Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My little piece of heresy

1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. John 3:16 is a beloved little verse that speaks of why Jesus came, connects our eternal fate to God's never-ending love. The following verse says, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Because He loves us. He loves the people He created even though we've sinned and rebelled and rejected Him. Because of a little thing called grace, we've been saved.

I wonder sometimes, if God's going to save everyone.

There is much about God I don't understand. The trinity, sanctification, the infinite and omnipresence of a Being that has consistently revealed Himself in and above all things is a forever reminder that I don't know everything. Or anything remotely close to everything. That is to say, I have no idea how He'd do it. How He'd save everyone. I know about God's justice and righteousness and holiness just as well as I know His love and mercy. The people who have rejected His free gift, who have rejected Him, have chosen their own death.

But . . .

The Bible is, on a micro-level, a story about a people who were chosen by God and continually rejected Him. In Ezra 10, Jehiel is recounting the sins of Israel and he says, "But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel." Lamentations was written in a time when Jerusalem had been destroyed because God's people rebelled against him, yet after painting a grim picture of the consequences, Lamentations 3:21-22 says "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." In Romans 11, when Paul is talking about the remnant of Israel in the end times, in verse 32 he says, "For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all."

Is that not the hope of the Gospel, that all the lost will be saved? Is that not the story of Israel, with every rejection comes a hope for redemption? Is that not the nature of God, to rescue every one of the foolish and ignorant for His own glory?

I'm not saying the Bible says everyone's going to be saved from hell. It doesn't say that. It says the opposite. But, the Bible tells me a lot about God. And, I'm not certain that it's wrong to hope. To hope that in His mercy and wisdom God finds some way to soften and save every single soul that rejected Him again and again, that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." [Philippians 2:10-11] It's not wrong to hope for everyone's salvation, is it?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I waste paper and ink on self-gratification frequently

As a perceiver, finishing things is somewhat painful for me. I lack the attention span. So when I do finish things, it's exciting. I have finished my journal!

This one I breezed through especially quickly, that's six months of my meaningless memories and musings. Here's a somewhat random excerpt as an example of the drivel I write: [8 - 12 - 09] Ah, I love singing! I'm sitting at the kitchen island listening to Feist and Yael Naim and Adele (so far) while those rad brownie cookies bake (care cell tonite), waiting for Laurie to come and pick up Mozart -- I love this dog ridiculously. Thanks to him I've been getting up early. I love the morning . . . but I also love staying up late, maybe I should just be nocturnal.

I'm not kidding when I say my life is really exciting. And apparently full of superficial loves.

But I have a new problem now, one that I go through each time I finish a journal. I have to pick one to use next, and it's like choosing a favorite child. And there is so much to consider! How wide are the lines, will it fit in my purse, is it too thick to fill in a year, is it too thin to last three months, will I like writing in it, will the paper make my pen smear, is it durable? I just can't decide on my own.


This is one of those nice leather lined journals I got on sale at Barnes & Nobel. I've been used to writing in a hardcover journal, so I'm not sure if a softcover journal will irritate me or not, but I suppose I'll adapt. The lines on the pages are just the right size.

When I saw Kate last summer I was inspired by the daybook she kept and wanted to try it, which of course, Moleskine is perfect for. My glitch is, I like journalling the traditional way and am nervous I won't like micro-journalling as much, and I'll never stick to the practice. Also, for all the reputation, Moleskine pages are always falling out on me.

This is the smallest journal, and also leather-bound, a gift from the same person who gave me the red alligator skin journal I just finished. I think the smallness would make it easier to carry everywhere, but I'm worried it'll be uncomfortable to write in because of the size and tight binding.

This is just a regular spiral bound notebook, an impulse purchase that has left me confused with how to use it. The pages tear out and one side of each page is graph paper, and it has all these pockets and things, but it's also really thick.

Help me out, guys. I'm too indecisive for this major decision.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"I knew nothing of romance, but it was love at second sight."

You know how every once in a while there's a song that gets you REALLY EXCITED? Yeah, all caps. A song that you listen to over and over because it's so catchy and skillful and wonderful? A song that's too good to be true, but it is true, and you can hardly believe it? And then you find out this song is part of an album and you worry that the rest of the album won't be as awesome because logically there's just not enough awesome to go around but then you listen to the album and you're completely bewitched and it's all you listen to for the next two months? That doesn't happen to me often. Nooo. But it did happen with Fun.

Actually, this feels like a superfluous post, because a few of you have already absorbed the win that is Fun. But I kind of just need to vent. I got Aim and Ignite a few weeks ago, and I downloaded their acoustic Daytrotter session today [three songs you can get for free here] and my fandom has grown so much since I first heard "At Least I'm Not As Sad." [Which you can get for free if you sign up for their e-list on their Myspace.]

Vocally, they're astounding. Andrew and Jack and Nate's harmony is pretty skillful, and just sounds nice. But the tonal quality of their voices is what I really like; it's just so wonderful to listen to! I don't know, I can't explain it, I like Nate's voice. Like the rest of their music, it's unique. And they sing well. On "Benson Hedges" especially, it's a hard song to sing, all their songs are, but they pull it off with skill. The vocals carry each and every song, and considering the loud and powerful sound of the instruments, they have to really belt it vocally. The result is so full -- I like it, I like it lots. [And hey, they actually enunciate when they sing! Yessss! WIN!]

Instrumentally, they remind me of Panic at the Disco on Pretty Odd, with accordion and all sorts of brass: trumpet, saxophone, tuba, trombone. They use percussion artfully, and the piano and violin that features on most of the songs if fantastic. Even "The Gambler" which is comparatively stripped down with just vocals, piano, and some violin and cello, it still feels completely rounded. There's no hint of guitar anywhere on the record, except on "All the Pretty Girls" and a distorted sound that might be electric guitar on "Walking the Dog." There's a lot of contrast in the songs, fast and full in some places, but slow and acoustic in others, the result being a song that builds along with the lyrics. Their sound is just really different, I can hardly compare it to anything, it's just unique. And that's partly why I love it so much.

Lyrically, they're not as spectacular or poetic as Sleeping At Last. But judging on a curve, Fun holds their own. The lyrics aren't choppy or forced, they flow nicely, and they're thoughtful. The token love songs are sweet, not sappy, and the token breakup songs are hilarious, not overly venomous. Mostly, I like that the lyrics are happy. Even when they're sad, they're happy. The theme of record feels like it's saying, "Even though your life is not what you thought it would, and even though you've been disappointed time and time again, you're alive, so go live." Or, maybe that's my overly idealistic interpretation. I was irked because "Take Your Time" drops a swear, but I got Hannah to cut it out for me with her Garageband skills. At any rate, the lyrics are quotable and just as catchy as the music.

I don't think I've ever written so much about a band before. But for a debut album, Aim and Ignite is absolutely fantastic. They're all extremely skilled musicians, and every single track is off the hook. I'm a fan. You should be a fan, too.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are we alone?

