Captured by Pam

words and images by pam wright

Month: September 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Captured: Permission to Grieve

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I give myself permission to grieve…

I’m going through a ‘season’ of life where everything is in flux! I just turned in my keys to my apartment and I watched someone move into the apartment that my fiancé vacated just over a month ago…

… the apartment that was supposed to be our new home.

I have no job and I had to move in with my daughter this weekend … all because of recent developments…

you know what… I’ve been quiet about this… I kept it to myself… why??? Why should I protect the one who abandoned me… after a promise, with a ring….

My fiancé talked me into quitting my job as a HS English teacher… He said I could pursue my dreams… He said I need never work another day in my life… that he would take care of me and then…

then came the words…

‘I need you to follow me in missions’… ‘I Need you’… So I followed… after all… he ‘needed me’…. and, so, I quit my job…. I would have done anything for the man of my home… the one I said ‘YES’ to…

He needed me… psssshhhhhh!

And so here I find myself today… alone, jobless, and hurting…

Yes, my heart is broken. I have tried to be brave and to accept the inevitable… but if truth be told … this hurts…

This hurts so much…

I loved this man. I trusted this man… I feel like I guarded my heart… until I gave it to him… I was cautious… Oh my, I was cautious…

Is it ever enough… how cautious can we ever be with our heart?????

He stopped loving me after assuring me time and again that he would love me no matter what… We had a pastor friend who was going to marry us that gave us a Dr. Seuss book as part of our ‘pre-marital’ counseling … the classic, Horton Hatches an Egg… with the phrase… ‘I said what I meant and I meant what I said, an elephant’s loyal one-hundred percent’… that was our thing and my fiance would repeat it all the time…

Until, he didn’t feel that way anymore…

He left…

It’s not his fault and I still love and admire him… He followed his heart… it just wasn’t after my heart…

I try to be brave and to say the Christian lines… ‘It’s God’s Will”… etc… but I can say all the right things that I want…

But….

Ultimately, this hurts…

Yes, it hurts…. Oh my, it HURTS… but in this ‘season’ of grieving here’s what has comforted me beyond measure…. beyond understanding, really…

… my eternal love, Jesus, knows how much I hurt… He knows… and He keeps telling me…

‘Pammy, it’s OK… you can grieve… You’ve been hurt… But, please know, my sweet girl, that I LOVE YOU!!! I know the pain of hurt, betrayal and disappointment… I know!!! I am right here beside you… and I will NEVER leave!!

Never, never, never… (a line from the movie, Somewhere In Time) 

JESUS SAYS:

I said what I meant and I meant what I said…

I…

the great I AM, the WORD, the LOVER of your soul…

I am loyal…

100%!”

I hear him and I know that….

Tomorrow will be better… whatever tomorrow may bring…

Grieving is a part of life… and acknowledging that it hurts is healthy and good…. After all…

Jesus wept.

Captured: Welcome home

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Her name was June Temple. She died today…

As quickly as I posted about being a grandmother… and about new life… a life was extinguished… another amazing grandmother left this world, heading ‘home’.

She was a woman who loved God. She gave her life to her family and to missions. Her stories are remarkable and I admire her. I want to live like she lived.

Today has been one of those days… where this world meets the next.

I remember another day much like this…

We were in the Philippines… on a Habitat for Humanity trip, and several students were suffering from food poisoning. One girl was particularly sick, so my friend, Wyatt, and I had to spend the night with her in a small, medical clinic in Manila.

That night, we faced the miracle and the reality of life and death…

Within a span of 12 hours we experienced the birth of a little baby being born just feet from us, and we listened as another man’s life came to an end. We heard fighting outside, and life inside. It was an amazing experience… one that I treasure. We held hands, not out of any romantic attachment, but out of the shared human experience.

Today, I am reminded once again, that life and death hold hands… my little girl felt her baby move for the first time on the same day that my son-in-love lost his grandmother…

Life is never stagnant. It continually moves forward… as should we!

I am grateful for each loss, each renewal, and friends with whom I can hold hands and share life.

Today, June is dancing and singing with the angels. Jesus met her and said, ‘I am pleased… You did well, my beautiful bride…

… welcome home.’

