Thursday, October 20, 2016

| stay forever, autumn. |


Fall is my favorite season, hands down. Something about the excitement of the change in the air, the falling temperatures, the accomplishment of having made it through three-fourths of another year, the harvest aspect of the season, the knowledge that Christmas is a stray handful of weeks away, makes it richer, at least to me, than its three colleagues.


some happy things from this month so far:

* hiking in the beautiful Sandia Mountains. The aspens and cottonwoods are in the process of transforming from green to yellow, and it's a glorious spectacle to behold. I want to climb to the top of those wooded peaks and camp there for a month- no technology, no distractions, just nature and me and God.

 not in the sandia mountains but this was fun. (obviously.)

* new beginnings, fresh starts, and feeling so much joy just at being alive, still (fairly) young, haha, and exploring new blessings God has been saving for up until now. Lately my heart has been happier than I ever imagined it could feel again, and that's Jesus, people. All the praise for that, belongs to Him.

A photo posted by Hannah Hopkins (@hannahellie95) on

* okay, this is so clichéd... but.... Starbucks fall-flavor lattes. Sorry, guys. I had to insert that. I feel this pinprick of guilt every time I enter the Starbucks and exchange four or five dollars for a coffee (mind, it's hardly a frequent occurrence) but those lattes are fabulous things, and I've yet to repent of a single one.

* my job, which, while exhausting, offers more rewards than merely the paycheck. It has had its tragic moments, the majority of which are comedic in nature, but it's splitting at the seams with unpredictability and endearingness. (blogger protests that endearingness isn't a word. Well, it ought to be, and I'm going to be a rebel and insert it anyway.)

* roasting green chiles. If you don't know what that is, well, mosey on down to New Mexico, and you'll acquire a fairly decent knowledge of it pretty fast. Also green chile peanut brittle is awesome, and so are green chile pistachio nuts, and so is any kind of food (almost!) with green chiles in / on it, and if I ever vacate the state, I will miss green chiles with all of my heart. ha.

* revival meetings at church, among other church-related happenings. We've been blessed with a fairly steady series of those in the past several weeks, and each one has been stirring and edifying.

* the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which, besides being a small carnival in its own right, has me saving up for a ride in a hot air balloon next October. Maybe that idea will be outgrown, but for now, I'm saving it on a spot on my imaginary bucket list.


* this quote: "What God is bringing you through at this very moment is going to be the testimony that brings someone else through. No mess, no message." *and truer words were never spoken*

* also this quote: "Writers don't choose their crafts: they write, in order to face the world." Anonymous genius who jotted down that concept, you are correct.

* doing crazy, happy things with fam, like random pizza with no notice, planning pumpkin patch trips, showing my skeptical brothers that, yes sir, I really am a competent driver and you don't need to say, "i'll meet you on the other side" every time I take off, and plotting prospective cross-country trips to visit friends. (SO hoping that will work out.)

Anyway, enough arbitrary thought for now. I hope everyone is having a beautiful day, and if not, as one of my friends says, have a better day tomorrow. :)

Friday, August 12, 2016

| these summer nights. |


(where are the pictures? I didn't feel like snagging one from pinterest, and the ones on my mobile phone are pathetically gritty. so guess what. you get to read the words and be content minus visual stimulation. haha.)


Summer. I don't know how to sum up this one. I wrote a blog post a month ago, but kept it stuffed in the drafts folder too long and when I wandered back over to the blogger dashboard and poked over the words again, they sounded lame. People say I write deep thoughts that aren't necessarily inspiring at times, so I shall adjourn from my generally melancholic and introverted self and provide the general public with something that doesn't quite deserve the adjective "heavy." I guess I could describe the sweaty, screaming volleyball games with the church youth, the curled up beneath a Southwestern sky last weekend, probably as close to a major fireworks show as we will ever get, (go Route 66) the disgraceful number of times we took advantage of Sonic's half-off evening milkshake policy and indulged under the stars, that time we drove down to Jemez Springs for some creek swimming, but had disastrous glass cuts within minutes from someone's previous beer binge, (it was . . . colorful? okay, that was morbid) the horseback rides in the Sandia Mountains, and I'm not sure what else to add to the collection of memorabilia.

