message in a bottle

Much like its better known cousin, the Moral Compass (MC), there is a Subconscious Wisdom (SW) inside us humans that helps to pull us back on course when we’ve derailed ourselves, or to tug at our attention with mystery tears to mourn the consequences of a *wrong* decision.

Easy to confuse, these two, but they operate in totally different frameworks. The MC is employed in the simpler plane of This World — splicing the rights and the wrongs that most everyone can agree on. To lie or not to lie. To hurt or to protect. The SW, however, moves in the gray spaces between two realms — originating from a world that has broken, Fallen, but still, deeply rooted in us — poking out in green tendrils in its effort to crack through the layered cement peripheries. Creating rubble in its wake, when it breaks.

You see the SW at work when you’re a Christian who can’t quite get behind either political option regarding the hot topic issues of the day — how do we legislate an issue like gay marriage or abortion? When the Bible says a life is a life is a life but society doesn’t provide a viable option for carrying that life to term and being a productive, fully equipped single mom. When the evangelical church points to the examples of Sodom and Gomorrah but you know about love and it doesn’t seem like a decision you should be making on behalf of anyone else, to deny or to allow.

You see the SW at work when a child of divorce spends years self-explaining, justifying, his absentee father’s absenteeism — “This is normal. This is what having a dad is like. This is my dad.” — but inexplicably cries at his elementary school presentation on family. When there’s an innate awareness of brokenness, no matter how you’ve sliced it, diced it, logicked and justified it.

This SW was a tool placed at the core of us, meant to be applied to the workings of an unbroken world. In that original place, we would have been able to listen to its wisdom to make the truly *right* choices — no unintended casualties along the way. But displaced from the garden and forced to operate in this new, bleaker place, this guiding light refracts all funny, too. Broken shafts of light in a broken cathedral.

It’s easy to manipulate this idea: at any twinge of discomfort with a decision, to blame it on the broken world and the impossibility of avoiding casualties with the choices you make. Setting up vigilant systems of logic so you don’t actually have to make any hard choices, but just apply a problem to your problem-solving algorithm — lowest-common-denominator solutions. Least-casualty output. Or, paralyzed by fear, to run away from decisions of any kind (which, of course, isn’t actually an option).

But even in this imperfection, there’s something to be said about this wisdom of ours. Light, refracted or not, illuminates. The work that’s left to us is the peering carefully in the semi-darkness. The wading through the gray. But to listen to that twinge provided by the SW. To be still, to be quiet, when that ancient voice will have you pause and consider the decision before you (or maybe already behind you).

All this to say, there’s quite a bit to look forward to in that heaven place. For light to meet light, glorious and unfettered by brokeny cement walls.


Christians, Christians assert, are inherently not fully Christian unless they live in community among other believers. It is the practice of being in community that leads us to fully be (and become) who we are (and who we’re meant to be). We’re part of a single body, with varied capacities but a unified purpose. So it makes sense that you belong with other members of that body. Hands, feet, etc.

Widen the scope and it still works: Humans, too, become ever more human by the practice of being in community with other humans. A human in isolation has little hope of fully developing — we need to talk to, look at, study, love, be loved by each other to learn more of ourselves, in turn. The others are our mirrors and windows, shifting at different angles; they show us bits and shadows and sometimes, full-on reflections of who we are, who we would like to be, what we would like to avoid becoming.

And despite all the aforementioned glass metaphoring, our greatest moments of revelation lie in collisions against other humans (and the stormy circumstances of life-in-general that brew said collisions) that sometimes slice right through and reveal the pinky soft flesh of what we’re really made of, just beneath the manicured lawn of all our pretty surfaces.

And if the being among others — at work, in traffic, at home, and in the church — is an essential part of practicing the art of humanness, each day holds that much more meaning, promise. Each day is another day for practice toward becoming more and more refined as a human person. One more opportunity to collect against your 10,000 hours toward master human-ship.

I’m gonna try my best to go to work tomorrow morning with this in mind. That I’m going out into the world to practice my being among people, and to try my darnedest to do good job at this being (a good) human thing. That I won’t fear colliding into people and things but rather embrace those opportunities to learn a lil about myself, to peer into my pinky dermis and below, see what I’m made of, and grow from there. That it’s a gift to be appreciated and used well, not just squandered waiting for another Friday.

wedding dress shopping

Wedding dress shopping is a really interesting phenomenon. The experience of shopping for your Perfect Dress parallels a lot of what they say that your Perfect Romance is supposed to be like.

