Thursday, December 30, 2010

Inspired by Laurel

There is so much about this world that is sad. Sick people. Hurt people. Scratched up and screwed up and broken people. I believe in hope, but I also believe in entropy. There's so much to mourn, and rightly, in a world that's falling to pieces.

But oh, at weddings, it's dumbfounding how such a thing could exist in such a world. At weddings there is beauty, and happiness, and love. Weddings were probably God's idea.

God has told us to rejoice. And He has given us reasons to do so. I thank God for creating things I don't yet understand, among them, marriage. For in this we can rejoice.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If only I was more like Hannah!

I am smitten, completely smitten with my sister's guitar. It will probably lose its novelty shortly, and after that, my interest will be gone as well, but for now I am enchanted with its portability, its versatility, its ease of use. I love how forcing my fingers into foreign chords makes me retreat into the piano, how it makes me pursue mastery of that neglected instrument, too. I love sitting at the piano making music with my sister, or clumsily following her on guitar, our voices converging in worship. "We are the broken, You are the healer. Jesus, Redeemer, mighty to save."

I lack so much resolve, I never seem to master things I'm not good at. I'm so lazy, I generally give up when it doesn't come naturally. And this is me with instruments: I've never pushed for mastery because I was contented with the diagnosis of ineptitude.

I think of Spanish, too. I've taken so much Spanish, you'd think I'd at least be able to claim proficiency. Instead I stare at Bryna's SPA 102 homework and wonder how I can weasel out of URI's language requirement. Which is really ridiculous, because if I want to be an immigration lawyer, speaking a language in addition to English is kind of imperative. The point here being, I have a vague desire to learn Spanish, but my efforts have never amounted to substantial comprehension. Because I am unwilling to endure the struggle to learn.

Lilly explained on that lengthy trip to Virginia last summer, that mastery is not dependent on genius, but rather that practice and precision and discipline are the stepping stones to achievement. Or something like that. And I think I was skeptical of her position, first because people like John Nash exist, but also because it was too convicting of a prospect, that effort really is everything. And I'm still not really sure. But, your IQ doesn't need to be through the ceiling to be proficient at a language or an instrument. And the conviction grows in my stomach every time that guitar case looms in the corner of my eye.

Okay, so, my infatuation with her new toy is already dying.

Nevertheless, thanks to that glossy instrument, I pulled out my Spanish textbooks today. Did a few hours of Rosetta Stone, too. I even messed around on the piano. The pursuit of self-discipline will hopefully have a few practical side effects.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Each glimmer of hope

I've got so much to say to myself, but I haven't journaled because I'm afraid of my thoughts. Geez . . . I mean, what the heck does that say about me?!

The older I get the more flaws I discover, and I just have to cling to that hope:

"You can't stick with Jesus your whole life and not end up radically different."

Perhaps one day I will look forward to growing older, too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

North Main Street

Every night, when I'm driving back from campus in the dark, and I come to that last left-hand turn, I think, "What if I pulled out right now, and a car came out of nowhere? What if I was hit, and I died, just another college student taken out on the road, coming home from a late school night? What if I got hit and died in this turn?"

And I sigh, and I look both ways, twice, and I take the turn, and I think about how my family would be sad, how terribly inconvenient it would be, dying, but I also wouldn't have to do any more papers or file taxes or deal with anything unpleasant ever again, and, I could go home.

Of course, I always make the turn without getting it, not even close. Because it's Wakefield, and no one's on the road at this time of night, and the turn isn't really that blind, and I'm actually quite careful when I drive. So I never get hit. Because the sovereignty of God prevails over my driving.

And over my life, I suppose.

Every time I take that turn, and survive, and roll into the Bankston's driveway feeling tired but still decidedly in one piece, I think, "It's not my time. It's not over. I am still here, to what end?" It's a radiatingly reassuring and frightening prospect, that there is still more to be done. On the one hand, this means I haven't really done much for God yet. On the other hand, I must still be useful, or have the potential to be useful, because if I wasn't, He would have off'd me, right? It's kind of irreverent to think about it that way, but, I think you get what I mean.

I love these night drives home from campus, where I unpack all the failures and stumblings and amusements and heartening moments. And I am thankful for a daily opportunity to reflect and wonder, what do You ask of me, God?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pink versus magenta

I'm thinking about perspective; about ways of thinking about things, seeing things, understanding things.

If I've learned a single thing from my horrific math class it's that if you shoot a single concept through a prism, it can be explained twenty different ways. "I never looked at it that way, but if that works for you . . ."

Certain words resonate with me that don't pluck the same heart strings in you. Things go over my head that cut to the heart with you. The connotations I find in a word, or a phrase, or a symbol, or an expression . . . they're not always the same as the meaning you find. Which is all right. I'm not making any value judgments here. I just think it's interesting. I'm wondering at it right now. Healthy awe and all that jazz.


I have a drawer full of glasses. Spectacles, you see, not tumblers. I yank open the drawer, and rifle through the pairs, trying on this one and that one . . . and some pairs I keep on for a while. Some I whip on and off. Some I throw out, or some I tuck away for a later day. I cycle through these pairs of glasses, looking at ideas and situations and the world through a mindset not wholly my own, and these glasses give me meanings and judgments and values, a point of reference. When I wear X glasses, X is how it is. And I'm always trying on glasses.

Because I can't see anything without a point of reference. Both literally and metaphorically. Not that I really expect my metaphor to be effective. It jives with what's in my head right now, and I can't step outside of myself long enough to explain fully and objectively what I mean. [Well. You know. A working meaning of objective.] I only mean that, I don't care about communicating effectively now, only expressing for my own sake. Because I ought to be studying, but I hate what absorbing some of these concepts is making me see.

Excuse me while I go drown in my own muddled reflections on the relativity of expression and meaning. I mean, study. Excuse me while I go study.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Live from the Bagelz loft

Comfortable is warmth, with a nice breeze and the smell of bagels and muffins, and a cushy chair with armrests that are broken in but not suspiciously stained. Comfortable is being inside, not out, today.

Comfortable is overhearing bits and pieces of pleasant conversation, seeing the smiles and feeling the familiar lulls, and knowing that around you people are engaged and content and coping. Comfortable is steady productivity, head bent over the book and fingers tapping the keyboard and the smile as results accumulate.

Comfortable is hipster music playing loudly but unobtrusively from downstairs into the loft, and a soft but bright light from the windows overhead, leaving no shady corners and unilluminated words. Comfortable is the hiss of steamed milk and the clack of ice, and the safe slow atmosphere of meeting.

I've come to this conclusion: comfortable is a coffee shop.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Perpetually disjointed.

What if I could choose:

To not be jealous. To be at peace. To be thoughtful and observant and resourceful. What if I could turn on kindness like the flick of a switch. I want to be kind.

This is my desire . . .

Not an island. Luke's words, "it's nice to be home with one's own family and 'real' friends." The people you can rest in, be quiet and full and comfortable with. Each weekend I'm filled again to return.

It's a little bit of a tug of war, though. I want to be at URI, investing in the people there, devoting my spare time to cultivating relationships there. [It's why I'm even at URI in the first place. I nodded vigorously during my memere's rant this afternoon: yes! I understand this need to be out and engaged!] But my family is always first. And each weekend I am abandoned not to the college student demographic, but to my former world.

And it's nice. Comforting. Each weekend fills me with the assurance, "You have friends and you are loved", because I am insecure and need these remindings. What if I could choose? To not be insecure? [If one can choose life, than why not peace and assurance? If we can choose, why don't we?]

I wonder if this safety net of these warm weekends holds me back, keeps me from choosing. When you already have friends, why would you bother making new ones? I wouldn't put it past myself to be this subconsciously lazy.

Oh, I'm a Derek Webb song. "I love slash hate you [college]."

Monday, November 29, 2010

"I know you have felt much more love than you've shown."

I'm going to pull a Katie here. I was studying for my math exam tomorrow morning, so this seemed like the perfect time to blog. I mean, really.