Okay, I lied. I found a few half-decent shots on my phone, this one being from a hike a few days ago.

And this one from a mini road trip a week ago, to pay my respects to the decaying remnants of a major forest fire this past June. It's amazing how much a little heat can destroy, how healing can require all of a lifetime.

Though I'm thankful for my family and friends and road trips and fireworks and Sonic milkshakes and the like, I feel the most myself, alone under a sky quilted with constellations, listening to the crickets and cicadas and coyotes and other assorted nocturnal wildlife put the night to music, housecleaning my thoughts. Sometimes I bring my guitar or my mandolin outside and make my own contribution, which, besides writing, I enjoy more than anything in the world. I have scores of unfinished songs written up in my docs folder, though I doubt if anyone will ever see them. Which is perfectly fine by me. My mom finally convinced me to put some songs on YouTube, so I dug out my dusty little account and uploaded a few I plunked out in our garage, with my mobile phone as a recording device. My favorite song in the world is JJ Heller's "Love Me." Maybe because I possess a fetish for the melancholic. Maybe because the mournful flavor of the lyrics connects somewhere inside me. Maybe because the culmination of the song is the most degraded of humanity finally making his peace with his Father. I'd like to write a song like that someday. Thanks to the fifty-hour-a-week job I'm about to commence the day after Labor Day, (so long, lazy summer days) my time for such things is about to perish entirely, but I hope that there will always be a few moments in my life for a couple of guitar songs, a half-hour or so of letting my heart bleed into a keyboard, of exploring the quiet backwoods where the punk-rock beat of life changes to wind in the cedars and water on rocks, and remembering my Creator in the days of my youth. Which, mournfully enough, are expiring rapidly. I've never felt so ancient before. I can't believe I was a teenager eleven brief months ago. People say I have an old soul, and I've definitely been feeling that of late.

I love this song too:

"You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin'
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway . . .

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might never come your way
Dream it anyway . . .

This world's gone crazy
It's hard to believe
that tomorrow will be any better than today
Believe it anyway . . .

God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray, sometimes it don't turn out how I think it should
But I do it anyway."

That's enough for tonight. I even found another picture to leave with y'all.

Good night.

Monday, May 23, 2016

| she's a wildflower. |









Albeit, the first day of May found the red dirt layered with fresh snow, and the wrinkled buds had refused to show so much as a single shade of green, the current colors flourishing in the woods outside are tending towards spring. We finally invested in a volleyball net, situated it outside in a rare and much-nurtured portion of partially flat terrain, and usually between seven or eight in the evening someone wanders outside and manages to launch an impromptu game, which usually concludes in an assortment of sweat-stained clothes and hair packed with dirt and pine needles and a small sibling or two hollering out accolades for the victorious team. Young jade-colored growths are spearing through the decaying oak leaves, and the sunlight weaves a kaleidoscope of variegated shadows on the forest floor. The soil is currently spangled with wildflowers, and dozens of offerings from my little sister seem to have a habit of finding new homes in our room, where they produce a quaint country effect and a phenomenal amount of allergy-provoking pollen.

Such is the personality of spring, and every day seems to explode with an extra portion of beauty that the one preceding it didn't possess.

Life is still life, and I am still me, and the Lord is still the same, yesterday, today, and forever. I quit my job the last week of April and just last week received hire for a new one, and the change provided me with time to complete a fifteen-month project, the culmination of a private dream I always aspired to make reality, but lacked the necessary time and patience and inspiration. (more on that later) I slept in far too many mornings, brewed much too many cups of coffee for one rational human being (though the rational part is up for debate) did things with our church, with friends, and sometimes just by myself, which, for a solitary soul, is the pinnacle of therapy. I'm trying to cultivate less of a selfish attitude and give more of myself and my time to the people in my life, but after the sun sets, I obtain delight in finding a quiet piece of God's earth and just thinking. Life is so short. So serious. Lacking the time it takes to invest yourself in pursuits that won't matter tomorrow.

