Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Coming Clean: A Book Review of Sorts

In case anyone is wondering, I’m still working on my memoir, but it’s no longer going to be titled “My Year of Living Fearlessly.” That was a title that was suggested to me by an editor and I thought it was saleable and what I was supposed to be writing. But after manufacturing a structure to the book that involved five antidotes to fear and submitting a book proposal to said editor as well as several agents, I hit a brick wall with the writing. I think more aptly, I felt like the Holy Spirit prevented me from proceeding with my plan for the book, much as He prevented Paul and Silas from preaching in Asia. Acts 16:6.

I decided that I needed to read some other memoirs to get a better idea of how they are written and what makes good memoir. About the time I had decided this, a friend posted a link on Facebook to Seth Haines’ new memoir Coming Clean: A Story of Faith, which was available on Kindle at the time for only $1.99.

I bought Seth’s memoir primarily to learn the craft of memoir writing in preparation for writing my own. I got so much more out of this wonderful book than I had bargained for. On the surface it is a story about overcoming alcoholism and Seth’s first 90 days of sobriety. But what is below the surface is relevant to anyone who is using some earthly crutch to mask the pain we all inevitably experience in this world and to hide from a God we sometimes aren’t sure knows or cares. I thought I knew all I needed to about forgiveness, but this book opened my eyes to the many ways I still need forgive and let God be in control.

One of my favorite lines in the book is when Seth quotes Buddy Wakefield, a spoken-word poet, who said, “Forgiveness is releasing all hope for a better past.” When writing memoir, one must necessarily face the past and accept it as unchangeable. This is why my new working title (who am I kidding, it’s going to be the final title if I have any say in the matter) is You Can’t Go Back to Tuesday. As I’ve pondered this, and started on my next memoir to read, God is teaching me more and more what that means for today.

I had the pleasure of meeting Seth a year ago at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference and he encouraged me to write exactly the book I’m determined now to write. Having met him, I shouldn’t have been so surprised about the depth and honesty of his writing. If you’re looking for a formulaic answer to your problems or a nice neatly organized, chronological story, you won’t find it here. But you will find the heart of a man who loves God, loves his son and family, and struggles like the rest of us to understand suffering. This book is well worth the price (even if I’d paid full price) and the time it takes to read. From the day I started it I could hardly put it down.

The double blessing is that I also learned something about how to write great memoir, which was my goal in the first place. I learned that great memoir happens when the author writes for themselves and for purposes of their own growth and understanding of their circumstances. If you try to write what you think others want to read or what you think a publisher will buy, you’ll never write great memoir. If you try to impose some formula—like five antidotes to fear—then you won’t help yourself or resonate with your potential readers.

Seth wrote this “journal” for himself, and in the process shared honestly with us in a way that resonates deep in the soul. I hope and pray I can do the same.

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I Do Not Care

I ponder often what is true
I do
Of what can’t be changed I dare
not care
Never desiring to stumble and fall
at all
Finding myself back to the wall
Life will be easier once I die
but I must confess this to be a lie
I do not care at all

________________

The lesson for a new poetic form is offered up at dVerse Poets Pub by Whimsygizmo today. It’s a fun Spanish form called the Ovillejo. I just had to give it a try. Head on over for the lesson and to read some wonderful poetry, some whimsical and some more serious, in this wonderful form.

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What We Deserve

We think we all deserve God’s love
All good gifts that come from above
A good God wouldn’t send folks to hell
And therefore the story we tell saves all with love

Except, of course, men like Hitler
Terrorists and Jeffrey Dahmer
They don’t deserve to see heaven
Don’t belong with the eleven we are so sure

But just where do we draw the line
What is your fate and what is mine
We all deserve God’s holy wrath
Because we’ve followed our own path and think we’re fine

We must be repentant sinners
When the truth of God’s mercy blurs
Vision of the Lamb who was slain
And how He took all mankind’s pain troubled heart stirs

Not one of us deserves God’s grace
Praise to Jesus who took our place
He saw our need and came to save
His life for us He freely gave, we must embrace

* * * * *

As is typical for me, when I learn a new poetry form I can’t write just one. The idea for this poem was originally going to be an essay, but this morning this Florette started forming in my mind, so I finished writing it while I ate my breakfast and decided to post it in time to share for Meeting at the Bar at dVerse Poets Pub.

