WORDS

Word LoveWORDS

One of my new favorite songs is called “Words” by Hawk Nelson (with help from Bart Millard)

“They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’ve never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began
Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart
Or put it out”

I love it because it is so TRUE. WORDS are powerful.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14)

Luke 6:45 “…What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Matthew 12:34 “…Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

James 3:8 “…but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.”

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.” (Prov 25:11)

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1)

“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” (Prov 12:18)

As it turns out, the Bible has quite a few words to say about our words.

One of my guilty pleasures is “reality” television. Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) and American Idol have captured my attention for several reasons.

On DWTS, Bruno captivates me.

For Idol, I am horrified by Simon.

More on them in a moment…

About the same time I started watching reality shows, I also joined my very first bible study.  Beyond knowing what Christmas and Easter were basically about, biblical ideas were all new to me.  We met Thursdays at 10 am in the church lobby and it was here I met Kelly, who I now call quotable Kelly—(QK).

Growing up poor and mostly in the Salvation Army, as a youth QK was rewarded with a case of soda for knowing her scriptures.

Because of this study and my desire to know more about Jesus, I got to know people I never would have interacted with.  These ladies were outside of my circles of friends from work or my fellow weekend warriors. There was something different about QK especially. She had a different way of speaking: her tone was low, her eyes were sincere and these effects were paired up with piercing words she spoke—not piercing like stabbing knife pain, but piercing like tiny acupuncture needles.

We were studying a book by Joanna Weaver titled, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.” I thought the study would be about having faith like the Virgin Mary in this “Martha Stewart” type world.  How embarrassing. I guess I should have read the actual Bible for a Bible study.  The bible story of the sisters Mary and Martha who hung out with Jesus, and who this whole book was about, was completely foreign to me. I almost quit the first day. My sister, not a biblical scholar herself, talked me out of this with her wisdom. She reminded me that God knows the heart.  It isn’t all about what you know or can recite.

Biblical ignorance aside, not a single woman in that quiet church atrium ever judged me for my lack of knowledge or judged me about anything. All those ladies helped me through the study, showed me who Jesus was through their actions, prayed for me in my marriage AND in my divorce, and cried tears along with me at my father’s passing.

At times their words would sting, but I knew they were pointing out truth and knew they were speaking it in such a way that I heard them. Like those tiny acupuncture needles, the words brought healing to my life.

Now back to Bruno and Simon.

I absolutely love watching Bruno: his over-the-top mannerisms, his accent, his sweet face, his buoyant spirit…

My reaction to watching Simon is the complete opposite: his dismissive attitude, his scowling face, his spirit dampening words… Watching the faces of those he speaks to; it pains me to watch, however; I do love his accent!

I got to wondering why my reactions to these two men are so different. If I saw Bruno, I would hug him and ask him to share coffee or lunch and just sit and watch him talk. If I saw Simon, I would avoid him like an ex-boyfriend wearing a pink Speedo.

I look at these two people who, because of their talent, experience, money, or whatever are asked to be judges. They rate people. They give them feedback, instruction, and WORDS based on certain guidelines that lead to a rating of their conclusion and determine peoples’ futures.

While watching Bruno, besides loving his accent, his enthusiasm is contagious. He gets so excited for almost every single contestant. He will slowly rise out of his chair as the intensity of his words builds, “Oh Daaah-ling…it…was…fun-taastic! You have grown so much since you started.” He waves a hand out at the dancer. Tilting his head, “Your movements were delicious and flirtatious.” Now both his hands are helping his words and he is fully out of his chair and leaning across the judges’ table, “You were sssensual and ssssexy and ssssimply stunning!”

Even when he is giving a low mark, he will say something like, “You bring carnage and mayhem in everything you do, but it’s still a two-step.”(Actual quote taken from DWTS fan website). And yet, even when he gives a low mark, his words seem to be delivered with a salve. Sometimes he makes them feel good about getting the low mark! It mystifies me.

Check out some of his “mean” quotes:

“You looked slightly grumpy more than sexy.”

“It was a bit airy-fairy at times.”

“It’s like a samba from Zombietown. But Zombietown is a hit!”

“Good bum action. You learn how to use it and there’s no stopping you.”

“I know you enjoy the lower regions, but you have to bring the fluidity on the top.”

