Today is one of those days where I am sure that everyone who has seen me thinks that I am hungover. I mean I just threw on some clothes this morning, I am incredibly exhausted, I have a pounding headache, and my eyes are even a little bloodshot. But I can honestly say at 24 years old I have never had a sip of beer or any other alcoholic beverage. So this hangover is not the normal kind for someone my age, but it could probably still be considered a hangover. As I sit here at Newton Tire waiting to hear the diagnosis of my rear driver side tire, I can't help but think back over this insane month of June.
June came rushing in with a mighty blow. Monday morning, June 3rd my college theatre director Scott MacLaughlin passed away, after trying to recover from injuries from a Tree Trimming accident in May. I usually approach death in a very pastoral way. He is in a better place, he isn't suffering anymore, and death is merely part of life and he is in perfect peace with his Savior now. Of course all of these thoughts were going through my head a long with a lot of others. This death was different, this death was hard, this death shouldn't have happened, and I am NOT ok with this. I knew in my heart that this was coming when his wife posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon that they were praying for 100% healing, no matter what form it came in, but there just was no way to prepare my heart for the break that was coming on Monday. I battled through work Monday - Wednesday, I cancelled all of my Bible studies because there no way I could lead one when my soul was so upset. Wednesday afternoon I knew I couldn't stay in Hesston any longer, so I went home. Thursday brought some much needed distractions with library time with the little ones, and building a pool out of legos. We also celebrated my parent's 26th anniversary since we were all home. Friday, my father went with to celebrate this life that was lost. Through the tears and heartache, healing began with the incredible music that poured out of Steve Butler's soul as he helped us all say goodbye to our friend, teacher, mentor, father, brother, family member. I left that day knowing it was ok to be feeling everything that I was feeling. I didn't need to feel guilty for feeling frustrated with God for taking this man away from his family. I didn't need to feel guilty for feeling frustrated with God for loss of one of my greatest mentors. I knew that it was ok to feel whatever I needed to feel, and God understands and as long as I'm communicating with God, its ok. (I knew all of this before, but it didn't stop the guilt from flowing and creating a battle in my heart).
I drove back to Hesston on Saturday, because we all know that real life doesn't pause for tragedy and I had to be at work on Sunday morning. As I pulled into my parking spot my car started making a horrible sound, and I knew in my heart that it was the transmission. I decided to see just what was left and drove to the church, as I pulled into the parking lot I felt it break. I just sat for awhile thinking what a PERFECT ending to such a PERFECT week, but I refused to let myself fall into a "poor me" state of mind. I went inside and found that one our church members was actually there, and I figured since he owns a welding shop he should be able to confirm my thoughts that my transmission just broke, or he would have something else to say. He came over and drove my car around (it wouldn't go anywhere before). He came back and said to drive it home in neutral but then not to go anywhere until I could get it looked at. (MY CAR DROVE IN NEUTRAL!!!) So I did, and then between multiple phone calls with my father and my cousin (an awesome mechanic at Kansasland Tire in Wichita) it became very apparent that my car was dead. So I started looking online for different cars.
I road my bike or walked to work on Sunday and Monday. My parents came up Monday night and stayed with me, we began car shopping first thing Tuesday morning. After a long, hot, frustrating day we ended up at Ford of Augusta. They didn't let me leave until I could afford a vehicle. By about 8 Tuesday night I was the proud owner of a 2005 Ford Freestyle.
Wednesday was 5th & 6th grade VBS at the church. I could not have made it through that day without the incredible volunteers that helped out. The day went smoothly and was successful.
Thursday a friend and I loaded up the items the kids had collected during their scavenger hunt, and we filled the back of my car. We took these items to UM Open Door in Wichita. It was a great day and it was awesome to see where all of our donations went to work.
Sunday after church I drove back to Winfield for a wedding and had a great time with my family. And was able to spend Father's Day with my daddy.
This week started fairly normal. Work has been chaos this month with the transition from our previous pastor to the new one we will have in July. We have people filling the pulpit, a lot of packing going on, and things are just kind of crazy but that kind of feels normal at this point.
Tuesday I met with one of my friends, we are accountability partners and we had a great meeting. I love being able to be completely honest and open with people. I realized then just how many emotions I hadn't worked through in the chaos of this month.
Wednesday I had a meeting with our new pastor, that went well, and I ended the night with a 12 mile bike ride. That was when it became very obvious to me that I had a lot of pent up feelings that needed out.