This is perhaps why it's more difficult for me to formulate complete thoughts since high school ended. I haven't been procrastinating as much. I hope.


It's people who make me melancholy. Which is odd, because they also make me happy. I get irrationally excited over each human interaction. I walk away from conversations beaming. It's not until later that I sink into a cushy state of misery. It's not just the high-highs and the low-lows of a melancholy disposition. Every time I try to love there's the hurt of each little failure. In this love is a double-edged sword.

When I think about what separates me from loving people like I ought to, I tend to think (feel?) in messy circles. It's a combination of communications jargon (social communities, scripts and schemata, identity constructions, attributions, self-disclosure, social norms) and personal mottos that sound like they were ripped off the Disney Channel (be yourself, engage everyone, initiate without fear of rejection, pursue sincerity) and all of this so tangled, I think about it analytically and I just become inconsolably puzzled.

People and interaction and relationships are so interesting it's almost painful, you know?

But my problem isn't something in a textbook: it's not poor social skills or an anxiety disorder or maladjustment or societal conditioning. It's sin: fear and selfishness. Instead of loving others without restraint, as Christ loves me, I am reserved and reticent and stand-offish and two-faced. I wonder sometimes why I have any friends at all. Don't you guys know who I am? I'm a terrible person! Weirdos.

I want to see people truly. I want to understand them. I want to love them unconditionally. [Does it matter that someone is annoying or needy or wrong?] I want personal relationships, not social ones. I want to be friends with you, to make you see your worth and to encourage you and bear your burdens and learn from you and grow with you. Not because I want you to like me. Not because I want to feel good about myself. [Heaven forbid.] But because Jesus loves me, and I can't help loving you as a person He loves.

I'm just not sure I want it enough. Pray that I want it enough. ["Spirit, come flush the lies out."]

You know what? Now it's time to finish my math homework.

Monday, November 22, 2010

On being filled.

What is the meaning of being filled?

It is not the nod of the interviewer:
"Good question, good answer!"
It is not the bold small print
of the A and the 4.0
It is not the feel-good, do-good
of giving your time away
It is not the triumph
in exceeding expectations

It is not a boy's smile
or indulgent appreciative laughter
It is not the reward of human interaction
through the meaningful conversations
It is not the thrill of the words
"I feel the same"
It is not the building excitement
of a new acquaintance made

It is not the brother's hug
or the mother's gift
It is not a friend's confidence
or the thoughtful rememberings
It is not the torrents of rain
washing the muck downhill
It is not the rise and fall
of an all-encompassing melody

It is the emptying of the hurt and the slavery and the filth and the selfishness
It is about becoming hollow.
It is the cracking and the breaking and the shattering and the smashing
It is destruction.
It is the water and the washing and the flooding and the torrent
It is drowning.
In a love so unlike love that the foreign is familiar
It is the meaning of being filled.

How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How NCFCA has helped me at college

1. Navigation

Day one of any tournament usually left me wandering around, exploring the new environment and staking out ahead of time where my rounds were going to be. I was careful, oh so careful, to make sure I knew where everything was. And yet without fail, every round, I would get lost. I would be wandering around in circles miserably, not understanding how this could have happened when I spent all that time scouting the lay of the land!

I'm oblivious. That's how it happened. So while I now know my way around a handful of campuses across the States, I still get lost at my own university. It doesn't matter that I've explored every square inch of the place, that I give upperclassmen directions, that I've all but memorized the campus map. I still walk into strangers houses and end up 15 minutes late to class and step off the bus feeling disoriented. You know why? Because I'm oblivious.

2. Registration

I thought I wouldn't miss the thrill of clicking refresh on the NCFCA website moments before registration opened, the rush of typing out all my events as fast as possible, and the futility of willing my browser to go faster. And I don't miss it. Because that's exactly what class registration is like. I found myself logging on each day leading up to my registration time, watching the number of available seats in the classes I wanted shrink and shrink. Depressing.

And just like kids whose parents have tournament jobs get to register before everyone else, here athletes get the first pick. It's a an equitable system, if not a fractured one. I now know how it feels to be on the other side of priority registration. It's lame. I feel like I need to write apology notes to anyone I've ever pushed out of an event I was PQ'd for.

3. Endurance

I'm stuck on campus five days a week, usually for 14 hours a day. And while hopping from class to class to work to meetings doesn't really compare with the strain of three-rounds-6-events-plus-debate, the whole college does feel a little bit like a tournament. Downtime when you find yourself alone, running late to rounds, not having a chance to grab a bit to eat, early mornings and late nights. Lots of strangers who seem to all know each other running around. Just, it all lasts a little longer than three days.

I'm kind of a pansy by nature, and while all this is very much the reality of American culture [basically until I retire, or die] I'm glad I had a chance to experience a more demanding environment, instead of going straight from the couch where I did my school to this fish bowl.

4. Script submission

If you thought the pile of strict and confusing script submission rules were entirely illegitimate, once you come to college, boy, will your mind be blown. Formatting rules are nonnegotiable. No exceptions, no excuses, no mercy. One and a half inch margins [the Microsoft Word default, mind you] will land you a zero. Ariel instead of Times New Romans? You're a goner. All my giant classes grade the homework on format instead of content, so if you don't follow instructions to the letter, you don't get the sympathetic smile of a submission person and a "Go to the library, fix it, come back." No, you get a ZERO. So don't whine about script submission; follow instructions.

And don't say I am lacking empathy, either! While it's true I survived nearly my whole career in NCFCA without a single script glitch, I did experience the sinking panic when I left a single word unnecessarily bolded at the most recent national tournament. I could have cried. Script problems are awful, one of the most traumatizing of all tournament issues. I understand. BUT. The emotional pain and stress is worth the lesson you learn. Follow the freaking directions, fool.

5. Skillz

But, of course you already know this. It's why we do NCFCA. To learn the skills. You know this by heart: never underestimate how important it is to be articulate and well-read and logical and a sociable converser and a gracious winner. Or loser, as the case may be. Everyone has to learn these skills eventually. It's just easier to have the jump on it all.

I didn't think it was possible to be more grateful for NCFCA than I already was, but the appreciation grows with the scope of my experience. It was the most useful thing I've ever done. Thanks Mom.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My God is so BIG!

I have not have a complete thought. You know how many drafts are idling here? 72. Since the start of school. I have so much to talk about! But nothing to say.

I went to work on Veterans' Day. The techs watched "Prince of Egypt" in the back, I heard one asking incredulously of the other, "This really happened?" -- "No, it's just a story." He shakes his head and says he doesn't understand how people can believe in religion, and I empathize. My head is quick to defend -- existence, evidence, experience all come rushing to mind, but my heart knows, it's too much to ask. Through all He's done, we've done so much to undo it.

What a testimony. A history of irreverence unravels human credibility. It seems so fantastic . . .

A friend is trying to convince me that the 9/11 attacks were really a government cover-up, showing me the movie "Loose Change". It's ridiculous. Even if their support weren't pure equivocation and shoddy research, faulting the government for factual anomalies is clearly non sequitur. And in an interview I watched of the authors of a book that debunked the conspiracy, they mentioned the 9/11 conspiracy uses the same appeals as creationists: a few gaps in the fossil record doesn't equal a creator. Just as I scoff at "Loose Change", finding the idea to ridiculous to entertain, they feel the same of the thought of a God.

And so I empathize. It seems impossible. Despite the evidence it's just too giant to believe. Its implications are earth-shattering. It's easier to dismiss God as sensationalism. It's too much, too much to indulge.

But it aches, you must know how much it aches, to be faced every day with the divide: you who have found hope and renewal and truth coexist with those that seem so far away from the truth because it's just so big.

So pray for Jimmy.

I watch the faces of people I pass on the quad out of the corner of my eye. Will it be her, God? Is he next? Whom will You touch, God? How will You use me next?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Compared to what?!"