“You look like a crazy bear lost in a swamp.”

(Quotes compiled from the Dancing with the Stars Fan website)

“Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Prov 15:4)

Simon is another case entirely. It would appear he works from a “tough love” standpoint. Simon was quoted from the show once as saying, “I met someone the other night who’s 28 years old, and he hasn’t worked a day since he left college because he’s pursuing a dream he’ll never, ever realize: He thinks he’s a great singer. Actually, he’s crap.

Here are a few more choice quotes of his: (Taken from Simon Cowell’s top 10 cut-downs by Martin Higgins)

“Your facial expressions are ugly… You are a beautiful girl but you’re ugly when you perform.”

My advice would be if you want to pursue a career in the music business, don’t.”

If you win this competition, we will have failed.”

Let me throw a mathematical dilemma at you – there’s 500 left, well how come the odds of you winning are a million to one?”

If you would be singing like this two thousand years ago, people would have stoned you.”

You take singing lessons? Do you have a lawyer? Get a lawyer and sue your teacher.”

It’s painful to watch the crushing of spirits.

I mostly watch DWTS these days and limit my exposure to Simon’s shows.

Matthew 12:36 says, “I tell you this, you must give account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.” (Matthew 12:36)

Ephesians 4:14-15 tells us, “We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…”

I figured out why I was drawn to QK’s words, besides the truth in them: she delivered them like Bruno, with a salve for the spirit. She delivered them like Christ, with more of what we all need—love.

May you always be able to speak your truth in love.

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TRUTH or FICTION?

TRUTH OR FICTION?Image

Having dinner with friends last week, the launch party for my first book “grace” was brought up.

“Okay,” my friend’s husband leans back from the table. He straightens out his spectacles and says, “About your book…I don’t want to sound stupid, but which one’s real? Fiction or non-fiction?”

His wife nods her head, “I always get those confused!”

“That’s not uncommon,” I reply. “Non-fiction is the real stuff, like auto biographies.” I nod at them and try to help them with the trick I used to learn this. “Fiction is false. EF-Fake.”

“Okay, I think I got it. So your book ‘grace’ is…?” Both of them look at me.

The restaurant is a flurry of activity; families enjoying dinner, couples conversing, mugs of margaritas and the sizzles of fajitas swarming all around us.

“Grace is fiction, but many parts of the book are taken from real life–from my life or lives of those around me. So some of it, you could say, is non-fiction.”

I say, “Take for example, the four main characters. They are totally made up people. False. Fiction. But the part in there with the hunting dog, that story is true. My uncle’s hunting dog Corky really did that.”

My two confused friends lean in closer and look at me with eyebrows raised. “Okay, so why did you choose to write ‘grace’ as fiction?”

I look at them. I think they are tracking with me now just as the waitress arrives with our steaming plates of cheesy, beany deliciousness.

As we settle in with our food, my friend’s husband resumes, “I have only gotten to the acknowledgements section, so don’t say too much! Okay, so let me get this straight. Your book is non-fiction?”

His wife chuckles, “No, its fiction!” Then she looks at me, “Right?”

We’re all laughing.

The conversation above really happened. Non-fiction. True.

The book I wrote is a fiction novel with characters I made up.  The location in southern Oregon exists and has been molded by me (fiction) to fit the made- up (fictional) action of the story, which in turn is loosely based on some life events I’ve witnessed and sprinkled with pieces and parts of reality and truth (non-fiction).

Crystal clear as mud?

As many people I know read it, I am certain they will see parts of themselves and events that we’ve shared in life, but the reality is – fiction provides a beautiful freedom to express a reality or truth that is shared.

This happens all the time in literature. Even in The Bible, Jesus often taught his disciples with “parables” or stories in order to point out a truth.