“Supposed to be” — key words that turn on alarm bells in my head, cause of this season I’m in, you know.

Are you supposed to have that THIS-IS-IT feeling that all the TV show brides-to-be talk about? Are you supposed to cry tears of joy? Are you supposed to ring that bell as you commit to your dress, hoot and holler and make everyone’s heads turn with your choice?

Are you supposed to be flooded with emotion? Are you looking for a tingle in your tummy? Will there be a light bulb moment over your disheveled little head?

I’m skeptical. As I have been, throughout this entire wedding planning process. Just questioning all the “supposed to do’s” and “supposed to be’s” because there are endless ways to spend your money on this single (admittedly, very special,) day.

This high-stakes decisionmaking based on a fleety feeling is also an interesting kind of logic, because, how the heck are you supposed to know what “perfect” feels like, if you’ve never found the perfect wedding dress before? How are you supposed to know what “bridal” feels like, if you’ve never been a bride before? How are you supposed to feel about hemlines and trains when you’ve never ever worn a dress for gettin’ married in before? I don’t have any personal context for any of these questions.

They’re all borrowed ideas, you know. Those ideas in your head of what you think you’re supposed to look and feel like. From TV shows and Pinterest boards and wedding blogs — they hail from all corners of the internet, in loud, ringing voices. But you’ve never actually been here before — it’s totally new territory — so it’s probably an okay thing that you feel awkward and a lil out of place in those expensive white dresses. As a first-time, usually mostly casual kind of gal, my bride-to-be-ness feels a little uncomfortable and discouraging in some of these dresses.

But I totally do get that tingly feeling sometimes while shopping — about the perfect pair of jeans, cuffed to just the right leg length, or a silky dress in mustard yellow. So the feeling itself is real, is attainable. I know that. It must be the context that’s throwing things off.

[Western] Weddings — and all things wedding related — are probably one of the most hyped up of human experiences. They hit that sweet spot of a marketing perfect storm, swirling somewhere between Specialness and Ubiquity — lots of people have them, but all with the hopes of only doing it once. With the exception of wedding planners, you’ll never get to practice enough times to get good at the thing, but there’s incredible pressure for you to present, sometimes to hundreds of guests, a Perfect event.

The only hope, really, is to remember yourself and to remember your main purpose (psst: it’s to get married and to have enough money left over so that you can live life after the wedding day too). And ask, once in a while, along the way:

Who are you, and how do you normally dress? Is that the way you want to present yourself at your wedding, as your normal-days self? Or are you looking for something different?

And, seriously, how do you LOOK in the dress? If ya look good and ya know it, you’ll feel it. (Clap your hands!) And that’s a virtuous cycle, if I’ve ever seen one.

And, of yeah — if you don’t know what it is that looks good on you, try on lots of different silhouettes, cause what your heart leaps at might surprise you. Those feelings are sneaky.

What the heck. What am I doing here. Shopping for wedding dresses. Blogging about the experience. Okay the blogging part, that feels right. Is it still you, ladisonmee?? When did you become a lady who shops for wedding dresses and has feelings about different kinds of white fabric? Life is a mystery.

Update, 3/4/17:

Found it.

Had the feeling.

Don’t care that I am a foolish girl; I’m excited for this dress.

Emotional support cred goes to RH on the journeys to and from Annapolis on this drizzly Saturday.

and props to mompops Lee, who dashed all the way up to nova to inspect my rash purchase and promptly took it home to Charlottesville to get second opinions on how to get the thing altered to fit me. I am well loved.


getting schooled: generosity, replacing tires, fear of everything

life’s been throwing me around like a bully, these days. lessons left and right. punch and sucker punch.

in response, as expected, I have been singing those songs of self-pity like it’s my job.

and then, life schools me again. about singing those dang songs.

after all the drama of home-searching, I came right back to the first little square I started from and will be MOVING SOON and subsequently, have been purging the apartment and the closet of things I’ve been holding onto in hopes of filling a home in a next lease. or maybe the one after.