I slept in this morning and it was wonderful. I sat in one place today, realizing that I do not belong in the advertising field, and listening to music, and catching up on correspondences, oh my, I hadn't realized that I had neglected so many. And I still have so many to go . . .

I chose this past week to fully launch into campus involvement: I'm writing an article for the student paper, making fliers for the Student United Way club, I'll hopefully be set up with an ESL conversation partner, and starting this coming Monday I'll have my own radio show on WRUI's Studio B. This past week at school positively flew by, and I think it's because of all this random stuff I'm doing. College is weird.

So there's this kid who sits next to me in my nutrition class sometimes, this past week he saw me working on my novel, and we compared our laptop decorations. His Mac sported a sticker for a store I had never heard of.

Him: . . . and they sell drug-related paraphernalia.
Me: Oh. I wrote my last novel about drugs.
Him: Was it about how bad drugs are?
Me: Well, it was about heroin. So, yeah.
Him: Yeah, heroin messes people up. So how do you know about drugs?
Me: . . . Wikipedia.

Aside from the fact that I am obviously socially impaired, I wonder if I'm making friends with someone who does drugs. I hope so. It's one of my goals for college. [Is that wrong? On multiple levels?] I shouldn't typecast people, but he brought it up! Surprisingly enough for a renown party school, supposedly nearly half of the student body at URI identifies themselves as "straight-edge"; no alcohol, no drugs, no smoking.

And speaking of things that are psychedelic! I've been watching "Pushing Daisies", finally, and it's so adorable and colorful and hilarious, I can't understand why it was cancelled. Actually. I totally can. But if I'm going to get hooked on another TV show, it's in my own interest that this TV show is only 22 episodes.

My mom got in a car accident on October 25th, yes, that would be the day the president came to town. It's made life interesting. It's strange that through no fault of our own, a random variable so greatly alter our lives. Our van was totaled, yeah, that beloved gold Odyssey we had so many adventures in. The insurance company is paying for a rental car until everything gets squared away with the adjuster, and after that, I'm not sure what my family is going to do. But God will provide.

Also, watch this:

You're welcome.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

That's WREE-mo?

NaNoWriMo is in two days and I'm not sure what I want to write.

My last four novels have centered around some really depressing stuff: suicide, troubled youth, family division, drugs, abuse. As though I actually know anything about any of those things. I feel as though I ought to lay the melodrama aside.

Okay, so be honest, I have an idea. I have a whole plot line, with plenty of flexibility and room for angsty rambling. Right in line with the stuff I usually attempt. But again, the premise is so dark! I wonder, if it's not right to dwell on, or if I could possibly describe the scenario without making a mockery of people who have actually endured it.

I just hear Mr. Harrison in the back of my head. "I'd write a story once in a while. I'd write of people and places like I knew, and I'd make my characters talk everyday English; and I'd let the sun rise and set in the usual quiet way without much fuss over the fact. If I had to have villains at all, I'd give them a chance." And Gilbert, too. Write what you know.

I learned last year that the best way to sustain my writing pace is to have something I could literally rant about forever. I've learned from my fellow participants to avoid overly complicated and structured plots that will work you into a dead end. But these wise stipulations leave me with even fewer ideas. I like stringing words together. I don't care for crafting a story. I lack the imagination.

Oh a little part of me just shriveled at that confession.

I find such relief in the knowledge that a story about everyday life can be a legitimate novel, but I also think it's a really bad idea to imitate Virginia Woolf. Just because she could pull it off doesn't mean anyone else should also give it a try.

I don't know, I don't know, my lack of a plan is definitely setting me up for failure. I'm running in danger of tilting my 2:2 ratio towards the "losing" side. Though I previously thought I had already hit this low, I am now looking forward to writing the crappiest novel-in-a-month ever!

[If you haven't already, add me.]

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grumble, grumble, politics.

I ran a big stack of idealism through the paper shredder today. I sat down with my absentee ballot and an internet connection and proceeded to Google every single name. 58 names. And my ballot is still blank.

See, the questions were easy. They were all asking for money. One even actually directly affected me--a request for higher education bonds that would pay for a new chemistry building at my school. Of course, I voted no. That's power, people. I felt powerful.

But I felt helpless over the rest of the ballot. There was no way, no way at all I could know everything necessary to make an informed decision about for whom to vote.

I'm not sure what's worse: completing an arrow based on shoddy first impressions and deceptive campaign jargon? Or not voting at all. I really don't understand how anyone has the capacity to vote without hypocrisy. Except, perhaps, the candidates themselves.

I hate seeing my idealism in papery shreds on the floor. I feel stupid. Cynical, jaded. And I'm only a youth! No, it's okay, really, mostly I just feel badly about my self-righteous indignation at my perception of apathy in the voting pool. Now, I just feel empathy. Voting is hard.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"The coldest winter I ever spent--"

I was at the bank yesterday. The bank and I are getting real friendly. I heard a voice behind me, "Have you been to San Francisco?" My head whips around, yes, that man is definitely talking to me. It is, of course, the vinyl black & white bag on my shoulder that prompted his observation. So I smile, and affirm his speculation, and he talks. About how he's never been, but he's heard it's lovely, just a wonderful climate, such a wonderful corner of the world.

He talks and I think of what Oscar Wilde said, "It is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world." He asks me if it's true what he's heard, and I tell him the week in June I spent there was the coldest June of my life, but that the clement year-round weather is the reason it's the homeless capital of the States. It's my turn at the counter now, but before I go he asks why I was there, I tell him I went with my youth group to do homeless ministry.

And then I walk into a pole.

True story.

I wonder if there's any San Francisco in my future. I only spent six days there, but I feel as though I know it on an intimate level, and I miss it. [Have I forgotten . . . ?] Boston, DC, Providence, Williamsburg, I love me some East Coast. No place has charmed me more than New England and my own backyard. But it's possible I left a little of my heart in San Francisco.

I know the kind of people who talk to strangers at the bank about places they've never been. In my cynicism I try not to get excited. But oh it was nice to have a conversation, even if he was only talking to hear his own voice!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Live from the Union computer lab!

No blessing is meaningless.

I'm not sure if this is explicitly biblical or not, oh, I'm afraid I assume so many things that aren't explicitly biblical, it's just, a very thick book and I, have a very transient memory, but I'm trying, trying . . .


I was driving home from school. I guess, home is the Bankstons' house, part of the time; quite strange, but still quite true. I was driving home and I was listening to KLove, and, they're in the middle of their fall pledge drive, which I try not to resent too much, because it's a legitimate ministry and they have to pay the bills somehow, and I try to empathize with it all as best as I can. So, the DJ is give a request for donations and he said, "Maybe you're wondering why God has blessed you in the economic downturn -- perhaps it was for the purpose of supporting KLove."

Or something like that. Here something clicked. I ask that a lot, mostly. Why have you blessed me, God? It's dumbfounding, really. I have honest confusion and awe at the reality of the sheer volume of blessings that have rained down on my short life. The greatest family, the greatest friends, the greatest church, the greatest opportunities, even just in terms of socio-economic standing: a white middle-class female in the United States. In the worldly order of things, I am immensely privileged and I didn't even have to d0 anything. And so I sit here feeling very uncomfortable, wondering why.

To whom much is given, much will be required . . .

So no blessing is meaningless. While I imagine it brings God joy to bless his children, I also know whose movie I'm in. The plot isn't about me. I'm barely even a townsperson #24 in the cast. My function on the set? To glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. Ultimately every blessing He has given me as some function in reflecting the glory back to Him.

I wonder how much I just absorb and file away until the memory disintegrates. I take things in with the intention of sorting them, dwelling on them, referring back to them, but sometimes I just hold them in so long that they fade away and I forget those thoughts ever exists or that those things ever happened. Fickle transient memory. Sometimes my reluctance to self-disclose detracts from my duty and purpose, though. My mom told me once about a popcorn prayer in service, when she held in a prayer only to hear someone else in the room shout it out. She told me that God will be glorified with or without us, but there's so much more of a joy in fulfilling our purpose and testifying of His goodness.