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Not Unforgiven

The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is brought to us by De Jackson who wants us to write using the poetic device of enjambment (which is when thought doesn’t end at the end of a line of poetry but spills over onto the next line). Lately I’ve been writing more form poetry, but I’ve been known to write a fair amount of free verse using enjambment. So I decided to take on De’s challenge to write using hyphenated words for this short poem on forgiveness.

Not Unforgiven

Feeling un-
forgiven is what I am

I will be-
loved for all eternity

Love is with-
held only by the wicked

You are whole-
some of what I need

God is all-
knowing my heart’s desire

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A Cautionary Tale and Forgiveness

I’ve been pondering my past, my regrets, a lot lately and it was starting to get me down. Regrets will do that, you know. I was really starting to let it get to me, praying that God would just let me forget the things I’ve done and have had happen to me that I wish I could change but can’t.

But some things aren’t meant to be forgotten (even though they’re forgiven) because God wants to use them as a cautionary tale to others.

So here are my thoughts, my warnings to those young girls who might be heading down a similar path that I once followed. Trust me, you don’t want to get to 50 and wish you could either forget or go back and change your teen years.

Teens today think it’s cool and acceptable to have sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend, even if they have no intention of it being forever. Sometimes a teen girl will have sex with her boyfriend because she is looking for love and acceptance and thinks that’s the only way to find it. Sex is just no big deal, they think. But it is a really big deal. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to say my husband is the only one I’d ever had sex with. Well, I could say it, but it wouldn’t be true. And there is nothing I can do to change that.

God’s Word says that sex is to be reserved for marriage. Our culture thinks that’s old-fashioned and that sexual freedom is better.

Clergyman Richard Cecil once wrote, “God denies a Christian nothing, but with a design to give him something better.” Sex outside of marriage is denied by God because monogamy and having only one special, perfect lover is better.

Though I can’t go back and change the past, I was reminded by a favorite Sanctus Real song the other day not to let that get me down because that was the old me and Christ has made all things new. The lyrics to that song speak to me. The second verse and chorus are:

My mistakes are running through my mind
And I’ll relive my days in the middle of the night
When I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride.
Sometimes I feel alone and I cry.

And in this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

Well, I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
‘Cause I’m forgiven

Forgiven, Sanctus Real

Every day we make choices. I pray young men and women will make Godly choices instead of the worldly choices I made when I was young. I pray that if you are reading this cautionary tale, you will take it to heart and avoid the regret, the struggle of reliving your days in the middle of the night. Practice patience and self-control, waiting until you find your real one true belove, the one you have married, to discover the wonder and joy of God’s gift of sex.

But if you are like me, if you have regrets, remember that you, too, can be forgiven. When a woman who had led a sinful life came to Jesus, He had compassion on her. “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” Luke 7:48 (NIV). He will say the same to you.

 

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I’ll Call Her Cindy Lou

Someone said to name her
so I’ll call her Cindy Lou
It doesn’t take away the shame
of what I can’t undo

But now she seems more human
not just a cause for strife
Perhaps her death will matter
and save another life

Now I have a daughter
not just a memory of pain
She grew my heart three sizes
so God’s grace it can contain

 

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Blessings of Boldness

Being bold and courageous is hard and sometimes risky, but it’s always worth the risk. Last week when I posted my 6th Anniversary post, I mentioned that I was going to share on Monday about the blessings of being bold. But one of the two things I planned to share didn’t go as I had planned and so I didn’t write that post. After God added another blessing to the mix, I’m now ready to share.

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about my personal experience with Planned Parenthood. I was terrified to post it, but I did, on a Wednesday evening thinking no one would see it. That one little post ended up getting more views and shares in three days than I’ve ever had for any post. Some of my posts have been viewed more over the long haul, but never in such a short period of time.

Then, about a week later, I got a comment from Randy Alcorn (okay, it was from his media relations specialist) asking if he could re-blog that post. Of course I said yes, because being re-blogged by an author with his credentials is a great blessing for a relatively unknown author like me. Plus, it meant my story now has the potential to touch even more lives and be a blessing to others. His post including my re-blogged post went live on Monday here.

