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?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I guess I have no problem with propaganda

Darn that evil media - it feeds us propaganda, and we just eat it up. Those who have been misled by the media are numbered well into the millions, perhaps even the billions. The media is a thriving but conniving industry that won't stop until we've all been conquered!

Now that's just silly.

I was reading an article today about the source of poor self-esteem for a rapidly growing generation is the media. The media is telling us we have to be thin to be pretty or that we have to be reckless to be macho or that we're just not good enough, not half as good as the people on TV or in the magazines. Down with the evil media for making us believe such lies!

Now that's just silly.

When had the TV grabbed someone by the shoulders and forced them to believe something? When has a magazine threatened to burn one's house down if one didn't prescribe to it's beliefs on beauty? Never. The media can't make anyone do anything. It's we who decide what we believe. We make up the media. It's not us versus them. To change the media's message we need to change ours.

It's silly to rant against something we think we can't control. It's even sillier to rant against something we can change without changing it. "The media" is not a collection of people united to destroy truth. "The media" is made up of individuals out to make a buck.

Time for a renewed perspective.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Maybe, I watch too much Top Chef

"What do you want to do?" my mom is always asking me, as she tries to help me pick a direction for college. In truth, I want to be a food critic. It would be the most awesome job in the world! I love food. And, I mean, forget NaNoWriMo -- accurately and concisely describing something as allusive as texture and flavor with precision, there is a delicious challenge.

But, I mean, no, that's stupid. I lack the skill set to be a food critic, I don't have the aggressive quality necessary to have a career in journalism, and I'd never be able to master the culinary knowledge to be a good food critic. Further, it's not a very fulfilling job. I'd be severely depressed if I ate food and wrote what I thought about it for a living, just thinking about all the people who don't have food to eat at all, just thinking about the frivolous nature of this work. I don't really want to be a food critic.

Still, I read articles about Gail Simmons and think, "I want to be her." Or Katie White. Or Hayley Williams. Or Sasha Cohen. Okay, whatever!

When I was younger, I wanted to be a detective. That's what I told the doctor at each yearly check up when he inquired as to my professional goals. I wrote and cracked codes, I had a spy kit, I was obsessed with logic puzzles, I read tons of Nancy Drew and Cam Jensen and Encyclopedia Brown novels. I had a passion in life! I still have a vague adoration for aviators and fedoras and trench coats, but as a mostly oblivious person who is awful under pressure ["we're cracking, can't we give ourselves one more chance"] and who cries at crime shows, I'm pretty sure I can't be a detective when I grow up. I don't really want to be a detective. I don't really want to be a food critic.

But the idea is intoxicating, right? I've bought into the land of opportunity propaganda, that my career can extend as far as my ambition, that I can do whatever I want to do if I have the passion to make it happen. Fantastic. And then I wonder, food critic is the highest thing I aspire to? I need to re-prioritize. I need a reality check.

But, I want to suspend reality for a little while. I want to be a food critic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Proverbial Gun - Derek Webb

I don't know what this song means. I really like Derek Webb. And while I haven't listened to it much, I think this new CD, Stockholm Syndrome, shows promise. I don't know. Explain these lyrics to me.

Now I can buy the proverbial gun

And shoot the proverbial child

While my uncle looks me in the eye

And speaks of freedom

And my conscience goes up on trial

In the courtrooms of the mind

Where the judges all have sons

And all the lawyers are wounded

And the backs are all broke

And the bailiff is my brother

And the witness is my sister

And I'm guilty as hell

But by the afternoon I'm out

Out on the pavement walking

Wreaking of salt and blood

No hat upon my head

No shoes upon my feet

Picking your body

From my teeth

No stars above me

No stripes upon me


Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Today I realized that the word OK is a sideways stick person."

This was not a fun past week. And it looks like I'm not out of the woods just yet. But some silly things that keep me afloat . . .

ToneMatrix has managed to keep me amused for extended periods of time, which, if you are familiar with my short attention span, is remarkable. It's also great loop background noise for when I'm writing essays and things. The lights, the noises, RAWR!

