Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fruit Flymageddon: A lost and now found tale from last Summer

I am ready for summer to be over.

School starts in 2 days, well, closer to 1 now and I am SO very ready.

I still have new shoes and clothes and backpacks to buy, but as far as the getting the kids out of the house and back on a schedule part of it I am SO ready.

Today has just been one of those days.  The kind of day where you question your decision to ever grow human beings in the first place......okay, okay, so maybe it hasn't been that bad, but it was close.

All the humans in the house are just tired of each other it would seem.  Tired of being around each other, but none of them are tired of being around me.  I completely do not understand this.  They all want to be in my presence as they continue to bicker and pick at each other and be loud.  I try and hide and they find me......they ALWAYS find me.  I need better hiding places.

This morning 3 children had to have showers/baths because they had appointments to go to.  Leaving the house means hygiene is non negotiable.  With two showers/baths in the house this should not be a hard process.  Let me just highlight that word " SHOULD".

Me:  Kalen, please go take a shower.

Kalen: Can I use your shower?

Me: No, the littles are taking a tub in there.

Kalen: There are fruit flies in my bathroom.  I can't shower in there.

Me: Kill it.

Kalen: There are too many.

Me: *Thinking to myself* Too many?  How many fruit flies can end up in there?  We have like one piece of fruit downstairs.

I head to the bathroom to kill the 3 flies that I assume makes too many for her to be able to bathe.  I open the door and look around.


  People! it was a fruit fly-a-palooza in there.  If there was 2 there was probably 200, I don't even think I am exaggerating.

I look at their garbage can.  Someone has thrown some sort of item in it that spawned this fruited fly hell, but it is so full that I cannot tell what.  I leave to get a garbage sack.

When I come back I shut the door behind me.  I was prepared to do battle.  It was woman vs. fruit fly.  A full on Fruit flymageddon was about to take place and I didn't want any survivors.  I picked up the garbage off the floor and out of the can while yelling out things like, "This is NASTY!
NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!  and THIS IS WHY YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BRING FOOD UP HERE!!!!!"  All of which were repeated numerous times.  After swinging a dirty shirt that had been left on the floor at them like a crazed woman and only killing maybe 50 of them I decided bigger guns were needed.  I came back with a vacuum cleaner.  I used the hose attachment and started to suck them up out of the air, off the walls, and the ceilings.

 It worked.

Starting Monday the children will each have a day that they are going to be responsible for their bathroom so that I never ever have to do that again.  7 kids, 7 days of the week, it was meant to be.

After fighting with the flies it went to fighting with my 4 year old, who fresh out of the tub decided that sweat pants were the thing to wear on an 80 degree day to speech therapy.  I grabbed him some shorts and told him to change out of the sweats.  Full on melt down!  Full on.  I got distracted during his meltdown with other melting down children.  (Let's just say my house was Chernobyl this morning, melt downs happening everywhere.)  At this point it is 11:00 and I need to make some type of food before I leave for speech.

The food is made and I call for the 4 year old.  No boy.  He had fallen asleep under my bed during his meltdown so that he would not have to put on his shorts.  It is now 12:30 and speech is at 1.  I wake the monster  angelic child up and we get to speech, but the getting there wasn't pretty.  He did however go wearing shorts and not his sweat pants.

When we came home it was time to load up the other two who had Dr. Appts.  I had them in the car and was ready to pull out when I decided to get out my ID card, so I wouldn't have to do it at the gate. My wallet was not in my purse.

After searching and searching and calling my husband to no avail for possible back up to get onto base the time was ticking closer and closer to appointment time.

Finally the wallet was found, in the xbox bag, hidden away by small fingers for who knows what purpose.

We made it to the appointments only 15 minutes late.

Only two more sleeps until school starts.

Hallelujah!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

When you feel too dirty for the Nativity to be for you

For the ones who feel lost to their own filth, or the filth that surrounds them; the ones who feel unworthy or unacceptable of a Savior born into the smallness of a baby; the ones who cannot relate to the people of the Nativity story.


When You Feel Too Dirty For The Nativity To Be For You
*originally posted 12/21/13*
*Warning, there is some swearing in this post. *




Most of us have heard it, the nativity story, some of us dozens of times if not more.

The Christ child born of Mary in a manger while shepherds quake and angels sing.

Mary and Joseph chosen of God to bear and raise the King of Kings.

And it was asked for me to tell which of these people in the story spoke most to me. And the truth is they didn't speak, not even a whisper. They felt too far, too distant from me and my filth. They felt too squeaky clean.

I questioned my Christianity.

How could they not even whisper?

Without this birth, this baby, there would be no Savior.

A baby born to bear my sins.

I have heard it said by others that they have done and been and seen too much for God to ever forgive them.

This Christmas story leads to the Cross.

Where sinless Jesus took on our sins, bore our burdens, so we could be free/redeemed.

The Cross to the Resurrection.

I wrote once about the thorns of sin that I knowingly and willingly walked into:

"I look at my blood stained skin, the thorns dipped in red.  Suddenly they are not just my thorns, they are Christ's.  I have crowned Him in these thorns that I willingly walked into.  He suffered, bled His own blood, skin pierced by the thorns that weren't His own.  His glory forsaken, to be crowned in my sin." 

I realized tonight that I struggle so much with relating to the people in the Christmas story, because I have felt more like the shit filled manger.  Smelly, disgusting.  Guilt ridden knowing that I will pierce that baby with these thorns. 

So, I wonder if those people who think they are too shit filled for Jesus feel a lot like that; guilty for putting their thorns and crap on a baby.  Is it the manger story that makes the Cross of Christ so hard for our minds to bear? 

God reminded me tonight of something I think is often over looked.  At least I know that I have over looked it and that is this:

Before Jesus came to earth as a tender, sweet baby, He sat on the throne in Heaven where all of time was laid out before Him. 

He saw and knew exactly what thorns/sins I would crown Him with that day on Calvary, long before He lay in swaddling clothes.  And He still came to earth.  And He chose to come to earth in a manger.