The next blessing came when I was bold and courageous to share my story in church this past Sunday. We are doing a sermon series on how God changes lives, and He has definitely changed mine. It was hard and risky to share my story, but it was well worth the risk. Afterwards I got lots of hugs, plus a few people who said they had been through something similar and that what I shared helped them. I also received some follow-up notes from some members of our church, including a handwritten note that came in the mail (those are my favorite kind).

I was all set to share the link to the audio of my testimony in my post on Monday, but it turned out that the recording got messed up and you couldn’t really hear it. There was a lot of static and my voice was so quiet that even when the static stopped for a second or two, you couldn’t hear me. I was so upset, because I knew there were people who had asked me to send them the link because they wanted to listen but weren’t able to come to our church that morning.

So, because I didn’t have the audio to share in this post, I had decided not to write it. Then I mentioned to my awesome husband that the audio had been messed up on my testimony and he replied, “I recorded it. It’s on my phone.” I was so happy and felt so blessed that he cared so much to have recorded it. I was able to upload it to SoundCloud and create the recording below.

And the triple blessing in all of this is that I discovered how easy it is to use SoundCloud and embed a SoundCloud clip into my blog, so now I can add audio readings of some of my poetry, too.

Anyway, the lesson for me this week is that God is good and often works to bless us even when we think He’s forgotten us or doesn’t care. That is the story of my life, but it’s also the story of the recording of my story. I was disappointed that He didn’t make sure the church recording of my testimony worked out, but He had a plan for me to see how much my husband loves me. And how much He loves me.

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The Wedding Is Only the Beginning

Today is the first Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. We were supposed to keep the prose portion of our haibun to two paragraphs and focus on nature. I started with nature but expanded my offering to God’s purpose for marriage.

The Wedding Is Only the Beginning

The sunlight trickled through the pine trees onto the wedding party dressed in sky blue and cream. It had been raining a mere 20 minutes earlier—always a risk for an outdoor wedding in the Pacific Northwest. But now everything was sunshine and smiles as the keyboardist played Here Comes the Sun while the flower girls held signs that said “Here comes your bride.” It was a reminder that into every life—and every marriage—both rain and sunshine will come.

Sitting in that sacred forest place, I was reminded of my own wedding 29-years-less-one-day before. My bridesmaid and the best man were dressed in sky blue, and the sun was shining that day, too, trickling through the stained glass windows of the church. There was no rain that day, but there’s been rain and storms since. But also plenty of beautiful, happy sunny days. Lots of love and grace and forgiveness. After all, a truly successful marriage—whether the wedding is outdoors or in—is the union of two people committed to actively loving one another and forgiving whenever necessary.

Say “I do” freely
with intent to forever
keep your promises

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Grace and Mercy

The deepness of my soul You know
But still You don’t get up and go

Ev’ry mean thought and evil deed
Only point to my deepest need

Although I can never undo
All my transgressions against You

There is grace and mercy divine
I, Lord, am Yours and You are mine

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I Am a Reluctant Watchman

The Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is offered by guest bartender Lynn. She is asking us to write about what the watchman sees. I decided to take my first line from the Isaiah verse she quoted, with a slight modification. This prompt was actually perfect for me this week as I’ve been writing more (in prose/essay form) about my personal experience with abortion. I’ve felt a little like the watchman, though a reluctant one.

I Am a Reluctant Watchman

Go set a watchman; let her announce what she’s seen
Declares the Lord our God
It’s not about me, knows the watchman, but where I’ve been

I don’t want to play watchman in our world today
I tell the Lord my God
It’s not about you, He replies, you must go this way

And so I speak the atrocities I’ve both seen and done
Trusting the Lord my God
Then I share the compassion of Jesus the Son

Murder I see and murder I’ve perpetrated
Grieving the Lord our God
For our own convenience children are daily terminated

Lies I was told and deception reigns supreme
Angering the Lord our God
I wish I could say this is only a horrible dream

But He’s set me a watchman to announce what I’ve seen
Glorifying the Lord my God
With the truth I learned when I was just seventeen

Choices made out of fear can never be undone
Whispers the Lord my God
But they can be forgiven by the grace Christ has won

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