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