Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Shelter - Jars of Clay

I've been having the album on repeat in my car, mainly because 1) I'm too lazy to change the CD and 2) I haven't gotten sick of it yet.

Details just for the heck of it (and since it was listed on youtube):
Jars Of Clay -- The Shelter (2010)
Artist: Jars Of Clay
Album: The Shelter
Release Date: October 5th, 2010
Style: Rock / Pop / Indie
Label: Gray Matters / Essential Records / Provident
Location: Nashville, TN

Track Listing:
1. Small Rebellions (featuring Brandon Heath)
2. Call My Name (featuring Thad Cockrell, Audrey Assad)
3. We Will Follow (featuring Gungor)
4. Eyes Wide Open (featuring Mac Powell, Derek Webb, Burlap To Cashmere)
5. Shelter (featuring TobyMac, Audrey Assad, Brandon Heath)
6. Out Of My Hands (featuring Mike Donehey, Leigh Nash)
7. No Greater Love
8. Run In The Night (featuring Thad Cockrell)
9. Lay It Down (featuring David Crowder, Dawn Richardson)
10. Love Will Find Us (featuring Sara Groves, Matt Maher)
11. Benediction (featuring Amy Grant)

S/N: Jars of Clay lyrics = deep poetry = winners! at least in my book. (Switchfoot too, though I didn't like the style of Hello Hurricane as much as I expected - but Restless off the upcoming album is awesome!)

If  you've been following my older blog, you'll remember that I kind of like to dissect songs (maybe more exactly - respond to them) every once in a while. So I figure I might as well follow up on that here.


I wasted a rescue
Abandoned the mission
I've failed by my own hand
And watched it all go wrong


Hah, isn't this life?So many times all the great plans that we have, the awesomest things we want to do (for God or otherwise) just seems to fall apart at the slightest twitch of a finger)

You said You could save me
That I couldn't save myself
You said that You loved me
No matter what I've done

Isn't this sometimes how we talk to God? You said so, didn't you? But why can't I believe it? Why can't it just be that I can save myself? Why can't it be that I don't need to be saved? You said you loved me, didn't you? How sure are you of that?

When the light is gone
And life is just a dare we take
Still the fight goes on
To give my heart away

Funny, but as much as you deny it, my heart has to belong to something. It can't exist in a vacuum. If I can't love you, I have to love something else. My boyfriend. My books. My games. My work. My family. But something. Something has to have my heart, even if it's myself.
 
And it's out of my hands
It was from the start
In light of what You've done for me
In light of what You've done for me
You lifted my head
Set me apart
In light of what You've done for me
This is what You've done for me
It's out of my hands

Is it? Is it really out of my hands? Isn't there something I can do? Something I can say? Something that makes me feel not so worthless? Something I can grasp?

You grow where the light is
Like trees in the highlands
We're bent by our own plans
To keep us in the dark
And I act like an orphan
Forget that You found me
But You came like a whisper
And saved me with a spark

Yetyoufoundme. Like a whisper in the wind that says, you're worth it. It doesn't matter what you think or how much you can believe - I came for you. It isn't you always striving. It isn't you always trying to be, be more, be bigger. It's you being Mine. It isn't your action that counts. It's your response to Me.

When the light is gone
And life is just a dare we take
Still the fight goes on and on
To give my heart away
Take that dare. Imagine you could live bigger than just you. Imagine that you were a beacon shining in your night. Take that dare.

And it's out of my hands
It was from the start

In light of what You've done for me
In light of what You've done for me
It is, isn't it? It was never in my hands. It was never mine to hold.

You lifted my head
Set me apart

In light of what You've done for me
This is what You've done for me
It's out of my hands
It's out of my hands

It has always been You moving the pieces, directing the scenes. You lifted my head to see a different scene. You set me apart to be a different person. It's not me, trying. It's You, being.

