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 . . .