• The conversations my family has at the dinner table. I suspect we're one of those families that is ridiculously hilarious . . . to themselves, and themselves only. I don't care, it must aid the digestion, all the laughing we do during supper. "In Soviet Russia, bacon is a vegetable!"

• I am a huge fan of short, pointless, and amusing stories. So, why did no one tell me about MLIA?! I laughed audibly and repeatedly for forty minutes last night, it was lovely.

• Going to the childrens section of my library and coming out with a stack of books that I am both too old and too busy to be reading. Did you know Margaret Peterson Haddix has a new book? Did you know how awesome Margaret Peterson Haddix is, or did you miss that period of your tweenhood?

Ampere's Law by Broadside Electric, a song I discovered by pure happenstance. I was looking up the lyrics to obscure indie bands, when I noticed the wallpaper of the site was sheet music. Sheet music for this song. It's catchy, it gets stuck in my head, I like it, and maybe it'll help me with physics. Maybe.

• Being told by the father of the little girl I babysit, "Are you a vegetarian? I have you pegged for the vegan type. You love tofu, I can just tell." And when figuring out when they'd need me again, he said, "We'll just email you. Except, you vegans probably only communicate through snail mail." I told him that would hurt the trees.

We are blessed to live life, eh? Every stupid little thing that makes me all glowy with happiness inside, I even dare to think I'm entitled to this amusement, but especially the stupid little things are straight-up blessings. Talk about finding meaning. My life is so exciting!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hayley versus Ernest Hemingway

I got new shoes. Which is only worth sharing because these are the dream shoes I repeatedly refrained from buying because I already have perfectly grawesome tennis shoes already, and didn't really need these. But. Maggie bought them, and I was jealous, so she cut a deal with me and bought some preppy black plaid ones instead. Everyone wins! [The awkward picture demonstrates the awesome.] Maroon, next to gray, is one of my long-standing favorite colors. Even though I don't have a favorite color. Maroon and gray I wear the most, though, so these shoes match pretty well with the rest of my wardrobe. Plus, I wore them in a corn maze on Labor Day, so they're good and dirtied up, and I don't have to endure the "Oo, your Chucks are clean" feeling.

One of my youth leaders, Mr. Bob, has been educating me on the dent theory, since he and my dad just bought a new car, same model and everything. He asks me every time he sees me if my dad's new car has a dent in it yet, or do we still have to hold our breath whenever we take it out. Further, my sister just started reading A Severe Mercy, in which the man and his wife take to marking up their car with a hammer and a baseball bat because they want to be sure no material possess takes ahold of their life. When I got my computer, not only did all my spare time suddenly disappear, but then I was committed to buying tons more stuff -- a protective case, a bag to carry it in, spray for the smudges on the screen, Apple Care. Taking care of our possessions means time and worry and buying more possessions. The couple in A Severe Mercy escaped the cycle by just smashing their car up so they wouldn't care.

This makes me think of new shoes, and materialism, and how hard it must be to be married. I know too many young people in serious relationships, and the cynic inside me wonders if they realize what exactly they're getting into. And it's probably because I've never loved someone like that, but I just can't help but think of how frustrating and difficult it'd be to have one life with someone, and to give up the way I do things. I have a hard enough time living for Jesus, never mind someone as fallible as myself. Does anyone really understand how hard it is for two people to live as one until they've tried it? [Hello 50% divorce rate. . . .] I'm not bashing relationships, honest, I'm happy that my friends are happy. I just wish that with these serious relationships I saw fewer painful breakups. C'est la vie. It makes it all the more tragic that in A Severe Mercy the guy who found someone who would buy a car and smash it up with him loses said person. C'est la vie.

This is a testament to how stressed I am, that I go from new shoes to the dent theory to A Severe Mercy to divorce in a matter of sentences. [I haven't even read A Severe Mercy. Which is sad, it seems like my kind of book, but oh well.] Life is hard, and very wonderful. For every disappointment, there's a more uplifting comfort. Why can't I say what I mean?! I'll just . . . try not to think about school. I'm thinking about, maybe, deactivating my Facebook. And never going on Gchat again. And putting a block on all websites that stream the shows I'm watching now. I'm thinking about putting air in my dad's bike's tires and living at the library for a while. It's time for me to learn what hard work is, time to cut out some distractions. I hate making pie charts of what's important to me, so I won't. Time to self-inflict some challenges and get some work done. Time to stop being lazy, Hayley.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I get mistaken for her on the phone a lot.

