Ellen Lockwood

Calamity Jane

When I was growing up one of my fondest memories is being constantly grubby – I must add that this wasn’t from a lack of my mum trying with all she had to keep me clean! I was a tomboy that liked to get wet and roll in mud and that’s why Calamity Jane has got to be title for the first part of my story. As well as mud I also really loved TV, especially musicals. It didn’t matter if they were black or white or full colour, I really loved the idea of telling a story through a song and I guess I got lost in it and loved the characters and mood that could be created. As I watched Calamity Jane I related to her, she was rough and tumble just like I was, she loved the outdoors just like me. But, for those of you who have seen Calamity Jane you’ll know that there came a turning point where the things she experienced changed who she was. To be honest I was no different and maybe it’s true that we all have moments in our lives where important decisions have to be made.

I grew up in Yeovil, Somerset and still have family there. I am very grateful of the fact that I grew up in a loving home where I didn’t want for anything. I’m not sure they have agreed with all my choices but Mum and Dad have wanted me to learn my own lessons as I’ve grown up and I knew that they were never far away, willing to pick up the pieces if necessary.

I have been very fortunate and really thank God now for the environment I grew up in, I learned good morals, to work hard and be honest and I hope that will always be with me.

What you have in your hand right now is a bit of a shock because I never really thought I was a musical person. In a way what you have listened to is more of a surprise to me than it might be to you. But we’ll get to that later.

Beauty and The Beast

When I was 11 I met a girl called Ruth who’s Dad was an Anglican Vicar. She was open about being a Christian and talked about Jesus regularly as her friend and someone she would call on or talk to. Now my understanding of a Christian was perhaps they were just ‘a good person’. I had never made the connection that being a Christian actually meant you had chosen to follow Christ Jesus.

I got to know Ruth really well and watched how she lived, she wasn’t perfect but I saw something different in her, something remarkable that made me wonder if there was more to God and Jesus than I had previously thought.

The more I got to know Ruth and the more I heard about Jesus and his love for me the more unclean and ugly I felt. She would invite me to church and give me bookmarks with bits of the Bible on them and they would make me cry. I didn’t feel condemned because of anything that she had said or done, she just showed me what it was like to belong to God and it made me ever so aware of my own separation from Him. Up until that point I blamed God for every bad thing that ever took place in my life and in the outside world, He had been the Beast and I was searching for the Beauty anywhere and every where I could. I was too young to try and find any form of satisfaction in money but I tried to find what I thought I needed from relationships or just doing what I thought normal teenagers should do. So I made my mistakes and gave my heart away too often and lived with the consequences.

The King and I

Then, on the 5th of February 1995 (I was 16) Ruth invited me to a church on the other side of town that was a bit more lively than what I was used to and I loved it. There was something extraordinary about the atmosphere, I felt it as I walked in and looking back I know it was God himself.

I don’t remember what was talked about but I remember afterwards the band got up to play and I started to cry uncontrollably. It was embarrassing, but I really didn’t care, it was almost as though God was talking to me and saying ‘you’ve been fighting to try and stay in control of your own life – let me have it’. I went to the front and a lady prayed with me, I confessed things to her, particular wrongs or sins I really wanted God to take and deal with. I then committed my life to following Jesus. The Bible calls Him the ‘King of Kings and the Lord of Lords’ and that night I knew that I’d met the King and He had met with me.

I knew something had changed and I went home and told my family that I had ‘become a Christian’. I’m not sure what they thought really!

I cannot describe to you how I felt the next day. It was as though cares had been lifted. I was convinced and always have been that God has never left me and will never leave me alone.

I was so passionate that I’m sure I became quite unbearable to some – but I knew I had changed and had to say something. I was young in my faith and lacked sensitivity but I knew with out any shadow of doubt that God had met with me and would meet with me every day from that point. Not distant or far off, or dead, but very much alive and in me. I felt I had a purpose for being on the planet even if that was just because God wanted me to be, that was enough for now.

So, how did music become a part of my story? Read on…

The Sound of Music

I hadn’t been a Christian long, perhaps only a few months, when the Pastor asked me if I would be a part of the band. The thing was that I hadn’t played the piano for about two years and I had been told at school, very gently, but very directly, that singing wasn’t a part of my future! So, the minister invited me to take some music home and give it a whirl, which I did.

Let me give you a little more background. I started to learn the piano when I was 10 (I think because my big sister did and really all a little sister wants is to be like – and annoy – their older siblings) so I went along and eventually passed Grade 3. I don’t think I showed any particular promise so when Kath (my sister) gave up the piano a few years later I did too, much to the relief of my frustrated piano teacher.
So, to be sat again at a piano with sheet music was something I never expected. Anyway, I had a go but it was a train wreck and my hands would crash angrily on the keys as they had done years previous.

Then I talked to God about it. I said words to the effect of ‘I’m not really sure what I’m doing here but, if you ever want this to be a part of my future you have got to come and help me.’ And I believe that He did. I was in the band not long after and realised that actually I could hold a tune and find harmonies. Reading music wasn’t my forte but I discovered I had a good ear and could hear and copy and anticipate. This was a real surprise! In the Bible God promises that He has a good plan for our lives, one that is to prosper us and not harm. A plan to give us a hope and a future. I never imagined that music would have brought what it has to my life, but God put those jigsaw pieces together like a master weaver might create a beautiful tapestry.
Roger Bannister (the man who first broke the 4 minutes mile) said that ‘God made me fast, and when I run I feel His pleasure’. I have to say that the same is true for me and music, I feel a connection with Him. I read the Bible and love being able to paint a picture through words and a melody.

I have found him to be ‘closer than a brother and more steady than the ground’. I have been surprised over and over again by His care and goodness towards me. His provision out of the blue and his grace and forgiveness when I have missed the mark.

He is a mystery and I don’t understand everything but He makes every day better and I have no desire to follow anyone else but Jesus.

Whoever you are, maybe something you have read has struck a chord, maybe you’ve wondered about God for a long time or you’ve never really considered Him in the equation of your life. I believe that God is very, very interested in you – your past, present and your future are important to Him. He has the ability and the desire to mend anything that has broken in your past. He wants to carry you through today and has a future planned for you that is beyond your wildest expectations.

There are three options really:

  1. You can dismiss what you read as not really for you.
  2. You can tell God that you’re open to His involvement in your life and that if He’s there you’re willing to listen and want Him to reveal Himself to you.
  3. You’re ready to make some sort of commitment to God, to invite Him into your life and take charge, giving Him the keys to your life, in every area, allowing Him the access to every door, even those you’d prefer to stay closed for whatever reason. You need to acknowledge that the God you have considered every Christmas and Easter is real, not still in a manger and no longer on a cross, but alive and longing to have a relationship with you. Below is a short prayer that you can say out loud or in your heart. You’re drawing a line in your past and have a future to look forward to with Him at the centre.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, here I am, I can come no other way, so take me as I am. Thank you for loving me even though I haven’t loved you. You know the things I have done which are not great and have not been pleasing in your eyes. I ask that you forgive me for all the selfish and sinful things that I have done of which some are still in my life. Thank you for forgiving me and coming into my life. Help me now as I start over again, but this time with you at the centre. No longer am I going to go my own way. Today I am deciding to follow you by asking you to be my saviour and Lord. Lord Jesus, send your Holy Spirit, to help me know without doubt that you have come into my life. Amen.

If you have decided on option three, please, please get in touch with me so I can help you take your next step.

If you have any questions about anything I have written about please also feel free to get in touch, it would be great to hear from you. You can email me by clicking here.

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