Best Of... hardboiled integrity

The Best of Hardboiled Integrity.... as chosen by yours truly, or even you, the reader, if you let me know what you like.

from the window of 616 n manhattan ave. - September 6, 2008
I feel like I should dress up for you, but nothing I put on looks presentable. It's one of those days -- where no amount of make-up can possibly transform me into one of those breath-taking girls you admire on page 32 of your Hollywood fashion magazine. My jeans are too tight and a little damp. My impatience pulled them seven minutes prematurely from the dryer. I find my Chapstick in the pocket. Slightly melted, but not completely destroyed. Recoverable. All my shirts hang like drapes over my shoulders...two sizes too wide and two sizes too short. I blame the shape on the manufacturer. I pulled my hair back because it was easiest. The back is still in its awkward stage, a medium length that can't be persuaded to hit my neck and flip under, or flip out for that matter. It lays to the left, mostly. So there I am. Flawed and imperfect, unable to draw 'strikingly beautiful' from the mirror. I opt for sneakers and cover up with my gray hooded jacket. It's Saturday and rainy. Take me as I am.

I start walking, and I change my mind. I turn around and take the car. Half a tank of gas. There's some freedom in that; I can take off and keep going if I so aspire. The sky is full of rain. The parking lot is full, but I pull in just as someone is leaving. They are slow about it, the maroon paint of their rectangle station wagon offset by the blanch white bumper stickers that are too faded to read. Maybe they've lost their passion somewhere between mile marker 230 and Highway 96. Maybe they just don't care.

I slip in and wave to the familiar faces, mouthing "hey" and slipping up the corner of my mouth in a half-smile, not wanting to draw any attention from the strangers and too exhausted for any larger display of joy. Another night with my blankets spread out on the floor because sleep comes inconsistently, and even then only after the pills kick in. My eyes pretend to study the menu, even though I've decided 20 minutes ago what I'm ordering. Pomegranate Italian Soda, for here. I take a spot next to the window. Tomorrow's deadline is impossible to ignore and I'll write for the sake of writing. Alli Rogers strumming away over my headphones. Occasionally interrupted by Schuyler Fisk, and I welcome it. It relaxes me, but my heart's not in this. Uninspired language for the last time.

 

Look UP - August 21, 2008
I forget to look up.

The beeping cars and buzzing insects distract me. My thoughts wander into other states, like Nebraska and Vermont and Pennsylvania. Then I feel a soft breeze and a burst of sunshine pushes through a clouded sky.
You remind me to look up.

I'm running the race and my ankles are sore, my feet are blistered, and my heart is numb. I'm staring at the track just 8" past my toes. I don't see it coming. The obstacle in the road. I hit it at a steady pace and it hurts. I'm flat on my back, staring into space.
You remind me to look up.

Some afternoons I sit and watch people walking by. I have no idea where they are going. But why don't I care? A mother grasps the sticky hand of her five year old. She lets go of her balloon -- one of those big red ones they give you at Applebee's -- and it rises into oblivion. I watch it until it is nothing but a black dot.
It disappears, but there You are.

You remind me to look up.

 

So in Love - July 18, 2008
Five of us rest in a four-door car. All day we've stood, numb, in long lines, mindlessly watching people. Finally reaching our goal, zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds - screaming and squealing, defying gravity and for one of us, momentarily losing all vision - and it's all over in a minute and a half. Now we're cruising at 72, riding parallel to the setting sun. The sky is washed over with brilliant shades of pink, orange, yellow. The gentle lull of rubber turning over pavement nearly sings me a lullaby, but the steady beat of a familiar song creeps over the speakers. We're each looking out our own windows singing proudly along, "What would people think if they knew that I'm a Jesus Freak? What would people do if they find out it's true?" It gets me thinking but the songs provides the thought, "I don't really care if they label me a 'Jesus Freak'; there ain't no disguising the truth."

I've heard this song numerous times before. Enough, in fact, that I know all the words. But never before have I really meant it. Never before have I felt confident enough in myself because of my identity in Christ to declare that I don't care if people think I'm crazy because I'm living for Jesus. If I love Jesus that much, I should want others to know it.

How do I even begin to summarize the ways in which the Lord has been working in my life this summer? Are there words for such a transformation? The deepest part of my soul has been moved. Can letters be arranged in such a way to communicate the intimacy I feel when I look to my Creator? Or the peace that washes over me like the waves sliding up over the shore when I finally understand who is in control? The truths and concepts are still waiting to be filed away into my mind. They are black ink pressed against the firm pages of my journals, hidden safely for a future review.