basically, holding onto things that don’t have a place in my current life or even the next immediate one, maybe. who KNOWS where I’ll even be living in another year from now? who KNOWS what kinds of things I’ll need? it’s funny because these are the very questions that once caused me to scrounge and hold onto things — and now they’re my reason for letting gooo ~ !

so I’ve been selling off some of my wares — the odd lamp here and there, a bathroom cabinet I have not needed in over a year and a half, wall hangings that haven’t seen the light of day in who knows how long, a book that I got as a gift but literally never read, cause it’s a coffeetable book and who has time to read the coffeetable books in their own home? no one.

one item from my closet was a winter jacket, a nice jacket, warm and low-key, just the way I like my winter jackets. but I decided that it had to go, because it was redundant in my closet. so went it did. go it went? goes it goed? I sold it.

with MUCH SELLER’S REMORSE! right after it had been claimed from my posting, I stewpidly began researching the brand + type of jacket and seeing how much MORE other people were selling for and feeling much, much regret for my belated research. why? WHY brain, why? I don’t know.

this is how devious I am: I even tried to think of ways I could TAKE BACK MY POST and somehow sell it for more! but good old conscience kicked in (whew) and saved me from my id.

fast-forward to the day of the trade — Christine came over to my apartment, braving a 45-minute drive through the evening traffic, and as she was handing me the measly bits of cash for my precious second-hand coat, she said,

“Thank you! This is a great coat. My church does a coat drive every winter, so I always try to buy some to donate.”


lesson no. 1: you are a much, much greedier human than you ever even imagined. try to have some space in your heart for other people and stop scrounging for dollar bills. be generous with your heart and your stuff.


in another experience that held up a mirror to my ugliness…

leading up to the weekend trip to RVA was a lot of drama (hm. a theme?) concerning me and my badness at being a good sister and all that guilty jazz. seestre was being sad that I hadn’t been making an effort to come see the art show she was putting on that weekend, and I was feeling bad for having that be pointed out to me.

a couple of productive rants later, Markling gently — ever so gently — reveals that I communicate just the same way my sister had been doing, to me.

it was one of those *drop everything, including jaw* moments. full admission: “you are so. right.”


lesson no. 2: if you find yourself hating something a lot about someone else, go find yourself a character mirror because you might just be reacting to a trait in YOU. or, you may find that the other person has some valid reasons for the way they’re behaving — passes you give yourself all the time because you know your brain and your intentions, but no one else’s. pfft.

the third lesson is deeper and heavier and involves a deep and heavy conversation I had with Merk, about Children and Childrearing and Families and all the beauty and scariness of those things. the “beauty” contributed by Merk and the “fear” portion by me. ending with blubbery me crying about all the things that could go wrong with having a baby and trying to raise it to be an okay human being in this world. wow.

lesson no. 3: fear is a huge, but sneaky, driver of a lot of my life “decisions.” air quotes there because if fear is the motivator toward or away from something, are you even truly getting to decide? I’m not sure. 

and if these fears are so big and so overwhelming, to the point of refusing to let you dream some dreams and pursuing some pursuits… where’s your faith in God in all of this? do you really believe that He’s sovereign over your life and your comings and goings and even your elections? do you believe that He’s good? (and that’s even when things don’t go the way you think they should.) I dunno. I have to chew the cud on this one a bit more.

and most recently, and shallowly, lesson-wise:

after much consternation and lower-lip pouting, I took myself to a Costco to get that dang tire replaced. [don’t tell my dad; he doesn’t know yet] I nicked one of the tires on a mean old curb that was probably sticking out its leg, trying to trip me. and it was time to get that tire replaced, finally.

so I went. to Costco. because I figured it would be cheaper than going to the dealer!

…which it wasn’t.

+ I was stuck at Costco (which doesn’t sound too bad…)


and no one to rescue me, because it was a Monday afternoon when normal people are at work and otherwise far away.