I shivered passively in physics class, listening to my classmates' distant questions of black holes and time travel, staring at "Figure 7.3" and the crude illustration of our solar system it provided. My brain flounced around an idea more fascinating than centripetal force: how big was the universe really, when compared to the 3x5 image in my textbook? From the back seat on the car ride home, I watched the dull stars in the dusty night sky, attempting to conceptualize just how far away those clear flicks of light burned. I could not imagine it. It was impossible. The universe was too big, and I was too small.

I did not feel insignificant, however. Perhaps I should have? After all, when compared to the orbits of the planets or the explosion of the stars, my everyday actions mean little to the universe as a whole. If I had never attained "being" some other human would fill the role I was supposed to have played, but the solar system occupies an indispensable function. The universe existed before the faculty of time, whereas I have existed for a mere eighteen years; it feels like a nanosecond in comparison. But no, in the face of these under-developed thoughts, I did not feel insignificant.

After all, I am human. That makes all the difference. As long as another human exists in this reality, I will never be irrelevant. There is something in the fiber of our being that connects us, and in this connection we find our significance. While the universe is full of matter and anti-matter, the human spirit is privy to something far more mysterious: the intangible reality of reason, emotion, ideas, and souls. An individual completely alone has no reason to love, no reason to serve, no reason to live. A person alone is insignificant.

Fortunately, these immaterial hints of love and logic we share lend us our significance. The fact that this idea is difficult to articulate does not mean it is merely a poetic notion. Donald Williams, a NASA astronaut, explains that "For those who have seen the Earth from space, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us." That which every human has in common is what guarantees that we will never be completely alone.

It does not matter that language and textual communication limit my ability to relay precisely what I mean. It does not matter that I can never completely know the mind of another. It does not matter that people and communities and nations are separated by conflict and misunderstanding and selfish ambition. It does not matter that all these factors divide me from my fellow man. We are all build from the same intangible stuff, molded into diverse individuals through the same ingredients. Philosophically, anthropologically, psychologically, and spiritually, I am not alone. It is a fact of existence, it is the definition of being human.

[This is my first attempt at answering the Tufts' application essay prompt "Are we alone?" I was hoping to work in that TS Eliot line "What life have you if you have not life together? There is no life that is not in community" but the Donald Williams quotation was more pertinent. My approach to the prompt is cliché, but it was the only thing I brainstormed that I could write honestly. Critiques plz.]

Monday, December 14, 2009

The important stuff is not in the beginning of this post.

My pastor's going through a fascinating series about who Jesus really is, and he's been making a lot of comparisons to the Muslim and post-modern perceptions of Jesus because our church just adopted a specific missions approach to a specific place in the 10/40 window, and he wants to help the congregation span intellectual and cultural differences in their circles of influence in order to share the gospel. He's come across a lot of interesting resources while writing these sermons, and after the service two weeks ago, he told me to Google the name "Roland Muller." For some reason I remembered to do so, and what I found was very exciting to me.

Um, et cetera.

I'm being raised in a conservative Christian household. And while my parents would never, ever dare to suggest that Christians don't drink alcohol, support the labor movement, or vote for Obama, they have been purposeful in comparing the teachings of the Bible to the culture we live in, training their children in the way they should go. And while my parents are socially opinionated people, they always differentiate what they believe because the Bible says so from what they believe because it just makes sense to them.

But along with this training came a horrendous course I took in eighth grade that cost me a huge chunk of my sanity: Understanding the Times by David Noebel. It was a worldview course that compared Biblical Christianity with Marxism, secular humanism, and cosmic humanism. I think the curriculum's been expanded now to include Islam and post modernism? It outlined the way Christians approach economics, politics, sociology, ethics, whatever as compared to these other worldviews. It was interesting, and useful.

Um, et cetera.

I really need to stop detailing my ENTIRE thought process and superfluous background detail. Yes. Anyway. All this is leading up my what I found so exciting about Roland Muller, and his book Honor & Shame, and where my thoughts about how we can share the truth better and how we can know God more deeply.

So, Roland Muller thinks there's no such thing as a true Biblical worldview. And I think I agree with him.

I know a lot of Christians who think homosexuality isn't a sin. And while that hurts my heart, the Bible tells me that's how the world works. We're blind to the truth sometimes, all of us are. My friend may be blind to the truth regarding homosexuality, and I may be blind to the nuances of the justice of God. [My heretical musings are another post for another time.] I think some of this blindness comes from worldviews, assumptions that are cultural or intellectual givens. And how can we assign the term "Biblical worldview" to a set of "beliefs" that are anything but objective? There can't be a Biblical worldview. There can only be what the Bible teaches. Our worldviews can distract us sometimes from knowing who Jesus really is.

Kevin DeYoung talks about some of the different views we have of Jesus:
There’s the Republican Jesus who is against tax increases and activists judges, for family values and owning firearms. There’s Democrat Jesus who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money. There’s Therapist Jesus who helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves. There’s Starbucks Jesus who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid and goes to film festivals. There’s Touchdown Jesus who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls. There’s Gentle Jesus who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash and looks very German. There’s Platitude Jesus, good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons; he inspires people to believe in themselves, and lifts us up so we can walk on mountains. There’s Revolutionary Jesus who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on the “system.” There’s Boyfriend Jesus who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.

I'm getting hung up now on one of the questions I wrote down that day during Nationals 2008. "Why do different people have different views of God?" If God is God, one Being, who has given us His word, who lives in our hearts, then why do I see God so differently than you do? I try to picture God in my mind like I try to picture all the characters from the books I read. And yet I picture God differently from day to day, and I like to think that's because I'm getting to know Him more and more, but I also wonder, are my extra-biblical beliefs clouding my view of God?

This is what I know: the Gospel has spread all of the earth. It's relevant to every culture known to man. Somehow, these words from thousands of years ago, in a era and a culture I don't understand, the experiences of a people and their God have changed my life. I can't imagine the variety of cultures and worldviews of those people who wrote down God's inspired word, and yet the truth is relevant to me, now and today. Because they didn't write their worldviews. They wrote the truth. That is the draw of being a Christ follower: not prescribing to a specific "Biblical" or "Christian" worldview, but believing in the truth regardless of culture or tradition or reason.

I'm still thinking about what all this actually means, of course. I haven't even read Honor & Shame yet. I'm not entirely sure how our fractured worldviews work with the truth of the Bible. And I haven't the faintest idea what specifically is "wrong" about a "Biblical worldview" beyond the principle of the matter. But I love the idea understanding how to relate cross-culturally on truth, to pursue unity and not get bogged down in differences that don't matter. I just want to know Jesus better.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"If I wanna think, I'll think in my head"

I'm making a bubble chart in my mind, trying to trace this thought back to its origin, to pin it down to a logical progression and track its development, but, this task is pointless. It's been pestering me for too long, it's layers of sediment hardened into inseparable rock, it's the knot of necklaces in my jewelry box that I just can't unravel.