Captured: New Life… New Hope

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This is a two-post kinda day!!

This morning I received a text from my daughter, Kristen, who teaches French and Spanish in S. Korea, and who is expecting a daughter in February.

First off, I have to marvel at technology! She texted me, for FREE, from S. Korea with her iPhone!!! When I was pregnant with her, I had to send my parents an actual letter, telling them about my life overseas and the news of her arrival… I sent cheap ‘aerograms’… because it was too expensive to call.

BTW, I still have all those aerograms! I kind of miss that form of communication…

Squirrel… !!!

Anyway, this morning she texted me (FROM KOREA… still can’t wrap my head around that!!) and her two sisters, Megz and Kat, that she felt her daughter move for the first time. Wow! What an experience! I remember it well. I have 5 children of my own and I remember those moments of feeling life for the first time!

All I can say is that I marvel, even more than I marvel at technology, at God’s miracle of life!

And to be a grandmother! To experience my babies having babies! I can only imagine how God must feel experiencing generation after generation of his children being born!

I have always loved the story of Ruth and Naomi… in fact, my best friend and I call each other ‘Ruth’ and ‘Naomi’…

I love how Naomi goes from being Naomi to Mara (bitter), and then back to Naomi with the birth of her grandchildren. I get that! I have been so blessed with the birth of my little 5-month-old, grand-boy, Riley, and I join Kristen and Harry in rejoicing over my little grand-daughter, who will enter this world in February.

That sweet, little child moved in her mother’s womb yesterday. Krissy felt it. We all felt it with her…

New life…

… new hope.

GREAT God!!

Captured: I Take it Back

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Oh, not a good morning. Last night, out of fear and hurt, I said some things to someone I care about that I wish I could take back.

Why do we continue to be exactly what we hate to be to those we love?? And where do we go when we can’t really take it back?

Well, we repent and we move forward, hoping that we will be offered the same Grace by others that Jesus offered to us. I feel terrible that I reacted the way I did. No excuses. No rationalities.

I behaved badly.

But, as I sat on my balcony, watching the sun rise this morning, I felt that familiar ‘hug’ from God… the one that says, ‘It’s OK, Pam… yes, you said some terrible things that you shouldn’t have and I am letting you know, firmly, that it was WRONG!

But I still, and will always, love you.’

Today, I will be thinking about how I let pain and fear dictate how I behave … and I will be praying that, tomorrow, I will treat others as I would have them treat me.

This life is hard. We fall, and stumble, and find ourselves being exactly what we wish we weren’t. But, there is hope…

The Holy Spirit is in me and I hear about it when I falter… and I know I am being molded into what I’m called to be. Step by step. One moment to the next. There is always a tomorrow… and the chance to be as loving to others as I am loved…

Oh, Lord… may I know that. May I be that! May I hate what you hate and may I love like you have loved me!! In Jesus’ Name…

I’m sorry.

I take it back…

Captured: Movin’ On

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Today I packed up my apartment. Everything is packed except this mug I kept out… my favorite mug! It reminds me of several things… to be courageous in difficult circumstances… to be courageous when life seems to be more than one can bear… and just because I love the cowardly lion! I actually played the part of the cowardly lion in a faculty play many years ago.

I love the lyrics from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ for the cowardly lion:

‘Yeah, it’s sad, believe me Missy
When you’re born to be a sissy
Without the vim and verve
But I could show my prowess
Be a lion, not a mowess
If I only had the nerve

I’m afraid there’s no denyin’
I’m just a dandylion
A fate I don’t deserve
I’d be brave as a blizzard

(Tin Man)
I’d be gentle as a lizard

(Scarecrow)
I’d be clever as a gizzard

(Dorothy)
If the Wizard is a wizard who will serve

(Scarecrow)
Then I’m sure to get a brain

(Tin Man)
A heart

(Dorothy)
A home

(Cowardly Lion)
The nerve

We all can relate to the desires of this quartet heading to see the ‘Wizard’. And we KNOW the author of these desires… the ONE who placed these desires in our hearts from time immortal… Our Heavenly Father, who graces us with knowledge, heart, courage and the dream of one day arriving ‘home’, in Heaven, where we belong!!