Sooo–

SPOILER ALERT!!! I thought it would be helpful to share some tid-bits from my “fiction” book that are the non-fiction (TRUE) parts. (If you haven’t yet read “grace” beware of the following information):

Robbery at grandparent’s house right after Easter by escaped, convicted child molesters – True

My parents’ bright orange Vega was stolen in the robbery – True

My “grampy” was a championship trap shooter who battled with lung cancer – True

My uncle’s hunting dog Corky and the event in the book – True

My friend floated down a different river much to her hatred and fear of snakes – True

Ashland creek flooded in 1997 – True

I know someone who basically subsisted on Skittles – True

The story about “The River” on the cover of the book of by Heidi Rosner (see prior blog “Behind the Cover” on juleseddy1.wordpress.com) – True

“Grace” is currently available from WestBowPress.com, Amazon.com & Barnesandnoble.com – True

Friends have sprinkled seeds of the truth of Jesus Christ in my life, forever changing me – True

The undying, relentless, unfathomable, all consuming love of a Savior who never gives up on us, even to the death – TRUE!

(This list is not exhaustive—you’ll have to ask me about the rest! 8)

If you are in the Valley of the Sun, save the morning of Saturday, JUNE 1st for a FREE Launch Party/book signing/raffle at ASU’s Sky Song’s Convergence room from 10am – 12pm.  “Grace” is available at the party!

I hope to see you there! True!

FREE WATER-SKIING!

free waterskiing
My college roommate left the university paper on the counter for me to read. Was she trying to get rid of me for the summer? I read on:

“Water ski instructors needed for Camp Vega, an all-girls summer camp in Maine.”

Hmmm. I grab up the paper. My attention is now focused. Both my parents were competition water-skiers. My family grew up waterskiing throughout the summer in Colorado. Now, with the both my sister and I away at college, the competition ski boat was sold and we only sporadically, recreationally skied behind the old blue outboard boat we cleverly named “Bluie.”

“Four Competition Ski Nautiques. Ski all summer and be a part of molding young ladies lives. Must be able to instruct all levels of skiers and to safely pull skiers through the slalom course.”

No problem.

So I made the call. Throughout the phone interview and job details I heard, “Free waterskiing. Free waterskiing. Blah-de-blah-de-blah-blah.” Something about being a camp counselor, getting free meals and something about $800 for the summer plus $2oo for travel, and then I heard it again, “Free waterskiing all summer.”

I was in. I sold my sister on it too. Both of us were hired to be Water-ski Instructors and looked forward to a wonderful summer of free waterskiing in Maine!!
I should have paid closer attention in my geography class– Maine is that state all the way up there by Canada; with all the cold temperatures and a plethora of chilly lakes.

I should have paid closer attention in math class– $1,000 for the whole summer: June, July and August. Adding in the camp counselor part of the job, this was a 24/7 position. Break that down hourly and we’re talking about $0.37/hour. In 1991, you couldn’t even buy a Snickers bar for that.

Did I also mention it was run by a retired cop? He ran the place with an iron fist, keeping all in fear and ensuring the campers were safe and had the time of their lives. (As if being sued by the campers’ wealthy parents wasn’t enough fear!)

It was beyond exhausting. Days being tossed on the lake all day long with young girls whose ages ranged from six years old through to fifteen years old and at every level of aptitude. Some girls had never been in a lake while others were already competition slalom skiers. After a marathon day filled with that, I was assigned to “Saco;” a bunk filled with fifteen angst driven twelve and thirteen year olds mostly at this camp so their affluent parents could travel all summer.

Originally my bunk had four counselors assigned. Two quit before all the attention-starved campers arrived. Lucky them. Their positions were never filled.

Did I mention all that free waterskiing I did? No? I think I skied twice. I chose days where the water was warm enough so that I wouldn’t have to report to the nurse’s station for hypothermia and then I was already so exhausted from all the other duties, I could only summon two or three passes through the course.

Yet, I still have so many fond memories of that time. The trip across country with my sister will forever be re-told as the adventures grow through each telling; how we almost died when we ended up in the wrong part of Chicago, how we got stuck spending the night in a cockroach infested single-wide hotel in Pennsylvania, and the story of the lake spider (the size of Connecticut!) crawling up my sister during a ski staff meeting.

Heidi, my remaining co-counselor, became instant friends by sharing a bond forged in the “trenches of Saco.”

I (reluctantly) fell in love with all the girls by summer’s end. Tears stung my eyes watching Sarah who belted out the leading role in Sound of Music. I was hoarse from screaming encouragement at Ashley who scored the winning goal against the rival soccer team. And Jill, my very favorite camper, successfully skied the whole slalom course in the final water ski competition. On, and on and on the achievements and growth that happened over one summer. Until just a few years ago, I still maintained contact with some of those campers. Saying good-bye was one of the most emotional days of my life …

It was the toughest job of my life on many levels: physically, emotionally, financially…

Until now.