My mom is a spectacular person.

My mom has things to say. She's full of great ideas. My mom is the idea queen. My personal favorite of her ideas was for Dad to quit his job and for us to open a Sonic in Rhode Island, but this does in no way exemplify the quality of her ideas. She has vision. She's been teaching beginning public speaking for maybe five years, I think, and she just started a slew of three of those classes yesterday. I get to be the helper in one of them, and I listened rapt as she explained to the class her plan to take over the world. I had heard a similar speech given to the parents on orientation day, and also earlier in the day at debate class, but it was even more fascinating as she hammed it up for the stone-faced thirteen year old boys. "My email address is my name, I guess that's a misleading email address for a superhero, but, I'm working on it."

"I have three lives, okay? When I'm not teaching here, in one of my other two lives, I'm a nurse," and she explains to her students why they cannot contact her on Mondays. My mom's been working as a nurse almost non-stop since college, which is a long time to be sticking people with needles. I would want to be a nurse, except she's told enough horror stories about naked patients wandering around the CCU or being attacked by dogs on house visits that it doesn't sound like a terribly fun job. [That and my stomach still starts to free fall every time I walk in a doctor's office.] Just like my dad, my mom works hard, and she's good at her job. Aside from her profession, though, she works tirelessly at these classes, teaching twice a week at Good Company Tutorials, teaching women's Sunday school at church, and somehow managing also to homeschool her kids, keep the house clean, be involved in NCFCA, and even run errands. My mom is a busy person.

"In my other life, which actually permeates all aspects of living," she continues speaking to the class, "I love Jesus so much." This was intended to explain to her students that they can't contact her on Sundays, either, since my family spends nearly the entire day at our church, but instead she gets sidetracked into sharing the Gospel. She doesn't feel self-conscious that these kids probably believe in God already, and she doesn't care that almost all of them come from Christian homes, she just loves Jesus and couldn't shut up about Him if she tried. Every conversation she has with anyone about anything is somehow in the end about how good God is. Her eyes are peeled for opportunities to minister the gospel, and she lives 1 Thessalonians 5:17 in an extremely literal sense. Jesus is the most important thing about her, and to talk to her there are no doubts of this.

Also, I am realizing as I sit through this class, my mom is hilarious. "No one ever gets my humor, and it's quite annoying," she complains once we're back home. And it's true, her sense of humor is unique, and often leaves my dad shaking his head and us kids with an expression of, "I can't believe you just said that." But I love her teasing and sardonic style, some of my favorites being, [when I took Caleb trick or treating] "Don't get hit by any cars, and don't take candy from strangers!" and [during family devotions time] "Oh no. My whole family is going to hell." I am constantly laughing at the bizarre and hysterical things she says, and most of our acquaintances have no idea how hilarious my mom is. And the things that make her laugh . . . I love hearing her crack up over something, because invariably that makes it ten times funnier.

My mind starts to wander towards the end of the class. She's always sharing her special ice cream with Maggie and Caleb. We went to Quincy Market to get gelato, and when I hated the gross kiwi-flavored, she switched with me. My mom drives me and my siblings everywhere, somehow managing to work her busy schedule around ours. Maggie didn't have breakfast the other day, and ended up eating the breakfast that Mom had originally started making for herself. Every special treat she gets gets passed around to us kids to try until there's only a fraction left for Mom. There is so little in this house that is solely hers because her kids get into it -- that would drive me crazy, but she doesn't get angry over it. And maybe it's just a mom thing that I can't understand, but it really blows my mind that she is so consistently and gladly sacrificial.