I am sad to have to move in with my daughter. I feel weak, and lame and needy. But, that’s OK… God asks us to be humbled… to seek him for our strength. I didn’t expect this, but I will face this with my mug in hand… the one that reminds me to be courageous, relying on God’s strength to get me through, coming out on the other side stronger than I ever imagined.

I will just follow the yellow brick road that God has set before me…. one step at a time… brick by brick… with a ‘lamp unto my feet’.

I’m excited where it will lead me… it can only be wonderful and magical, because I have more that a ‘wizard’ to follow… I have a savior… a lover of my soul… who will never abandon me, nor forsake me…

I’m movin’ on down the road… with courage… with confidence… because I am loved… and because there is something amazing waiting, just a little bit farther down the road…

Captured: Swaying

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There are a few scenes in the movie, ‘Phenomenon’, starring John Travolta and Kyra Sedgwick, which have stuck with me over the years.

In the movie, John Travolta plays a farmer in California, George O’Malley, who has a mysterious encounter with what at first seems to be something extraterrestrial. In reality, he is suffering from a brain tumor that ignites parts of his brain, increasing his intelligence beyond normal human capacity. As ideas flood his brain, he finds himself overwhelmed and frenetic. In one scene, he is furiously trying to weed his garden and he is unable to calm his mind or his body. In his frenzy, he notices the tops of the trees swaying gently in the California breeze. He stops what he is doing, stands and begins to gently sway with the trees, feeling a calm come to his being. He does this throughout the movie as he faces the storm of his terminal diagnosis. Later in the movie, after he has died from the tumor, his love, Lace, during her own overwhelming grief and sobs at the loss of George, notices the trees swaying as well, calming her own broken heart.

I love those scenes…

And I have been doing this same thing for years.

When the storms in my life come and I feel like I just can’t hold on another moment, I stop and I sway with and like the trees. It works every time. Sometimes I only experience a gentle rainstorm, and at other times, it is a full-blown hurricane. And yet, I try to relax and sway with these winds of life that could topple me over, rather than fight the wind because I know these winds are God’s breath into my life … He has his reasons for the storms that so often leave me confused and a little lost. Thankfully, I am always reminded during my swaying, that as long as I am firmly rooted in God’s grace, mercy, love and hope, I will be just fine. Yes, some branches may break, but this will allow for the old to go and new growth to take its place. By keeping my roots firmly planted in faith…

… yes, I may bend…

… but I will not break.

(Reposted from http://www.tumblr.com/blog/pamwright24)

Captured: Be Mine

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I love those little candy, Valentine hearts that say little things like ‘hug me’, ‘cute stuff’, ‘true love’. It was always so much fun to get those in the little bags we made in elementary school, decorated with lace paper and hearts cut out of pink and red construction paper. I would wait impatiently all day for the moment when we could open the bag, wondering if the boy I liked would give me one of those little, candy hearts with a cryptic message declaring his undying love for me… the beginning of a happily-ever-after love story.

I am the biggest, sappiest, girly-girl romantic on the planet and always have been. The only real dream I ever had was to fall in love and live happily ever after. I never cared about a career, or money, or success… I wanted to love and to be loved. However, I’ve never had a very good love story. I just haven’t. I’ve come so very close, but in the end, it just eludes me. It’s no one’s fault, really, and I don’t harbor resentment or blame. In fact, I’ve so often prayed that I learn to love unconditionally, without receiving anything in return for my love… well, perhaps God is just answering my prayer. Who knows??

I remember a sermon a while back, about Abraham’s willingness to offer his son as a sacrifice … the son he was promised to have, his dream, and the absolute love of his life … and the pastor asked us, ‘What are you holding back from God?’, ‘What dream are you unwilling to give up, keeping you from a fulfilling relationship with God?’ I was convicted then, and I’m convicted now… it’s my dream for a good love story here on Earth.

Ultimately, I do believe this …

God wants me to set my heart on him…

… and him alone.  And be completely satisfied in that.

John Eldredge’s books, Wild at Heart, Sacred Romance and Desire, and William P. Young’s, The Shack, have each had a huge impact on me about the subject of love… of true love… of God’s love story with us. God wants me to be head over heels in love with Him. He wants me to find the love and safety and comfort that I long for, in His own perfect love. He says it very plainly in Isaiah 43:2-4.