If it were the truth, I'd define myself as "reticent" but it doesn't describe me literally nor figuratively. I share too much sometimes. Stupid things, silly things, things that don't matter. You have probably been held captive by one of my rants -- and, I'm sorry, by the way. My poor sisters, especially, hear every little thought that enters my head: the evils of Vitamin Water, the new CD I bought, the small frustrations of the day. I talk. A lot. About pointless things.

But when the moment comes where I have the opportunity to talk about something that's actually meaningful, my stomach seizes and my throat swells shut. For the longest time I couldn't talk about what God had been doing in my heart, because it was just too personal and too important to me. [Parenthetically, this is why I took apologetics. Apologetics is the most important individual event you can ever compete in. Do it. Please.] It takes me hours to draft heart-felt emails, and the rigmarole I have to go through to verbalize what I care about is often not worth it. It's just easier to keep the important things to myself. Give a testimony at the Christmas party tonight? Cue the nausea.

The weird thing is, I do want to talk about these things. I'm already in the habit of saying everything that's on my mind, why shouldn't I also share everything that's on my heart? Maybe that's selfish. I don't know. But I hate that I'm such a contradiction. I hate that I confuse myself.

I've kept a journal faithfully since I was thirteen, and inconsistently since I was ten, and I have a big Tupperware storage bin of these notebooks under my bed. I journal nearly everything. Every event, every conversation, every worry, every blessing. Sometimes. Other times I exist in a trance-like state where I absorb everything and it gets misplaced in the spare closets of my brain, or even more likely, my hand isn't up to the rigorous exercise of putting my mind and it's days worth of experience on paper. But is it weird, that even in my journal I edit my thoughts and feelings, polishing them a bit and giving them a positive or negative spin, tinting how I really feel so I won't be embarrassed by myself when I look back on them later? Even in my journal, something, something is stopping me from sharing anything too personal.

I wonder, if it's so hard for me to say the "important things" maybe it's because I'm not as "deep" a person as I supposed. Maybe it's a struggle to bring the important feelings to light because I haven't got any important feelings to share. While I previously regarded the shallow girl as only part of my true self, maybe it's the heart-felt girl who is the impostor. I don't know. It confuses me, so I don't like to think about it. I'm getting better at subduing the analytical part of my brain, I'm getting better at not letting my introverted feeling bother me.

It might help, if words meant what I needed them to mean. It might help if I knew how to master language to say what I mean. It might help if I could die to self and stop caring . . . so I could actually start caring.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Excerpts of today.

Welcome back

Winter once again
And put on your warm fuzzy sweater
Cos you'll feel much better when
The snowflakes fall
Gently to the ground

[The Tip of the Iceberg]

O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.

Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.

O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.
[Daniel 9]

"She was a smarter, English version of me!" // "Would you like to dog my graphic design skills as well?" // "I don't shut up, I grow up!" // "If there's anything I've learned recently it's that knowing isn't doing."

Love has earth to which she clings
With hills and circling arms about--
Wall within wall to shut fear out.
But Thought has need of no such things,
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.
[Bond & Free]

Friday, December 4, 2009

Morbid train of thought

I had finally moved on to kneeling position, and my arms were aching from the extra effort of jamming the Russian ammo in the barrel of my gun. I wanted shooting to be over for tonight. My foot started tingling, and the memory flashed to my mind for no good reason. "Yes, good idea, stretch. Take your time. Don't let your foot fall asleep." Two years ago Corey had said this to me while he coached. He only came a few times, but he worked with me intensively one-on-one and his kind, constructive feedback was infinitely useful. But Corey's dead now.

I don't even know if that's how his name was spelled. I only ever talked to him, even saw him maybe three or four times. I was really confused when my shooting coach called maybe six months later to tell me that Corey's funeral was soon, and that he had killed himself. I don't know why I still think about this so much.

I often think about how nice it would be to just, stop living. To not have to deal with the stresses and shortcomings anymore, and to just be home with Jesus. That part of suicide I totally get. The feeling where you're tired in the depths of your soul and you just want a time out. The treadmill of life is cycling on, and it seems easier to pull the trip cord than attempt to stop your stumbling. The feeling when you're sick to your stomach by everything you see, and you can't bring yourself to smile because it would mean lying. I don't claim to understand what it's like emotionally to want to kill yourself, but nearly everyone knows what it's like to feel that kind of hopelessness. I kind of get that. It's the actual dying part I don't understand.

It's really hard to kill a human being. Even when it's easy it's hard. And, I guess, I wouldn't really know, but doesn't it seem to you that those victims on House get way too many second chances at life after a diagnosis turns out wrong? And doesn't it seem to you that the villains in the movies are always finding one last rasping breathe to tear down the hero? [And doesn't it seem so wrong to you that I experience so much of the world through fiction?] Life doesn't leave easily. Jumping off a bridge, taking pills, pulling the trigger, slitting wrists, breathing in carbon monoxide, hanging from the ceiling . . . there's so much that could go "wrong" and there have been so many people who've been "unsuccessful" in their attempts. There's no such thing as a clean way to go, it's always a struggle to do the deed, because God alone is the giver and taker of life.

It almost seems like more of a struggle to die than to keep living.

But apparently for some people, that's not enough motivation to prevent suicide. I wish I could understand, I wish I could empathize, but I don't want to ever go to a place that would grant me that kind of understanding. The human heart is a really dark, really scary place. I forget that occasionally. Part of me wants to grit my teeth and examine every bloody piece of it, if only to understand. And the other part of me puts sheets over every mirror so I won't ever have to see the sin nature that once held me. I don't want to look at my need for so long that I forget the beautiful face of the God who saved me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Selene [A drabble of 200 words]

The darkness was insubstantial, thin and watery, the kind of darkness you could easily imagine away even with your eyes open. The moon was bright, and it hurt her eyes to look directly at it, but even as the crick in her neck persisted, she didn't want to stop.

She tried to imagine the moon as a perfectly circular hole in the sky, a portal from the twilit world to some metaphysical outside, but she couldn't. It was clearly a hunk of rock in the sky. Clearly it was nothing special. Just a moon.

And she found herself wondering what it would taste like.

Cheese, it would definitely taste like cheese, mild and savory and spongy. Or maybe it would be like a truffle, with the powdery dusting of sugar on the outside, and a smooth, solid inside. It would be cold. It might give her brain freeze.

She didn't want to eat the moon.

If she ate the moon, the tides would be disrupted and the earth's gravitational pull could be affected and kids would get scared when they went to bed because some nights the nightlight just isn't bright enough. Goodnight Moon would be culturally irrelevant.

Yes, clearly, a travesty.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Insert cliche race analogy here

When will this aching end?

When you get done what you need to get done.

When will I get it all done?

When you stop wasting time with little nothings.

Is there an end in sight?

It doesn't matter. Just keep going.