I don't think that was an over sight on His part.

He was born in a shit filled manger, so that people who feel like I did can rest assured that He can be born in them too.

So I don't relate to a person in this story, I relate to the place.

Come be born in me again this Christmas, Lord Jesus



May this Christmas bring you a fresh filling of Christ, a blessed reassurance that nothing you have done or can do can make you too dirty for Jesus to come and fill your heart.  All of my love for all of you who are reading, wherever and whoever you are.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Still

*I never time myself for five minute Fridays.  I let the word lead me for however long it leads.*

I find that even with all the strides I have taken this year and how far I have come from where I was I am STILL me.  I STILL have the same under lying issues that I have always had.  I STILL struggle.

Some days, months, seasons even I struggle more than others.  This is that season.  The season when I have to push down even harder on all the things that try and push their way out of me.  All the unknown memories that tease me from the shadows.  The little girl trying to be heard, seen, remembered from behind her prison.  The little girl that has me clinging tight to a teddy bear at night.  

I push down hard on what is pushing up and burrow deeper into blankets and solitude.  Shutting myself off even when surrounded by people.  Closing in.  Walling off.

And the anger is there.  Anger at me. Anger at them (whoever the them is who feels too close to my walls, or let me down, or who makes for a good distraction from all the pushing that is going on inside.)  I don't lash out at most of them I just let it all reverberate inside of me.  Most of the time because I know the anger is petty and more of a me issue than a them issue.  

I STILL do all of this, but I am getting better at knowing and recognizing it.  Seeing it for what it is and acknowledging it.  I am also better at not completely hiding away from the world.  I am planning, and hosting, and not shaming myself for the internal pushing. 

I am working on showing up even when I want to hide away.  I am giving myself grace for when I can't force myself to show up.  I am working on giving others grace for their lack of understanding, and grace for the fact that some things could solely be my perception and not the reality.

I am STILL a work in progress.  Still working, still progressing.  

Still hurting, still wounded, still healing, still learning.

"Be still and know that I am God"
Psalm 46:10

I will sit in stillness and also IN my "STILL-ness" and know that God is God.  He has me in all of my stillness, no matter which meaning of still that I mean.  And I will let Him reign over it all.



Friday, November 7, 2014

An Invitation to Come

Here is the story I promised two days ago.  The story that came to me as I re-read my words here. It is a fictional story, but oh how it is filled with truth.  I pray that you also will come to the table that is set just for you.


"Come."

I am standing among trees and grass in a manicured garden.  A gentle breeze blows past, "Come."
it whispers again.

I walk towards the breeze and see a table that has been set under the stretching arms of a willow tree. The seats around the table are many. Each place exquisitely set, yet each place setting is distinct.
As I stand there and take in its beauty  my fingertips feel the the softness of the cloth they are set upon and lightly draw across the rich velvet backs of the chairs.

There is a name card set in the center of the table that looks as though it was written by the hand of an artist.  I look closer at the name written in gold, it is my name.  The name, my name, seems to be deeper than the paper.  As I look at it, it is like looking into a window, a window with a moving golden sea behind it.

I am curious now as to the many settings, who will be joining me at this table? I look closer at the plates.  Each plate is painted with an inscription.

"For the one who feels small and weak. There is room here for you."

"For the one who feels alone and lost.  There is room here for you."

"For the one who feels the need to control.  There is room here for you."

"For the one who longs to dance.  There is room here for you."

"For the one who feels dirty.  There is room here for you."

"For the one who builds walls.  There is room here for you."

"For the one who paints.  There is room here for you."

"For the one who runs and hides.  There is room here for you."

"For the one who loves deeply.  There is room here for you."

On and on the plates went, each one claiming room for the intended occupant.

As I made my way around the table reading each one I began to wonder about this table with my name upon it. When I came back around to the first plate the table suddenly shrunk and there was only one plate left.  I looked at the plate in astonishment.

"For you.  There is room here for you." it read.

"I have invited you to My table and I want you to know that there is room here for all of you, for the all of you that makes you, you, both the good and the bad; the gentle and the harsh; the strong and the weak; the brave and the fearful."

I look up to see a man sitting across from me at the table. His voice was that of the whispering breeze that had invited me to "come".

"There is no part of you that is not invited to my table.  I have prepared it just for you,for every part of you. Let me fill the all of you that hungers and thirsts."




Jesus said to them,
 "I am the bread of life; 
he who comes to Me will not hunger,
 and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 6:35

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

An Invitation to Trust

*This post was originally shared on 10/2/13.  I was reading it again tonight and it sparked a fictional story that I am writing out and hopefully will be able to finish and share with you tomorrow. I am sharing it again as a pre-cursor to that story.*

When I was 9 years old I had a tea party for Jesus and my stuffed animals.  I set the places, laid the crackers and cheese, poured the water, and we all sat around in a circle; except for Jesus, His spot was empty.  I didn't expect Him to join us really, I hoped, I asked, I kept eyeing the crackers and cheese to see if He was eating some while I was unaware.  The plate stayed full and the spot empty.



I was 9 years old and incredibly lonely.  My parents worked 14 hour days, we lived in a business district with no friends in which to play with, and I desperately wanted Jesus to come and sit with me.  I knew He was in my heart, but I wanted to see Him, to know I really mattered enough that He would show up for a child's tea party and eat crackers and cheese.

Last week in church Pastor told us how in Jewish tradition they would pray with their arms held out like someone waiting for them to be filled.  It is an invitation for God to fill your empty arms. 

An invitation.   

An invitation to trust that God will show up, that He will fill that which is empty.  It is a figurative letting go of that which you are holding in order to make room for the filling. 

It is an invitation of trust.  You are trusting God and not yourself. 

I have held onto much.  Too much.  I have filled myself up and have been afraid to let it go.  I have been afraid that my life would be that empty chair, that I would make space and He wouldn't come.  (I am not talking about salvation, that I was sure of.)  Figuratively, I would always be that lonely girl eating cheese and crackers on her own.

