A Memory – Fuzzy Blue Lights

“If I could look across the country from California to New Jersey
then I would count the parks and lake resorts
and number all the jets and airports.
All those rather dreary rain clouds still bother me,
’cause I look through the camera eyepiece and cannot see.”

 

Whenever I hear the song Fuzzy Blue Lights by Owl City, I am immediately back on an airplane in January of 2012, exhausted, relieved, both happy and sad, about to land at MSP after a nine-hour flight back from Paris. I was listening to music because the sound of the constant, rushing wind was making me anxious. I was too cold. I’m pretty sure I was in the window seat and next to Josh. He was probably asleep. I sat up as I felt the plane really starting to descend and looked out at the sunset and the wing of the plane cutting through the clouds. Fuzzy Blue Lights was playing on my MP3 player and I started it over because, somehow, it captured all the emotions going through my 17-year-old body at that moment.

I had just been in Italy for eleven days with a group from my church. It was the longest that I’d ever been away from home. It was simultaneously the best and hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. I spent the first three days of that trip so homesick I thought I was actually physically sick. I didn’t know anyone in the group very well, I was so jet-lagged I couldn’t eat or sleep, I couldn’t find a phone card to call my family, I felt awkward and out of place – and, oh yeah, my purse got stolen on the beach in Nettuno.

That trip grew me so much as a person. I had been terrified to go, but I went anyway. I had so much fun and so many beautiful experiences in spite of the struggles and the growing pains. I got to see too many beautiful churches to count. I got to see the Sistine Chapel. I got to go to Mass down in the catacombs. I got to see Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from only about six feet away. I discovered strawberry gelato and ‘walking pizza’. I learned so much about the history of the Church. I saw so many tombs of saints. I stepped into the ocean for the first time. I got to see the American-Italian cemetery in Nettuno. I wouldn’t trade away the good parts so the bad didn’t happen. I look back on that trip as the beginning of me becoming who I am now; so much braver and deeper of a woman because I was willing to try this big thing that scared me.

Which takes me back to Fuzzy Blue Lights. When I hear that song, I remember the way I felt when the plane was landing in Minneapolis. I remember that hopeful feeling of having done something in spite of fear and anxiety, which, for me, will always, always be a triumph.

If I was flying on a plane above your town
and you were gazing at the sky
somehow I’d feel intact and reassured
if you began to wave goodbye.”

 

Thanks for reading, God bless.

Clare

 

More Posts Like This:

Winter

Journal Entries 1

Blogmas 2017 – Day 25/31 – Merry Christmas

Christmas is here! Hurray! So far I’ve gotten to wake up to my first Christmas in my own apartment, talk to my older sister who is out in Arizona (where she is freezing to death because it’s 48 degrees, poor thing), had a delicious lunch, and played with my three youngest siblings.

As I sat down to write a blog post just now, I went back to my tumblr to see if there were any memories from Christmases past that I wanted to share. This is what I found.

12/23/16

Can you ever just tell when someone is painfully lonely? Tonight I waited on an elderly gentleman who just started telling me about himself. He began by saying he’d been doing his own grocery shopping for 19 years. Eventually he said he was divorced. He just kept coming back to his main point – that he did everything for himself – his cooking, cleaning, doing his laundry, everything. Because he was ALONE, and when you get divorced, people really come down hard on you. At first I was annoyed, because it made me uncomfortable. What am I supposed to do with your troubles, sir? I’m just here to ring up your groceries. But I looked at him and I realized – this man is LONELY. I asked him if he would get to see any family for Christmas. He very adamantly said no, because, like he said, when you get divorced, people really come down hard on you, even though they don’t know the whole story. I told him that was too bad, when people decide to take sides with something like that. He said they do, they really do. I listened to him and I said what I could to just let him know I was happy to be talking to him. He opened a window into his life, and I saw the story of a man whose friends and family sided with his wife when they got divorced, and so he was left alone in the world. As I wished him a Merry Christmas and watched him go, I said a prayer for him. I recognized in him a great hunger to be seen, known, loved – a hunger I couldn’t fill. I couldn’t be a friend to this old man. I could only be a very kind, helpful cashier at a grocery store to him. I hope my kindness made his day a little brighter. 