I have a pathetic little story. Very little story. During the Manchester Thanksgiving Road Race today, I started strong, at the very front of the pack of unseeded runners. The thrill of sudden movement, the comfort of the cold air against my steadily warming face, and the competitive edge of weaving in front of those working at a slower pace. I love the sprint!

But at the one mile mark, the course narrows and the crowd collectively slows. Why are my calves burning, I wonder, only to take my eyes off my feet to see the steady incline. That persists the entire second mile. I halt, not bothering with the steady slogging jog of the people around me, knowing my power walk will take me just as fast, and give me a chance to catch my breath. So I walk. For a mile.

By the third mile and through the fourth the course has leveled and now the downhill has come, and I'm sprinting again, letting gravity pull me down the hill. But my motivation flags when I can't catch my breath and the thick pack of people is moving too slowly for me to set my own pace. I alternate jogging and walking, feeling frustrated that I can't operate at my highest potential, irked that my own mistakes and the people around me have set limits on how I run this race.

I plod on, trying not to think now that I am in a race, trying to think about the essays I have to write or about what we might be having for lunch besides turkey. "Less than a mile, less than a mile," calls a lumberjack man with cup of beer. We round the corner and I can see the flag that I know isn't far from the finish line. The crowd thins and I begin sprinting again, my fastest pace of the race. I know the end is coming.

But I'm getting dizzy from my shallow breathing and a sharp pain in my side makes me slow to a walk. I can't inhale without the stitch in my side protesting. Cynically I stare at the television cameras. Yeah, I'm walking in a crowd full of joggers, what's it to ya? I can see the blurry numbers of the timer counting up over the finish line. "You could run. It's not that far, why finish walking when you could run?" But I don't need to. I don't care about my time, so why run just for show when my side is hurting?

The race is over, and twin thoughts spring to mind. "You walked nearly half of it, that was pathetic." And, "That was fun, can't wait for next year!" I'm glad it's over, and glad I did it.

My life right now is normal, I have nothing to complain about. But internally, it feels like a road race, when I hit the hills and the long stretches after a sprint I can't motivate myself to up the pace, to endure the proverbial cramps in my side and just keep breathing. Instead I can only wait for the race to be over, dully watching the finish line get closer and closer, caring and not caring if all I need to do is done by then.

I sprinted the Gatsby essay, and I'm really quite proud. I jogged the BU application essay and the result needs to be scrapped and started over. I'm assessing how much ground needs to be covered in the final stretch and I'm willing myself to sprint again, and it just doesn't seem worth it. But the thrill of business is such a tease: I'm intoxicated by the feeling of being full, doing what I like to do, while the payoff is so elusive and stress threatens to wreck my confidence.

But it doesn't matter. I just need to keep going.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Matthew 7:1

I had a blast judging today. It was a wonderful feeling to sit in a cold metal chair with no nervous churning in my stomach and watch. Not idly, but watch with an open mind. Not having to think, "That's a good argument, but this would be better." Not having to think, "Oh dear, what will I say in response to that?" When I normally watch a round, I put myself in the competitor's position. But today, I was in the judge's position. All I had to do was listen to what I was told. And comment on it. And of course I was at home passing out criticism.

So, my brother is getting older. He's developing facets of his personality that I just didn't see when he was drooly high-maintenance toddler or a brooding and video games obsessed seven year old. And while I adore my little brother and think he's fantastic, I'm also highly critical of him, always telling him to stand up straight or say please and thank you. I love him, and I want him to be above reproach. I see this so clearly now in my mom, every time she challenges me with her disapproval -- she is disappointed in me because she loves me, and she knows I can be better.

But sometimes I forget this kind of thing is limited in its effectiveness outside the family model. Sometimes it's not just my brother that's the target of my "love-motivated criticism" but my friends get some flak, too. The careless muttered piracy warnings or the over-dramatized rebukes must sound so much like nagging, so hypocritical. I want watch the people I love be refined into their restored image in Christ . . . and somehow I think pointing out the room for improvement will make that happen? I forget that criticism is only encouragement when it's rooted in love. [And I forget that whole bit about sanctification not coming to fruition on this earth. That significant bit.]

While my family understands that I love them, and that I will always love them, and that my criticism is born of this love . . . I can't expect everyone to understand this.

I think, sometimes friends are people we can be human with. Rest in our humanity and how inherently cracked and flawed and not enough we are. And yes, people provide a motivation to pursue righteousness, but those aren't the kind of expectations that produce anything God can use unless they're mixed portion for portion with a Spirit-filled love. That sounds cliche. Terribly cliche. But how else can I describe it? I think, sometimes the best encouragement is less about what you could do better or what you've done well, and more about I understand. Forgive me. I'm figuring out how to love you like I ought to.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Comfort Food

I've been sitting in front of my computer for an eternity, after spending Monday catching up on NaNoWriMo, and Tuesday writing college application essays. [Speaking of which, isn't "Are we alone?" the best personal statement prompt ever?] I was finally waning at eleven last night, and instead of falling directly into bed, I made a stop at my book shelf first.

Understand, I have stacks of books to read. My lit class is working through The Great Gatsby and I'm wrapping up my gender studies exploration with The Feminine Mystique. Mr. Rehmke's sent me a stack of books that I'm supposed to get back to him about, and I have some other classics beside that I need to read to make my book quota for the year. The stack of books next to my bed that have yet to be read is shameful.

And yet, I stopped at my book shelf and grabbed my sad paperback copy of Anne of the Island. The book really is a mess, obnoxious dog-ears, split spine, broken binding and all -- Maggie got her hands on it and destroyed it like she destroys all my books, not that I'm bitter or anything. I don't normally like to read a book more than twice, but I pick up Anne of the Island when I can't be enticed to read anything else and am in desperate need of some literary therapy.

I'm reading it with new eyes, it feels like, thanks to Dr. Thomas C. Foster and NaNoWriMo. The book must be about fifty-thousand words, and I'm wondering if there's anything I can steal from Lucy Montgomery to make my plot less structurally pathetic. [I'm thirty-thousand words in and only twenty-four hours have passed in the story. There's been too much drama for one day. Not to mention excessively stale narration.] Also, Montgomery was a veritable master at tone and imagery.

I'm not sure what I like best about Anne of the Island. Or any of the Anne books. I don't find much kinship in Anne's personality or circumstances, although we do share an INFP connection. There's just something winning about the characters and their stories and the overly flowery [yet somehow not pretentious] prose. That feels silly and excessively girly. Oh well.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Or I'm just a sucker for catchy songs

You guys, I've been on the most wicked, deplorable Jars of Clay kick recently.

I saw them in concert two years ago, and I was kind of irked because they did a Christmas song [nuff said!] and during "Dead Man (Carry Me)" the lead singer was rolling around on the ground, and it was all very uncomfortable to watch. And some Jars of Clay lyrics are just, "Really, man? For cereal?"