I walked around slowly, which killed about one hour, then consoled myself with a Very Berry Sundae and stood in the book pile and read for another hour.

said pity Sundae + book pile

hour 2: I decided to go ask the desk lady if my car was ready yet. she said no. and then said “oh wait, yeah” — indeed it had been ready for a whole half hour. no one had contacted me, tho.

grateful, still, I went out to my car…to find that the WRONG TIRE HAD BEEN REPLACED. I was a little miffed, but not at the point of feeling SCHOOLED just yet. but when I walked over to the garage and no one knew how to help me, and then when I walked over to the desk lady and she didn’t know how to help me, I just wanted to cry, actually.

so I did.

loud, sobby, snot-running tears, right in front of the manager, who was bewildered and worried looking, as he very well should have been. tears of frustration, sure, and helplessness, but also very much tears of “I am cold and tired and sad for having wasted so much of my time here today.”

not that they were intentionally manipulative, but they sure got him to jump to action and get my original tire back on my car and get rid of that nicked one right away, the right way.

lesson no. 4: sometimes you cry for a lot more layers of reasons than your audience will know. and that’s okay. even useful, sometimes. that day was hard because of having run so many miles in the morning and having spent so much money and time on what seemed like a never-ending problem.

also, that custard in that Costco sundae was not as tasty as you remembered. so remember that next time.

I think the layering of all these lessons on my heart have been hard on me. less resilient and more prone to tears because my membrane had been worn thin already. the lessons get shallower and shallower and my heart gets fuller and fuller — to the point of bursting into tears, if you prod just a lil.

it’s okay though — reminds me I’m human, reminds me that I need to take breaks from running (literally and metaphorically), to rest my body and my mind and my soul and that sensitivity membrane so I can take more of those sucker punches that come, sadly but surely, along with those precious life lessons.

la di da

life and death

Sunday, 10 April 2016, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Pastor Greg Thompson

“The Purpose of Resurrection” 1 Cor. 15:20-28

  • the reign of death in this world is not natural. not as the world was designed to be
    • humans were made for life
    • sin corrupted the system
    • Jesus was raised to overturn this kingdom of continual death (decay, entropy)
  • Christ’s resurrection was the first action of the rest of our resurrection
    • what was accomplished by Jesus will be applied to you and to all things
  • the reign of life
    • the kingdom of life as God intended
    • do you know that God intends life for you, for your neighbors, for the world?
      • though, indeed, he does allow so much death to reign
    • the resurrection is hope to be applied to all things
  • all humans long to escape death; long, instead, for the spring of life
    • we long for goodness, beauty, hope
    • the resurrection tells us: “these longings are not in vain. you are not stupid for yearning for these things. what you long for is what you’re supposed to.”
      • so continue to cultivate these longings
      • be encouraged in your labor for life, in the labor against all that brings death in this world, for the longing for more LIFE
    • in Christ, all things will be raised with him
    • these longings will be vindicated
  • we make our way in this world with a purpose — to establish the kingdom of life, to destroy the kingdom of death
    • whatever you do: in your labor as a teacher of young minds (cultivating new knowledge and growth of wisdom), in your labor as an artist (creating new beauty and expression), in your labor as a sanitation worker (putting the world to order and dispelling the chaos of our mess!)…labor with the purpose of furthering the kingdom of life, firmly planted in your mind. there is purpose greater than you can see, smell, taste.

“I love you”

Just a thought, plucked from the ethers of another long-drive conversation with Mr. Mark–

for lots of people, maybe salvation is kind of like the first confession of an out-loud “I love you.” like you’re really genuine, earnest, and you do mean it, but you also sort of don’t know what you’re talking about. and it’s only in living out the relationship post-“I love you” that you learn what love is all about. and how to do it well.

or something.


Crucify Him

I sing, “Hosanna!” when I want it all.
Then I crucify the Son of God.
Cause He isn’t who I always thought.
Not what I want, but what I needed.
I sing, “How great and mighty is the King!”
Just as long as He considers me
High above every other thing.
Even His glory.

Broken like a record.
Spinning round and round
Like a hurricane.
I pour out water then I disappear.
Reappearing when I fear enough,
Or need a touch from You.
I sing, “Hosanna!” once again
Then I say, “Crucify Him!”

It’s packaged differently than Pharisees.
Wrapped in sing-a-longs and Christianese.
Empty hallelujahs to the King.
When my heart is loving idols.
A man of sorrows acquainted with grief,
He had no form; He had no majesty.
How could He have the audacity
To ask me to give Him my tomorrow?