At church when the Pastor suggested that we hold our arms out as we prayed I realized just how hard of an action this was for me.  It seems so simple, "Just open your arms up, woman!" I told myself.  "Just do it, why is this so hard?".  I didn't know why it was hard, just that it was, but I did it anyways.  I opened my arms up and they were filled with a quieting peace.  I let go of that tiny bit of control and He filled.

That was on Wednesday.

On Friday, I went to talk to the Pastor about things I have been holding onto and that hold onto me.  The last time I talked to him he suggested that I read a book by Neil T. Anderson called "Victory Over Darkness".  I had read it and figured we would talk about that, but the conversation went another way.  Pastor brought up great points that made me think.  When I came home I had forgotten to say some things that I had wanted to say, so I emailed them to him.

A big theme of the book is that we are a new Creation in Christ.  I have never understood that statement.  I mean I understand it conceptually, but not experientially.  I have been a Christian since 3 and so this is what I wrote that afternoon: "... in the book he mentioned a lot about the before you knew Christ and the after you knew Christ...that whole new creation concept.....  well, I have ALWAYS known Christ, so not only is there not that feeling of difference, but everything that has happened to me or by me has always been done while in Christ, so it almost makes me angry when he brings that up so much in the book and I am not sure why anger is the emotion that comes up in it but it is."

This was his reply to that: "What I want you to discover is that though you have made mistakes since being in Christ, THAT is who you ARE.  When things happen when we are young, it shifts how we see ourselves moving us into deception about who we really are.  Even when one becomes a Christian young, if how they see themselves becomes contorted by the lies of the enemy, they will still act in ways that do not reflect who they really are.  It is like if a prince is kidnapped and is raised by paupers, he IS a prince but he lives like/acts like a pauper and does not access the riches due his true place in life.  THAT is what has happened to you.  More than anything I want you to get (I mean REALLY GET) who you are REGARDLESS of what you did or what was done to you.  How do you think you can do that?"

Honestly, I had no idea just how I was going to do that.  I gnawed on it in the back of my mind all afternoon.  Then that evening the prompt for that week's Five Minute Friday was truth.  I had no idea what was going to come out in it, I just sat and wrote.  As I wrote the answer to his question came.  I need to stop holding onto all the how's, the why's, and the lies and just walk in that truth that was staring me in the face.  The ones I had read about in the book, the ones I have heard about all my life but have never been able to feel, see, or believe for myself. 

I need to realize that the spot at my table might have been left empty, but the reality is that Christ has set a spot for me at His table with so much more than crackers, cheese, and water. I need to be the one to show up.  It is showing up at His table, not mine, that feeds a hungry heart and comforts a lonely little girl.

It is His truths I need to follow.  They are what will lead me to the table not the lies that left me  torn and bleeding in the brambles .  I need to turn and walk in who I am in Him.  I don't want fear to keep me sitting at my own little table staring at an empty chair just because I am afraid that His invitation somehow wasn't really meant for me.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Leave

*I never time myself for Five Minute Fridays.  I just take the word and let it lead me for however long it leads.*



LEAVE


"Leave, I have to leave."

The man's hands rested on my shoulders.  I couldn't look him in the eyes.  All I could do was pull away from him as I took a small step back.

"Leave, leave, leave!  Don't let me leave."

My mind was at war and the room was starting to shrink in on me.  I had stood in line waiting for this moment, fighting myself the whole time, telling myself I could do this, it would be okay.  Now here I was, it was my turn, and I was not okay.  I couldn't speak, I couldn't look, all I could do was pull away.

"Where are you going?" He asked with concern and caring.

 I couldn't answer, only back up and pull away.

"Don't let me leave."  My mind cried out for him to keep me there, keep me standing while my body refused and kept backing further up.

He whispered a hurried prayer and released my shoulders.

I turned and my whole body felt wild inside, like an animal fleeing for its life, wild.

The room kept closing in on me, people were a blur behind the water that stung my eyes.

I saw the doors.  I pushed through them.

I could breathe again.  Big gasping breaths.  An animal fleeing for its life.  Reactionary. I had left, but had no where to go.

"Hide, just hide."

I hid in a corner, invisible, tears streaming, thoughts like a hurricane blowing through my mind.

They called for me.  Calling like a shepherd calls for his little lost sheep.

But the big scary wolf was still too near. It was within this little sheep that had ran for its life, so I stayed hidden until it was safe to return.

What is a little animal to do when it is both the sheep and the wolf and all it knows how to do is run?

It doesn't know how to stay, only how to leave.

Image source

*Sorry for any confusion on this.  This is just a glimpse through a window of a moment of time in my life.  This particular moment happened at a church retreat for women where healing was supposed to take place, but I fear that one has to know how to stay and how to stand in order to be healed.  This is what the word "Leave" brought to mind.*



Friday, October 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Dare

*I never time myself for Five Minute Friday. 
 I take the word and run with it where it leads for however long it leads me.*


Dare

I dare you.
I dare you to be brave.
To hold your head up high and wear your bravery like a cape.
Be the hero in your story;
The one who stands up and says,
 "NO MORE!"
To all the voices that try and keep you down.
Wrap that bravery cape around you tight.
Keep the cold winds of "less than" and the spitting rains of "unworthy"
From hurting you any longer.
All you have to do is
STAND UP!
Stand up and fight.
I know that you can do it.
You are braver than you think and stronger than you know.
I dare you to be brave.
I dare you.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Learning the art of bravery

What is Bravery?

Bravery can look like a lot of things to a lot of people.

I don't think bravery can be defined the same way for every person.

Brave for me means stepping out of my comfort zone, choosing to ignore the tapes that play in my head, and forging a new path.

This month has been a month of brave for me.

I set off on a faith journey to the distant land of........ O-hi-o

I forged new roads, made new tapes, and I met some great people.

Let me take you back a bit to a little over a year ago, because that is where this story of bravery really starts.