Their song "Closer", while an amazing song to novel to, makes me shudder every time I hear the line "If you hemorrhage I'll stitch" because, ew, and I roll my eyes at "You’re the L and the V, I’m the O and the E" because that line is so overwrought it's surprising The Plain White Tees haven't picked it up.

But their lyrics have do have some pearls:

"You never minded giving us the stars, then showing us how blind and unaware of you we are." -Unforgetful You

"Tearful confessions have watered down and broken down the chance for unrequited love to finally reach its wall." -Collide

"I'm doing way too much thinking and it's tearing me apart." -Hand

"I admit that I've loved these chains and crawling around this cage sometimes has its advantages." -Grace

"Deny myself, deny my heart, deny your hand, deny your help and you offer me eternity, but why should I buy that?" -Sinking

"So steal my heart and take the pain, take the selfish, take the weak, and all the things I cannot hide. Take the beauty, take my tears, take my world apart." -Worlds Apart

I love that their songs are honest, and depressing, and genuine. Discouragement is real, and they don't pretend it isn't, and so often they sing songs that articulate exactly what I'm feeling. They sing the truth, and it's refreshing, and in itself that's encouraging.

"Love Song for a Savior" may be a trite, overplayed product of the CCM movement, but I don't care. He is more than the laughter or the stars in the heavens, He is as close a heartbeat or a song on our lips. And someday we'll trust Him and learn how to see Him.

It seems too easy to call You "Savior," and not close enough to call You "God," so as I sit and think of words I can mention to show my devotion, I want to fall in love with You.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dollar dropping like a lead ballon

Why is love a currency, that it means more the less we say it? That we give love in exchange for love, that love corresponds with gifts and service? Why does love imply cost and value and worth? Why are the well-loved wealthy in spirit, why are those who give love away the richest of all? Why, why is love like a currency, and why do we buy and sell love every day?

There are hardly any leaves on the trees anymore, and I'm staring out the window wondering what it would matter if I could embrace the world with an exponential love . . .

Monday, October 26, 2009

Acts 17:28

I was weary not of existing, but just of living today. I feel the need to do something drastic. To make up for all the things I didn't do and didn't say and didn't think.

Maybe faith is endurance even when your soul is a little groggy.

I've never had an unkind hygienist

I hate going to the dentist. I hate having a bright light shining in my eyes and rubber gloves in my mouth and nice hygienists asking you questions while your mouth is stretched open as far as it'll go. I hate the posters on the walls and the vulnerability of being at the hygienist's mercy. To quote Gurgle in Finding Nemo -- "The human mouth is a disgusting place." I really don't like thinking about it. And so I feel guilty that the place I hate so much is a privilege that so many people don't have. I mean, this is a testament to the fact that I live in a nation of unprecedented prosperity, that when I was given my fluoride treatment I had the choice between four different flavors. This privilege feels hollow.

Actually, can I just say, fluoride is poison. Fluoride is more toxic than lead and only slightly less toxic than arsenic. It accumulates in your body, and the distinction between "safe" and "unsafe" amounts is extremely fuzzy. Why are they making me take this, according to my Google search fluoride isn't even that great for one's teeth! I don't want this stuff in my mouth, even if it is grape flavored!

So I floss now. I mean, I flossed before. Like twice a week. When I wasn't in a hurry to get to sleep, and when I remembered to floss. I know how good flossing is for oneself, that it can prevent heart disease and add up to three years onto your life, and I know periodontal disease is awful and stuff. I just thought flossing regularly was overrated, so I didn't do it regularly. I didn't really get its importance. What's a good enough reason?

I think I must be so wise in my own eyes. I have to know things first hand and for myself before I can see any reason to care. Which means I'm not easily bandwagoned, but, it's a fallacy to treat my own mind as the end of all good reasons. I definitely don't know all that's good for me. I'm struggling with this idea of taking counsel, of taking steps that aren't my own, of trusting other people to tell me what I ought to do. It's a dangerous tightrope. But, the dentist tells me I need to floss every day, and, I can't be an expert on dentistry. I'll trust him, and floss every day. I'll take their toxic fluoride treatments. And I'll be thankful that I have access to experts I can trust.

Sometimes I foolishly wish I knew everything. But it is a blessing to be able to trust.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Proof I AM politically self-righteous.

I registered to vote today.

The nice man behind the counter asked me, "Democrat, Republican, or Unaffiliated?" I glanced at my mom to make sure she wouldn't take my choice as a streak of teenaged rebellion or political self-righteousness. She smirked. "Not registering Democrat? Bad Rhode Islander!"

It wasn't until we left AAA that my realization bloomed.


Really, government?

If I don't subscribe to the two major parties I'm only unaffiliated? It doesn't matter if I do have an affiliation if it's not to the Dems or the GOP?

I guess one can't go listing every party in existence on the voter registration. Obviously.

But "unaffiliated" feels like lying. And stinks of political marginalization.

Careless use of language, government. Very careless.

Go Bull Moose party?

[EDIT: while I'm ranting, people really need to stop using "socialist" as a buzz word. That's not good enough anymore. This isn't the McCarthy era, and the word "socialist" is not a persuasive buzzword anymore, especially when it's a strawman argument. Darned political vocabulary . . .]

He is Not Silent - Out of the Grey

The people said this desert never ends
We have no bread, our throats are dry,
Our heads are heavy and our feet need rest
Has He left us here to die?

And we've forgotten all His words
As if we never heard
We take our hearts and turn away

We wander through this world
In disbelief
Shake our heads at every tear
Searching endlessly
For some relief
Has He left us dying here?

We take our daily bread
And after we've been fed
We take our hearts and turn away

But He is not silent
He is not whispering
We are not quiet
We are not listening
He sends a lifeline
We keep resisting Him
He is not silent
We are not listening

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 "Now choose life, that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life."

Monday, October 19, 2009


One of the best things I learned at RYLA was the value of networking. Apparently, one is supposed to meet people, make a connection, establish a friendship, et cetera, so that later you can exploit their skills for when you need them. I happen to have to have skilled friends. (Whose opinions are exceedingly invaluable to me.) Therefore, it is my duty as a student of networking-slash-RYLArian to exploit this.