This writing thing is brutal.

I just received my first review on Amazon.com. It wasn’t very uplifting. It is from a family member.<br />
Don’t get me wrong, I am so very grateful for all who have spent the money and took the time to read my first novel “grace.” So grateful. And I am grateful for those who will take the time to write a review and to be very honest about it. So grateful.

Author Kristen Lamb summed it up for me in one of her blogs titled “HOW BOXING CAN MAKE US BETTER WRITERS—LESSON ONE.” She writes, “Think of this job like boxing. We’re in the ring. Outside (and even internal) critics are going to seek to gut-punch and knock the wind out of us. Their objective is to drop us to our knees and make us give up.”

The world out there is rough. Family has always been my “soft place to land.” I didn’t see this one coming.

Just like the end of that summer watching my favorite camper Jill’s face, eyes puffed and red from all our crying and hugging good-bye, as the yellow school bus shuttled her out of my reach and back to her parents on August 30, 1991.

Gut-punch.

On my knees, trying to catch my breath.

I think about the time it took for me to finish “grace.” The hours I spent writing, re-writing, editing, then re-writing, then re-rewriting, and revising and re-revising. Then more edits and more re-writes. The writing courses, the writing critique sessions, the weekends spent at my computer from sun-up to sun-down. Add it all up and I am not even close to a Snickers bar.

I’ll never forget the wise words of one of my upper division Creative Writing Professors. He said, “If you’re doing this writing thing to make the ‘big bucks’ you should get out now. It’s the rare occasion when a writer makes lots of money, but that is never why you become a writer. You do it because you love writing.” He went on to cite all these (now dead and now famous) authors who were penniless.

I didn’t write “grace” or any of the stuff I write to “make the big bucks.” I don’t write to become even remotely “famous.” I write because I have to. I write to honor the dream that God placed in my heart many years ago to be a writer. I wrote “grace” because I truly felt God nudging me, time after time, to put it out there.

Did my abilities get in the way of His message? Possibly.

I put a little bit of everything in “grace:” love, betrayal, murder, a football story, a boy with his dog, death and new life, and all in a beautiful location. A little bit of everything and hoping to appeal to everyone with the underlying message that true grace is available to everyone. My mistake is thinking that everyone will accept grace.

Determined to not give up, I arise from my knees.

That review aside, God’s message is still golden. His message is grace. Not my character in the book. The term grace has been described as “undeserved forgiveness.” Lots of people have problems with the idea of something they don’t have to work for–something free–something given to them when they don’t feel they deserve it.

I don’t blame them. I will be the first to yell, “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE WATERSKIING!”

And what Jesus did for us—the underserved forgiveness that He accomplished for us by doing what He did on the cross—it doesn’t cost us a thing. But don’t, for one second, think that it didn’t come at a price. It cost Him dearly.

As discouragement pricks at my eyes and my exhaustion from working long hours at these other “real jobs” so that I can have these other “free hours” to spend on writing and trying to honor what sparks God has put in my life to write about, I grit my teeth and remember another lesson I learned along the way–

It was another “not-so-kind” review from a former class-mate that I took too personally. I recall sharing my feelings with a third party who was also taking the course. His words got me through, “You didn’t write this for her anyhow.”

You got that right.

When I set out to complete “grace,” I decided that if it made an impact on just ONE person, then all the hours, all the late nights and early mornings, all the money I threw at it and the heart I put into it would be worth it.

As I tuck in my chin and raise my gloves, I prepare my armor for another day. I take heart in all the positive words of encouragement, the prayers, and the kindness of those who have supported me along the way and who continue to remind me of the Truth –I don’t write for reviews. I write to point the world to something greater than me and I do it to try to honor the “free” gift I have been given.

So grateful.