The midday summer rain falls with such fervor that I am lost between the cotton sheets of my bed. The day's cares float away and I am no longer consumed by uncertainty. There is something about sleep that has transformed it from a time to recharge to a time to rest in the arms of the One who created me. Evidence of a weary heart has pocked the page of his Word on which Psalm 143 is written.

I am consistently in awe that my big God would even know my name - but he knows everything about me. "O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?" (Psalm 144:3). "The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made." (Psalm 145:8-9). I am so in love with my God. My Redeemer, my Creator, My Savior. So in love.

 

remind me, love - May 19, 2008
Amid the insane schedule of a typical college girl, friends show up. Girls dare to invest their time and she finds a way to escape an evening of studying and writing papers. An old friend stops by and drops off a check for $50 for her summer trip. Selfless love. Goodbyes aren't always goodbyes forever and in that last night she snuggles close to the stars. Love radiates from her friend, who drapes her arm over her, and she finds a still small voice to whisper, "You're beautiful." The reply: "So are you." And it's special, not because she finds her satisfaction in the words of her new companion, but because she believes them. When invisible rain pours over a lonely heart, God finds a way to draw attention to His presence. The King of Kings delights in his princess. As His daughter, she is beautiful. Sometimes she just needs to be reminded.

 

what wonder - May 5, 2008
What wonder lies in the beauty of things unseen or things never before realized. Every morning I wake to a pot of purple pansies: proud faces blooming brightly -- a certain sign of grace. I am daily reminded of my Father's promises. What reasons have I to fear? Has a bird ever died of starvation? The Lord takes care of even the smallest sparrow. And how much more valuable am I! The Creator opens my eyes to the wonders of his hands. Every morning I wake to my sister with dark curly hair, and every time I see her I want to whisper, "You're so beautiful." The Lord radiates his love through his children, and in the green grass, the tender breeze, and the sparkling eyes of my sisters, I find hope. For the Lord my God created such wonders, that I may look upon them and give Him praise. The Lord of the universe knows my every thought, my every need, and my every desire. What wonder. What mystery. What love.

 

Not My Home - May 1, 2008
Perhaps the very grief that grips our hearts when we find ourselves most lonely or broken, that squeezes until the tears slide silently across dark lashes and hit the cool pillowcase, is not caused by lack of human interaction or personal achievement. If nothing in this world can truly satisfy, why do I continually seek such things? My strength and efforts search to fill hollow longings with quiet conversations and a sense of belonging (wait, I am just passing through), peering beneath old letters and weekly to-do lists. Nothing. Like decorous paper pinned loosely with Scotch tape around an empty cardboard box. It is such a pretty box, but like I've always been told: do not be fooled by the curly ribbons or sparkling glitter. It's what's inside that counts.

 

Healing Breeze - April 21, 2008
The cool spring air dances in through my open window on the bright morning sunbeams, accompanied by a duet of buzzing lawnmowers and chirping red-breasted robins. I lie in bed with my face toward the fresh breeze, closing my eyes and allowing my cheeks to soak it in. I breathe deeply, relaxed. The early air is a fresh glass of life and healing, and I gulp it greedily. Time stands still and I wish away my chiming alarm that rouses me from such glorious rest. I want to capture this atmosphere in a clear canning jar and close the lid tightly, saving it for a too-warm, dreary, rainy day; to open it up, releasing spring life, healing. I want to enjoy it with my friends like a child again: laughing and dreaming in each other's arms where nothing matters but joy and love, friends and sunshine, until daylight fades into the ground. We dance before an orchestra of sparkling stars against the blackest firmament.

 

Joy In Rain - April 9, 2008
Laughing at dinner with Moore 9.

Pulling off an anonymous free gift giving and seeing wonderful results.

Nice guys. And well, nice people in general.

Random strangers saying hello.

Savoring time with Jesus.

Finding a birthday card that makes me laugh out loud and mailing it. . . to my mom.

Finding courage to contribute to class discussion.

Quality music.

Reduced reading assignments.

People asking for my phone number

because they want to hang out and see "my beautiful face."

Getting ahead on homework.

Two cups of warm chai latte.

Being believed in.

Compassion and

Love.

Hope.