What I'm posting here is one of my numerous attempts as writing a college application essay -- this one only happens to be the first I've managed to finish. So, um, if you feel like it, could you maybe help me? I need your criticism. Whether I need to scratch this essay altogether and start afresh, if I need to crystalize the ideas more, rearrange the focus, fix grammatical errors, switch around the structure, whatever criticism you can give me would be really brilliant. I need to know if I've missed the point of application essays. So yah. If you'd do that for me. I'd be indebted. :)

Once upon a time I turned eleven and I was scared to death.
Ten is exciting. The first year in double digits, the thrill of fifth grade. Eleven is scary. One is practically grown up by eleven, on the slippery slope of tweendom. I’m the oldest kid of four, and in between changing my brother’s diapers I felt strongly my first-born responsibility streak maturing and my ambition flowering. That is, until my birthday came. Eyes soggy with tears, I mumbled to myself in the safe darkness of the after-bedtime hours, “I don’t want to grow up, I don’t want to get old, I want to stay like this forever.” Fear of the unknown? Perhaps. But maybe it was more that I loved the present so much I couldn’t fathom it getting any better. It’s so much easier to dream about “growing up” than to actually do it.
For years I resisted the inevitable growing up, clinging to what my mom called my “Peter Pan complex.” With each birthday I inwardly cringed, with each “teenaged milestone” I dug in my heels—I didn’t want to learn to drive, I didn’t want to get a job, I didn’t want to open a bank account, and, couldn’t I be homeschooled just another year? “I like the way things are now, I don’t want to get older.” I insisted. I loved my comfort zone, and was convinced that nothing wonderful could lie outside of it. I was satisfied with stunted living, I assumed that what I knew at the moment was as good as life could get.
Then, for my British literature class freshman year, my teacher announced the class reading content, book pages for points. This class was larger than I had been used to (I’m home schooled, after all; a class of twenty kids was a novelty to me) and I was determined to find some way to stand out. The reading contest seemed like an easy way to do so. I started with J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, because I was an infatuated teenaged girl who had just seen the live action Peter Pan movie (staring dreamy Jeremy Sumpter) nearly a dozen times. If I may say so, sound logic!
It was a really sad book. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the book itself was more delightful than I had been given reason to anticipate, but the knowledge that Barrie had written the book en memorandum of his mother’s delusional grief over her dead son who would never grow up, was sobering. An English proverb I have tacked on my bulletin board reads, “Do not regret growing older for it is a privilege denied to many.” Maybe there’s a reason we all grow up.
One of my favorite lines from Peter Pan says, “When you are older you will know that life is a long lesson in humility.” It’s exhilarating that I see the truth of that statement more each day. I’m so young, so foolish. I have been humbled by the realization that I don’t know all there is to know about living. Tomorrow might be different than today, and with it I will change, like-it-or-not. I can’t do what I was made to do if I maintain my comfortable distance from “growing up” forever. Change may not always be pleasant, but it will always be necessary.
I’m finally ready to write my Bildungsroman. I’m ready to grow up some more.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

To die. In the rain. [FAVORITE]

And thus we combine my two favorite forms of humor: stupid jokes and cultural references . . .

Plato: For the greater good.

Karl Marx: It was a historical inevitability.

Machiavelli: So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken's dominion maintained.

Hippocrates: Because of an excess of light pink gooey stuff in its pancreas.

Jacques Derrida: Any number of contending discourses may be discovered within the act of the chicken crossing the road, and each interpretation is equally valid as the authorial intent can never be discerned, because structuralism is DEAD, DAMMIT, DEAD!

Thomas de Torquemada: Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I'll find out.

Timothy Leary: Because that's the only kind of trip the Establishment would let it take.

Douglas Adams: Forty-two.

Nietzsche: Because if you gaze too long across the Road, the Road gazes also across you.

Oliver North: National Security was at stake.

B.F. Skinner: Because the external influences which had pervaded its sensorium from birth had caused it to develop in such a fashion that it would tend to cross roads, even while believing these actions to be of its own free will.

Carl Jung: The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.

Jean-Paul Sartre: In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The possibility of "crossing" was encoded into the objects "chicken" and "road", and circumstances came into being which caused the actualization of this potential occurrence.

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

Aristotle: To actualize its potential.

Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken- nature.

Howard Cosell: It may very well have been one of the most astonishing events to grace the annals of history. An historic, unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt such an herculean achievement formerly relegated to homo sapien pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurence.

Salvador Dali: The Fish.

Darwin: It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.

Emily Dickinson: Because it could not stop for death.

Epicurus: For fun.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn't cross the road; it transcended it.

Johann von Goethe: The eternal hen-principle made it do it.

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Werner Heisenberg: We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was on, but it was moving very fast.

David Hume: Out of custom and habit.

Jack Nicholson: 'Cause it (censored) wanted to. That's the (censored) reason.

Pyrrho the Skeptic: What road?

Ronald Reagan: I forget.

John Sununu: The Air Force was only too happy to provide the transportation, so quite understandably the chicken availed himself of the opportunity.

The Sphinx: You tell me.

Mr. T: If you saw me coming you'd cross the road too!

Henry David Thoreau: To live deliberately ... and suck all the marrow out of life.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Molly Yard: It was a hen!

Zeno of Elea: To prove it could never reach the other side.

Chaucer: So priketh hem nature in hir corages.

Wordsworth: To wander lonely as a cloud.

The Godfather: I didn't want its mother to see it like that.

Keats: Philosophy will clip a chicken's wings.

Blake: To see heaven in a wild fowl.

Othello: Jealousy.

Dr Johnson: Sir, had you known the Chicken for as long as I have, you would not so readily enquire, but feel rather the Need to resist such a public Display of your own lamentable and incorrigible Ignorance.

Mrs Thatcher: This chicken's not for turning.

Supreme Soviet: There has never been a chicken in this photograph.

Oscar Wilde: Why, indeed? One's social engagements whilst in town ought never expose one to such barbarous inconvenience - although, perhaps, if one must cross a road, one may do far worse than to cross it as the chicken in question.

Kafka: Hardly the most urgent enquiry to make of a low-grade insurance clerk who woke up that morning as a hen.

Swift: It is, of course, inevitable that such a loathsome, filth-ridden and degraded creature as Man should assume to question the actions of one in all respects his superior.

Macbeth: To have turned back were as tedious as to go o'er.

Whitehead: Clearly, having fallen victim to the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.

Freud: An die andere Seite zu kommen. (Much laughter)

Hamlet: That is not the question.

Donne: It crosseth for thee.

Pope: It was mimicking my Lord Hervey.

Constable: To get a better view.
Sourced: [shoved across my path thanks to Cody "The Win" Min, and my Facebook stalking skillz]

Friday, October 16, 2009

"The radio plays a whole lot of nothing."

I like half of my music because it makes me feel things, it helps me think and helps me focus. Some truthes seem more true when set to music. But, I can't help but feel like that's artificial, to let music manipulate my thoughts and emotions like that.

I like the other half of my music because it's fun, it's good to run to and better to dance to. The kind of music that's perfect for kitchen jam sessions while I'm doing the dishes, where I can appreciate the throbbing bass line or the resonate cello sounds.

One of the most frustrating feelings in our little culture bubble: when you hear a song you adore in passing, and then you're obsessed with it, and you listen to it twenty-seven times on repeat, and then you just chance to hear a part of the song you hadn't really been listening to before, and horrified you think, "Did they just say what I think I just heard?" And you can't listen to the song ever again. Because there's an ugly word smack dab in the middle of the awesome, and you just can't justify listening to the song anyway. And so your full-fledged love affair is cut off at the roots. It's a shame.

