Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why Change, Why?

Why is change so hard? Even change that is painless, really, is still so dreadful to me. Actions and counteractions. Choices and consequences. Saying yes to something is inadvertently saying no to something else. Why do things have to change? There hasn't a day gone by this year that I haven't wished again, and again, to go back to the beginning of this year and change my life. It will never happen. But the agony will never fade, either. In a way, finally finding acceptance and my feet again just makes the loss even worse. Moving into a future I'd never expected to have to face is so intimidating. What happens when I make each decision? What if I made the other? Nothing is safe or familiar. Everything wants to change and I struggle to face each new decision with an open mind and heart but they just keep coming. Who wants change? In the end I didn't want change at all, and now that is all my life resolves around. Even trying to stand still and do nothing, just exist, is a change in itself to who I once was and what I had and loved. It is so frustrating. Even more so, when the change has good factors. Good people involved. I wonder if I will ever be able to stop comparing the options to the past. The new people in my life don't really deserve it. They see me through such shallow lenses, seeing only the surface of the person I am, a brand new HBBC graduate. While I gaze back at them, evaluating through three years of betrayal, confusion, and loss. And the hard part is that I let myself be in that position. Eventually the prison of doing nothing is unbearable and I let myself explore the options of that scary thing called moving forward, toward whatever maybe be out there whether it is better or actually not... and recently the options have been doors to wonderful experiences. I've had a snowcone twice, now. I've explored parts of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City I'd never had access to before. Met extraordinary new people. Gone outside. Ventured into the open of the hazy humid summer afternoon and even played softball with a group of mixed strangers and semi-aquaintances. Been introduced to my church in a new light. But even on the best days, there is very little of the old Noelle left. I hardly remember what it feels like to just laugh. Laugh from joy, not from environment. To be silly. To be a little crazy. To be relaxed, and casual, and contented and peaceful. Even on the best days in my new world, the only familiar companion is the pain and grief of the loss. And in the oddest moments it pierces my heart. Usually in the car driving home at night. No matter how good the day, the night always comes. The night, with the memories, with the questions, with the loneliness of soul. The night with no escape. And the strangeness of my new life rises up to intimidate me into tears. Hot tears, salty tears, tears that haven't stopped falling even after six months. Six months and nine days. Because all these options, all these people, all these places... they are so foreign. Noelle might be there, be in the pictures, be on the rollcall, but it's not the same. They aren't Noelle's places, Noelle's people, Noelle's choices. They have nothing to do with me, except for the fate of circumstances forcing us together. Exiled from the familiarity in the past, an alien in the presence of the future. At times like tonight I feel so transparent, so shallow, so inconclusive. Just a figment, just a wraith, just a shadow hovering in the existence of life, but not home. Everything has changed, but tonight, I just want to forget that and go back to the times when I was at home in living my life. I want to go back to a time that will never be mine again. Why does change hurt so deeply? Why does change happen at all? The great, agonizing, unfathomable question, whose answer is hidden in the mystery of a God who does not explain His ways to us: Why?

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I've been wanting to write something lately, anything, anything at all. Sometimes it feels like a huge empty void in my head, where once burned a galaxy of words and images. It's hard to know what to write about, what to think about, when there is not much going on in my life. Existence, merely. Having no family in Oklahoma City and all my friends gone as well has been a lonely existence for sure. But someone once told me with tears in their eyes, "Sometimes we are the most afraid of being alone, because that is when God can use us the most." I don't know if that's true or if God can use us more powerfully in teams, but all I know is that it's awfully quiet in my life right now. Oklahoma City hasn't gotten that hot this summer. Humid, blissfully warm, and quiet. It's a change. All I know is the quiet is okay. I sure don't want winter to come again.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Day in Moore, Part II

And here are the photos of some tornado damage around the Warren Theatre in north Moore, Oklahoma. The large demolished building was a hospital. The parking lot was filled with ghostly, abandoned cars. It was the cars that shocked me most, crumpled and shattered. I didn't realize that wind could do that to a car- blow out windows, crush in doors, rip off tires. There was a strange, sick silence to the bright sunshine to the day. It was very similar to the time I visited Aushwitz at fourteen years old. A beautiful summer day, paled by the cold linger of death and destruction. God is very real, very powerful, and the tornadoes have been a great opportunity to witness to my coworkers, for which I am thankful. Even now, almost a month later, so much of the city lies in ruins. The girls and I found some small souvenirs in the rubble. We also took some scrap metal and formed a heart, which we hung on the gate by the hospital. The girls kept the card and I kept the flower. The roll of duct tape made me smile and think of the Myth Busters' episode on how you should always have some handy during a crisis. It's true!

A Day in Moore Part I

Not long after the tornadoes of late May ravaged through the south side of my city, I threw on a pair of boots and and gloves and drove down to help clean, salvage, and organize the mountain of rubble. It was almost traumatizing, even though I wasn't directly affected, to stand in the middle of a city completely bombed into debris. There was so much loss, so much grief, so much shock. It was good to be able to do something tangible to help, to do anything. Later, I went back to the tip of the demolition zone with my camera and took some pictures.
On that same day, I was able to have the privilege of spending the afternoon with two of my high school girls whom I taught all semester in Norman. I have missed my kids!!! Student teaching was such a huge experience for me... I miss their faces, their stories, and seeing them each day. I miss being a teacher, in a small way, in that I miss my kids. I wonder where they will all end up in life. Who knows? Life is strange and uncertain. When I left Community Christian School on my last day, the tears rolled down my cheeks as I retraced my journey up the highway for the last time. I cried on the first day, too, but in dreaded agony of what was to come. God was merciful to me. He gave me such a wonderful classroom, such a wonderful teacher, such wonderful kids. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like that semester was even real. It came, it went, it will never be again. That is life.
After we went to get snow cones, we went to lunch and then to see the wreckage around Warren Theaters. It was my first time to have a snow cone, which the girls were sure to make fun of me about =) I was so thankful that God spared all of my precious teenagers who lived in the direct area of the tornado. He is so full of mercy!!! Here are some of the photos from that day, starting with the early afternoon at The Lake, the snow cone place, and TGI Friday's. =)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Roadtrip to Idabel

Summer in Oklahoma City post graduation has been a strange feeling. However, despite the plethora of sad changes, the absence of educational pursuit has given one small benefit: the opportunity for new adventures. I've been able to participate is very few church or college activities during my time at Heartland, thanks to the heavy work hours I had to maintain in order to pay off my sizable monthly college bills. So when I heard about the trip to Idabel, Oklahoma, to run a VBS for a small church plant in the rural community, my first instinct was to decline. But then I realized that although I would be missing work and have to survive in close quarters with many people strange to me, I actually had the option available for once. And it was the definite voice of God coming through the soft darkness of my lonely lodging in Edmond at night as I prayed about His will, telling me that I should go. So I did. The experience was nothing like I anticipated... and so much better. The best parts of the trip were not documented with my camera, they were memories lived. I hold them in my heart. But in the quiet, free moments I did take a few snapshots of my time in Idabel, and here they are.

Top: Noah Vaughn (green) and Lucas Binswanger (blue)
Bottom left to right: Jenni Couser and Brad Couser and three boys Clay, Cason, & Creed, Johnathan Scruggs (red), Cody Pirkle (plaid), Jocelyn Dick (green), Megan Sprague (center), Sarah Estep (blue), Julie Hinton (black), Lindsey St. Hilaire (purple), Elizabeth Lyhn (striptes) and Noelle O'Brien (far right).
John and Grace Lande are hiding behind me with their two boys Uriah (right) and Luke (left)