There's nothing in the world that I can offer
Nothing in the world that I can stand apart
Apart from You
Apart from You
There's nothing in my life
Nothing in my life that You haven't given to me

It's out of my hands
It was from the start
In light of what You've done
In light of what You've done
You lifted my head
Set me apart
In light of what You've done
In light of what You've done for me
It's out of my hands
It was from the start
In light of what You've done for me
In light of what You've done for me
You lifted my head
Set me apart
In light of what You've done for me
This is what You've done for me

It's out of my hands
It's out of my hands
Everything I have, Lord
Everything I have
It's out of my hands
It's out of my hands

Oh, It's out of my hands

Other S/N: I love the backup vocals on this. Leigh Nash! <3

Saturday, 30 July 2011

#Fridayflash: Time

Your story prompt from Writer's Digest


So this is what mortality feels like, he thought, the steady trickling away of life. It seemed that his feet swung in time with the rhythm of the clock as he stared blankly into space - or where space would have been, if the meeting of the wall and the ceiling hadn’t coincided with his general line of sight.

Time rippled around him and for a moment he had the illusion of being naked, a white towel draped around his waist. He blinked and the hallucination faded. The door in front of him opened and the petite young doctor came in, frowning over her clipboard.

“I don’t understand these results,” she announced to the clipboard.

“What’s wrong with them?” His heart raced in his chest as he tried to keep his voice steady.

“None of your results fall within the normal ranges. You shouldn’t even be alive right now.”

He thought it was cute, the way she bit at the end of her pen in frustration.

“Maybe I’m not.” he said.

She rolled her eyes. “Try harder next time. Here. Bend down - let me get a look at your eyes.”

He did as she instructed, taking the opportunity to stare into her large grey ones.

“Not funny,” she snapped.

“Who’s laughing?”

“If you continue to be a creep, I’ll turn you over to the next available doctor. He’s reaching eighty, extremely cranky and will probably give you paracetamol and tell you just suck it up and live.”

He shrugged. “Maybe I should go. My time is up.” He could feel the ticking in his bones now, the many slight jumps in time, images over images appearing before his eyes.

She frowned at him. “Maybe I’m testing for the wrong thing,” she mumbled to herself.

“Yes, totally wrong. Look,” he stood. “Just remember that there’s more to life than this. It’s clich├ęd, I know, but it’s true. I have to go now. I’ll see you on the other side.”

He watched her from the stream of time as she looked up from her clipboard, puzzled to find that her peculiar patient had suddenly disappeared.

I’m not alive, he thought, merely immortal.

----
So I dropped by Writer's Digest and the latest Your Story competition caught my eye. However, I couldn't quite just stop at an opening line, so I tried to continue the story. I got distracted by the Internet though (as usual) so it's probably not as good as it could have been.
I'll have to work on the not-getting-distracted bit.
Several posts lined up in my brain, just whether any of them will see the light of day. We'll see how this weekend works out.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Happy birthday, @yeohjo, here's to (almost) 27 years of friendship!

Dear Josh,

So. Twenty-seven years ago, you were born. And I've known you for almost 27 of them. Technically. If you count me being in my mom's womb, I've known you for all 27, but that's a bit hard to grasp. Hm. Well, never mind.

I don't really know where I'm going with this. I kind of had an idea earlier, but it slipped my mind between arriving home and turning on the computer and being distracted by Twitter.

We've done much together: firebrands, cell group, writing, acting and directing Star of Persia, worship teams, add maths tuition (HAH I RULE!), camps, random e-mails, strange twitter exchanges, birthday parties, FYU, supper, YOUR FIRST ACCIDENT WITH ME IN THE CAR (It was the first, right?). I'm sure there's much more I haven't mentioned...

You know, sometimes I listen to a bit of flak about your current um, overspiritual state, and how sometimes it's hard to talk with you without it turning into a well, sermon. But that's you. It's what you're excited about and it's exciting that God is doing so much with you. Or you are doing so much with God, whichever way you want to put it. It's beautiful to listen to your passion. I guess I love the way you make me want to do more, to press on more, to not be satisfied with where I am just by listening to your stories.

Maybe I'm getting old enough to wax nostalgic about the "good old days". But we should hang out. Soon. When I'm not so busy, and you're not so busy.

So here's to more of God in your future; that your wildest dreams will be fulfiled with more than you've ever hoped for, because when you glory in God, He glories in you.

Love and blessings,

-anna-

Friday, 15 July 2011

sorry, no #Fridayflash this week.

