Broken-down Poetry: March 2010


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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Creative Writing: Head vs. Heart

I wrote this over Christmas break.

I like imagining what my head and heart talk about - they're always disagreeing. This is the manifestation of that. Enjoy.

P.S. Well, just don't read too much into it. Just ... enjoy.

My head and my heart are always at odds with each other. Head is pragmatic, reasonable and is always making those ridiculous pro-con lists. Heart is passionate, stubborn and can convince Head of nearly anything. Today they’re in a full-out death match. (Head can be so brutal!)

HEAD: Heart, it’s time you get over this boy. He doesn’t like you anyway. Remember that movie? Let me spell it out for you: he’s just not that into you!

HEART: Gah, shut up, will you? Can’t a girl dream? He did act like he liked us in the beginning - hullo?! You were there. You’re the one who had to convince me that he liked us. I was the one who kept telling you that “oh, he probably treats all his friends like this,” or “he just likes our company.” You had to be so adamant about it!

HEAD: Well, he did seem to like us at first.

HEART: So he lost interest? Great. That makes me feel awesome.

HEAD: Hey, I don’t know. Boys can be weird. And gosh, haven’t you ever lost interest in a guy?

HEART: Well, yeah, but I usually have some good reason to. ... You don’t think he stopped liking us because of something I did, do you?

HEAD: You can be a little over the top.

HEART: But so can you, Miss Let’s-Analyze-Everything!

HEAD: I’m just doing my job, Heart. If no one analyzed the situation you’d still be caught up with your last crush ... the engaged guy? Remember him?

HEART: Hey, you promised to let that go. I wasn’t myself. I was too busy marking off your stupid checklist.

HEAD: That’s a perfectly good checklist!

HEART: It’s a stupid checklist. It is supposed to tell me what we want in a husband. Really? When did you make that list, anyway?

HEAD: Uh, five years ago.

HEART: Exactly, we were fifteen years old and you thought you’d know what we’d want in a husband. Guess what? THAT ENGAGED GUY WAS NOT OUR TYPE!

HEAD: Geesh, calm down! It was one simple mistake.

HEART: One mistake? What about TallGuy and ObamaFan and WorshipLeader? They fit your little checklist.

HEAD: Hey, don’t blame me for all of those crushes. You’re the one who fell for them.

HEART: Yeah, but not because I thought they were hot or romantic or whatever - the things hearts usually fall for. No, it was because they fit your stupid standards. Stupid you with your stupid, stupid standards!

HEAD: Stop calling me stupid! That’s very offensive.

HEART: Sorry, Head. You’re just upsetting me.

HEAD: Why, Heart? He’s just like every other crush.

HEART: But he’s not! He’s the one that didn’t fit your list, but is so perfect for us.

HEAD: How do you know without my list?

HEART: I just know. I mean, he is smart like you, and creative like me, and he sees beauty the way we do, and he is really clever and quirky, and he would fight for me - I know it!

HEAD: Is he cute?

HEART: You know he is. But that’s not even the half of it. He’s like someone you’d read about in a book and fall in love with. ... Maybe that’s why you’re so eager to get over him, because you think he’s just a storybook character.

HEAD: Maybe. ... He does seem to have that too-good-to-be-true quality about him.

HEART: And for once I didn’t make it up. He really is that amazing.

HEAD: He really is.


This isn’t helping anything. He’s not calling us and you are not over him yet.

HEART: So what are we going to do?

HEAD: For once, I don’t know.


I love that last line.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kashrut pt. II

Kashrut Update:

It's been 36 days of Lent (I'm counting weekdays too) and I am pork free. I haven't had a cheeseburger; I haven't had seafood; I haven't had sausage at Sunday brunch in Baldwin.

Basically, I'm doing amazingly well. I could do this forever, really. I'm far more disciplined than you Gentiles anyway.


Yeah, so this has run through my mind a lot: observing Kashrut has made me really proud of my Jewish heritage. But not the good kind of pride either. In the words of the Avett Bros.: "... [Like] the kind in the Bible that turns you bad."

I think discipline is good, but I'm worried that I'm forgetting the part of the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus talks about being humble when you fast and pray, by not making a big deal out of it. I like to make a big deal out of it. I mean, come on, I ate Kosher for Lent. How cool is that?

The other part of me kind of hopes I embrace this pride. Because on Easter Sunday, that pride has to go away. I will be able to eat pork and meat/dairy. My Gentile brothers won't be "less" than me anymore. I imagine that will be humbling.


Whichever it is, I have been craving Bdubs like crazy. Ugh, just to dip chicken in Ranch dressing. ...


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Repentance, forgiveness, etc.