Thursdays are my day off, so I slept in. When I woke up I started to watch some TV and then I got the KSOK breaking news text from my home town. My heart shattered. This story directly affects someone that I consider family, and a huge, HUGE, part of my life. My soul just exploded in tears as I started throwing things into my duffel bag and hit the road. I didn't know what to do but I knew I couldn't do it in Hesston. A year and a half ago this same kind of thing happened to this same family and it was horrible for them, and insanely hard for me as well. As I drove home Thursday I prayed the whole time, and that prayer was just, I don't know what to do, over and over again. I got to my parents house and crashed for a couple hours. Once I woke up, I knew I had to go over there and see how things were. Same journey, a year and half later, and it wasn't any easier. I think it was harder this time, because they were finally starting to heal from the previous encounters. I spent about 2 hours over there, just existing with this girl that owns a huge part of my heart. After, I met back up with my parents. I saw her again on Friday before I headed out. I know in my heart that she will be ok, even though this ugly journey is just beginning, and there is no good outcome for this one.
Last night I drove back in time to pick up some of my high school students to turn around and go play laser tag in Wichita. We had a blast. We played three games, and then went and ate dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. When I got finished dropping them off and finally came home, I crashed even though it was only 11.
So when my phone rang this morning at 9:19, it woke me from a dead sleep. My awesome upstairs neighbors had noticed that my driver's side rear tire was going flat. They wanted me to know so I could go get it patched. I let the "of course, my tire is flat" thought go quickly through my mind, and then pulled myself out of bed and threw some clothes on. I went outside just as my neighbor was pulling his compressor over to air up my tire so I could make it to Newton. I got to Newton Tire and was informed that I had an hour to kill before they could get to me. So I went and got gas, and some caffeine (my head is throbbing) and drove around a bit before going back and waiting there.
A $14 nail later, and few hours, I am back home, feeling incredible exhausted but even more blessed. This month has not been easy, and for the most part it hasn't been good. It is a month I don't ever care to repeat, but so many amazing things have come out of this month. I am surrounded by people that love me and care about me. I have neighbors that check on me, and won't let me drive around on a low tire, and sometimes they feed me. I have a church family here that even though they don't know all of the things going on in my life, they are willing to pray for me, support me, and let me take the time I need to deal with everything going on. I have friends and family that I can lean on over and over again whenever I need to. And even though it is really easy to only see the bad the past few weeks have brought, I am trying to focus on the good things. Like the over 500 items we collected for the Open Door in Wichita. Things like Laser Tag with 5 high school students, things like bike rides and walks through town with friends, 26 years of marriage and family time. A brand new married couple and the promise that holds. A full time job that I love, and a new car that allows me to get where I need to go even at the drop of a hat. Technology that allows me to stay connected with home when I am here, and with work when I am home.
As I try to transition my mind into this last week of this month, I know this will be an equally hard week as the past three. I am headed to Camp tomorrow, for a week of Performing Arts Camp. The idea of doing theatre right now in the aftermath of the death of one of reasons I love theatre, is one that I'm struggling with. Camp is always emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally exhausting, and I am already incredibly exhausted in each of these areas. I am also allergic to the sun, so the idea of being in a place full of sun just doesn't sound fun. But I miss camp. As much as I love Hesston and my job here, I miss camp. This place means the world to me and I am praying that this week will be that for each of the campers that go, the 16 at PAC, the 3 from Hesston, and all the others as well. I pray for everyone's safety and that lives are changed for the better this week. Even though I should be preparing by packing and looking over the script again, I am going to prepare, with a nap! :)
The original plan for this blog entry was to be a reminder to myself and everyone else that we should not judge people when we see them. Today I am not hungover because I partied hard last night. So when we see people that look like they have gone through Hell, just remember that they just might have. This month has felt like Hell on Earth to me. I am dragging myself through each day looking for the light and the peace that I know is coming. As I got out of the car this morning this song was playing, God speaks to me through music and this is perfect for today. So if you are going through something, helping people through something, or even if your life is full of rainbows right now, just remember that Every Storm Runs Out of Rain. So even if your heart is broken, or your soul feels trampled on, today is a new day. You're still breathing, you still have a purpose and rain makes flowers grow, and rainbows appear. Keep your head up, keep walking on, lean on the people in your life, and don't shut God out. "In times where nothing makes sense and the heart aches beyond words and the soul knows not what to pray or the mind what to think... "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans" ... "and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him." Romans 8:26-28"
I leave you with Gary Allen Every Storm Runs Out of Rain