks to gift cards from my coworkers after my brother’s funeral. I basically made out with the rolls. Don’t judge me.

Current Drink: I’m fantasizing about Banana Tropical soda from Honduras. I need to stop at the Honduran place on Getwell Rd and buy a bottle (or three).

Current Favorite Favorite: The Goodwill on Winchester in Memphis. My friend, Carrie, and I went last weekend. I don’t let myself go over there often, because I always find a ton of clothes I want and that would break the bank if it happened monthly. Ya know? But I had not been in over a year, so I splurged and bought some fun clothes and shoes. I adore second-hand shopping. I have a lot of opinions about ethics in the fashion industry, but buying the ethically made clothing I can feel good about costs more than I can budget. Second hand is my compromise. I am not giving my money directly to the brands that worry me. And yes, I know, there have been concerns raised about Goodwill also. I have been researching other options in the area.

Current Wishlist: I want an electric kettle for the kitchen. Oh, and I want to buy a crimping iron. I know…. Corey says I am currently reliving my teenage rebellion phase of life.

Current Needs: I need to make a dentist appointment now that I have a more flexible work schedule. I also need to make an eye appointment. And I need some scholarships for the fall semester.

Current Triumph: I was invited to read poems at a Women’s History event for the English Department on campus. I chose my college based on their English department, so that made me very happy.

Current Bane-of-My-Existence: The essay I have to write for Anthropology this weekend… I don’t know why. It’s a simple essay about a topic that interests me. But my brain is resisting.

Current Indulgence: I joined Ipsy. I am trying to find make-up products I like without breaking the bank, so it seemed like a good choice.

Current Outfit: This year’s ensemble for Easter includes red striped skinny jeans with a white tee and cowboy boots.

Current #1 Blessing: Time with my husband. With our respective work schedules and my school and all of the kids’ activities it can be difficult to make time for just the two of us, but we did this weekend and it was a lot of fun.

Current Quote: “But remember that reading provides nourishment for hungers we might not even be aware of. How often have I chosen a book at random and found in it an answer I didn’t realize I was seeking.” ― Beth Ann Fennelly, Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother

Current Photo:

Photo Mar 30, 11 11 11 AM

Poem I wrote on the wall at Huey’s

A Blog About Socks

Socks?

I’m snowed in for the sixth day. I’ve had time to think about everything in the world. This particular post has been forming for a few weeks, and now I have a little bit of free time to type it out.

It started when my friend raved about Woven Pear socks. I commented to tell her “I have a sock addiction.”

I do. I am a person who hates spending money on items of clothing people never see, camisoles worn under sweaters, bras, panties, etc… But socks, an article of clothing rarely viewed by anyone but the wearer? I spend money on that without a second thought. I want my socks to be thick and warm, because I am prone to really cold toes. I have some circulation issues in my feet.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. When I think about socks, I hop on a mental time machine and land back in 8th grade. Let me channel my inner Golden Girl Sophia for a bit:

Picture it. Hopkins Middle School. Valentine’s Day, 1996.

IMG_0800

I was an awkward 8th grader, to put it mildly. Over the years, I was made fun of for everything from my pale complexion and black hair to my flat chest and crooked teeth. The most common thing people teased me about was clothing. No matter how I tried, I could not wear the right thing. Even if what I had on looked like what someone else had on, I would have the wrong brand, the Walmart version of whatever was popular at the time.

On Valentine’s Day, I was excited to wear my new red baby doll tee. Baby doll tees were in, and I knew this one looked good on me. It accentuated the slight curve of my breasts and waist. It was red and black, which looked good with my dark hair and eyes. That morning, as I got dressed, I chose a pair of red socks.

That was my mortal sin, y’all. Red socks.

It was another case of me almost getting it right. No one had a word to say about my cute shirt, but I vividly remember a girl in my science class pointing at my feet and laughing in that mean way girls laugh when they are certain of their personal superiority to the butt of the joke.

That day, I learned that no one wore red socks. No one wore any kind of sock except plain white athletic socks. My red socks were like a neon sign blinking over my head, exclaiming, “DORK CENTRAL.”

I never wore those socks again.

For years, I never wore any sock that wasn’t white. I can remember, as an adult, needing to wear black dress socks and feeling total panic over the whole thing.

And then, some time after having two kids and fighting through Depression, I bought a pair of goofy socks. Now I own two baskets of socks, ankle socks in one and knee socks in the other. I have plenty pair of white socks, but even the white socks tend to have bright colored toes. I have socks featuring Doctor Who, Alice in Wonderland, gnomes, kittens, etc… And now we can add these Woven Pear socks from my friend’s boutique: Speck and Louise.

 

They are thick around my cold toes AND they are adorable. This month, I will turn 36 years old, and I no longer give a damn what anyone thinks about my clothes.

Thankyouverymuch.