I told myself that if I could write a short story every Friday for #fridayflash, I would have 52 shorts (or flash fiction) in a year and I could edit and compile it and try to sell it online. Unfortunately, a week of crazy work which is going to continue into this weekend is not much of an incentive for me to sit and write something. I've been rather brain dead all day after a week of midnighters (so NOT me!) and I think I'm off to bed.
So, no #fridayflash today and those posts I've been wanting to work on will just have to wait.

Cheerios.

Friday, 8 July 2011

#FridayFlash: Remember Peace

Daniel opened his eyes and stared at the fan spinning above his head. And so it is morning. Am I truly ready for today?


He refused to think about it further as he bent his head and inhaled the smell of Sherise’s hair. When had she come and snuggled next to him? His arm was around her, holding her like a doll. The sleeping bag suddenly seemed a cumbersome thing he was cocooned inside. He extricated his arm, trying not to wake her up. Once he was free, he picked her up, comforter and all and laid her gently on the bed. She stirred, he held his breath, but she settled down again, eyes closed.

Am I ready for today? Perhaps.

The shaver stopped mid-chin as Sherise pushed open the bathroom door.

“Sorry, did I wake you? I thought I was quiet enough not to.”

"You're going, aren't you?" she asked, her face white under the yellow lights.

He shrugged.

"Take me with you."

His eyes flickered over to her even as his arrested motion resumed. "No."

"Then you are not going."

"Sherise, the rally is no place for you in your state."

"Neither is it a place for you in yours."

"Do you..."

"Remember peace, Daniel," she interrupted him. "If you forget it, there is no point in going."

Peace. He bristled at the suggestion. No one called for peace when you were arrested.

"Daniel, if you're going to look for a fight, don't go. They don't need your help to create a riot. They need people who will remember that it started as a peaceful movement, will continue as one and will end in peace as well."

"And how would you know?" He hated the way it came out gruff and accusing and angry even as her eyes tightened. “Sorry, I…”

"Do you think being grilled for hours on end about this would leave me as clueless as I was before?" There was a catch in her voice. "If you must go, you must take me."

"Why?" he asked, but he knew the answer: if she went along, he would give his all to protect her. If she were there, he would not give in to his basest impulses, his wild anger, his desire to fight. That was why he had decided to go, wasn’t it? To tell the government that he wouldn’t give in to their bullying tactics. It was only peripherally about the rally’s actual demands. Are you sure you really are ready for what today holds?

"This is not about retaliation," she insisted.

He scratched at his chin. But maybe it really is. Maybe all this, the rally itself, is a retaliation against a government which will not listen to reason.

"There is too much tension in the air already. Key leaders have been banned from the city. If they start... if anything happens and you get involved, where would that leave me?"

Daniel leaned against the sink, toying with the shaver. Then he straightened and lathered his face with soap. So do we rally with peace or with war?

"Are you listening to me?"

Bent over the sink with water and foam running down his face, he nodded.

“Stop thinking with your heart and start thinking with your brain. What do we gain if you fight them physically? Battered bones and bruised egos. Is that what you want? And if you get arrested what do I do? Peace is the goal, Daniel, and calling attention to the eight points. There will be no blaze of glory.” Suddenly, she giggled. “Don’t think with the hair on your chest!”

Daniel had to smile. I don’t have any, he threw in his usual reply mentally. He covered his face with the towel, trying to wipe off all emotion before answering. “I can't let you put yourself in danger again, Sherise." Who can guarantee peace if there are many like me without a wife like you?

"And neither can I, Daniel. Remember what we used to joke about? Sherise? She who rises?"

She waited for her husband to nod.

“Then let me rise. We rise together.”

"Get ready," he finally said. "We leave in thirty minutes.”

Peace. Remember peace. Remember the cause. Remember what you are fighting for. Remember. He tried to hold it all in his head, to knot down the purpose, the goal.

I will remember peace.

---
 
For all of you attending the Bersih rally tomorrow, stay safe and stay calm! May the wisdom of God go with you.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Annoyed: Chicken & Duck conversations

I suppose what irritates me the most about this whole Bersih thing (actually Malaysian politics in general) is the whole atmosphere of arrogance and pride. On both sides.

PR has the arrogance of a popular online support. I don't know about on the ground, but online, yes. Their demands may be righteous, but their tone smacks of arrogance, not of righteous anger. It's like a come-uppance. I'm right, so you had better agree with me.
BN has the arrogance of power and money. They know that they have the power of the ruling party and the power to stay in power due to money politics and corruption so they couldn't care less about what anyone else has to say. Any pretence of it being all due to perception is probably down the drain with this whole fiasco with Bersih. Perception? What perception?

