Friday, February 27, 2009


That's the sound the gun makes in my head when I pull the trigger. But in real life, it makes an anti-climactic ptttth sound. Which ends up being handy for shooting bullseyes. The big guns have a huge sound that makes my stomach jump, but I can tune the .22s out. The key to bullseye is twofold: holding the gun still enough and pulling the trigger slowly enough. These goals I am told, are accomplished through a combination of breathing, flexing, and relaxing. It's about control and balance.

However, this balance of control is hard to find. I raise the gun to my shoulder, breathe out, and relax. I pull the trigger slowly, and BAM, the gun jumps out of my hand from the recoil. Miss. So I load my next round, this time pulling the gun into my shoulder and clenching my jaw against the stock. I attempt to pull the trigger slowly, but I end up having to snap it because my scopes are trembling from flexed muscle fatigue, and BAM, another miss. 

Now brace yourself for the biblical connection. I think the key to off-hand shooting is similar to our role in relation to the sovereignty of God. When we're thinking about the future, God's plan for our lives, sometimes we get tense. We go crazy, freaking out, trying to plan our lives ourselves, afraid that if we let go for just one second we'll miss our target. And sometimes we think, "Well, God's got it under control, my whole life planned out, so I can do whatever we want." We bring ourselves to a point of reckless relaxation, assuming we'll hit the target regardless of what we do, and so we easily fly off-course when push comes to shove. 

In shooting, the key is to control the gun. When you hold on too tightly or relax too much, you're not in control of the gun. Instead you have to find the perfect balance, carefully relaxing while holding the gun firmly towards its course. Control and balance. I think in a way the same is true of trusting God for our futures. We need to stay the course, but calmly. Seeking God's will but not pulling our hair out of it. A line from a Christina Rossetti poem says, "Love will not mar her peaceful face with cares undue, [but] Love to be love must walk Thy way." We need to be firmly grounded, but never worried or tense. 

In shooting, I haven't learned to do this consistently yet. Sometimes I get perfect bullseyes, but my targets are still peppered with misses. It's frustrating. Some days I waffle between carelessness over my future and stringent planning that stresses me out. But every once in a while you hit the sweet spot, the one where you don't even need to check your scopes to see if you shot a bullseye, because you can feel that you did. It takes practice, but we're getting there. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The extent of my domestic skills

It is get-your-own-lunch lunchtime and I am faced with a dilemma. 

Choosey moms choose Jif. But my dad does the food shopping.

Everybody loves Ritz. Almost everybody. They're an acquired taste.

Guess who's not skipping lunch today? Peanut butter and crackers for the win!

In other news, Freedom tournament is soon! I had a dream last night that I was watching a panel of OOs, and suddenly everyone turned to look at me - apparently it was my turn to speak? I look down at my lap and saw my script. I stood up and started to give the speech ad lib, because it was not memorized, and the judges interrupted me and told me they hated it. So I think I have some work to do before next Wednesday if I want the memorizing nightmares to stop. (I know, I know, suck it up.) I am stoked for Call of the Entrepreneur!

Friday, February 20, 2009

That is so sexist!

There are some words that hurt my ears. Stupid. Lover. Actress. 

Homie, don't play that. What's with the gender specific terms, yo? (Comedienne I don't mind, although it's pretty much the most useless gender-specific term ever. Because, you know, I don't hear much of a difference in the pronunciation from comedian!)

I started correcting this (along with writing implement, not writing utensil) in ninth grade after I read a Reader's Digest article about archaic gender-specific terms for gender-neutral faculties. And at first I did it to mock the feminists, and then it morphed into more of a, "You know, actress is an annoying word! Why is a woman who acts any different than a man who acts? Call 'em actors." Little gender-specific terms are seemingly and usually harmless, but they continue to reinforce the notion women aren't as equal as men.

Don't get me wrong, girl power is silly. It just occurs to me every once in a while that I've taken for granted the opportunities I have. I love school, I can go to school, I can pursue whatever profession I want, thanks to Hillary I can run for President if I want. (Okay, yeah, that was a little sarcastic. Sorry.) And imagine, in some countries women can't vote. In some countries, women get acid poured on them if they try to go to school. People hated Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Benazir Bhutto . . . taking my equality for granted is the surest way to lose it.

At the same time, I hate acknowledging inequality of genders. It's like acknowledging racism. Racism will exist for as long as we have a word for it. Pointing out that women are sometimes still not regarded as equal in this world reinforces the existence of gender inequality. Same goes for agism. (Agism . . . nothing feels more strange than being hated or ignored because of your age.) Labels prove themselves futile over and over again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why should the world be over-wise in counting all our tears and sighs?