Last Sunday at my church, Westminster Presbyterian, Pastor Justin preached about the Prodigal Son, one of my favorite parables of Jesus. (Cliché.) But Justin taught it in a new way, a way that made me really, really angry at first. (Foreshadowing.)

What if the prodigal son was not repentant?

This blog is dedicated to Nick, who buys me Starbucks before church every Sunday.


Last Tuesday Haley and I upset Prof. Perry (our favorite IWU professor, no matter how long it takes him to grade our exams). We were on Facebook during class, which he hates more than anything, and our conversations popped up on his news feed. 

Yes, that was a huge FAIL on our behalf. If we're going to break rules, we need to be better at breaking them. 

Anyway, I felt horrible about it - the good kind of horrible. The kind that brings me to repentance (II Cor. 7:10). Because though I've been on Facebook during this class before and Prof. Perry has known, I have never repented. I haven't really been sorry.

Side note: I've noticed that these last two posts seem very guilt-driven, and they're not really. I felt guilty about how I treated my former crush only because I hadn't done anything about it (that is, repent). I will feel guilty about disrespecting my favorite professor as long as I continue to peruse Facebook during his lectures.

So I won't anymore. Hear me, Prof. Perry, I will not be on Facebook during your class anymore. It's done. My laptop will stay in my dorm room, no matter how inconvenient it is. 


I hate disappointing people. If anything is going to bring me to repentance, it's that watery look in your eyes.


So what if the prodigal son was not sorry? What if he only came back to his father because he knew he had no other option? It's as if I'm not going on Facebook in Perry's class because he banned laptops. But I can still bring my laptop to his class. I can still be on Facebook and post rude comments about his class on his wall. (Argg.)

But I'm not. (This is beginning to sound self-righteous; I'm aware of that.)

Pastor Justin used Luke 15:17-19 to back up this theory:
"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.'"
Jesus says that the prodigal son "came to his senses," but that's not the same as saying the son knew he was in the wrong. Yeah, duh eating from a feeding trough wasn't "sensible." You don't have to think you're in the wrong to know that. The text doesn't come out and say that the son was sorry, just that he knew he didn't want to be poor and hungry and dirty anymore.

Pastor Justin said that the phrase "I have sinned against heaven and against you" was meant to remind the Pharisees of the last time that phrase was used, with Pharaoh during the exodus (Ex. 10:16). I agree that this is probably true because Jesus has done this before ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," Ps. 22). And honestly, Jesus likes shocking the Pharisees. He does it a lot.

But what's interesting is that Pharaoh told Aaron and Moses that he had sinned against God and them, but he still wasn't repentant. He was just trying to get out of trouble. He didn't want another plague, but he wasn't about to let the Israelites free.

And finally, if the son was really repentant, do you think he'd really care to be a hired hand? He still wanted paid, probably to go out and go crazy all over again. Get more gambling money. Replenish the supply, so to speak. If he was sorry - truly sorry - wouldn't he be okay with being an unpaid slave?

Of course we don't know any of this for sure. And it's a little frustrating to believe that this could possibly be true if you've heard it one way your whole life. But if it is true, what does that say about Grace?

It says that God forgives us - he runs to us, embraces us, pardons us - before we ask for forgiveness. Before we even feel the need to be forgiven.


What's scary about asking for forgiveness is that no one has to forgive you. Not everyone is as gracious as the prodigal's father. No one is God.

I hate disappointing people because they aren't obligated to forgive freely. Prof. Perry could hold a grudge against me. I could've affected our relationship by my disobedience.

So ... I guess that's where we come in. That's where Christians come in. Freely we have received, freely we give.

It's up to us to forgive freely,
to hold no grudges,
to love unconditionally.

It's hard. I know.