Currently: es enero

Current Books: I am reading (and loving) The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed, and I cannot believe that I share an agent with such an amazingly talented writer. If you come near me, I will gush about this book. Be prepared. I am almost through Richard Rohr’s book on the Enneagram. It has been both enlightening and also confusing. I am 99.9% sure I am a Type 9, but a tiny part of me thinks I am a Type 4. Anywho, I will also talk your ear off about the Enneagram. In the car, I am listening to Caesar’s Last Breath: The Epic Story of the Air Around Us. This is mostly research. I am using air as an overall metaphor in my new manuscript. The main character’s name is Airy.

Current Playlist: A couple of Cranberries MP3s, since Delores died, and I saw the news this morning.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I binged all of season 1 of The Magicians this weekend. I’m not even sure I liked the show, but we were snowed in, and it was easy to just let it keep playing. Plus, classes start tomorrow, so my binge watching time is basically nil until summer.

Current Color: I’ve noticed I buy a lot of aqua/teal lately.

Current Food: I had leftover pizza for breakfast. Don’t judge me.

Current Drink: Pineapple Fanta

Current Favorite Favorite: I am finished ordering/buying textbooks for this semester. My tuition and parking are paid. I like being done with tasks.

Current Wishlist: Here is my Amazon list. My birthday is the 27th. 😉 WISHLIST

Current Needs: A clear idea of the second half of the plot for my new manuscript.

Current Triumph: I graduated from community college in December. 🙂 I had a 4.0.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Snow and ice and cold. Either I’m snowed in and can’t work (bye-bye paycheck) or I am at work and can’t take the kids outside so they are wild.

Current Indulgence: Running the fireplace and drinking extra cups of coffee.

Current Outfit: jeans, my 1984 sweatshirt, a big cozy sweater, three pairs of socks (my feet get cold, hush)

Current #1 Blessing: My totally selfless husband who also happens to be handsome and strong and in love with me.

Current Quote:  “That’s what bites about the future — there’s no way to predict it. You just have to show up and see what happens.” ― Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Current Photo:

Photo Jan 07, 4 58 26 PM

My son is so tall!

 

Viva Escriba

Every year, I ask God for a word or a theme, some sort of lens through which to view the year ahead. In 2017, I had 2 words: Peace and Justice. It was definitely a year of thinking on those things, pursuing a better education on social justice issues, listening to the people around me when they spoke about their lives and struggles. I finished 2017 with the sense that I can be at peace with myself only when I am living a life that pursues justice for others.

What about 2018?

I don’t know.

I have a couple of words, and when I write them in Spanish, they feel like my words for the year. However, they don’t have quite the same oh-so-certain feeling I usually have when my yearly theme lands in my lap. Why?

Perhaps it has to do with where I am in my faith journey. I wrote, last year, about coming to the end of deconstruction and being ready to rebuild. However, rebuilding seems like a distant dream. The foundation is steady. It holds. But I don’t know what it is.

I’m living in a surreal paradox.

I find solace in my faith and also disparage it. For a video I was a part of, my husband asked me to explain the connection between a struggle I experienced and Jesus/salvation/faith. I stumbled through something about Mary and parenting and how God loves us, but my brain was in a panic.

I believe in Jesus, but I don’t know exactly what I believe ABOUT Jesus. I find the Bible both comforting and polarizing. I see wisdom in the pages, but I also can’t elevate it to the level of authority to which those around me have raised it. I believe in God, but I don’t think I believe in the same God those around me believe in… or perhaps I believe in the same God, but approach God’s existence in a different way. We sing worship songs on Sundays and I both love them and find them empty. I feel moved and also wonder how much brain chemistry and music are playing into my experience of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t feel like I am still deconstructing, but perhaps I am being deconstructed. I have spent years tearing apart my religious beliefs and questioning them, rearranging them, shedding them. Now, it seems what is left of my faith is rearranging me.

It is uncomfortable.

It is not permanent, but I don’t know where it leads.

So, with that said, my words for 2018 are:

“Viva Escriba”

Viva can mean, “Live,” a verb, or it can mean, “Life,” a noun. I don’t know if this word is a command, that I am being told to “LIVE!” or if it is an indication that what feels like the death of faith will actually bring new life, resurrection. I can hope. The second word means “Write.” This one I know to take as a command. I have a lot of writing to do this year, in a zillion forms. All of it will stretch me, and I will learn. Writing always teaches me something new.

So, here’s to 2018, a year for living and writing and maybe figuring out who I am again.

And I Read: 2017 Edition

In January

I obsessively listened to the Liturgists podcast.
The word “hygge” entered my life.
I went back to college after 13 years away.
I plotted a novel about a Honduran-American girl.
The Well celebrated their first “Worship-versary.”
I struggled with children’s Bible stories.
Corey brought home a new kitten, Tegus.
I turned 35.

And I Read

Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg
The Trespasser by Tana French
Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue
Return of the River: Selected Poems by Robert Sosa
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
Beowulf
The Lost Husband by Katherine Center
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

In February

I went to Honduras for a long weekend.
Haydn participated in the Lift-a-thon at school.
David had an honor choir concert.
Two of my cousins died in a house fire.
I went to my friend Linda Jackson‘s book signing.