As I was reading the comments of a blog I saw my name and thought, "when did I comment on this?"  It was not me though, but another Karmen with a K.  I was thrilled and had to let her know I existed. This was my first step of brave; putting myself out there and introducing myself.

From there we began an online friendship through facebook and our blogs.

The more I learned about her the more I wanted to meet her.

I battled the tapes in my head telling me that I am not worth getting to know and broached the topic of meeting.  She was game, so we made a plan.

At O Dark thirty in the morning, otherwise known as 4 am, on Friday October 3rd I hopped into my husband's truck and started my long drive from CT to Ohio.


Sometimes, you don't even realize that you are being brave.


On the trip out there I was following the gps on my phone.  I had programmed it the night before to avoid tolls as much as possible and also to get me there via the fastest route possible while also avoiding New York.  As I was driving along in the dark through all the construction my gps told me that it had a new route that would get me there 1.5 hours faster.  That is a lot of faster so I pushed the reroute button without a thought.  It wasn't until I was driving through Jersey and the sun was coming up that I realized that I had just driven right smack dab through New York City.  Right smack dab through it! I was brave and survived it without even realizing where I was at the time and that I was even being brave.

Allowing someone else to do the leading let me conquer something that if left to my own devices I never would have thought I could do.  (Bigger life application inserted here.)  I was big and brave and stronger than I thought!  I felt like Super Woman in a white pick up truck.

As the hours and miles went by I would push out the creeping thoughts of "what if she doesn't really want me to be there?" or "what if they think I am weird for coming all this way?"  and would replace them with how I would feel if someone were to think so much of me to do the same.

That is another step of brave, hearing the old tapes, ignoring them, and recording new tapes to replace them and then play those.  And not just play them, but choose to believe them.

When I pulled up she came out and we hugged like old friends and I was welcomed into her home with the ease and comfort of walking into my own.  Her daughters were also wonderful, engaging, and also inviting.

Her sweet dog, Nigel, and I made fast friends. The day I wore capris he couldn't stop licking my legs, I think all the sugar I consume must make me taste extra sweet.  If I could have brought him home with me I would have, he is just the sweetest little guy.  I mean seriously how could you not fall in love with this face?


That night we went to dinner and  I got to meet many of her friends, all of them were just as lovely as they appear to be on her blog.

It was kind of surreal actually.  Imagine one of your favorite books, now imagine getting to step into that world for a weekend and live in it with all of the characters from that book.  That is kind of what it felt like, but not, because, you know, they are all real people.

I loved being allowed into her world, wanted even.  

Although a  part of me wondered if before I had come she was like, "Hey, friends, come have dinner with this lady in case she is a total nut case and I need back up!", but I told myself that it was probably more like, "Oh my gosh the other Karmen is coming and she is so Ah MAy Zing that you must come and dine with her, because it would be selfish to keep this much awesome to myself!"  

I am guessing that the truth actually lies somewhere in the middle of those two.  

The whole weekend felt easy and wonderful.  I felt able to be myself.  Even when being myself included dumping insane amounts of ice all over her kitchen floor, because the ice had not been falling into my water bottle like I had thought and instead was backing up into the chamber from whence it came, so when I pulled my bottle away all the ice fell everywhere.  (If there is a way for me to make a mess and be a klutz at the same time, you can bet I will find it.)  Or the time when I was getting ready in the morning I whacked the towel bar with my arm and sent the rod clanging, LOUDLY to the tile floor.  Myself is a bit loud, and messy, and imperfect and it all felt OKAY.  (Another brave, accepting me as being me and not belittling myself for it.)

When bravery changes your armor.

On Sunday, I went with them to church.  I was new, but I didn't feel it.  Everyone was so welcoming and warm, I was greeted with hugs and smiles.  During the service I felt right at home. That to me is the mark of a good church.  No matter what denomination it is, if it is God loving and Bible preaching the same Spirit should be present within it.  If it is, then it will feel like home, even if the "decor" is slightly different.

By Sunday night it felt as though Karmen and I were old friends.  Chatting freely and deeply.  At one point her husband came into the Kitchen and said that we were in there solving all the worlds problems.  We were.  Get ready world, Karmen and Karmen for President & Vice President 2016!  (okay not really, but we would be awesome!  We could throw the world an awesome party and solve all its issues at the same time. Of course I am too much of a flighty creative to hunker down and get to business, so it is probably better if I just stick to blogging and kitchen table conversations.)

When I came back home my Sister told me I was brave for going.  I was, and I am.  I am brave.

It is an evolving bravery.

It is giving me a new armor.  It is a process of shedding my old armor of walls and fear and replacing it with an acceptance and comfort of who I am.  And with this new armor I am gaining with it an army. An army of people who also accept me and bring me comfort and who are helping me to remove those walls that I hid behind and are inviting me to go with them into this brave new world of freedom to be m.y.s.e.l.f.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Praise the Lord and Pass the Calgon: the story behind the blog



Four years ago in August I started a blog.  I wasn't sure who was going to read it, if anyone, but I knew I needed to write.  My heart was locked behind a tower and writing was the crack in the wall through which it could find a means of escape.

I named my blog, Praise the Lord and Pass the Calgon.  Praise the Lord, because faith is a large part of who I am. Pass the Calgon, because the thing I wanted most of all was to be taken away... "Calgon, take me away!"... mostly from myself.

The more I wrote the more I let my heart slip through the crack in my wall.  I shared hard things.  I wrote of depression, abuse, self-harm, and counseling.  Always keeping the hope of faith intermingled with the hard of life.

And then I fell.  I fell hard.  And by fell, I mean like running straight towards a cliff and jumping off of it without a parachute.  

I fell from faith, "You made me screwed up! I suck, therefore I think You kind of suck and if I am sinning it is Your fault for making me this way!"  

I fell from hope.  "After 35 years of trying I am done trying!"

I fell into all the lies I had ever told myself and had been told.  "No one is ever going to love you - this (sin) is your purpose might as well fulfill it." 