So, I'm learning. A pat lesson for the day. Articulated that I might remember. I have been blessed because my God is good and must be glorified. Go now and walk in it.


Friday, October 8, 2010


On the one hand, stories must be shared. It seems so wasteful for wonderful things to happen and so few people to hear and appreciate them. A great story, even if it features perfect strangers to whom I have no connections, is still a great story. I have heard some great stories in my time, and I would be robbed of great enjoyment had I never heard those stories, from the riotous ones to the inconsequential ones.

Still, I feel as though I cheapen stories in the telling. Once I articulate them, it feels as though I've cleansed my system of them, they've left my mind in the form of words. And naturally this is distressing. If I keep the story to myself, it blooms as I internally explore all the facets of what happened, and I take a certain delight in having my own secret story, my own private joke.

Also, sometimes I am certain no one will appreciate some stupid story as much as I do. Which, honestly, through no fault but my own, is often the case, because I am most often amused by stupid and inconsequential things.

I've noticed, effective speakers often tell stupid stories, but somehow, they make them so hilarious while also so meaningful. So I guess it's all in the telling.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Blessed are the hungry--"

On Friday, oh, on Friday . . .

I want to return to what is comfortable and familiar, what I know and trust, not just because I am afraid, but because I am desperate to rest in something I can depend to be true. But my old understanding isn't satisfying anymore. I am so hungry. Something is pushing me forward. "My sheep listen to me, they follow my voice, no one can snatch them out of my hand."

We were sitting on a ratty couch in a college coffee shop, opposite some terrible sketches of a lumpy nude woman. Clearly there was truth somewhere in this scenario. Jessie was smiling at me, and nodding in empathy, and saying, "Perhaps we are afraid of His power, because it is so much stronger and yet so separate from our own feeble abilities. We have to decide to trust that He is good, that He is who He says He is."

What can I do but listen to the Spirit, and do as He leads? ["Else, wherefore born?"] Whatever that looks like. [Without getting hung up on technicalities of charisma?] I'm trying not to be so afraid. My faith is so small. [And yet His grace is so big.]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Doubt & Testimony

Why am I a Christian? A follower of Jesus? A believer? Someone who identifies herself with the church?

Rebecca at work asked me if I was taught religion, if my parents were super devout and if I had grown up with it my whole life. And those things are true of me. Nothing is more precious to my parents than their faith, and our home revolves around it. Would I be a Christian without them? I don’t know.

I wonder if I was predisposed to Christianity. INFPs tend to be religious, finding a higher meaning and purpose in the idealism of the gospel. Sanctification as a coping mechanism. Compounded with my innate tendency to want to please my parents, did I take the leap because I knew it would make them happy? (If they parented my faith, is it really my own?)

Does Christianity work? (Would I even dare to lean on pragmatism?)

Why am I a Christian? I've never bothered to ask that before. So now I'm asking. Is it because of the opportunities to serve the community and pursue social justice? Because of the friends and social outlet and encouragement? Because it sets me apart and makes me different? Because it gives me hope for self-improvement? (What are truly my motives?)

Sometimes when I struggle to find insight in my devotions, or when I sing the praise songs so hollowly, or when the sermon’s words sound trite, it becomes easy to wonder, why am I doing this? I see my sin and my faithlessness and wonder, where is the victory?

What if somewhere along the way I deceived myself?

I tell myself my feelings of dryness and confusion don’t matter, because I’m not going to throw away the Truth for something transient like emotion. But that doesn’t change the fact that doubt makes it difficult to “run the race with endurance.”

And yet, the one thing I could never throw away, is the knowledge that my distinction as a Christian is not a religious affiliation, but a commitment to a real person, a God-man who has changed and is changing my life. On this label of “believer” I could never turn my back, because I love Jesus. Because He first loved me.

I know it’s all real because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I know the peace, the conviction, the love. You cannot see the power of Jesus and just walk away from it. I’ve seen the power of Jesus. And it has changed my life. Jesus saved me from myself, I am a living, breathing, moving testimony. (“In HIM we live and move and have our being.”) I have tasted and seen, and I can never go back. To God be the glory! Amen.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A relationship I'll never stop piecing together

Today my dad took me to the bank to sort out some of the financial woes I've been stressing over these past two weeks, and on the way there he was explaining the channels he'd navigated earlier that day during his lunch break to try and get my problem squared away. And as he spoke I considered what else he'd done for me this week: filled up my gas tank, helped me with my car troubles.

And I said quietly, "I really appreciate your doing all this for me."

And he goes, "Hayley, you're my daughter."

And in a moment I'm remembering my car ride home from Kingston the night before, as I bit my lip and watched the smoke pour out from under the hood, trying to count all the ways God had protected and blessed me this past week. And also trying not cry--definitely not advisable while driving--as the question "WHY?" followed every praise. And I was incredulous when I pulled into my driveway, for the second week in a row, safe and sound.

And I said tearfully, "Why God, why would You do that for me?"

And He goes, "Hayley, you're my daughter."

Who is this King of glory? So powerful, so full of right-ness. How is it that I belong to Him, that He gives me teaching and protection and discipline and care? So undeserved. Who is this King of glory?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Contextual time capsule

On the car ride back from Kingston on Friday I found myself empathizing with Linda, as I kept snatching glances at my gasoline gauge, even as I resigned myself to trust God to get me home. [To give credit where credit is due, I didn't even get down to the gas light. Sovereignty.] Oh, I so desperately wanted to go home. It's not that my first full week of college was particularly difficult, but I found myself severely missing my family.

Living with the Bankstons is surreal, because their family reminds me so much of my own family, their dynamics and habits and philosophies towards living. Even in Bevin I see so much of Caleb, it makes me miss him that much more during the week. It was a seamless transition for me, though I still feel a bit like an intruder on their life, they have done everything to graft me into their home.

Studying in the library is my favorite thing about college. Classes are inevitably a snore, so accustomed am I to learning out of a book, but in the deafening silence of the third floor, scribbling up flash cards, I feel so collegiate and studious. And it is the one place that assures me there are actually students on campus that care about their education. The broken beer bottles on the quad do give me doubts . . .

Classes aren't so bad, though. The material is all very interesting, and when my professors aren't feeling excessively jaded by student apathy, they're enthusiastic enough to keep my despair at bay. I even talked in my COM100 class the other day. Though, I'm trying not to betray my speech and debate background. Gotta keep expectations low. Yup. Definitely a college kid. Strangely, my workload has been rather light, and I keep waiting pessimistically for the other shoe to drop.

Work might be my favorite part of this college thing, though. The people at RAM Computers are so nice it could break my heart. I love Filemaker, the cash register, making phone calls, filing papers, installing drivers, imaging hard drives, diagnostic sessions, running random errands, learning the ropes. I love it all. I love that no matter how silent and isolated I feel throughout the day, at work I will have a chance to laugh and talk and engage.

There's too much to get involved in, it makes me dizzy, and I guard my spare time rather jealously. I'm sure next year or even next semester I'll scorn myself for being so antisocial. But I've jumped right in with Intervarsity, for better or for worse. They seem to be an awkward crowd, but they are not unkind, and there is such rest and relief in a group with whom I have Jesus in common. Nevertheless, I have been lonely, if it is indeed loneliness, a feeling that so often deceives me. I miss you.

So that's been the past two weeks of my life. I beg of you, update me on yours? [I'm so sorry . . .]

Friday, September 17, 2010

Two kinds of separation

Is this honest loneliness
Or a conflict in vanity
That leads me to a more tolerable isolation
In the newness of the unchartered?

The failure to love weighs
So heavily on a misdirected heart
It seems too late to try
To reach out to a phantom feeling.

I still find it hard to look in the face of all I've been missing, because to do so is to face the guilt in my negligence.