I'm not sure if this means I need lower standards or higher ones.

I feel like there's so much I've accepted, unchallenged, about music. I mean, yeah, I don't listen to swears, I don't listen to songs about sex, and I don't listen to music I don't like. I apply my Understanding the Times-learned worldview deciphering skills, and weed out the heretical or humanistic songs. I appreciate music for the lyrics and melody and instrumental & vocal skill and creativity. I try hard not to be mindless about listening to music, but . . . that's not enough, I don't think. I just don't really think enough about music, or the power it has over me, or why I love it so much, or how much I do love music.

There are just so many ways music has ministered to my soul, that, maybe I've tricked myself into giving it credit it doesn't deserve. That's all.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"The stillness of October cold--"

I'm wearing two shirts, a hoodie, and a jacket and I am still freezing. I've been looking for reasons to do school away from my desk so I can have my computer to warm my lap. Yesterday I stayed wrapped in a quilt the whole day. And since October started I've been going to bed early to seek solace from the cold under the covers. I am just so cold! Once November comes we'll turn the heat on and everything will be hunky dory, but for now my fingers are in a perpetual state of Raynaud's induced whiteness. I need to invest in some hardcore fingerless gloves.

Autumn is speeding away too quickly! The days got too short too quickly, the leaves changed colors too quickly, the temperature inside and out got too cold too quickly. Time has gotten away from me.

And yet this fall is just so different from last fall, I am so different than I was last fall. Different must be a form of good. Learning how to work hard, learning how to cope with stress, learning to let go -- ah, how much letting go must be done before everything's finally gone?! I have more of an iron grip than I thought.

I'm reading again, and it's lovely. Not only is Wuthering Heights a bizarrely wonderful book, but there have been so many surprises on my reading list! The Enchanted Castle is the most charming and intelligent piece of classical children's literature I've read in so long, and everything else I'm dabbling it . . . there are few things lovelier than reading without obligation and a deadline.

Mm, thank you God for books and the cold and October.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On writing . . .

The Excellence in Writing program taught me to use adverbs. Perhaps I use them superfluously.

Dickens taught me how to use asyndeton, now I hate conjunctions.

Markus Zusack's Holocaust novel The Book Thief opened my mind to the possibilities of imagery and atypical descriptions that actually say something.

Mary Shelley sufficiently instilled in me a fear of clumsy narration, autobiographical fiction, and deux de machinas.

But I feel like I haven't the faintest idea how to write. Or, that's not quite right. Phonics gave the sounds meaning, the letters became words, and the words marry in subject/predicate form to make sentences. But see, the sentences shouldn't be all the same structure, they should start different ways, and have clauses, or not. Variety is more interesting to read. And of course these sentences should be arranged to make a point, and when you get enough of them on the same topic, you can group them together to form a paragraph. Enough of these paragraphs under a broad subject matter, arranged to promote and support a point, serve a utilitarian enough purpose, and one can say, "I have written something."

In that sense I do know a little about writing. Thank you Mr. Pudewa. But.

You should say something interesting, and you should say it concisely and persuasively. And maybe, you should say it creatively, like no one else has said it before. And maybe, you should say something no one else has heard or thought or said before. Because what are words for if they do not communicate something both true and beautiful?

I wish I knew how to write like that. I'm not sure there's a book to teach me.

I'm terribly desperate to say what I mean, and mean what I say, and verbalize what is so full but intangible inside my mind. I want freedom from self-importance, freedom to describe things the way I see them without feeling silly or self-indulgent or pretentious. I want to speak without feeble metaphors and veiled meaning, I want to say what I mean and continue to mean it. I want to have nothing to say, so I won't have to agonize about how or when to say it. Words and language are a feeble tool, if only I had the mastery to make them say what I mean.

"No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous." -Henry Adams

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What are we so afraid of?

Of ghosts and vampires and mad scientists?

Of the depths of the ocean, and the limits of outer space?

Of cancer and pandemics and germs?

Of being completely alone?

Of being thought a fool?

Of the darkness?

Of what I can't see?

Of what I don't understand?


of being complacent and apathetic

of straying from the goal

of forgetting the majesty

of underestimating the power

of neglecting to love

of missing an opportunity

of holding back the good news

of failing to speak the truth . . .

On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.
[Psalm 138:3]

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thankfully, I am ineligible for the swine flu vaccine

I conceptualize everything. Hence, little things like standing in line for a flu shot today, are made ten times worse. Think about it.

A giant school gymnasium is filled with hundreds of people, over the course of a day, many of whom are coughing and sneezing. Think of all the germs. People -- presumably nurses, but hey, I don't know them! -- are filling syringes with a mysterious clear liquid. They're not wearing gloves as they do this, and who knows how many airborne bacteria the needle is coming in contact with . . . just saying. In a few moments, I will sit down in front of someone I've never met, she will wipe my arm with an alcohol pad, inject me with a possible contaminated needle, full of a vaccine that 1) contains preservatives, 2) contains a disabled strain of influenza (the disease that killed many French and English troops during World War I) that will permeate the muscle in my left arm, enter my blood stream, and spread through my entire body. Don't get me started on the potential side effects, achy arms and dizziness.

My mom, being a nurse, has only scorn for the anti-vaccine crowd. It's easy for her to say. She's studied this stuff, she gives shots. She knows how the vaccine works. But to a seventeen year old with only a rudimentary understanding of biology, injecting oneself with a virus just does not sound like a good idea! You know what I'm saying?!

There is a line of kids with tear-stained faces against the wall, under a sign that says "first time." Even though I've survived the vaccine routine each year, I understand their fear. Maggie and Sarah love shots. Caleb and I harbor many irrational fears.

It's all in my head. Which just makes it harder to dismiss. The needle goes in, comes out, band-aid's slapped on, I roll down my sleeve, and we walk out. I feel fine. It's all in my head. I feel fine.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I feel so silly. I must be a feeler.

I called in a prescription refill to Rite Aid just now, but instead of going through the automated menu, I had to speak with a person. Because when I picked up my prescription there the last time, that's what the kind lady behind the counter told me to do. But the person I just talked to was apparently not in agreement. "This isn't our problem. Call the Atwood Avenue store. :click:" My eyes filled with embarrassment-and-frustration-tears as I hung up the phone.

Come on, Hayley. Every moment people who don't know the Lord are dying, and you tear up when a stranger's brusque with you on the phone? I can hear Cindi talking to her daughter in my head, "When do we cry? When we get a boo-boo or when we're sad. We don't cry when we don't get our way. Shake it off."

I keep opening up this familiar new post window, to write nonsense to myself when I feel particularly listless. Which is nearly all the time.