I was rifling school records the other day and found my scratch paper from when I took the American Lit CLEP. It was pretty sad, the paper only said one thing on it. "Paul mask." I really should be more complete when I take notes. At any rate, I remember that it was a poem from the test that I hadn't recognized, so I Googled it. And now I remember why it originally caught my attention.

"We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

While the poem deals mostly with the prejudice of the time, the first thing I thought of when I read it was the mask imposed not by bigots and racists but by a society that frowns on transparency. Why should we be honest about how we're really feeling if we'll only be judged for it? Like when people ask, "Hey, how are you?" and keep walking without pausing for an answer. When they do stop, they don't expect more than a "fine" or "good." "How are you" is a social formality. If you're really feeling horrible and share those feelings in earnest, you're made to feel guilty for unloading your problems on someone who didn't really want to hear it. And we wonder why "emo" is an epidemic.

People feel like they need to wear masks, because transparency isn't socially acceptable. Part of it's pride, a fear of being judged, an indulgence in self-pity - the individual's problem. But part of it's my fault. I'm part of the problem: for writing others' feelings off as "emo," for judging people for these expressions, for responding awkwardly to acts of transparency, for not being transparent myself. Is it so hard to be honest and upfront? Is it so hard to reach out to those who hide their bleeding hearts with smiles? I don't want to impose a mask on anyone, I don't want to make anyone wear a mask I don't want to wear myself. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I am a little sad. For no real reason.

Thank you, God. My bed was so warm last night. Thank you that I have a bed, that I share a room with my sisters, that I can sleep feeling safe and warm at night. Thank you that the sun came up this morning, and thank you for making sunrises so beautiful. Thank you that I lived through the night. Thank you that I didn't have any nightmares. Thank you that I got to sleep in this morning, and thank you that Maggie wasn't too mad I insisted on taking a shower. Thank you that I could take a shower, and thank you for making me clean. 

Thank you for the recession, God. Thank you for all the opportunities we have to talk about the hope you give in these hard times, and thank you that you've sustained us even as the economy gets worse. Thank you, God, that we don't know what real hunger is like. Thank you for letting me use your money, and thank you for forgiving me when I don't use it well. Thank you for Pastor Gadoury's sermon on the subject, and for all the people who listened to it and took it to heart. Thank you for communion and that reminder, to thank you, gracious God for sending your Son. Thank you Jesus, that by your wounds we are healed.

Thank your for Ignite, God. Thank you for Michael, for giving him the grace and love to work in youth ministry and for giving him a heart for worship. (Thanks for the rad praise session after the last service, and thank you no one was terrible offended. Thank you for giving us the heart to dance and shout and jump for you.) Thank you for Sue and Mr. Bob and Lynne and Rhonda and all the youth workers, that they show up each Sunday and Thursday and whenever despite their busy schedules and love on teenagers who often take them for granted. Thank you for people, that the Christian walk is communal.

Thank you, God, for lunch. For the microwave to heat it up in, for the table to eat it on, for the family to share it with. Thank you for parents who care what their kids are up to and let them have the preferred leftovers. Thank you for cherry cordial kisses. Thank you for Psych and Gilmore Girls, and for Sarah to watch it with me. Thank you for a computer and internet access and free time to waste. Thank you for forgiving me when I waste time. Thank you for the piano, and thank you for Miss Joy, her encouragement, and her enthusiasm. Thank you for ZOEgirl dance parties and nostalgia. 

Thank you that I have sleep to look forward to tonight, to refresh my body and my mind and my confused heart. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to, thank you for being here in this moment. Thank you, God, for cheering me up, for being faithful even when I'm not, for giving me eternal focus. Thank you for sight and sound and music and food. Thank you for my safe little world, for blessing me in this way, and for reminding me of my role in your story. Thank you for hope and justice and community, and thank you, well, there's too much to thank you for. Thank you for being God, Father, Creator, the Almighty. 

I'm not really sad anymore. Thanks for the refocus, God.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Presence of Darkness

I think sometimes we forget how dark this world is. I can't speak for you, but my world is really happy. Food when I'm hungry, heat when I'm cold, friends when I'm sad, books when I'm bored. I don't know any truly evil people personally and I've never personally witnessed tragedy. Because my world is so comfortable, it's hard for me to remember that this is a world full of sin, evil, and darkness. 

Mom: I'm glad that's over. I think that guy was a pedophile.
Me: Wa- really? He seemed nice to me.
Mom: And we all know what an excellent judge of character you are. 

For the record, the guy was a little weird, but calling him a pedophile is a bit uncharitable. Still, that was the first time I really considered that the people I see every day are not necessarily the lovely people I think they are. My siblings are not good people. My friends are not good people. The respected adults I know, they are not good people. I am not a good person. And yet, sometimes I pretend we are all good people.