Title Track: Shall steal no more

This wasn’t something I wanted to write about. In fact, as I sit here, there’s still that urge inside of me to let it go. To just let it go. …
But I can’t.
See, everyone has those certain “taboo topics” of discussion that they avoid at all possible. For most people, it’s religion, politics or abortion. For me, it’s music piracy. People talk about it way too much; we’re beating a dead horse.
Last July, however, my very favorite band, Thrice, finished recording their most recent album, planning to release it in October. By late July the album was leaked over the Internet. This crisis caused Thrice to release an electronic version of their album on iTunes in early August with the hardcopy available in September.
This frustrates me for two reasons. One, you don’t mess with my Thrice. I don’t care who you think you are – you do not, under any circumstances, steal from Thrice. (Heh, excuse this outburst, please.)
Secondly, Thrice didn’t release their album in July for a reason – they weren’t done with it. By hacking and leaking, you are stopping the artist from perfecting his masterpiece. It’s as if you read my column before my editors had a chance. Piracy not only literally robs the artist of the money he deserves for his creation; it robs him of the respect his fans should give him.
With that being said:
How many of us have burned CDs, mixed tracks or whole albums?
How many of us have filled flash drives with mp3s to share with our friends?
And how many of us “borrow” music from the library by renting CDs and downloading them to iTunes?
My friend Jacque is so adamantly opposed to any level of music sharing that she won’t even listen to a mixed CD.
My friend Todd got locked out of Huntington University’s Internet server for having downloaded too many albums, movies, TV series and computer games.
I want so desperately to find a happy medium where not only my wallet is full, but my conscience is clear as well. So I turn to the apostle Paul.
He’s the guy who said that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” I like this verse because it lets me justify bad behavior. As long as it doesn’t “master” me, all’s well.
But Paul is also the guy who said that “he who steals shall steal no longer.” So should the question become whether or not file-sharing is considered stealing? Or, to what extent does it become stealing?
I find myself wrestling with this a lot – what are we to do about the grey areas in the Bible? If something isn’t banned in the Ten Commandments or warned against by Jesus, Peter or Paul, does that make it permissible? Is it OK to cuss? Is it OK to watch R-rated movies (after IWU graduation, of course)?
And at the same time, is such behavior acting out of rebellion or as a way to connect with our unsaved brothers and sisters?
I assume this column will end with more questions than it started with. Because part of me knows that if music burning is really stealing, than I am guilty. But as a fallen human being, I so desire to find a loophole in the system, to find a way to justify my sinful nature.
For those of you who stay away from torrents and CD burners, I commend you. Honestly, I wish I could think more of the musician’s loss of money rather than how much money I’m saving. In time, I hope, I’ll get to that place.

The post was originally printed in Indiana Wesleyan University's The Sojourn newspaper.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Repent and be baptized

Over spring break I thought about what God's been teaching me. I immediately thought of forgiveness, how he's showing me that true forgiveness demands repentance. But then I remembered how I've been doubting basically every belief, and he's been teaching me the importance of faith. And then I thought about how everything is dying, and how I have to let it die, and be transformed ... redemption. And Grace? The hug? This should sound vaguely familiar: my blog series.

Ah yes, my blog series. Remember how I said that these four guys (forgiveness, faith, redemption and Grace) would be BFF? Well, they've been sticking together these past few months indeed.

This blog is about forgiveness.


This is what I know about forgiveness: you cannot truly ask for forgiveness unless you've repented. It's kind of the definition of forgiveness. It's insincere unless you mean you will never do that again.

A few blog posts ago I wrote about how I handled a rejection horribly, and how I began blaming him, my former crush, instead of taking a few big breaths and moving on.

This blog is about him.

Back story. Whenever I feel the need to get over a crush (when it's going no where or I am flat-out rejected), I react in two ways: I either never get over him or I demonize him. I decided to demonize this poor guy.

I wrote several angry pieces about him (blogs, essays, etc.). I got my posse of girlfriends to hate him too. It's all very teenagery of me, very "Mean Girls."

Anyway, I started feeling guilty - obviously - because that's no way to treat another child of God. So I sent him a text, invited him to coffee, and planned my apology. (When I say planned, I don't mean I wrote a script - I should've written a script. In hindsight, writing a script would have made this go smoother.)

Let's stop right there. Have you ever apologized to someone? I mean really apologized to them. I don't mean sending an email. I don't mean saying sorry for hitting their car or forgetting their birthday. I mean, sitting someone down, admitting a fault and begging for forgiveness.

Let me tell you: it's hard. I don't think I've ever done it before. Oh, I've needed to - several times - but I've never done it. Yesterday I realized why: it's messy. It's really, really messy.

I thought it'd be more like the movies. I'd say, "I'm sorry for treating you like crap, even though you may not have noticed it. Please forgive me." Then he'd give me a sad little smile and say, "Aw, of course I forgive you." Then we'd hug and part ways. Friends again!

Yeah, no. That doesn't really happen. He kept asking questions. It was more like this:

Me: I'm sorry for treating you like crap, even though you may not have noticed it.
Him: How have you treated me like crap?
Me: Uh, I've written ... things.
Him: What things?
Me: I dunno. Essays. I got my Prose class to hate you.
Him: Well, how? What'd your essay say?

Stop, stop, stop! Lots of awkward silences followed. He did, finally, forgive me. And we're friends again. But it wasn't as picture-perfect as I had hoped. And I didn't feel like sunshine and rainbows afterward either.