I free fell down that cliff of anger and lies for 3 months before I hit the rock hard realization of the nothingness that it held.  And when I hit the nothingness, I felt like I was nothing.......



It has been a three year climb out of the anger and the lies.  As I began my climb back up I felt God leading me to be transparent.  Even more transparent than I had already been. In November of 2011 I wrote:

"I feel God calling me to be transparent, because without it their is darkness 
and in darkness shame and evil thrive. Transparency is not pretty. 
It is painful. It is soul wrenching. It is admitting to both the good and the bad,
 the beautiful and the ugly, it is being fully human. It is putting yourself on the altar of other peoples judgement. It becomes their choice then to slay you 
or accept you and you have to be willing to accept both. 
(Wow God are you sure you want transparency from me? I am not sure I can take it.)"

After that I only wrote two posts in all of 2012.   Who was I to write?  I was a piss poor example of Christ and His love.  Any credibility or usefulness that I may have had prior to my fall had been left on that cliff top when I jumped, hadn't it?  I had willingly jumped and now I was covered in sins debris.  God had called me to transparency and I went silent. I locked myself up tight in my prison of shame and guilt, a prison of silence.

I knew that God had forgiven me, but I wasn't sure how to forgive myself.  In my self imposed prison not only did I quit writing, but I quit listening for God. I was too afraid of what He might have to say, because I knew it would not be, "Well done my good and faithful servant."  I was also still not over the anger that sent me jumping off of the cliff in the first place.     

In January of 2013 I waded back into the blogging waters. I was feeling the call to write again, and so I wrote about being brave: 


"There will always be people who will judge and condemn 
and not hear the hurt behind the bravery
 or who will look to add shame to the already shamed. 
Those people might hear the words, 
but they are deaf to the cries from the heart of the one being brave. 
Those people will always exist.
 They are the ones who keep people from bravery, 
from being able to share. 
But there are others too. 
They are the ones who desperately need to hear those heart cries of the brave,
 so that their own heart might be able to cry out with them 
and in the process both can begin to heal. 
And then there are those whose hearts don’t necessarily cry in the same way
 as the brave ones, but they need to hear those words 
so that they might understand and help other crying hearts heal.
 It is for those who cry and for those who need to understand that we should be brave; that I should be brave.
 Give me grace Lord to still love the ones who judge and condemn and give me the strength to not live in their condemnation."

It is often in my writing that God speaks the loudest and I can hear Him the clearest.  It was time for me to start listening to Him again - directly, because He was still calling me to write and to transparence. 

In this last year, I have tried my best to comply.  I was beginning to question the why of it though.  

Why write God, when only a handful of people even see it?  Why share when It feels much too transparent?  Who is it helping? Am I mis-hearing? Am I merely being self serving in the sharing?  Can people even see You through my struggling?

After several such questions and some painfully transparent posts I went to bed with this prayer on my lips: "Lord, it isn't about the numbers.  It isn't about my popularity or my "talent".  Lord, make it about You.  I don't know why you keep asking me to write, but I know You are calling me to continue, so if it is only for one God, if it is only one who needs to hear this journey and know that they are not alone, I will keep going."

The next morning was Easter.

Before I had even climbed out of bed I checked my phone and there was an email from a reader I do not know.  She was telling me how much my sharing had meant to her and how much it was helping her in her own journey.  She even quoted from the post that showed zero views on my stats.  

It was Easter morning and He had heard my prayers the night before of doubt and of "why's" and He awoke me with hope and with validation.

He had been crucified with my broken, He had laid in the grave with my despair, and He brings me into restoration with His resurrection.  

He is using my broken and despair to bring me into restoration.  Through that restoring process He is using me to not only share my story, but ultimately to share His story.



I want to encourage you, all of my fellow bloggers (both little and big) - it isn't about the page clicks or the comments.  It is about using our stories to share His story and helping to set other captives free.  Your words, your heart, your stories of broken and of healing, they are all important.  They all matter! Your words, they matter, keep trusting!

If God can painstakingly clean off this debris covered girl and use me He can surely use you as well.  We can change the world.


"Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples."

 Matthew 28:19

Our blogs are more than just a place to fill with words, they are our mission field and we really do make a difference.

*this was originally posted as a link up with to my friend Amber's blog Beautiful Rubbish It has been slightly edited since it was posted there.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Whisper

"I stopped to see a weepin' willow
Cryin' on his pillow
Maybe he's cryin' for me.

And as the skies turn gloomy
Night winds whisper to me
I'm lonesome as I can be

I go out walkin' 
After midnight
Out in the starlight

Just hopin' that you may be
Somewhere a walkin' after midnight 
Searchin' for me"

I was eighteen, a romantic, and desperately wanting to be loved.  I would play my Patsy Cline greatest hits tape over and over again.  Patsy Cline is like a musical salve to a love sick heart.  This song was one of my favorites.  

Walking after dark was one of my great loves.  Especially after midnight.  This song may be to blame for my youthful stupidity for walkin' after midnight by myself at 18 and 19.  When I went to school in Kansas I would go out walking at night quite often.  There was a little park not far from the college that had this white gazebo that you could sit in.  It was fairly close to the town police station, so I felt it was safe.  And come to think of it, that park may have even had weeping willows in it, but that could just be a trick of time and failing memory.  

I would walk to this park on clear nights and sing this song to myself as I walked.  This particular refrain was my favorite part of the song.  When I was a young girl between 5 and 6 my school bus would pass by an old weeping willow.  That tree was comforting as we would pass by it.  I thought of it as "my" tree with its low hanging branches that were somehow both sad and protective looking.

As that little girl I always wanted to sit under that willow tree.  Even now as I look at the picture of one it is inviting.
Picture of a weeping willow in Washington State
As I walked I would sing, hope, and listen to the night winds whispering; they would tell me that somewhere someone was walking and searching for me.  


I was a hopeless romantic.  