Haboob

Haboob and palms

I just went on a lovely spring run in the desert. It appears the entire desert is in bloom: prickly pears sporting purple petals, trees covered in blossoms of yellow, pink and white, bottle brush in red, and wild flowers bursting through the desert floor in a rainbow of colors. Scents of orange blossom waft through the air and a junior bunny rabbit crosses my path with its white tail bouncing behind it. This would all be wonderful, except a rare, rather blustery, spring breeze is also flowing through the valley of the sun and, it just so happens, I am having the worst allergy season of my life.
I wipe at my sand paper crusted eyes, and hold my breath as I pass a young man trimming all the desert foliage and further adding to the “particulate pollution.” As I look over to the McDowell mountains, the haze of pollens obstructs my view, reminding me of the “Claritin clear” commercial. It looks like a hazy old romantic photograph or a doctored up “glamour shot”—I can barely see the outline of the mountains against the sky. Seeing very few of the usual dog walkers and joggers, I am certain that, had I had watched the news, I am venturing out in a “HEALTH ADVISORY” kind of day.
As I plug along, determined to burn off last night’s carb’s, all these pollens trigger something in me besides a histamine response. I think of sin. How it can cloud our ability to see things clearly; our ability to see truth. How sometimes we don’t even know how bad it is for us or how slowly it has creeped up on us and invaded our lives. Suddenly we find ourselves “in it.”
The subtlety of sin is like pollen. Some have an immediate reaction to it. For others, it doesn’t seem to faze them. But it seems to be seeping into our culture.
When did this happen? When did kids stop saying the “pledge of allegiance in schools?” When did it become a “holiday party” instead of “Christmas celebration?” In a world with pornography at our fingertips, violence splashed unabashedly in nearly every movie, and the “F-word” as common in conversation as allergies in the desert, I think we are all under attack.
Casting Crown’s lyrics from “Slow Fade” tell a haunting tale:
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”

When I first moved to the desert (some fifteen summers ago), I got sick: fever, chills, coughing, stuffy head, achy, etc., It lasted for days before I went to the doctor. No antibiotics for me. Diagnosis: Allergies. They told me everyone in Arizona either has them or will get them and I would just have to get used to it.
I didn’t accept that. A week later I still had the same symptoms. I got a second opinion. Antibiotics took care of it. After that, I took matters into my own hands. I exercised, ate right, took supplements and did what was in my power to stay healthy. I still occasionally will get ill. And, after fifteen summers, I now truly have those dreaded allergies. Some things are beyond our control.
Last summer, we had a record monsoon season. The term “haboob” became a part of every valley residents’ vocabulary. These massive walls of dust have been featured on national news and to see them coming toward you is very foreboding! Unlike the allergies and the winds blowing pollens, with haboobs at least you have a warning for these storms as they head at you like the wall of sand in “The Mummy.” I have just heard forecast of a possible haboob/dust storm for today.
Whether we are caught unawares in our sins or have had our lives disasters broadcast on national news, we don’t have to stay accept the slow fade of sin in our lives.
In Acts, The Bible tells of how Paul, a killer of Christians was transformed from his sins: “What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16)
We can come to the feet of Jesus, call out to Him and be washed clean of our sins and selfishness.
“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
Although sin surrounds us, we can take matters into our own hands:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
Usually after one of these massive dust storms, the desert is drenched in a monsoonal downpour. The streets flood with muddy waters and by the next day, the evidence of the haboob has been washed clean. All that remains is the news story and pools of waters in the washes newly afloat with ducks and geese.
Like a spring rain in the desert, dousing the pollens in the air and replenishing reservoirs, Jesus renews our lives. He sprinkles refreshing, cleansing, purifying water that is new life flowing through us.
I hope you never get caught in a haboob. I hope you never suffer from allergies. Above all, I hope you choose to not accept the slow fade of sin in your life and you will make the call out to Jesus.

FENCES

Image

All things can serve a purpose. No matter how benign the intentions, they can be used for good or for evil.

Take, for example, a fence.  It serves a purpose—delineates where “mine” ends and “yours” begins. It can keep things out. It can harbor things in. Fences come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are old, wooden and war weathered, some are new, shiny, white and expensive, some are reinforced and some are hastily repaired, others are simple metal chain link and showing their all to those outside.  Some are just nice “curb appeal” and for show.

I recently visited my home town of Arvada, CO.  Lacing up my running shoes and bundling up for the CO weather, I hit the familiar streets. Step by step, house by house, fence by fence, I was flooded by memories. First, I passed my grade school music teacher’s house. His yard is bordered by a wooden slat fence. Why didn’t he stop our trio of Jenny, Debbie and me from publicly slaughtering our version of Barry Manilow’s “You know I can’t smile without you” in the choir assembly?