There is a girl, on the first observation deck of the Rockefeller Center, her palms pressed against the glass, her eyes hard and bright and blue as she watches the traffic far below her, her elbows locked as she keeps the edge far away. The murmuring of the people around her float around her head, and the tiles push up from under her feet, and the wind keeps wrapping her hair around her face, but all the while she feels suspended, pinned to a point in time and space.

She watches the sun set too quickly, and open-mouthed the only word she knows anymore is "--WAIT."

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Everybody's changing and I don't feel the same"

I can't handle it, okay?

I made a tricky voyage to Newport with one of my friends recently, and I was telling my mom how every time I merge I feel like the hand of God is ordaining traffic flow, because an ordinarily stressful and dangerous activity is made magically effortless. She laughed at me and said, "God never gives us more than we can handle!"

From this I conclude God must think I'm a wuss who can't drive.

So when I started work last week I had one long and somewhat trying second day which involved much getting lost and many aching muscles, and around 10pm when even the GPS couldn't deliver me to a recognizable route, I pulled into a shopping plaza and resolved to have a pity party. Until I realized that I was overreacting. This wasn't too hard for me. Clearly God thought I could handle it. So I wasn't going to indulge any wimp-like behavior.

And that kick in the pants attitude got me through a week of the unknown, and carried me through the first three days of classes. As I prepare to move half of my life to South Kingston, and evaluate how college has the potential to reroute my whole future, I'm weirded out by how fluidly all these changes are coming: not just in what I do each day, but in my relationships and in the way I think and in what's required of me. The changes are sneaking up on me and convincing me things have always been this way, and nine times out of ten I find myself unprepared.

I can't handle it, okay?

Except that, clearly God thinks I can. My life has been so easy to this point, and I mean, heart-breakingly, couch potato-y easy. I fussed over what this meant about my faith: is it really so small and weak and unstable that God is saving me from the storms to keep me close to Him? On one hand this thought hurts my ego, and on another hand, it freaks me out. But here it comes, all these changes, still nothing big of course, but enough for me to handle. I am not a pansy. He has blessed me with an opportunity to learn it: greater is He that is in me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"It's all coming down"

I watched Defiance last week, finally, and it was awesome.

I've written before about my obsession with the fall of civilization [here and here] and this movie dredged more of this conviction to the surface. During the start of their forest society, a man is helping build a roof and smacks his fingers with a hammer. When the other laugh at him and asked him what he did before the war, he smiles sheepishly and says that he was an intellectual, more handy with books than with tools.

And this is the root of my fear. That when society falls apart I will have no useful skills to help rebuild it.

In My Side of the Mountain, Sam figured out how to train a hawk to hunt for him. In Hatchet, Paul was a Boy Scout. In LOST, they just happened to have a surgeon, a wilderness expert, and a techie on the island with them. In Alas, Babylon they had an artesian well handy in the backyard and at least a small heads up on the whole debacle. In Defiance society hadn't really collapsed, they just stole from the people who still had a footing in it.

Liberal arts kind of people are so supremely useless. Which is not to say community and culture are unimportant, only that, society cannot subsist on these things alone.

What kind of resources do I have handy? Our family has a pantry that we still slip into calling the Y2K closet. In terms of my skill set though, I don't really know how to do anything useful. I know nothing about herbal remedies, I lack a green thumb, I have no command of the basics of construction or agriculture or mechanics, I pale at the description of medical ailments.

I can shoot a gun, which is good. I'm reasonably healthy, which is also an asset. I can read, so whatever books survive this societal collapse, I'll at least be able to teach myself to be useful, theoretically. Still, I struggle with being a well-rounded individual. Though my passions lie with more intellectual pursuits, I don't want to get wrapped up in a world that will become irrelevant. I want to be a whole person, who understands the importance of both the ability to do as well as the ability to think.

In other news, spending the week in a computer store has made me super paranoid about the health of my own computing machine, ergo prompting me to image and format the thing. Just because, it's already three years old, and it needs to last me as long as possible. So I've been backing up some things online, and it makes me feel like a major dork. I hate Google. But I need it. So.

What I mean to say is, when technology is crippled at the fall of civilization, I won't be very sad.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Expectations - Caedmon's Call

That boy had the highest of expectations
And he heard that Jesus would fill him up
Maybe something got lost in the language
If this was full, then why bother?

You know that we all try to blame someone
But our dreams won’t rise up from their sleep
And the reaching of the steeple felt like one more
Expensive ad for something cheap

This was not the way it looked on the billboard
Smiling family beaming down on the interstate

Dressed up nice for the congregation
Scared somebody’s gonna find him out
Through the din and the clatter of the hallelujahs
A stained glass Jesus sings


At this bizarre, wonderful, God-send of a mostly likely almost over job, church keeps coming up. When I had to leave early for a church-planting slash campus group meeting, they asked why. When they wondered about the "My Grade's Fatter than Yours" shirt, I explained it was from youth group. I forgot about the cross dangling around my neck all week. It's much easier to be up front about my faith than I thought it would be.

But I do wonder a little what they think of me. They don't seem to treat me differently, they don't seem to care when I talk about church. Which is not to say church a believer makes, but I can't imagine that they're all ambivalent towards religion. Regardless, knowing that they know I'm a "church person" is a pressing motivation, to work harder, to be more upright and honest, to smile more. I'm not trying to pursue righteousness just for God anymore, but now also to be a testimony.

Which is sobering and scary. It means leaning on grace because I just can't be good enough. When we were on our "Boston" missions trip, one outreach we did was to write "JESUS" on whiteboards and walk around the neighborhood asking people to write the first thing that came into their heads when they read it. At one point I got to hold the whiteboard, and suddenly I felt painfully conspicuous, walking around with the name JESUS across my chest, people saw me coming from blocks away.

And I remember thinking, "Is this a little bit what it means to be an image bearer?" I was talking with Danielle about it in the car ride afterwards, as she has a similar revelation. We felt the judgment, of people watching our presumption. We had no anonymity, we were defined by that name, Jesus. And to think that this is how I'm supposed to be walking around every day, as though I had the name JESUS in big block letters covering my body, and how will my actions match up?

We fall so short of expectations. Fortunately reminding us that the work is God's.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Middle class kicks

My family and I are not on very good terms with the DMV. Naturally, we've learned to coexist peacefully, doing our time like normal everyday respectable folk, but to hear my parents talk, a visit to the DMV rates slightly below a root canal. So we're ready to jump at any opportunity to make our visits bearable. And oh, we find such creative ways to do so . . . !

My alarm went off at 4:40am. The first question in my mind being, "Why are we doing this again?" An hour later we were outside the brand new Cranston branch of the RI Department of Motor Vehicles, rain drizzling determinedly and splattering our dorky lawn chairs. I reconsidered my fondness for rain. It's so much more pleasant when I'm safe inside my house. I was too cold and too wet and too sleepy to do more else besides stare morosely at the pavement, ranking this camp-out against others my dad's orchestrated over the years.

Once people started arriving, things got more mentally stimulating. The lack of any real order produced a lop-sided line and also plenty of line-cutting. My sense of justice was mostly abridged; I was in front of a door, and my parents were in front of the other two, so between the three of us we'd get a ticket. Teamwork! There were nice and interesting people to talk to in line, and plenty of drama with the line-cutters and the cameras around, and eventually the doors opened with plenty of anti-climactic shuffling.

Though we ended up being the second people in line, we were the first people served, inside the building itself for perhaps twenty minute tops [though it felt more like fifteen], and back to our regularly scheduled programing by 9am. I feel I now must find something productive to do with the rest of my day, to make sure I didn't save all that time just to waste it another way. Dare I say that those wet three hours on the sidewalk were more meaningful than any shorter previous trip to the DMV? They were.

Three hours and some two-hundred dollars later, I am in possession of a legally registered car. I am also in the newspaper?

My dad is really awesome. And possibly "fair-weather crazy."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Risk. [A drabble of 231 words. Yeah.]