And I Read

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe
*Let Justice Roll Down by John M. Perkins
Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Dubois

In March

I took midterms.
I had the flu.
Haydn got his braces off.
The boys went to Winter Jam with the church youth.
Corey went with David to a choir event in Hattiesburg.
Haydn turned 15.
We had a yard sale at The Well.

And I Read

Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
*Dream with Me by John M. Perkins
Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Jesus Freak by Sara Miles
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
Maci McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
One by Sarah Crossan
*Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr

In April

I binged the S-Town podcast.
David had a choir event in Jackson.
Corey and Haydn went to see Savannah.
The boys went to 6 Flags on a youth trip.
I had an epiphany involving science.
Corey and I spent an entire day out together.
We had a petting zoo at work.

And I Read

Audacity by Melanie Crowder
Gulliver’s Travels/A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett
Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast
Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave
Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
Timekeeper by Tara Sim
*Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
*Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson
The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

In May

My 4yo class “graduated.”
Savannah turned 17.
David turned 13.
I prepped for and took finals.
Haydn and I went to SC for a week.
David and Corey went to my nephew’s graduation in Florida.
Carrie and I went to see The Producers at Sumter Little Theater.
David left to spend a month with his Grams and Pawpaw.
I started working afternoons with school-agers at the daycare.

And I Read

Soul Chant by Asia Rainey
*This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
*Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott
The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell
*Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Still Life by Louise Penny
*The Fever by Megan Abbott
*A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

In June

I took Spanish II and Intermediate Algebra at NWCC.
Wayne replaced a part on my car.
Corey went to annual conference.
I had a poem published in Tipton Poetry Journal.
I left to spend a week with Leila.
Corey and Haydn left for Honduras.
David went to band camp at ICC Fulton.

And I Read

*Denton Little’s Death Date by Lance Rubin
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
*Home by Toni Morrison
*Dear Idjeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
*The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
*Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Have You Seen Marie by Sandra Cisneros
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (reread)
*The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzales
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
*Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

In July

Carrie and I went to a Honduran restaurant in Memphis.
I came to the end of Deconstruction.
I took Spanish II and College Algebra at NWCC.
Corey did a wedding in Brandon.
I scribbled poems for my verse novel between classes.
I finished summer classes with a 4.0.

And I Read

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
*Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum (reread)
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

In August

David got braces.
I created a sort of Butter Beer Frappe at Starbucks.
A spider bit me twice in my bed one night.
I threw myself into finishing my verse novel.
Haydn made the dress-out list for Varsity football.
The boys began 8th and 10th grades.
I started working with the full-time 4s in the afternoons.
I helped with tailgating at an OBHS game.
I toured the University of Memphis.
The Well held a big back to school party.
There was a solar eclipse.

And I Read

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
*A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
The Philip K. Dick Megapack by Philip K. Dick
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
My House by Nikki Giovanni
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

In September

I participated in a poetry “unslam” and did well.
I attended the Ink Festival in Tupelo.
Haydn went to homecoming with his friend, Bree.
Haydn walked in the homecoming parade.
I had some heart rate issues and changed some meds.
I started covering the front desk at work three days per week.
Corey took Haydn to an Andy Mineo concert.
David got first chair in band.

And I Read

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
The Myth of Equality by Ken Wytsma
*The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
Love Suicides by Chikamatsu Monzaemon
*The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
Fantomina by Eliza Haywood
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
*Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
*Casting the First Stone by Kemberla Lawson Roby

In October

Carrie Bull and I went to a World Communion service in Memphis.
Tom Petty died, and I made Haydn listen to his music.
David had another choir concert.
Bert and Gayle drove down for a visit.
I aced my midterms.
I drove to Tupelo for an open mic and Corey met me there.
I revised my verse novel.
I volunteered at a mobile consulate and practiced Spanish.
The boys carved pumpkins.

And I Read

*Too Much of a Good Thing by Kimberly Lawson Roby
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
*Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
*My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Junie B. Jones espía un poquirritín by Barbara Park
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
*Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman
*Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan J. Stradal
*Chemistry by Weike Wang
After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

In November

I took off work early and drove to Tupelo for Open Mic Night.
I bought a dress because it made me feel like a sci-fi princess warrior.
I met with my advisor at Memphis.
I wrote a short story for Creative Writing class.
David was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.
I registered for classes at Memphis.
Our boy kitty, Tegus, disappeared and never came home. 😦
I wrote a final paper and took four finals.
We took in a rescue kitty and named her Edna Millay.

And I Read

The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
*Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Teeny Little Grief Machines by Linda Oatman High
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
*The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
*Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
*The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander

In December

I studied for and took my Spanish final.
I paid my Memphis tuition.
I missed a couple of days of work with strep throat.
I started pre-writing for my new novel.
I did some reorganizing at my desk at work.
I was awarded an Associate of Arts from Northwest.
I Christmas shopped and wrapped, etc.
We visited Savannah in Montgomery and saw Star Wars.
We went to Blaine for  New Year’s.

And I Read

*Brutal by Michael Harmon
*The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
*Beartown by Fredrik Backman
*Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

 

Total: 124
Audio: 37
Non-Fiction: 19
Poetry/Verse: 22