I think blindness to the darkness can be a very dangerous thing. As much as I try to see people like God sees them, I think I miss the boat sometimes. We love people because God loves them, not because they're good or deserving of love. When I forget about the darkness that is inherent within this world, I forget the reason why love is so important. When dark isn't so dark, what does the light matter? Forgetting the darkness makes me forget the light. 

Watching the horrible things on the news, or examining my own heart quickly reminds me of the darkness in this world, but I'm not afraid. Or, at least, I try not to be afraid. The darkness is so strong and so prevalent in this world, but the more I mark the presence of darkness, the more renewed I am knowing the Light of the world conquered darkness. The more oppressive the darkness, the clearer and brighter I see the Light.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Society = Jenga!

I got to go to the state house today!

We didn't stay for the Governor's state of the state address, but I was there for a coalition of libraries meeting, and was kind of just inspired the whole time. I just love being in that beautiful building, and it's dripping with nostalgia, from wandering around the top three floors for two hours my first TeenPact ever, to the prayer walks, to the pro-life and pro-marriage bill hearings, and even memories aside, I just kind of love it there. 

When I was sitting in the hall of flags during the meeting, studying the plaque for September 11th and puzzling over the Latin inscription over the flags' case, I just felt quiet confirmation, that at some time or some point I would be working here. I don't really know when or how or what, but I knew I would be there. It was the same feeling I had during the impromptu visit to Washington last spring. This building was for me.

It's a funny thing to look forward to. To tell myself that maybe there's a place for me in politics someday? Who knew. But to make it in politics you need to play the system. Talking briefly with Jake today about working in politics made me start thinking about how fragile this world is. I do my school and keep track of extracurriculars and study for the SAT because I'm playing in the system. And yet, the system could be here one day and gone the next. Do you know what I mean? 

I'm reading the memoirs of a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust (All But My Life, Gerda Weissmann) and it's a stark theme of the book. One day her life was like mine. The next day she had no hope of a future. I've just begun reading through Lamentations and it's been interesting to contrast it with the events of the Holocaust. It's been even more poignant to compare it to the world I know today. Our world is fragile, and it could change in a flash. Are we prepared for that? Do we constantly acknowledge the fact that all we know could be gone at any time?

I say this because when I think of our government (once again, the ongoing Abraham Lincoln discussion with my mom and Jacob) I can't help but think of how precarious it is. It's been building on itself for so long . . . it's like a Jenga tower. How tall will it get before it's so removed from it's foundation that it topples over? We think it's stable because it's all we've ever known, but one day we'll wake up and things will be completely different. And can I justify a career in politics when I feel so strongly that it's going to burn in my lifetime?

It just confirms for me that careers are overrated. Society may crumble, but the God who rules over history and the people who are stuck in it will always be around. Am I serving them? Am I serving God? Or am I just serving myself? Such is the trap of the career mindset.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lunar Appreciation Fest

Shadows all around you as you surface from the dark
Emerging from the gentle grip of night's unfolding arms
Darkness, darkness everywhere, do you feel all alone?
The subtle grace of gravity, the heavy weight of stone
You don't see what you possess, a beauty calm and clear
It floods the sky and blurs the darkness like a chandelier.
You Are the Moon, The Hush Sound

We were driving home from shooting last month and the sky was driving me crazy. Even though it was nine o'clock at night, the sky was a greyish pink. "Why is it so light outside?" I kept asking over and over. It really did look like that space of time before the sunrise stars, when the sky slowly starts to lighten while it's still for the most part dark. There were clouds that night, so I never found out. Not until the next month, this month, on the way home from the market when I was marveling at the light blueness of the sky even though it was dark outside. I saw the moon.

I know it's poetic in the most cliche of ways, but I never really realized how lovely the moon was.

One of the things I love best about October is the giant harvest moons, the yellow ones that seem to take up the entire horizon some nights. One thing I can appreciate about that wretched period from the end of winter to the very beginning of spring is when you can see the moon in the sky during the day. Mom asked me on Friday, "Wouldn't it be cooler if heaven was on the moon and not in an alternate dimension?" I disagreed with her resolutely, saying, "There's nothing special about the moon. The moon we can understand, heaven we can't." 

But as I look out the window and see my entire backyard lit up by the reflected light of the moon, the moon is more fantastic than I had originally thought.

I can prove to you that 2 = 1

a = b

a squared = a to the b power

a squared - b squared = ab - b squared

(a + b)(a - b) = b(a - b)

a + b = b

b + b = b

2b = 1b

2 = 1

This, my dear friends, is why I hate algebra. Can you blame me?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Garbledy Gook

I am really tired. After staying up until midnight every night last week, and after the speech tournament, round robin, and oratorical competition, I'm feeling all numb and hollow and sluggish. My head is a swirling vortex of pea soup: sloshy, mushy, with chucks of questionable content lurking in the liquid. (I've never really had a positive experience with pea soup, I think you can tell.) So many thoughts are in my head, but I haven't the mind power, motivation, or dexterity to identify these thoughts and flesh them out.