Which has led me to consider an adventure that, five months ago, couldn't have been more distant from my everyday sphere of thought. But, I'm not spilling the details. Not yet. Let's just say that this summer is going to be a special one, and after that? I don't even want to think about it sometimes. It's a terrifying thought even on my good days, but like my mom loves to say, "fear knocked, faith answered, and there was nobody there."

And today is beautiful, my family is eating strawberry pie in the kitchen and hoping I'll rip myself off the internet to join them, and life is a precious gift. Not one we dare squander, because one day, it won't be ours anymore.



" . . . we get so worried about being pretty. let's be pretty smart. pretty kind. pretty strong. "


Saturday, April 16, 2016

| new home fires. |


(and this update ought to have been penned on April 3rd, to be exact, but as anyone with any acquaintance with my personality will recall, tardiness and Hannah Hopkins maintain a regretfully intimate relationship)

One year ago I stepped off a ten o' clock American Airlines flight hailing from Dallas onto New Mexico soil, which I had seen before, but hadn't called home for eleven odd years. My mom and my brothers were there to greet me and help me haul my guitar and my suitcases down the four escalators in the ABQ airport (ah, the diabolical entertainment my brothers and I have discovered in those epic employments of getting from hither to yon) and we all took off to celebrate with burgers and milk shakes at a joint that still plays Johnny Cash. I'd never eaten a green chile cheeseburger before, and while in the majority of my conversation I refrain from cultural clichés, permit me to declare that a green chile cheeseburger is the bomb.

That was the first day.



Since then I've shaken hands with a hundred flavors and signatures that New Mexico gave birth to, and fallen hard for a sky that no eastern state could ever boast. The definition of American liberty cannot be fully understand, at least in my humble and flawed opinion, until you stand (or better yet, ride bareback) beneath a Western sky without a tree or a shrub in sight, feeling the fingers of a stiff wind in your hair and seeing nothing but the invitation of empty space in front of you. Because I take empty spaces as an invitation, an open gate to a place where you can really set your soul free. Whoever wrote that poem "Out in the fields with God" was a genius of faith and human emotion.



Just because my sister is adorable, and I wanted to stick her in somewhere.

Also, since then, I have recalled some of those memories we have made in Vermont, missed them, finished missing them, folded them up and tucked them in the closets of my brain for safekeeping, then pawed them back out, dusted them off and missed them again. They don't have sugar shacks or maple syrup here, but they do roast green chiles in the fall and the wind carries the signature flavor of a Mexican food joint for days. They don't have autumn foliage boasting every color in the wheel, but they do have aspens in the mountains, and I never knew how breathtaking yellow could be until the October wind brought it out of their leaves.

They don't have the friends I left, the kidhood that I traded for Texas when I was eighteen, the house that built me, the church that I was saved at and baptized in, the backyard where I remember most of my birthday parties, the trails where I used to ride a horse and dream about being a woman, and they're "a long way to the place where the home fires burn, two thousand miles and one left turn."


But they do have Mexican food, which everyone should taste once in their lives (real Mexican food, NOT Taco Bell and NOT Tex-Mex) and they have some amazing mountains, jagged sentinels of limestone and sand and granite standing like a giant militia against that swoonworthy sky (I think I just made up a word, at least, the Blogger dictionary didn't recognize it) and they do have two of the most amazing friends I met last summer (Victoria, you would label me a loser for waxing sentimental, and I would laugh and try to spit out a comeback and fail) and they have a incredible church that taught us how to go soulwinning, which should be one of the major themes of life, for everyone.

In short, the place has God. He brought me here, and He is my oasis in the desert. (Literally).

And, have you ever seen a desert sunset? I think I just found new home fires.


(I want to claim the credit for this frozen moment of majesty. I want to. SO BAD. But.... I can't. I deleted my sunset pictures a few weeks ago, so I had to go borrow someone else's.)



Saturday, March 5, 2016

| hello world. |

*     *     *

 . . . it's been so long. Again.

I was working late with another guy one night this past week, and in the course of conversation he looked at me, shook his head, and said, "Hannah, can you believe it's already March?" I let that one swirl around in the maelstrom of thought in my brain for a spell, then coerced a nod, most likely a rather fractured one, and acquiesced to the obvious. I hear y'all Yankees are still shoveling your lives out of the cold white grip in some parts, but yeah. We're three months deep into two thousand and sixteen, and they said that winter is over, but part of the cold must have soaked into my soul, because I never saw the weather take a kinder turn until I stopped and stared at the facts taped on the wall and typed in ostentatious fonts on the news.