Everything is so skewed.
No one is listening to anyone else. As in really listening, in the open-minded, negotiation-possible stance. It's just, I hear you say this, I shoot back at you. The facts are lost or buried. One side brings up some obscure laws and practices in other countries that are simply not applicable in the current undertone (as well as making everything illegal). The other keeps blasting the fact that there is too much corruption and problems and things need to change. Yes, things need to change but what? How? When?
As it is, it just seems to be a whole bunch of Chicken & Duck conversations where nobody is actually addressing anything in any reasonable way.

Okay, maybe the real gripe is this. We know that BN is in deep shit. But what makes you think that PR will be any better?

Anwar is tarred with pretty much the same brush as any ex-BN person is... and this whole de-facto nonsense is a bigger detractor for PR than anything else.

Maybe it's time for PR to start acting as if it is the government, instead of merely playing the opposition card. Yes, you want the best for the rakyat. What are you doing about it? Is it possible to do something even if you are not the elected rep? Are you not able to visit your constituency if you're not the official elected rep? By standing for that constituency, you have elected yourself to care and to take notice of these people. It doesn't matter if you lose. You still have that responsibility for them if you are really serious about making a difference and not just in changing the government.

It is possible to be so caught up in the idea of change that you forget why you are trying to make that difference. And then you may forget that the ends do not always justify the means.

And seriously, Twitter is no place to even attempt a debate.

All an eagle would really like, is a teapot

Okay, so I said I'm giving up on payperpost, but maybe not yet. They just told me to write that (All an eagle would really like, is a teapot) to claim my blog. Erm.

I wonder what an eagle would do with a teapot, though. Maybe make a nice pot of essence of rabbit?

Yay for random word posts.

#FridayFlash: Bersih

There had been yellow flowers in her hair. It was all Daniel could remember about that day. Yellow flowers. That day; last Saturday. Had it been a week? He crushed the tin can in his hands. The remains of his beer flowed over fingers, a sticky yellowish liquid. Definitely not a - no, not kosher, that was the product of his colonial mindset; he rejected the word offhand - halal drink, but who was counting?

He picked up the yellow pamphlet from the table as he tossed the crushed can into the trash. How much of this was to be faulted? He had read it over and over and he didn’t see why it should have caused so much trouble. It was what any reasonable minded man would support; at least it appeared to be as it was printed. Who could know the intent of those behind it?

He turned his head towards Sherise. She sat on the couch watching television, twirling hair around a finger.

"Sherise..."

She jumped in her seat, giving a small shriek. He frowned. She had been jumpy ever since then.

“It’s late. Do you want to go up to bed?” he asked, trying to make his voice gentler.

“Oh, okay. Yes,” she turned off the television. Another change: she was afraid to be alone. She absolutely refused to stay alone in a dark room. Was it the dark or was it being alone that frightened her? He took her hand as they climbed up the stairs, but she drew away. Afraid to be alone and yet afraid of human contact. Maybe she was just afraid of the dark.

He settled into bed and picked up a book to read whilst she prepared herself for bed. She came out from the bathroom in pink striped pyjamas and stood at the door glaring at him.

“Alright, alright, I’ll go wash up,” he grumbled. Wives!

“Sorry, Daniel,” she said as he came out of the bathroom, his face buried in a towel. He looked up. His pillows were on the floor again along with the sleeping bag.

“I can’t. I just can’t.” Her voice quivered and her eyes swam. She huddled on the bed, the comforter wrapped around her like a shield.

“It’s alright, dear,” he answered, his heart making a hole in his belly. “Do you… do you want to talk about it?”

“No… I…”

“There’s a good doctor you could see,” he cut in as he unrolled the sleeping bag. “The lawyer said she might be able to help.”

“I’ll…”

“Just think about it, okay?”

She nodded.

“Do I get to kiss you goodnight?”

She hesitated but nodded, so he walked round to the side of the bed and planted a kiss on her forehead. He couldn’t help noticing that she had flinched. He waited until she had settled down on the bed before he switched off the lights and got into the sleeping bag.