*I do not condone women walking alone after midnight, or at night for that matter, because more than likely anyone you find at that time of night who is out searching for you would not have love and romance on their mind.*



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Waiting for the words



When I was about ten a group of singers from the local Christian University came to sing at our church.  My parents bought their tape and I listened to it all the time.  One of my favorite songs, and the only one I remember from that tape, was Joshua fit the battle of Jericho.


Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
and the walls came a tumblin' down

It is funny the things you remember. 



On my way home from my Radioactive iodine treatment at the end of July I was listening to the radio.   The song that came on was Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North.  As I sat and listened to it three words came to mind, a title for a book,  I wrote them down. 




Before I went into the hospital a friend of mine told me that God had books for me to write.  I left the hospital not having written anything worth the time it took to type it.  I was feeling like I had come up short on the way home when that song came on.  In fact I have been feeling like I am coming up short for the last few months.  When the title popped into my head it felt God sent.  I didn't have anything else, but I had a title.

Since then I have kept thinking about how I am going to write this story.  Is it going to be my story, or will it be a fictional story with some of me thrown in?  I still don't know, but I have a title:

I am Jericho




Monday, August 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Change

"I bet you can't hit me with a quarter"

The man holding the cardboard sign with the black sharpied on words stood at the corner of the strip mall's entrance, where the light to enter the main road would hold his audience captive long enough that some might entertain the thought of taking up his challenge.

This sign holder was new.  I hadn't seen him before.  He was young, maybe in his 20's, but not by much.  I thought his sign was clever; a new twist to procuring people's spare change; asking, but not quite asking. I went on a search for some quarters as I sat in the passenger seat.  My husband thought it was degrading and chided me for even considering throwing the money at him.  Before I could defend my search the light changed and we drove away.

......................................................................................................................................................

She sat on the cold sidewalk.  Her dirty worn dress tucked over her crossed legs.  An even dirtier threadbare blanket stretched across her hunched shoulders.  She held out her little tin cup and asked the people as they passed by, "Can you help me? Anything, anything can help.  Can you spare anything?"

Most of the people walked by her as if she were not even there.  As I came up close to her I dug in my pockets hoping to find something in them.  I clutched the change in my hand as I made sure to make eye contact.  Her eyes were tired and vacant, the kind of eyes you get from watching a world pass you by that never sees you back.

"I am sorry," I said as I dropped the coins into her cup, "but all I have is change."

Before I could move my hand away she grasped it with her other hand.  Her cold, rough fingers held on tight to my soft, pale hand as she said, "Honey that is all any of us has ever got.  Ain't nobody have nothing more than change.  That is all this world is.  It is just one change after another and most of what it gives, you ain't never saw comin'."

She relaxed her grip on my hand but she and her words gripped my heart.  I sat down next to her on that busy sidewalk, grabbed her hand, and asked her to tell me more about her story.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Two stories.  One fact and one fiction, although I desire to turn the fiction into fact in the sense that I would hope to take the time to be a warm hand, listening ear, and a person who sees others back in a world that tends to pass by without even looking.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

What are you focusing on?

We started a new series for Wednesday night church last night titled, "Where are all the David's?"  Before we went into David our Pastor preached on Joshua 1: 1-11, with the main focus on Josh 1:9

 Have I not commanded you? 
Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, 
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The question that he posed to us during one of our discussion times was how God could command such a thing?  We are all a free people, a people with emotions and feelings.  

After he asked it the answer and image that came into my head was of a parent telling their child not to be afraid, because they are right there with them.  As a parent I have said that to my children numerous times.  "Hey, hello, I am right here. You don't need to worry."

The example that I thought of was of my oldest son. He has dyspraxia and stairs and heights are very frightening to him because of his perception of depth and where he is in space he just doesn't like them and has a hard time navigating them.  There have been many times where I tell him to stand right behind me, have him put his hands on my waist, and we walk it together.  I tell him that he just needs to look at me, nothing to be afraid of.  

He still has to be the one to walk the stairs and navigate through his fears, but he has a hold of me the entire time.  

I think that is pretty much what God is telling us, "Just grab on to Me.  Put your focus on Me and not what it is you are afraid of, I will walk you through it."

I still have to take those steps, put one foot in front of the other, but if I look at who I am following vs. my weakness or fear of what I am stepping into my journey will be a lot more stable and I will have a lot more strength to get through it.  

One may not feel strong and courageous, but one can still act strong and courageous, because they know where their focus lies.  

The pastor ended with telling us to start stepping into what God has for us.....just keep stepping.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Life is like a........cookie?

Cat in the Hat
I made some cookies for a baby shower this weekend.

The dough didn't seem quite the same as it normally does.  It stayed soft even after sitting in the fridge for a few hours.  I wasn't sure why, since I had followed the recipe exactly the same as I always do.

I rolled, cut, and baked them.  When the first batch came out I tried a cookie.  It tasted fine, so on I baked.

The next morning I awoke and went to the store to buy what I needed to frost them, mainly meringue powder.  I went through the check out aisle and realized halfway through ringing up my things I had forgotten the meringue.  DOH!  So, back I went to pick it up.

The Lorax
When I came home I began making the royal icing.  I am not sure what was going on, but I had to keep adding more and more water to get it the right consistency.  Finally it was just right, so I pulled the baked cookies out and began flooding them all with the white frosting.  Two hours later they were all frosted and placed in the oven and microwave to set.....away from little fingers.

Green Eggs and Ham
Four hours later it was time to decorate.  I had picked up food coloring markers at the store and decided I would draw on the decorations this time instead of piping them.  It would save time, my arm, a lot of mess, and it would look more like a storybook picture.

When I pulled the cookies out some of them had darkened around the edges ( you can really see it on the goat cookie).  Strange.  I showed my husband.  He and I both agreed that it looked like an aged book, a trade secret we laughed.

I began drawing the pictures on and all went well.  I only messed up a couple of them, but I had made extra cookies for that.  One truffula tree broke, but I was able to glue it back together with icing and move on.  30 something cookies later I decided I was done and very happy with the results.  I let the markers set to be sure they were good and dry and then I bagged them up.
One fish, two fish.....
One poor cookie broke as it went in (that picky yellow furred eater up above).  It would just have to stay broken.  I couldn't replace it and it still looked okay in the bag.  I carefully laid each cookie in a container by grouping and then put paper towels in to fill up the spaces between them, so they would not get jostled in transit.