"Please, Mommy? Please can I go?" The little girl sees no reason why she ought not go, so she is begging unabashedly. Then again, she is a little girl, and not one who is in command of impressive reasoning skills. Nevertheless, her pathos is rousing.

Her mother considers this request. Though her reasoning skills are amply developed she can't recall as reason why her daughter ought not to go either, but then, it's nearly always easier to say no than it is to say yes.

Just in case. Her mother wishes that the little girl has gone without asking. So that if things had turned out poorly she could have reprimanded with a, "You ought to have asked," and comforted her daughter with the closure of consequences. And if things had turned out well, so much the better, she would not have been the ogre for deigning to stop them. Things are just so frustratingly unpredictable in their turn-outs.

So the little girl has asked, and her mother just doesn't know.

The little girl is asking because she hasn't considered that the decision could be hers. Her doubt required permission and validation. She is anxious is please but also desperate to have her way, the way she thinks she wants. The mother is stalling because wisdom and an answer allude her. What difference could it make?

"Very well, dear. Go play."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I stayed up late watching TheAmazingAtheist on Youtube.

I'm so intrigued by these kinds of people who turn themselves over wholly to their own rationalism and intellect. I despise such a lifestyle, because I know how dangerous it is, but somehow that just makes it all the more fascinating to me.

I don't mind if TheAmazingAtheist thinks my faith is feebleminded. Grace enables me not to care, or perhaps I'm just resting on the satisfaction of knowing I'm right? Blessed assurance!

I try not to pity him, either. Pity doesn't seem loving, somehow. I wonder how to have compassion without condescension.

I am only frustrated, how to reach out and minister to an atheist. It seems argumentation is the only language many of them speak. Part of me wants to try it, I'm so incensed by these logical fallacies and poor research. But argumentation isn't going to save anyone.

I appreciate that atheists are under no misconceptions about where they stand with God. They reject Him. The end.

And usually, they reject us. It makes me heart-sick, "Dear Lord, have we so misrepresented Your love on earth?" Oh, Church . . . we are a group of those in need of a doctor.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"I am so spectacular, I bought a car, yeee-ah!"

Last September I finally got my driver's license. And started hitting up Craigslist for cars the moment I got home.

In April I started praying in earnest for a car. I figured my odds were good. I needed a car. God had provided some extra cash. Nearly everywhere I went I saw cars for sale. I really thought this was a pretty reasonable prayer. My first attempt, really, at asking God for anything legitimately tangible. And I was pretty sure He would answer me in the affirmative, and it would make an awesome story, and I could talk about how prayer works. ["Heck yeah!"]

But months of trawling craiglist and making calls and keeping my eyes peeled for "for sale by owner" signs produced only disappointing dead ends. Each time it seemed like kismet! And each time it ended up being a really bad idea. Was God saying no car for me, or was I not looking hard enough? And there were so many details to be taken care of besides -- whose name would we register it in, how much would insurance cost, what kind of things should I be looking for in a car anyway? The more I tried to square the situation away, the more complicated it revealed itself to be. And with school only a month away the anxiety was certainly mounting. I was picturing myself the day before my first class, scrambling for a carpool with still no way to get around.

My dad was getting a little anxious as well. On his day off we headed to the West End to a car dealership he used to deliver, and before we pulled out of the garage he prayed a little prayer and I sighed very deep inside of myself, very quietly. His prayer was the epitome of irony. I was discouraged. For some puzzling reason, God did not seem to have a car in store for me. So we headed off to this dealer with low expectations.

When we arrived at the lot, my assessment that we were wasting our time was confirmed, when a quick look around revealed there was nothing in my price range. The proprietor came over to talk to us, sheepishly holding his cigarette behind his back. He told us some interesting things, like how the used car dealers didn't sell Toyotas and Hondas, so we could stop looking, and how all their cars were not from the auction, but all mechanically-sound trade-ins straight from the dealer. He waved his hand around the lot, pointing us to cars, and knocking hundreds off the chalked-on prices as he did so. Suddenly, a few were affordable.

My interest renewed, I jotted some notes on a few cars to research when I got home. I grew more optimistic the more I looked around. My parents tell me often that I am too trusting, and while perhaps this is true I don't think it's a terrible fault to have. Perhaps I was naive to trust this salesman, but I think God may have directed us to the only sincere used-car salesman in Providence. I was relieved not to have to haggle over price, all my anxiety over being tricked was taken away. He was a kind, informative man who said what needed to be said and then apologized for talking too much. He listened to my price range without blanching and directed me accordingly, but it was the first car he pointed to that I staked all my hopes on.

The same day we came back with my mom, we took the car for a test drive, we looked it up and down. We even popped the hood, not that any of us knew what to look for. There was, of course, still the money issue. I had enough to cover two-thirds of the car in my checking account, but the final thousand was in an account that didn't mature for three weeks. And yet the dealer agreed to hold the car until then! It all fit together, all went so smoothly, with no fuss and no concerns, like it was all very meant to be. Because of course, I like to think that is how God does things most of the time. [I am considering, that this is not always how God works, all neat and tied up with a pretty bow, but I was glad He let me see things come together this way this time, if only so I could say, "It was a total God thing!"]

The day after I paid the deposit, as if prompted by a divine cue half a dozen people must have asked me, "So, how's the car search going?" And flabbergasted I grinned, able to respond in the affirmative, "You'll never guess what God did yesterday!" I babbled about stress relief and God's goodness while simultaneously explaining why I didn't physically have the car yet, and why it was a good thing. Mrs. Hathaway declared, "I've been praying you would find a car!" Their family was looking for a car the same time as I was, and I was so infinitely touched to hear that others had been "bearing my burden", so to speak. A huge anxiety was lifted off my shoulders, with a month to spare.

I wanted something a little bigger than a compact, but also good on gas milage. God gave me a Nissan Altima. I wanted something newer than 1998. God gave me a 1999. I wanted something with fewer than 140k miles. God gave me a car with 127k. Very secretly, despite my dad's wise counsel, I wanted an automatic. God gave me a GLE. [Sorry Josiah.] The antenna is broken, and the interior has a few little rips. A panel is literally screwed back onto the door, and the exterior has a few scratches. My mom commented that perhaps it was a drug dealer's car after she saw the faint outline of the skull and crossbones sticker in the back windshield. But it runs. Dear God, thank you, it runs! [For this was my solitary prayer . . .] A purple car would have been nice, but I'll take the nondescript greenish bronze.

"This will last you through college," he says, "Perhaps longer." And I'm asking God to forgive my discouragement, I'm thanking God for all the cars He said no to. [Especially those plentiful Ford Contours. Ptth.]

It has long been easy for me to take for granted that truth "He supplies all my needs" because I have had to few physical tangible needs. And now as I enter a stage of my life where the concrete is more uncertain, I am finding, though faith is easier said than done, He will sustain. Even inconsequential earthly things like a car to drive to school. Also, that "prayer works. Heck yeah!"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Elementary encouragement

I am a little bit of a basket case right now. Mostly because I've been running on five hours of sleep each night, and Dunkies. Mocha toasted almond iced coffee -- what it is!

Do you know that I'm dumbfounded by God?

You see, I am too easily discouraged. At the slightest fatigue or dry time or tough task, I pansy out and complain to God, "Why am I so confused, why is my heart so dark, why do things seem so tough, when are You going to make it easier?" My life is by no means hard. But I always let myself pretend like it is. So last week I secretly promised myself to persevere, to reject discouragement and not to be so thirsty for encouragement, but to content myself with endurance.

And the moment I resolved this I have been met with a flood of encouragement from my God. I don't understand! I don't know why! For now, what can I do, but treasure His extravagant love and remember these blessings for when the desert times come again. Everywhere I turn today I am knocked over by another affirmation, encouragement, blessing. This love is dizzying. It makes no sense to me.