His name is Larry. Please pray for him, and everyone who is isolated or feels alone this Christmas. I pray they will all receive comfort from the Christ Child. 

Thank you, God bless. 

Clare

I’m glad I wrote this down. It’s easy to forget moments like these, important moments, where God reaches into our lives and touches our hearts, teaching us to love a little bit more like He does.

Something I learned throughout Advent was that God truly meets us in the middle of our mess. Jesus was born into a messy world that was so unprepared for Him, Mary had to give birth to Him in a stable. But still He came. He came and made the stable, the manger, the mess, sacred. Worthy of Himself.

As He does to our hearts when we welcome Him in, regardless of the straw and the cow poop and all the other things filling us up to capacity. Whatever space we make for Him, He will come and fill and make beautiful.

I pray Larry, wherever he is this year, will find Christ in his mess.

emptymanger.jpg

I pray the same for all of you.

Merry Christmas!

Clare

 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017

Blogmas 2017 – Day 9/31 – Winter

winter2

I wrote this on December 9th, 2015. I’m sharing it again because I think it’s important to remember where we have been so that we can see where God has brought us.

One year ago tonight, I had my anxiety attack. 

It was the most intense spiritual and emotional pain I’ve ever been in. It spread to my body until every part of me hurt in some way. I lay in bed with my head racing back and forth between two things. It may sound dramatic, but I sincerely felt like I was going to die from the decision in front of me. It had suddenly become clear to me that I was truly unhappy in my relationship, and that I couldn’t see a future with this person, even though I was, in many ways, tailoring my life around him. 

That night was hell, and many of the days and weeks, months following it were different levels of hell. 

Today, one full year later, that relationship has been over for almost 5 months. 

That night, that anxiety attack, changed me. My life is completely different now, for both better and worse. 

I just wanted to pull this back into my focus, to remind myself how richly, beautifully blessed I have been. God has been so gentle, so patient with me. He allowed me to fall away from Him and to suffer intensely, but He didn’t let it destroy me. He let it purify and redirect me. When I broke up with my boyfriend in July, I had never felt such peace and joy, knowing God had waited patiently to help me let go of something I didn’t truly desire anymore. 

So here’s to a better December than last. A December with less anxiety, less agony. I am just as confused, lost, and uncertain as I was a year ago. But God has brought me through something I honestly believed would shatter me; He has made all things work together for my good.

 

Looking back on the winter of 2014 used to be hard. Things had been weird for a while. I always felt far away from him, and then I read an article online about not settling in your relationships. I panicked. I thought I had caught the stomach flu I felt so sick. My mind was racing so much I felt like I was going insane. I told my poor boyfriend everything. We tried to make it work. He and I made a cake together on my 20th birthday and tried to move forward while this cloud of my anxiety hung over us. I had to keep plugging away at my job and my internship and I couldn’t talk to anyone about any of it. I cried so much. It was another seven months before I finally broke up with him.

In the midst of that intensely painful year, I discovered the song Winter by Kina Grannis.

winter3

Every word seemed to be a narrative of what I was going through with my boyfriend. I couldn’t listen to it because I was scared that it was going to become my reality. Later, this song brought me so much comfort. It made me feel less alone in the painful experience of losing a love you were once so sure of. The lyrics to the bridge still give me hope whenever I look back and the sorrow creeps back in:

We made it all these years
And no they were not wasted
No life was lost right here
If love is what we tasted

 

Those years and that pain and that love are all a part of my story. They helped make me who I am. They aren’t wasted.

Thanks for reading, God bless,

Clare

 

Click here to check out all of Blogmas 2017