How had it all happened? Daniel asked himself over and over again. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t add up. Sherise was the most harmless, bubble-headed woman in the world. He went over the events of that day again.

---

“I’m going shopping with the girls, Dan,” Sherise had told him early Saturday morning.

“Am I invited?”

“You could hang around if you want,” she said. “Some of the boys are coming, I think.”

“Okay.” He looked up from the newspaper. “What’s with the flowers?”

“The girls said they’re wearing yellow. I thought these would go nicely with my outfit,” she twirled in front of him, making the skirts of her yellow sun dress flare up around her.

“Very pretty. Just remember you’re mine,” he caught her in his arms and kissed her, hard. She giggled breathlessly.

They met up with the girls at Midvalley Megamall. Daniel didn’t listen much to their excited chatter. None of their boyfriends or husbands had decided to come so Daniel headed to Starbucks for a coffee. The call had come about an hour later, a frantic burst of information and then a sudden silence.

“What do you mean they have my wife?” he growled into the phone.

“Man, you do know about this whole Bersih thing, don’t you?” Azman said. “They’ve been asking everyone to wear yellow to support their rally next week, and you know how Farizah is. She’s been going on and on about it all week. I thought Sherise…”

“Sherise just said that the girls were wearing yellow to go shopping. I doubt any of the other bits filtered in through her ears. So why…”

“Don’t you read the news? The government’s gone ballistic! They’re arresting anyone wearing yellow.”

“Anyone at all?”

“Well, I suppose those they link to the campaign and… Farizah had a bunch of flyers with her… so…”

“Why hasn’t Sherise called me?”

“She might not be able...”

“And you know how?” Daniel felt rude, almost yelling into the phone. He realized that he was starting to attract attention but he couldn’t think straight anymore. No one threatens my wife! No one!

“Farizah and I have an emergency code,” Azman admitted. “If anything were to happen she just has to send a pre-written SMS to me and I would look into it.”

“How good of you to be so prepared.” He was being a jerk and he knew it. “Sorry, Azman. Where are they now?”

“They’re at the station in Bangsar. Meet you there?”

It turned out to be a long two days being led around by the nose trying to get the two wives and their two friends out of lockup. They were frustrated at every turn, even with the lawyers from Bersih attempting to help them. No one believed that Sherise didn’t have any knowledge of what was happening.

What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Daniel stormed to himself. What happened to truth and justice?

He had read over the pamphlets Azman and his friends had given him very thoroughly during the day. There had been nothing else to do except worry. So he read. And he agreed. Fair points. Anyone with sense would agree with them. Even the government would – should have – agree, he thought, even if they did not exactly practice it. Agree. And then forget about it. There were rugs enough for this to be swept under and forgotten for maybe the next five years or so. But no.

And then the four women were released; Farizah, angry and yet triumphant, Devi, glowering, Li Na, hard and sullen and Sherise… broken. She had been delicate before. Now she was just fragile. She refused to talk about anything that had happened, though the others were fairly vocal in their indignation of their treatment – of beatings and nude squats and threats and violence and the rumour of rape. No one was certain, but they had heard that one of the women had been raped. No one would confirm if it had happened to one of their party, or to some of the other women detained, but the rumour persisted. Only no one knew who it had happened to.

Was it you? Daniel couldn’t help asking. She had denied it but her persistent refusal to talk about what happened frightened him. She looked a wilted flower herself, the flowers in her hair long discarded, the sun dress disheveled and dirty. There was bruising on her arms and legs that he could see, but he hadn’t been allowed to see the rest of it. She refused to go for a checkup and insisted that he take her straight home, where she had marched into the bathroom and taken residence for at least two hours until he tentatively knocked on the door, afraid that he would find her drowned in the bath.

---

Had it only been a week? Everything seemed different now.

He ran over the details of the rally again. Tomorrow. Tomorrow he would march. Even if he hadn’t believed in all they were trying to ask for, which he did, he would march. He would march because of what they had done.

And if they brought violence to his door, so be it. They had done it once and destroyed the only part of his life that held meaning. If they did it again… he shrugged in the darkness. Whatever came tomorrow, he was ready for.

***
 
The story above is fiction. Seriously. But writers reflect the emotions of their times and I can't help but be drawn in by the raw emotions and all the drama surrounding the Bersih rally.