Our computer was totaled. Our A/C was expensive to fix. The "2/3 mine car" is still in a lot somewhere. I struggled to make my video. I felt disconnected from the lives of people who hadn't spent a week in Lynn, Ma. I was irrationally irritated by my sister. One of my best friends is leaving for college this week. How? How are all these things alleviated? How is it that they are doctored to be a blessing from God? How many encouraging emails or conversations or wall posts or text messages can I get in one day? Do you know, a kid even wrote me a poem today. God has softened my heart to see His love.

One of my least favorite jobs this past week was fliering for Metro Kids -- it made me miserable. And thought I tried to sing to myself, skip, take the stairs two at a time, smile as widely as possibly, I couldn't banish the misery from my heart. And as I thud down one of the numerous dilapidated porches, a woman crosses the street saying, "Good job, what a wonderful work you are doing here, these kids need this, make sure you don't miss anyone." And peace revived my heart, and I heard with conviction, "Do you know what a privilege this job is? You are blessed." And when we hip-hop flier'd in the hot sun, He gave me a second wind of hyper energy, a whole new literal meaning to "He is my strength." The blessings are multiplying like rabbits in my recollections - encouragement in excess!

It's as though God seems to be flicking my ear -- "What's that, you thought I was depriving you? Here, I am as rich as I say I Am." I get it, God, I get it! You love me!

I feel like the Israelites who complained for meat over manna, and had quail coming out their nostrils, except I complained for perseverance over discouragement, and now I have encouragement out my nose. And I apologize for the bizarre mental picture, but how else can I describe how inescapable and permeating this love is?

Praise Him.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An extroversion of gratitude.

Today my mom dolefully informed me that it was too late to have a graduation party for me. Dodged that bullet! I think my mom is perplexed with my lack of desire for any sort of pomp and circumstance. In assurance of my introversion, I don't like public attention, or making a big deal out of things. Mrs. Shorey points out that graduation goings-on are not about the student but an affirmation of all that was invested in the students by their teachers and mentors. And that makes sense. The people at my church, the moms from co-op, the tutors at GCT, my parents and the adults that have rebuked and encouraged me through high school and my college search -- they deserve to be thanked and recognized.

But the idea of being attached to something so sentimental sounds emotionally draining. I laughed to myself that the thought of giving a senior speech made me sick to my stomach. So much for NCFCA taking away my fear of taking the platform! The magnitude of my gratitude and feelings in this area makes me petrified of any public recognition. It feels too personal. Cos I'm such a hopeless romantic. [Dan.]

Oh well.

Thanks Mrs. Rotondi, for counseling me to apply where I did, for reformatting my resume into a gorgeously organized and less wordy beast, for passing on scholarship information, and for telling me I looked like a lady when I felt most unladylike.

Thanks Mrs. Schlindwein, for writing those letters of recommendation, for guiding me through my most confusing and fear-filled questions, for being patient through my anger and pride, for checking in on me each week, for caring about my soul and pouring in spiritual wisdom and encouragement, and for your hugs and smiles and hospitality.

Thanks Michael, for calling that one time and asking me not to leave Ignite, for showing me what leadership looks like and for being that faithful example of endurance in this race, for reminding me what Jesus can do, and for always making me feel included. Thanks for introducing me to all those phat beats, too.

Thanks Mrs. Tracy, for teaching me basically all the math I know, for suffering through my tearful blocked-headed moments of not understanding, and for shedding the light of encouragement and experience on the career path uncertainty.

Thanks Mrs. Shorey, for starting Good Company Tutorials, for writing recommendation letters, for grading my papers and tests, and for telling me off when I behaved foolishly. Thank you for helping change my mind about drugs. Thank you for challenging me and inspiring me and exhorting me, for being one of my best and most faithful teachers.

Thanks Mrs. Cloutier, for your inspiring hard work and gentle mentorship, for those co-op classes and letters of recommendation, for your rebukes and forgiveness and constant encouragement, for being faithful and such a testament to the goodness and power of our God.

Thanks Mr. Bob, for teaching me how to paint, and Mrs. Ford, for opening your home to me so many times, for letting me interview you, for sharing with me your spiritual insights, for speaking into my life, and for giving me hope for the future in God's power.

Thanks Mrs. Bankston, for tolerating my over-achieving and my hopeless slacking, for encouraging my love for good books, for being a tireless and enthusiastic teacher, for writing that recommendation letter, for being so understanding and for laughing along with me, and at me, too.

Thanks Laurie, for showing me that kind of person I want to be, for giving me a love for questions and community, for being a servant leader, for babysitting me and teaching me piano, for all the times you've taken me out for coffee, for letting me interview you, and for having me hang out with your amazing dog.

Thanks Mrs. Mullaney, for your emails and comments of encouragement, for even reading my blog, for your easy laugh and wonderful family, and for your fresh perspective on what it means to live and to live wisely.

Thanks Mrs. Rock, for your endless words of encouragement, for your exhortation that always comes at just the right moment, for your bountiful hospitality and wonderful family, for reminding me to smile, and to let go and receive peace.

Thanks Mr. Charini, for saying hi to me every single Sunday, for caring about people, all people, and for showing me what faithfulness looks like. For asking me how I am, and for listening with such encouragement and a ready smile.

Thanks Mr. Herb, for our conversations about God and politics and life, for treating my sisters and I like your kids, for teaching us everything you know, for being a skilled coach, for helping me find a car, and for putting up with my endless excuses and absences. [You'd make a good "Christian".]

Thanks Mrs. Morrison, Mr. Silva, Mrs. Visser, Mrs. Wolfe, Mrs. Hunt, Donel, Lynne, Rhonda, Rick, the Masons, Pastor Dave, Mr. Gould, Emily. Thanks to Auntie Becky, Memere and Pappy, and Grandpa. Thanks to the Starks and the Weiners and the Fasts and the Arsenaults and the Morans and the Fords and the Bettises and the Wrights and the Rileys and the Moscarellis and the Palombos and the Essers. Thanks for the card, Mr. and Mrs. Cabral, that was some good advice.

It freaks me out when I think of all the people who have invested me, even perhaps unwittingly, and isn't that even the most mind-boggling of all, that these people are so faithful to Jesus that they are an example even when they didn't know I was watching. I feel very overwhelmed by the responsibility of it all, "to whom much is given, much will be required." But mostly I am very grateful, with the kind of gratitude that makes me blush and bite my lip as I write this, that you cared. Thank you. Thank you, thank you.


I love my mom and dad. I'll always think they're the best.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I have decreased my carbon footprint by 44 lbs

And now it's time for the part of the show where Hayley advertises something you ought to try.

It's called Swaptree. Have you heard of it?

See, normally I don't like to part with my books. But sometimes I need to make room on my bookshelf. Basically, I was able to get rid of A) my Twilight books, B) two awful adult fiction books, and C) any other lame miscellaneous books in good condition we have floating around. I mean, I was planning on just giving them away, but getting a book in return is so much better.

I've received Cry, the Beloved Country, And Then There Were None, "Henry IV", and A Separate Peace. I also got Eat, Pray, Love in a swap and after finishing it have been subsequently been able to trade it off as well.

It's magical how simple it is. You print the label and stick the book in the mail and get a book back.

So, try it.

Also, you should friend me. Sheepishsmirk.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Are you one of them?"

Can I love John Wayne Gacy? Can I love Michael Ross? Can I love the proprietors of those countless dark buildings?

Can I cry not just for their victims but also for their bondage? Can I pray for their souls? Can I believe they ought to have a second chance?

Forgive, forgive, forgive.

How can we stand to live before You, abominations in Your sight?

This world is grease and grime and ash and muck. And I can hardly stand the filth I'm a part of.

God, have mercy.

We miss you, Jesus, we just want you to return. We are lovesick, Jesus. We want you to come home. The Spirit and the Bride say come . . .

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Say what you need to say."


I have to get up early tomorrow. Like I have been for the past two weeks. How is this happening? I'm not babysitting anymore. It's not tournament season. Why the early rising?!

No really, I love it.