‘I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.’

I have gleaned from the Bible and the books I have mentioned that God is crazy about me. He loves me perfectly. Everything He does is to win my love, to romance me into his arms, to care for me. Everything. John Eldredge notes, ‘What he is after is us… our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our heart of hearts.’

I know how painful it is to be rejected… to have someone turn their back on you, to take another lover, to take your heart and toss it about… all of these have happened to me. John Eldredge says in Sacred Romance, ‘To make ourselves vulnerable and entrust our well-being to another, only to be harmed by those on whom our hopes were set, is among the worst pain of human experience.’

Oh, I do know this. However, I’m actually grateful for it (well, most of the time) because it does draw me into the comforting arms of my eternal love… the one who will never harm me and will always protect me.

I can only grasp how God must feel when we ignore Him or turn our backs on Him for stuff and people and pleasure and comfort and more stuff… idols all. He is a jealous God… not in the negative sense, but in the sense that he desires all of us in relationship, because he loves us so much. I’ve heard it said that God created males and females as a living metaphor for His relationship with us… to remind us of the love He desires to share with us.

However, because of our desire for a tangible, earthly love, we can create idols out of the very construct that should remind us of God’s love for us… the object of our affection can actually be the greatest hindrance to knowing God’s love fully. Recently, I have been reminded that this is precisely what led me away from God in the first place so many years ago. Because of my desire to be loved, I strayed away from God, chasing a worldly dream, beginning a journey filled with despair, rejection, extreme loneliness, a battle with alcoholism and very nearly death.

Eldredge says, ‘Our desire becomes insatiable because we’ve taken our longing for the Infinite and placed it upon finite things’.

Guilty. I often find myself daydreaming, longing for ‘someone’ and I can still so quickly forget that what I’m really longing for is God. Of course, we should hope for love in this life, for companionship. God says it’s not good to be alone, so yes, it’s good to hope for a love with whom we can navigate this life. But we must always be cognizant of where love truly resides and be completely satisfied in the greatest love story we’ll ever know … God’s love story with each of us.

In his book, Desire, Eldredge says,

‘God is the wellspring of everything that has ever romanced your heart…the thundering strength of a waterfall, the delicacy of a flower, the stirring capacity of music. The masculine and feminine that fill all creation come from the same heart. What we have sought, what we have tasted in part with our earthly lovers, we will come face to face with in our True Love.’

God romances me all the time and I don’t always realize it immediately… a perfect daisy along my path, a beautiful sunset, a butterfly landing on my shoulder. I remember my first solo vacation ever. I went to Thailand feeling lonely and blue. I was so reluctant to go on vacation alone and felt a bit pathetic. On the very first night, heading to Railay Beach all alone on a small, wooden, Thai boat, God romanced me with the most beautiful evening sky, filled with a gorgeous sunset, an already risen, perfect full moon and a thunderstorm on the horizon. It was so beautiful… of course, I was wishing I had someone there to share it with me, but I now see it as God romancing me, encouraging me to seek Him in the beauty of that place. I couldn’t help but be brought to my knees by such beauty. And I did. I spent the whole week with Him. It was a very meaningful, lovely vacation with ‘the lover of my soul’.

I’m also convinced that it is not the love I receive, but the love I give that enables me to even experience love at all. I want to be God’s love letter to those he places on my path and I want to love without expecting anything in return. God showed us how to love by giving us our freedom. He let us decide. He seeks us with pure love. He doesn’t force it on us because that would not be love. And he is patient with us. A quote from The Shack reminds us that…

‘So many believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is just the skin of knowing.’ 

I love that quote!! The more we know about a loved one… their quirks, their mannerisms, even their flaws… the more we come to love them… at least that has been my case.

I am reminded that the Bible tells us that God knows everything about us, even the number of hairs on our heads. He knows everything we will ever do or think or feel. If love is the ‘skin of knowing’, then I can’t really even grasp how much he loves me. My knowledge of love is SO limited. And no one could ever even come close to loving me like he does. It reminds me how critical it is that I pursue him like he pursues me … to know Him, to spend time with Him and to seek Him.