I have been so blessed. If I could make a list of the things my mom's told me, over and over, that I will never forget. I can't count all the Bible verses I have memorized just because she's quoted them to me so many times. Her intention spiritual instruction, all those car ride discussions, it'll stick with me for a long time, I think, and so much of who she is is part of the reason I am who I am. My mom treats people as people, regardless of their age, and has always listened to what I have to say with the same gravity that she'd listen to what her peer had to say. She has pushed and challenged me, she has endured my libertarian and feministic rants, she has imparted all the gentle rebukes and parental wisdom she has to give, and she loves me and her family and Jesus so very much. My mom is a spectacular person. And I guess it's weird, for a teenaged girl to aspire to such a thing, but as much as a I want to be an individual and my own person, I also kinda want to be like my mom.

And if I've learned one thing from her, I will not forget, "I will always fail you, but God is faithful and He will never leave you."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Something about us screams sympathy machine

A stranger who changed the way I think about things. Christopher.

Last summer when I went to San Francisco with YWAM, I met Christopher. It was the second day, we were doing hot chocolate evangelism on Market Street, and he was the very first person we talked to. Actually, he came straight up to us. He was well-dressed, smelled faintly of alcohol, and asked us if we were with a church group. "I need to find a church," he told us, "I need to get help." We referred him to the church we had visited that morning, and offered to pray for him. Then it started, he wouldn't stop talking about how much he hated America, and how all the churches he'd visited had screwed him over -- he was preaching us a message of hate and hopelessness full-force, and his hurt was as obvious as his alcohol addiction. And my group eventually just walked away.

I couldn't believe it. He was so angry, he needed help, he was asking us for help. We walked away. We walked away relieved to be out of an uncomfortable situation. I felt sick to my stomach for almost the rest of the night. I've relived the experience nearly a hundred times. The frustration at not being able to make the loving words come out, the regret that we didn't take him straight back to our base for some counseling, the guilt that we just walked away. Discouragement pervaded my faith. And that night, I learned about hope, about God's power, about faithfulness.

And lo and behold, on Friday I have a déjà vu.

I was in Boston with my mom, and after lunch with her friend [so good, rosemary ham sandwich with toasted gouda, eggplant salad - hit up The Red House next time you're in Cambridge] we studied the T map to see if we wanted to ride over to Quincy Market for some gelato. A hot dog vendor working right next to the map came over and randomly started conversing with us, "You live in Alewife, what's the rent like there? I ask cos my wife just left me on Monday, I need a new apartment." We responded lamely with some vaguely sympathetic remarks. But he wouldn't stop talking, about how his wife was so sneaky, about women's rights, about how awesome divorce is, and other stuff that was only half-intelligible to me. We somehow managed to walk away. My mom's friend apologized for the strange folks in the city and my mom and I got on the train.

"That was bizarre, eh?" And all I think of was Christopher. I blurted passionately, "He needed help, he was asking for our help, he was sharing his problems, and we just walked away. I wish we could have done something." My mom asked matter-of-factly, "Well, do you want to go back?" And I sheepishly shook my head, no, I had no desire to go back.

Because it was protocol. Just like in San Francisco, that's what you're supposed to do in situations when people are dumping their problems on you unsolicited and won't let you get a word in edge-wise. You're supposed to walk away. Those people won't hear reason, they're not open to healing, they won't hear what you have to say. So you're supposed to walk away.

I know this is the by-the-book way to handle those situations, but the idealist inside me wants to throw a temper-tantrum regardless. I mean, are some people beyond helping? If they are, does that give us license to just ignore them? That, doesn't sound like love to me. But then, what could I do for the guy? I'm no expert on marriage counseling. Pray for him? Yeah, I could have, and yes, I will, but would it make any difference to tell him that? I don't know what I could have done, but . . . just walk away? That's wrong, right? What would Jesus do?!

We are God's instruments, responsible for carrying on the ministry Jesus started here on earth. It's a struggle every day, to live as Jesus lives and to love like Jesus loves. I don't know, really, if I did the right thing with Christopher, and with this hot dog vendor. No, I probably did the wrong thing. But. God is powerful. He is not limited by whether I mess up or not. There is hope for the lost and the hurting, and He is teaching me how to be useful. I don't understand why both those situations panned out the way they did, but that's how they happened, so instead of filling myself with regret, I think on hope. [For the best for what we lost, to understand when no one wants, it makes me laugh, it gives me hope.]