But anyway. I have to get up early tomorrow. And so I am scolding myself for indulging in that forty-five minute Hulu sidetrack when I should have gone straight to bed, and I'm wrestling with my, what Malcolm Gladwell would say is a problem with my ventromedial prefrontal cortex, in deciding to haul my limp body off the couch and upstairs into bed.

But not without first casting a line into the universe. Hello, hello.

I've existed in my own little world for a week, a world of VBS and piggyback rides and chores and cupcakes. And before that, a world of "staycations" and visitors and bike rides and museums. I am glad to be occupied. But I can't help but reel with the slightest bit of vertigo. Where am I standing? I thought it was right here!

So, speaking of Blink, did you know some director dude is making it into a Leonardo Dicaprio movie? I think this is a very bad idea. Also, way to steal Lie to Me's gimmick! Blink is an intriguing book, not bad for nonfiction. I'm not saying to go read it, but I am saying that if you do chance to read it, it probably won't bore you.

Oh, I want to work in a book store. I know, retail is a miserable thing to work in, I've heard the horror stories, but there's just something about showing someone around a bookstore . . . !

I apologize for this insubstantial one-way communication.

Never mind.

Psst. Jeremiah is awesome!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spiritual Anorexia

I remember when I was 13 and Mary-Kate Olsen was on the cover of People magazine over her anorexia. She was so gaunt, and I was very baffled, because while I understood hating the lumps and bumps of squishy fat, and that persistent desire for a different shape and a different pant size, I didn't understand the strength of resolve, the unbending willpower that takes any person to that point. It's difficult for me to identify with a self-discipline strong enough to go against instincts of self-preservation.

I suppose that's why anorexia is classified as a mental illness, a disorder that has more to do with control and self-perception than nutrition and dieting. On the one hand, that kind of intense commitment and willpower is inspiring. And on the other hand, we are so often a slave to our stubbornness.

Why would we cut ourselves off from the food that gives us life? [And here I say "we" but I really mean "they" or maybe, "me".] A thought spins slowly in the backs of our minds, that perhaps our resolve is self-destructive, but by then the self-determination is too intoxicating and deviation is failure.

With this in mind, here is my confession, my tripping efforts towards James 5:16.

I haven't been doing my devotions. I don't know why. I've had ample time. I was in the habit of doing them, too, but I just sort of stopped. No reason. My Bible sits right next to my bed every night, and I glance at it, and think, "I need to do devotions," while my heart scoffs at my brain, knowing intuitively that I will do no such thing. And each night, before I snap shut my computer, I pull up and drink in the verse of the day, sneaking in little slivers of the living word to sustain me until I actually start daily devotions again. Like a girl with an eating disorder swallowing vitamin supplements to keep her health afloat.

Scripture is not a painkiller or a sedative. I hate treating it like one, my small daily dose so I can fall asleep each night, my chalky and lifeless substitute for real nutrition. But I'd rather take its comfort in spite of my hypocrisy than spiritually starve to death. As though there should ever be such an ultimatum . . .

I am a little girl behaving badly to win attention from a Father who never stopped guiding me. I've been making myself sick to my stomach over my own stubbornness because submission has been too difficult to me, as if giving in is weakness and the strength of my resolve is more important than life. My perspective has become warped so I couldn't even see the true reflection of my health in the mirror, and I became enslaved to a mindset I couldn't break away from on my own.

And what is the slave's prayer? . . . Jesus, set me free.

We starve ourselves so often. We say, I don't need people. And we starve. We say, I can't be forgiven. And we starve. We say, I'm doing just fine. And we starve. Sometimes our resolve is so strong we don't even notice the hunger pangs. We are stubborn and possessive of our sin, finding a sick comfort in taking account of our mistakes and insisting that gauntness is what we want, or at least, what we deserve. Our perspective distorts reality so that we don't recognize the truth when we see it.

And then He intervenes. For we cannot live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God.

Tonight, Jeremiah 1.

Thank you for praying for me.

We are hungry, we are hungry for more of You.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It was all left left right left right

Today, Sarah said,

"It bothers me that you don't always follow the driving rules. But I think that's because I'm a J. Because you're a safe driver. I never feel nervous driving with you."

This is partly only a comparative compliment, because our mom drives kind of, crazy. I'm not trying to slander her, it's just a fact. Sometimes she gets a little aggressive. I've picked up her bad habit of crabbing at the car in front of me. She's a safe driver, but sometimes I feel like I am in a movie car chase when she's behind the wheel. It's exciting. And somewhat frightening.

It meant a lot when Sarah said that, because she doesn't give idle compliments.

Though I'm not sure her trust is justified, because I must say I meet the stereotype of women drivers. I don't react well in high stress situations, unless I accidentally cut someone off or pull out in front of them, in which case I feel mildly guilty and am mostly oblivious. I hate that I perpetrate the stereotype, but I can't help it.

I've been really distressed to discover the inherent limitations of my gender. My nutrition book is explaining the metabolic differences between men and women, and I just think it's so unfair that guys have more natural upper-body strength. Even if he doesn't lift anything heavier than a remote control on a regular basis, a guy will still have greater muscle mass in his arms than most girls. Unless you're like, Jillian.

It doesn't make sense. Because if the woman's biological function is the care of children, why do we not have the upper body strength to hold them? Babies are heavy, yo! I'm just saying.

It's also unfair, because this means that with higher gross muscle mass men have a higher caloric intake requirement. Which means they get to eat more to service their inherent muscle. Lame. What do women get? Higher risk of osteoporosis and anemia!

Not that my nutrition book is sexist or anything, only factual. In other news, nutrition is pretty interesting. That's all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I won't indulge an emo & angsty teen rant.

I hate the heartache, the seemingly unjustified hurt.

But I'll take it. Because if I felt good all the time, then I would never grow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I've been thinking about so many things lately! Vegetarianism, and psychopathy, and evangelism, and missions, and languages, and music, and the Holy Spirit, and the church, and how awesome Inception is . . . [honorable mentions for How to Train Your Dragon and the Psych premire, which didn't get their deserved recognition from me due to falling in Inception's shadow.]

This past week I was weaned from my computer, if only marginally. I think I cut my average time on the computer in half. Which meant decreased chat socialization, but also less time spent inhaling episode after episode of any inane television show. I don't know, for the first time in a long time I've found the internet to be boring. And I feel intellectually healthier. Hopefully I can keep this streak going?

It was a good past week. Hang time with friends, driving around in the dark, weeding with a vengeance, organizing and throwing things out and tidying, reminiscing, wonderful conversations, swimming in pools! I still hate summer, but, it does have its advantages.

Hard work feels so good. Physically it feels terrible. I couldn't walk properly for two days. But emotionally I was in dire need of some hard work. There's hope for my character, if only marginal hope.

You know that comic strip Foxtrot? I miss it. I was never a huge comic person, but I really liked that one.

The car search rages on, and I feel keenly my inadequacy in this area. I'm itching to buy a book called "Auto Mechanics for Dummies" or "How to Fix Your Car" or anything that will decrease my ignorance as to what goes on under the hood. ["This Boy" just came up on party shuffle. I'm amused. I do, I want a car.] Mostly I am distressed that the whole car purchasing process is so complicated, partly because I feel as though it doesn't have to be complicated, I just make it so, like I do with most things.

My iPod earbuds are falling apart a year after purchase. My old ones had been going three years strong until I "lost" them, and so I want to know, why was Apple's earbud design change for the worse?

I ate a veggie burger for supper in preparation for some Year of Questions video research, and it was kind of, um, stereotypically mushy and gross. Either, there is no end to my hypocrisy in this area, or, if one must make veggie burgers they ought not be of the frozen variety.

I looked through my box of random paper memories yesterday and felt decidedly unsentimental when I realized that half the scraps and booklets help no emotional value and were only random things I thought I ought to save but could no longer remember why.

I am optimistic today, trying to remind myself that this is what contentment feels like.