I had a certain vague fascination with grief in the fiction department for the majority of my life. Whenever I played the role of witness to its fingerprint in the lives of my friends, or my family, grief was a switchblade in their skin that I crazy craved to extricate and throw away, and I always wondered how people handled losing their beloveds. How they managed to keep breathing when their soul was bleeding to death, and how they managed to survive nights of intermittent sleep, at best, of pillowcases soaked with emotion, of journal pages thick with dried tears and pain. A pain that devours you whole. A pain that shows you a stranger in the mirror, not the person you thought you were.

That was me.

January saw me dressing my soul in gunmetal, (I thought) and more than prepared to take the bullets as they came, lose my balance, bleed for a time, and stagger back to my feet and give heartbreak a run for its money. Yeah. All it took was a couple of country breakup songs and reading through old letters to shred that cute little fantasy. I forget how many nights I lived face down on my bed screaming into the blankets, anything but the definition of brave. Because it had happened to me. I lost the person that I loved. I could describe in poetic and sentimental language the meaning of my love for him, but permit the verb to suffice. I loved him.
But sometimes it doesn't work.

Well-intended adults attempt to educate the younger ones, prepare them for any plague that lurks in the world, but no instruction manual or inspirational read or grief seminar can teach you how to understand the language of your own broken heart. It's a terrifying thing, waking up every morning with a hole you didn't have before gaping across your soul. People say what they will, telling you to grow up, that it was your fault, that you should have fought harder, that you are shallow and treat love like a plaything, so on. Time does not erase the scars, but it does show you how to exist, even with the pain holding one of your hands.

And the pain doesn't sit down inside you and keep you company, then take its leave and vacate your heart after a certain time, but after a while you get used to waking up every morning and seeing it sitting beside you. You make room for it, and slowly you begin to understand it. How to breathe around its bulk filling your chest.

And there is the Lord. At first, I am ashamed to confess, I avoided His face. I memorized every grief quote on Pinterest and sang every breakup song I knew when the nights got long and lonely. I refused to talk to people. But I know He was waiting for me to drag the pieces of me to Him and lay them at His feet, and beg Him to take them. Just take them. Not even put them back together again. But just take them. They had grown far too heavy for my hands to hold.

I am a private person, and albeit I am unlocking a barred room in my soul in this post, I despise the notion of pasting one's heart on one's sleeve, measure the exposure of my feelings by the adage "cowgirls don't cry" and will almost never offer another human a peephole to the hurricanes in my heart. I had grown proud of my ability to deceive everyone I knew into believing that I was actually surviving, proud of the fact that my friends said I was one of the strongest women they had ever known and proud of the fact that I reserved my tears for back roads at night when no one was watching. But I am human. I break. I bruise. I bleed. I am quite frequently the weakest woman I know, and I hate myself for it, but it is more beautiful to be honest than to be perfect.

It was several Sunday nights ago that I was standing in church in the midst of an altar call. I have never been one to race to the fore of a sanctuary at an invitation. I always figure than prayer is as possible at a pew as in front of a pulpit. But that night I went. And I didn't plan on crying in front of a hundred something humans, but I did.

And I know God was with me on the floor in front of that church. I felt Him. Like I hadn't felt Him in weeks. But He was there. I felt His touch, caressing the bruises and the holes that life's bullets had left behind, and filling them back in again.

I still get the long nights. The scars are still there.

But He is there, too. And I am willing to do anything to keep Him here with me. All my life, I read the Psalms, heard the emotion-saturated testimonies of people that God had gotten through to the other side of heartbreak, sang "It is Well With My Soul" until even that was one more cliché. But I never believed it as much as I did that night, and that night, it was the only truth I knew.

Maybe, the only truth I need right now.

Hello, world. I think I am breathing again.

"I dare you to move,

I dare you to move

I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor

I dare you to move

I dare you to move, like today never happened before. . .

Salvation is HERE."