Next I passed by my track coach’s house. His yard is surrounded by a split rail, easy to see in. He trained me out of my weakened condition after I got mono and into many first place finishes in the 400 yard dash in Jr. high school.  

Around another corner or two and I am at Mr., Tinsley’s house. Metal mesh and wood show the well kept yard and the puffy white dog owned by the science teacher who we would inevitably run into at the KarmelKorn shop as we were lured in by the silky caramel smell every time we visited King Soopers.  

Up and down streets, past houses and yards filled with stories, some good and some not so good. Back then, I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus and made some questionable decisions. Every time I return home, I battle with these memories. Even though I have been blessed with so many wonderful times, why do those bad memories have a way of not letting go? I struggle with forgiving myself for the sins and selfishness of my past and with the poor decisions I made.

I liken this to those sturdily built fences. The ones you can’t even peek in between the slats and those that can certainly look nice and pretty to the outside world. They hold everything in and don’t allow for the world to see in. But they also won’t let anything out. The fence of unforgiveness has no gate.

Now that I know Jesus Christ, I read in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

This is one of the many things I love about being a Christ follower.  By confessing these things to a loving God and accepting that Christ already paid the price for me, I am new.  I now make decisions from a different place than I did before.  Jesus makes it safe for me to allow people to see between the slats of my fence. No condemnation.

I am getting better at those decisions, but following Jesus doesn’t mean I am perfect.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean this struggle to forgive myself is locked away in my past.

As I allow people into my life and let them see some of my ugly scars, warts and boils, I think of those fences that have been weathered, beaten, and that you can see some of the yard work needing to be done and the peeling façade of the house behind there. Repentance and conviction are not easy tasks. It is an on-going battle.

With Christ, I am grateful to read, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’” (Lamentations 3: 22)

New every morning?—I need that! (I say to myself “Thank GOD!”) as I allow mercy to freshen my façade. And with Jesus, He won’t give up on me until He has finished the good work in me He started.

Back when I lived in Colorado (and since I used to be an “equal opportunity dater,”)  scattered along my running route are more old boyfriends’ houses than I care to re-count.

I wonder if they know I am a new creation in Christ?

Do they forgive me or still harbor unforgiveness about my decisions and actions like I often do for myself?

–At this point in my run, I do my speed work, accelerating my pace so if they see me they can’t recognize me. 

The fence I see around this area of my life is as the concrete border of a prison, topped with barbed wire.

My mind clicks through some very painful memories, like firing off ammunition in a high powered rifle.

Every time I “put myself out there,” I consider what those whom I have “wronged” might say. I want to stay behind that concrete, protected by the walls and wires of the prison.  Yet I also read that “You are the light of the world –like a city o a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14)

There is a lot of unknown out there as I venture into a more public sphere of sharing who I am in Christ.

Anytime you “show your light to the world,” allowing them to see the dark shadows of your past or even the present mistakes, there is the strong probability the world will judge you, mock you, convict you and lock you away, behind the walls of unforgiveness. 

But we don’t have to remain prisoners to our pasts, our decisions, or our sins and selfishness.  The Bible tells us Jesus has redeemed us. REDEMPTION: “the act of saving something or somebody from a declined, dilapidated, or corrupted state and restoring it, him or her to a better condition” and also, “deliverance from the sins of humanity by the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross” (Encarta Dictionary).

Because of what Jesus did those 2000 years ago, we are redeemed. Jesus breaks down the walls and shows each of us a way out.

 “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”( Matthew 7:14)

As I run down the avenues of my past and climb the hills of my journey, reminiscing over regrets, I am struck with a visualization of Golgotha – the hill where my battered, bloody savior hung on a cross between two thieves to free me from my self-constructed prison walls and to allow me to choose His gate.

I remind myself of my newness, my redemption, my choice. I travel in the freedom of a verse that I now consider “my motto:”

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 4:12)

I will continue to make mistakes. I will probably continue to struggle with my past, but I promise to continue to run this race clinging to Jesus and focusing on what He is calling me to do.

And to that I say, “Amen.”