Broken like a record.
Spinning round and round
Like a hurricane.
I pour out water then I disappear.
Reappearing when I fear enough,
Or need a touch from You.
I sing, “Hosanna!” once again
Then I say, “Crucify Him!”

Forgiveness and love.

There’s something about sorrow that deepens one’s understanding of comfort. And something about sin and brokenness that deepens the meaning of grace. And something about suffering that reminds of the necessity for obedience. The necessity for worship-anyway.

There’s something about the book-end drives back and forth on a weekend trip — that was pretty great in and of itself — that underlines, again and again, in page-creasing ink, the mysterious workings of God through unassuming characters, meaningfully placed in my life.

Suffering doesn’t necessarily promise a lesson in hindsight. You’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting a be-ribboned package of life lessons waiting for you at the end of the tunnel; meaning restored and deep understanding, you may or may not come to gain. Not always. But what actually does (must) follow are these: Faith despite feelings. Obedience amidst crushing discouragement. Worship with tear-choked throats. Praise God. Praise God. Praaaise God.

I come, God, I come
Return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You strike down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who’s all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who’s all I need

Though tonight I’m crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You’re still all that I need
You’re enough for me
You’re enough for me

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who’s all I need
Sing a song to the One who’s all I need

notes from hayley

just the sparknotes; the rest, I’ll have to chase down again and again —

  • selfishness might be the new pride
  • out of the mouth the heart speaks
  • and in your moments of secret selfishness, take thoughts captive and…pray
  • decide decide decide; you choose to love and like someone
  • but don’t feel pressured
  • “right now I feel like I’m trying to imagine a 3D world with 2D tools”
  • like 2 trees, growing together with all the little details and big details
  • way more of the good than the difficult
  • ptl for mentorpeepol who allow you glimpses into their crazy 3D worlds
  • chase me down! I’ll do the same for you, but you come find me, just chase me down

overwhelming feelings of: “everything little thing! is gunna be awright!”

what is love! notes from npr

some pre-valentines discussions, ever so timely

"incidentally romantic gestures, not related to vday at all" (quote to self)
“incidentally romantic gestures, not related to vday at all” (quote to self)

“it comes from the same place in the brain as thirst and hunger”

“meet on a suspension bridge”

“it expands the self”

“bring novelty into your long-term relationships — newness = dopamine”

“sex drive + feelings of intense romance + feelings of deep attachment” — keep up with all three

“have couple friends”

“escape cognitive overload — 9 dates and choose ;)”

“men are slightly more romantic than women are — they fall in love more quickly and easily than women do. women are the picky sex… and for good reason, since they have more at stake, biologically/socially.”

“what matters about the revealing of yourself is how responsive the other person is.” — vulnerability + sensitive response = both important

nakedness, actually.







I spent the better part of my evening walking and driving slowly through the better part of a Michael’s, visiting random favorite places, covering the better part of 29 at 40ish mph, listening to Mackluhmore spitting profanity, cause I don’t have any Christian music on my iPod at all, actually. Is this what shock feels like? I can’t tell if I feel glad or sad. Actually, neither, I think. Or maybe both. But it’s a muddle — actually maybe it’s emptiness cause I did something really brave today and now I feel completely naked. It’s like the biggest irony of my life, how easily I acclimate myself to nakedness of bodies but have to clench my proverbial eyes before I reveal things of true emotions and things I am thinking, a hand of cards I hold close to my chest, afraid of…what? Of so many things. I’m sort of like the biggest coward, actually.

Hiding behind my double exclamation points and walking sassily ahead cause standing ahead of you, my back hides the cheesy grins.

But woah, cause God uses everything (I mean, always), but these days, he’s been translating these workings into human language my heart has been deciphering. And the messages are telling me that no matter how carefully, how weightily, how thoughtfully I ponder, pause, plan, God does everything according to his unfathomable will. And that’s the best, actually. I don’t get to pick the where, the when, the how, at all at all, but I do get to participate, if I’ll be there – my presence presents me the presents. It’s hilarious and tragic. Tragicomedy, which is sort of the theme of my life at its greatest moments, actually.






I am here, Father.

[for what it’s worth]