I just keep getting snippets of things. God hungry eat junk anorexia praise knees standing kneeling gloria why cute insecurities fail epic fail money banks when change pain sleep women new revolution twoddle busy fake overwhelm encouragement flattery see hear speak praise shirt music trampoline focus drummer attention apologetics candy piano shy math tears flexibility dependence moon God. (But the period isn't a real period, because the thoughts go on and on. . .)

I just can't write anything out. I can't catch these thoughts and pin them down. Can't verbalize it to anyone. Not even myself. I feel like I'm missing out on them, but I know that if I tried to write them out it would just be garbledy gook. I'm just really tired. Just like God's mercies are new, everything will be clearer with the morning.

(I won my state's American Legion oratorical contest. But the national one overlaps Regionals. The competition made me angry and sad, but I have to trust that this was supposed to happen. . . . But see, even this thought I don't completely understand.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I am supposed to be writing a speech about the Constitution, a speech I am supposed to give at a competition on Sunday. Whoops. But instead I am sharing a conversation that just happened. The exact conversation, word for word.

Mom: How's the speech coming?
Hayley: Okay.
Mom: Just okay, not amazing?
Hayley: Well, I write better at night.
Mom: Like those people who say they write better songs when they're smoking marijuana.
Hayley: Those songs are better.
Mom: No, it seems better because you're impaired. 

Staying up late is apparently comparable to drug use. But no, that's not what piqued my interest in transferring the writing from the topic of the Constitution to this post. Marijuana, man. In the past two years, my views on drugs have been horrifically mutilated, undergoing facelift after facelift. I'm not sure I even know what my views are anymore, much less do I have any philosophical justification for them. But I've always been confused on marijuana.

I read an awful novel Can't Get There From Here about homeless teens in New York, and when panhandling their leader instructed them to write "Need Money for Marywana" on their signs. Because even though they wanted the money for food, no one believed them. They got more money for being "honest" than just outright begging. Because the people who gave these kids money assumed they were in the weeds with their drug use anyway. (Pardon the pun.) 

But marijuana has no inherent negative health effects. (Besides the obvious one of inhaling smoke in general.) Marijuana only causes dependency in extremely heavy users. Marijuana actually has select health benefits and limited side-effects. In light of all this, the main tenet behind marijuana's prohibition is that is a gateway drug. That strikes me as a funny law - this is illegal not because it's bad but because it could possibly lead to things that are bad. What? Of course.

That actually might be true. I have no idea, I'm not an expert. I can only speak from personal experience. In San Francisco, it was cocaine that litter the streets, not marijuana. The police officers we interviewed said the biggest problem in the Tenderloin District was meth, with heroin a close second. Even in Golden Gate Park, the organic hippy drug capital, marijuana wasn't that prevalent. So I can't help but question, as much as I hate drugs and what they do to people, is marijuana worth prohibiting? 

Maybe it is. But I can't help but wonder when I look at the price society pays while marijuana is illegal, is there a good reason why we passed these laws?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Facebook friend requests make me too happy.

They do. Whoa, profound!

In other news, New England is thawing! The perpetual sound of melting may just be up there with the sound of typing or the noises my parents make when they get home from work. That is to say, it's a sound of happenings. A good sound. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What is your name?

The man asked Jacob, "What is your name?" 
"Jacob," he answered.
Genesis 32:27

It was not as thought God didn't know Jacob's name, that He should ask him. It was not as though He asked for the benefit of a third party. Rather, Jacob needed to say it. "Deceiver, that is who I am." When he wrestled with God, Jacob saw who he really was.

Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Genesis 32:28

And so God gave him a new name. Through the pain and the struggles, through the reconciling to those he had deceived, Jacob cast off his old name and gained a new one. Israel. No longer deceiver, but rather, one who has struggled and overcome.

I am Hayley. I am prideful, conceited, unkind. I am angry, impatient, selfish. I am lazy, intolerant, distracted. I can trick myself into thinking I'm more than fine, but I am in desperate need of a Deliverer. And I have been redeemed!

The truth has been placed in my hands, I have been made truly free, with justice placed in my heart. Who I am is no longer my identity. In Christ I have been given a new name - through the pain of who I am and the sin that is my nature, I have overcome. Only through Christ. Though I have struggled against God and resisted His hand, he has been faithful.

How great is my God! To mark the struggling, to humble the prideful, to give me a life of freedom in place of a death in bondage. God the almighty reigns! How can I even praise Him enough?