On the phone:

Jacque: How'd it go?
Me: Alright. I don't feel any better.
Jacque: Oh yeah?
Me: I was afraid this would happen.
Jacque: Are you glad you did it, though?
Me: Yeah ...

I am. It restored a relationship. But it sucked. And even now, twenty-four hours later, I still replay my silly responses in my head. But I think that's okay. I don't feel the urge to call him a dirty bastard! under my breath anymore. (Which is good because he's not a dirty bastard at all. Not even a little bit.)


Walking to my car before the aforementioned apology, I recited in my head my goals for the evening. I wasn't going to write a script, but I did have expectations for the night:

1. Apologize (i.e. not chicken out)
2. Reconcile our relationship

I recited that in my head as so: a-pah-lo-gize-n-re-con-cile (imagine it sing-songy). Then it turned into: a-pah-lo-gize-n-re-con-cile-ev-ery-one-of-you. Then it turned into Acts 2:38: "Repent and be baptized ev-ery-one-of-you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins."

Then I started thinking: What was it that I wanted to accomplish this evening? Wasn't it the same goal as Peter's? To repent (to ask this boy for forgiveness)? To be baptized (to give our friendship a rebirth)?

I think ... I think it's the same thing.

Maybe I wasn't sitting across from this boy. Maybe I was sitting across from Jesus.

Me: Jesus, I'm sorry for being so judgmental.
Jesus: How have you been judgmental?
Me: Uh, I've just thought things about people without knowing them.
Jesus: Like how? [stares at me with his pretty green eyes]
Me: [looks down at her arms, her tea, looks over to the other table, up at the ceiling]
Jesus: Well?
Me: Um. I've ... called people names in my head ... I've ... 
Jesus: What names?
Me: Um. Dirty bastards.
Jesus: Hmm.
Me: I'm sorry!
Jesus: [pause] So what now?
Me: I don't know.
Jesus: Laur-en.
Me: I want to be your friend again. I want you to be my Liberator.
Jesus: Okay then. We will be; I will be.
Me: I'll make it up to you ...
Jesus: It's okay, girl. We're cool.
Me: ... Good.
Jesus: [sad smile]
Me: [sad smile]


Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Little Red Hen, retold

Once upon a time there was a Little Red Hen that was a communication major at a small private university in central Indiana.

The Little Red Hen lived among other farm animals and worked with them too. One day the farmer assigned the Little Red Hen and several other animals the task of baking bread. She went to work.

"Who will help me plant the wheat?" asked the Little Red Hen.

"Not I," said the pig. "I have too much homework."

"Not I," said the cat. "I forget how."

"Not I," said the dog. "I'm not very good at that."

"Then I will plant the wheat myself," said the Little Red Hen, and she did! She dug up the earth with her claws, planted seeds and buried them in dirt. The wheat started to grow.

"Who will help me water the wheat?" asked the Little Red Hen.

"Not I," said the pig. "I have something else due that day."

"Not I," said the cat. "My schedule's really tight."

The dog never checked his email.

"Then I will water the wheat myself," said the Little Red Hen, and she did! She carried the bucket between her beak all the way from the well up the hill to her garden. She poured the water on her own. The wheat began to grow, and it was time to harvest it.

"Who will help me harvest the wheat?" asked the Little Red Hen.

"Not I," said the pig. "Uh, sorry."

"Not I," said the cat. "Wish I could."

"Not I," said the dog. "Whoops."

"Then I will harvest the wheat myself," said the Little Red Hen, and she did! She carried her machete from the barn all the way up to the garden. She used her beak to thrash the machete against the wheat. She carried it to her kitchen. There the Little Red Hen threshed the wheat all on her own, not asking for help, knowing she wouldn't get any.

"Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the Little Red Hen, one more time.

"Not I," said the pig.

"Not I," said the cat.

"Not I," said the dog.

"Then I'll bake the bread myself," said the Little Red Hen, and she did! She scooped out flour; scooped out yeast; poured water; poured milk; stirred it all together. She popped it in the oven with her feathered hands and watched it bake. Mmm! And it smelled delicious!

The pig, the cat and the dog came in to admire the Little Red Hen's work. Their mouths gaped open in awe.

"Who will help me eat the bread?" asked the Little Red Hen.

"I will!" said the pig.

"I will!" said the cat.

"I will!" said the dog.

The Little Red Hen put her wings to her hips and replied: "You did not help me plant the wheat. You did not help me water the wheat. You did not help me thresh it or bake it into bread either. And now, I will eat the bread myself!" And she would have ...

... Except, just then, the farmer came in, admired the bread, patted the pig, cat, dog and the Little Red Hen on the back and gave them each an equal slice.

"Good job," said the farmer. "A's for everyone!"

The End.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: I hate group projects.