I could breathe a sigh of relief. They were finished and I was happy with how they looked.


Then............I looked at them hours later.  The markers were bleeding.  My beautiful cookies now had red splotches on them.  There was no time to redo them and nothing I could do to fix them.  Frustrated doesn't begin to express how I felt (still feel) about that!

My husband grabbed a leftover cookie and said, "Well honey, they still taste good!"
stinkin' splotches!

And isn't that just like life.  You work hard, you overlook the unexpected and work through the unexplained, and you make it beautiful and then splotches happen.  Splotches!  But in the end, after all is said and done, life is still good and you can still see the beauty behind the splotches.


*This story is one of the very many reasons that I would never go into a cookie making business.  Too much stress!*

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

life lessons from a turtle

When we moved here last Spring my daughter found a baby turtle.  She really wanted to keep it, but we had just moved and I didn't want to add another living thing that needed tending to into the house.  I made her release it.

This Spring she was with a group of friends when they found a new freshly hatched turtle.  One of the other friends took it home, but also was told to release it.

My daughter told me about this and she began crying, because she desperately wanted a turtle.  As her tears fell I told her that her tears would evaporate and then they would eventually turn to rain and then the rain would fall on a turtle and that turtle would know she wanted it and it would walk into our yard and if that happened she could keep it.

She smiled, but being almost 12 she knew that wasn't going to happen, but at 12 one still has some spark of hope left in things that seem magical and wondrous.  So every time a tear would fall thinking of that turtle she didn't have she would take a finger, wipe under her eye and then wiggle her fingers up into the air....."evaporating tear" she would whisper under her breath.

One day she was off playing with friends and I was outside cleaning the van.  I had finished and was stepping out of the van when something in the grass had caught my eye.  The cutest tiniest little turtle was in our yard and it was walking right towards me.  I think I may have squealed.  I picked him up and did a little dance because "evaporating tears!"

Those evaporated tears found their way to heaven on a prayer and they rained down on a cute little turtle that walked right up to me.

Assuming that our turtle is a boy his name is Fletcher Madan.  We recently moved him into a turtles paradise complete with waterfall, warming rock, and floating plants to nibble on and hide in.

He has a heat lamp and a UV light.  He needs both.  He needs the heat lamp to keep him warm, but he needs the UV so that his shell will grow properly and be hard.  Turtles that don't get enough UV end up with a soft pitted shell.

The heat lamp gives him warmth and comfort, but it is the UV light that he stretches out towards.  The light that helps him to grow properly and makes him strong is the one that he lifts his head to and puts his focus on.

I think this turtle is teaching me some life lessons.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Nothing

I run the water and sink back deep into my white retreat.  The sound of the water fills my ears and its warmth encases my body.  I slide my fingers over the space that had held life and now doesn't.  I had only known it was there for a short time and now it is gone.

"Why did you even give just to take away?!"  my heart and sobs break.  "I told you I could not handle loss such as this.  I told you I am not strong enough for this!  WHY? WHY?!  I don't understand!"

The burgeoning life that was here one moment is now gone.  I went from being filled with someone to being filled with nothing.  Nothing is left.

I don't even know when it slipped from me; the life and the form it held. I just know it is no more.

I turn off the water, but I can't turn off my tears, my hurt, my empty.

****************
Two weeks earlier

I hold the stick in my hand, the one that will tell me what my future holds.  Two lines.  Two.  My future holds you, an unknown yet suddenly deeply known person.  I want you. I love you. You are my future.

******************
Three days earlier

My sister and I sit across from each other eating lunch.  I tell her about you.  I also tell her about the spots of pink I have been finding.  I am trying hard not to worry.  I have spotted before and all has been well. This time doesn't feel the same though.  I rub my belly where you are growing and I tell you to hold on, keep growing.

*****************
One day earlier

I am bleeding, no longer just pink spots.  I am really scared for you and for me.  We go to the hospital. They do an ultrasound.  The doctor says he can still see you, but you look pretty low, not where you should be. He says not to worry, there is still a chance.  He gives me hope.  

******************
Earlier that morning

The bleeding is worse.  I go to the hospital for a follow up ultrasound.  The woman is horribly insensitive. She has no idea how much I already love you and hope that you are still okay despite the odds and the red, all the red that says you aren't.  She comes and she goes three times talking to her boss.  She isn't finding anything.  He makes her come back and look more because they had seen you last night.  She tells me how that doctor last night should never had said he saw you, now her job is harder.

She pushes down hard on your home that is my womb and the red rushes out and I curse her in my mind because I feel like she is pushing you out. 

"Wow, you really are bleeding aren't you?"

She is finally able to confirm my fears.  You are gone.  

"You can go get dressed now"

I can hardly see for the tears streaming down my face. I don't know how I find the strength to dress myself and walk out to the car. You are gone and with you the future that stick had promised.  

****************
Just shy of 7 years later

I still think about you.  I still wonder why you were given just to be taken.  I still love you.  You will always be someone to me.  The kids took to calling you pooh bear, the baby Mommy lost in her tummy.  So my Pooh Bear, my womb and my arms may have been left empty and filled with nothing when you left, but one day I will meet you and I will get to hold you.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Will Rise

The Butterfly's Story

You captured me
Took advantage of my delicate nature
Knowing I could not fight
You chained me with your actions
And you left me sitting in darkness

I WILL RISE

Chains and darkness are not my destiny
I am meant to fly
Love comes and lights what you made dark
Gives me hope and strength
Freedom is calling

I WILL RISE

Lifted by Light I stretch out my wings
Your chains they pull
 I pull harder
The promise of my future is stronger
Than the pain of my present

I WILL RISE

Torn and tattered by your actions
I rise as your chains fall away
The light of Love fills my broken and my empty
With Love lifting me
My fragility is stronger than your captivity.