One thing I've learned from my AP English Literature class thus far, is that good writers use fewer words. Also, that that's what makes poetry a distinct form from prose: intense feelings and ideas are conveyed as concisely as possible, unless you're Milton. Brevity takes a lot of work; that's what Mark Twain meant when he said he would have written a short letter, but he only had time to write a long one. I can ramble, easily. I can exhaust thousands of words and never say what I mean. My American Legion speech went through so many drafts last year, of my mom's pencilled remarks in the margins, "What does this mean? Cut the fluff. Get to the point. What are you trying to say?"

I hate not saying what I mean. I hate that I can't help it. And yet, saying things that don't quite embody what I mean is still preferable to not saying anything at all. I can accept the imperfections of expression. But I'll still whine about it occasionally.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Favorite Worship Song

Maybe the title of this post is a bit misleading. I guess it's more of, my favorite song that doubles as a secular love song and a killer worship song, if it fell under the license so we could sing it in church.

Yeah, I'm trying to be all about accuracy. I was reading John Welsey's questions on self-examination, and one was, "Do I exaggerate?" Instant conviction.

At any rate, "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis is an excellent worship song.

Because I am homeschool, and rarely listen to top 40 music, I had never heard this song until Student Life Missions Camp in 2008. The speaker there was a little irksome to me, but he won me over by the end of the week with his sincerity. [But, he was weird. Gotta say.] He mentioned how the worship band at his church thinks he's crazy, because he asked them to play "Bleeding Love" for Sunday worship. He said it's a literal, gut-wrenching picture of Jesus on the cross, that He just keeps on bleeding love.

Check out the lyrics:

Closed off from love, I didn’t need the pain

Once or twice was enough, and it was all in vain
Time starts to pass
Before you know it you’re frozen, oh
That's exactly how I am without Jesus. Frozen. Closed off. I exist in time, but I don't care that it passes, I don't care much about anything, none of it's worth it. Without Jesus, my heart is dull and I'm only going through the motions.

But something happened for the very first time with you
My heart melted to the ground, found something true
And everyone’s looking ‘round
Thinkin’ I’m going crazy, oh
One of my favorite verses of all time is John 6:68, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." He is the only truth on this earth, what else is there? I am in possession of so precious a truth. Craziness.

But I don’t care what they say, I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away, but they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the vein that I keep on closing
And how strange it must seem to those who don't have this truth, the world just doesn't make sense if we don't see it through God's truth. But every time I try and close off God's light from my life, I'm immobilized.

You cut me open and I -
Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding, I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open
In Vermont this past summer, during one of our group sessions, I remember hearing the hymn "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" and one line struck me so swiftly: "It was my sin that helf Him there until it was accomplished." That I caused His wounds, and further that He should choose to bleed for me . . . what kind of love is this?

Trying hard not to hear, but they talk so loud
Their piercing sounds fill my ears, try to fill me with doubt
Yet I know that the goal
Is to keep me from falling
Isn't it strange how doubt makes us stronger? It's so hard to struggle with what we know in our heads versus what we know in our hearts, but that the end we see far more clearly than when we started.

But nothing's greater than the rush that comes with your embrace
And in this world of loneliness, I see your face
Yet everyone around me
Thinks that I’m going crazy.
My parents tell me repeatedly that they will fail me, that my friends will fail me, that the church will fail me, that I cannot trust anyone on this earth like I can just Jesus. We are never alone so long as we seek His face. To see Him is euphoric.
And it’s draining all of me

Oh, they find it hard to believe
I’ll be wearing these scars
For everyone to see
Jesus is all of me, the only part that matters. Jesus died for me, and so I die to self so He can fill me. How can I live like He lived, and point others to Him with my life? Do they see Jesus in me?

He just keeps bleeding love.
A week of staying up until the "wee hours" finally caught up with me.

Holy is the Lord, and the Lord I will obey. Lord, help me, I don't know the way.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

You can borrow my copy

Better to sit at the waters' birth,
Than a sea of waves to win,
To live in the love that floweth forth,
than the love that cometh in.

Be thy heart a well of love, my child,
Flowing, and free, and sure;
For a cistern of love, though undefiled
Keeps not the spirit pure.

George MacDonald -- from Phantastes: A Faerie Romance

Read this book, please.

I can't even say how much I love this book. I've been really nostalgic about my bookshelf. I always want what I can't have. To reread my favorite books now would mean intense procrastination on things that must get done. Favorites or not, I must ignore their call. Still, I couldn't help flipping through Phantastes absently.

Someone said that everyone ought to read each book twice. Once for fun and once for thought. But there are books like Till We Have Faces that we can read over and over, and you discover something new each time. Same with Phantastes. I opened it to a random page last night and was drawn in nearly against my will. It's a random, scattered book [done partly, I think, to reinforce the hazy feeling Anodos experiences being lost in fairyland] with the overarching story being tied together with lots of little stories.

On the one hand, it's George MacDonald. The man who was the reason C.S. Lewis wrote much of what he did. His allegorical content is fantastic, and his writing is all the good of the "fireside poets" without being laborious or pretentious. And while Phantastes, as one of his first novels, is more rough and choppy than some of his later works, it's also quite unlike any other book I've ever read. I want to tell you what it's about, but, I haven't the faintest idea myself.

And, my copy is some breezy 185 pages. Frankly, I hate long books. So this is a major selling point for me.

Do it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Romans 5:8

My fingers are splayed across the white butcher paper. I observe, dismayed, that when I pull my hands away I leave dark grease marks behind on the otherwise unadultured landscape. A lump is speeding up my throat, my face is burning red, my eyes are glassy with tears.

"Everything I touch turns to ruin. Everything I leave my mark on is left worse than I came."

Can you even tell I was here?


I see it in the blood stains on the carpet. I see it in the dirt caking the baseboards. I see the crushed and groaning landscape, and I know, you were here.

"Everything I touch turns to ruin."

Like a house of cards the walls fall stiffly and lightly away, the ornamentation of this room is like sand in my teeth, the light like so many shades of gray. My hands turn wrinkled while I watch . . . is time really passing? So this is what it means to waste away, a slave to one's own failures. A delicious and vicious catch-twenty-two.

This is what it means to understand that I am not lovable. That I am not enough.

I see that you were here. The evidence is in the bodies in the alleyway, the proof is in the poison we drink. I see it all around, the violence and the pain and the destruction. Yes, you were here.

"Everything I leave my mark on is left worse than when I came."

Such is humanity, that our sin should consume us alive.

Blood crawls along the paper, the red on the white, blood on the snow, blood on the bleached clean linen, a crimson stain covers the grimy marks. The bodies are buried to rise again, the antidote has arrived, the house of cards is built aright, light is color, and the color is hope.

I can breathe again. The world is no longer accusing me, "You are the reason, you came and destruction followed, you are the hurt that scarred our hearts."

This is not my load to bear.

I am not enough, and this is beautiful. I am not lovable, and I am yet given love. I have existed disoriented by the reverberating patterns of mania, and now I exist in peace. Forgiven. Freed. By the blood of Jesus Christ the Lord of heaven and earth.

Do you understand what He has done for us?