I HAVE RISEN






”Whitespace

A Soft Gentle Voice

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Monsters Among Us *Re-post*

This is a re-post from August 2013.  
I have been a little devoid of words the last couple of weeks, but came across this last night and thought I would share it again.  
**********

We got there as the skies were just turning from the black of night to the gray of early morning.  The streets ran like rivers from that night's rain that was still dripping heavy.  My son and I crossed the street and were thankful for flip flops that air dry quickly and don't sog up like tennis shoes and socks do.

We made our way up to the 6th floor.  We arrived before the staff had, so we waited in comfy chairs as I tried to keep him awake with small talk and playful banter.  As the staff trickled in we moved to the less comfy chairs in the waiting area for the EEG clinic.  The halls were quiet as we counted the minutes until 7:30 would come around.

An older man who looked slightly frail, but not an iota weak rolled past us into the clinic.  A minute later he rolled back out in his electric scooter chair and parked next to our seats.  I smiled at him friendly like and he smiled back.  "I am soaked." he said.  After he said it I looked a little closer, past basic friendly acknowledgement, and I noticed that what I had taken for dark gray pants had really been light gray, but were now drenched into darkness.  The small patch of light peeked out behind his right calf testifying to the fullness of truth in his statement.

"You sure are!" I replied back with my profound ability to state the overwhelmingly obvious.

He told me how a car had seen him on the side walk and drove close up to the curb to purposely splash him with a tidal wave of morning rain and then drove away laughing at his wetted state of being.

Again my profundity at stating the obvious was immense and I said, "How RUDE!"  Followed with me stating how I would like to just "smack that guy in the face."

He nodded in agreement with me and told me how if he had "caught that guy" that "he would not have been laughing" when he got done with him.

And as I sat there with the drenched older gentleman who was waiting for his wife, the nurse, to bring him a raincoat, so he could go back home to change along with my head bobbing slightly snoring son who I was neglecting to keep awake, my blood began to boil white hot.  Hot with the injustice and cruelty of man and those who prey on others for nothing but their own folly.

This man with his soggy shoes and saturated baseball cap was the victim of all that is wrong in this world and it came too soon after a week of such stories where too many victims lay soaked in the sins of others cruelty.

"Monsters Lord, they are monsters!" I spit out in prayer.  "They are what is wrong in this world, it is them!"  And no more did I say this to both He and myself when my blood ran cold with the realization that no, they are no different than me, because the truth is we are all the same.  We are all living in a world full of lies.  Lies that tell us that life is really just meaningless, there is no value in a person, no worth in the souls that are clothed in flesh. All that matters or doesn't matter, depending on which side of the lie you look at, is you.  And these men and boys and people who damage others for their own whims and their own pleasure they are the ones who ultimately are the biggest victims of all, because they have grabbed on tightest to the lie.

I shift my weight in the chair, nudge my son with my elbow to wake him up, and watch as the man and his raincoat roll away.  I don't like this realization.  I want there to be a them and an us, I want to categorize us into different categories so that I can assure myself that I am and never will be like them.  And He nudges my own soul awake, "If you do that, if you categorize them, you are them.  You are buying into the lie just as much as they are, because they become nothing, and baby they are not nothing.  They are souls clothed in flesh just the same as you."

I shift again, nudge the snoring son awake again, and wonder if it is 7:30 yet, because the conversation in my head is getting rather uncomfortable, but it isn't and God keeps going.

"Every time you draw the lines, them against you, you all lose out."  And I think of all the lines we draw in this world. I think of how the church, me, the media, the various "sides" have all drawn lines upon lines of 'us vs. them'.  Then I think of how when Jesus came his biggest crime to the religious leaders of the time is that He erased all of their lines.  He didn't erase right and wrong, but He came saying that we as people are all souls worth saving and His message to everyone is "I am what you need". 

Lines are easy to draw.  Loving the soul next to me or the one on the other side of the latest scandal or news story and admitting that they are the same as me in value and worth, that is much harder, but every time I draw the lines I am telling the world that people don't matter and I continue to propagate the lie.

Straight vs. Gay

Black vs. White

Faith vs. Faith
  
Pro-life vs. Pro-choice 
My parenting choices vs. Your parenting choices
My sin issues vs. your sin issues
The lists and the lines can go on and on, but they all lie,  and they tell us that whoever stands on the other side of that line does not matter near as much as I do.  But here is where that lie gets ever so tricky, because if they on the other side of the line don't matter, if their choices/beliefs/actions negate the importance of their souls, then the reverse can also be true and ultimately I can stop mattering.  My choices, my beliefs, and my actions could strip me of my soul's worth and turn me into nothing more than flesh. And herein lies the real monster: the monster is the lie that none of us really matter.
The door to the right of us opens.  It is our turn to go in.  I nudge the snoring boy beside me and we both go in freshly awoken.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:22-24
*I don't know who you are, the person who needs to read this last little bit, but I feel it very heavily that whoever you are, this needs to be added in for you.  There is only one line that will ever matter.  When you die there is a line drawn not for the worth of your soul, but for where it will go.  Christ's love is for everyone.  He draws no lines for who does and who does not deserve His love.  His love is like the best Christmas present you could ever open.  But like all good gifts He won't force it on you.  You have to choose to accept it and open it.  When that day comes the only thing that will matter is if you accepted His gift.  God wants you with Him that is His desire, but being a just God He knows that a gift is only a gift if it is accepted, if it is forced on you it is no longer a gift, because there is no choice in the matter.  Jesus is called the bridegroom over and over again in the Bible.  If a bridegroom hands you an engagement ring he is giving you a choice to marry him.  That is exactly what Jesus is doing.  He is giving you the choice.  If you say yes, this earthly bit is like your engagement and heaven is like your honeymoon.  If you choose to say no, God, on the day you die is not going to force you into marriage with His son, nor will you be able to change your mind.  Please choose wisely friend.*