Lately, a favorite Bebo Norman song, How You Love Me, has been the background music playing in my head as I go through my day. The lyrics say:

And should my dreams fall through
I will be safe with you
And with every breath I can breathe
I’ll sing about how you love me
I’ll sing about how you love me

Yes, God romances me … declaring His undying and unfailing love…offering little candy, Valentine Hearts that say ever so simply … but with such longing…

‘Be Mine’

 

 

Captured: Shut Your Mouth

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I mentioned in my post yesterday that my fear has been replaced with confidence. Not confidence in myself, but confidence in God.

With the loss of fear comes the loss of worrying about what others might think of me. God has been teaching me that the only opinion that matters is His and I KNOW his opinion of me. He thinks I’m awesome, and beautiful, and talented…

… and HIS!

Not so long ago, I worried about fully divulging my testimony. I worried that the ‘sordid details’ of my past might influence how others view me. I’ve suffered greatly in the past from that incessant malady known as ‘people-pleasing’. I wanted everyone to like me, and the fear that someone would find out too much about me was debilitating.

But, I’ve come to realize it’s not debilitating to me, but debilitating to God. And I’m becoming less concerned about whether people will like me and more concerned about whether they love God!

Satan has been telling me over the years to shut my mouth! The last thing he wants is for God’s Glory to be revealed in my life. He’d much rather keep me in the dark, mouth closed, muddling through a life enslaved to him in chains of shame, regret, fear and guilt.

I spent years revealing only parts of my testimony… the parts I felt safe to share. I taught in a Christian high school and I would share my testimony, but always with the caveat to keep it quiet. I was afraid that they’d tell others about my alcoholism without the part about what God did in my life. I was afraid I could lose my job, or worse, be judged. So, I hesitated and balked at sharing just how powerfully God has moved in my life. I stifled God.

I shut my mouth.

There is nothing worse than keeping secrets. The stress of trying to keep details about your life from coming out is the worst kind of bondage. And Satan knows it. He’s well aware that fear will keep us from bringing things into the light, so he whispers those things we dread…

… you’re a loser!

… you have no right to say anything to anyone!

… what will people think?

… If anyone ever knew the truth about you…

I’ve been thinking about my situation right now and all the losses I’ve incurred. I know they are not of God, but I also know that God will allow circumstances to happen… He allows Satan to mess with me if it’s for my good and for God’s plan. And I have to chuckle because Satan’s tricks have worked on me before. Many times, he’s gotten me to a place where I was completely ineffective for God… shut down, shut out, with my mouth SHUT! That’s his greatest desire and tool: preventing the power, and glory, and love of God to shine in this world through the testimony and lives of God’s children. Satan works day and night to make sure we are quiet… through shame, through guilt, through regret.

It didn’t work this time with me! I will not shut up. I will not hide. I will not keep my life secret. Because if I do… I’m turning my back on God!

‘If God is for me, who can be against me?’ (Romans 8:31)

So too bad for you, Satan… your little scheme backfired. And I can hear God chuckling right along with me, and the angels are singing and high-fiving each other… because their girl, Pam, will not shut her mouth!

Instead, I say to Satan, and all his little friends…

… you Shut YOUR mouth!!

Captured: The Death of Fear

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Just 6 months ago, all of my dreams seemed to be coming true. Everything was wonderful. I was engaged to a wonderful man and I believed it was an eternal love, ordained by God. I taught high school English and coached. I had a beautiful home and was soon to move into a new home with my new husband. I had a sufficient income, although it was always a struggle on a private teacher’s salary.

I was really happy. I felt safe. I was excited about the future.

And then, within a matter of weeks…

… No fiancé.

… No job.

… No home.

… No income.

All of the fears that I have harbored for most of my life came to pass all in one fell swoop. I was devastated. Heartbreak, panic, and utter disbelief flooded my whole being with a power that was more frightening than anything I have ever experienced. Honestly, I tear up just thinking about it.

I did the only thing I knew to do… I sought God. Whenever the pain became too great I would scream, begging God to do something.

… and he never failed to do something.

He never fails to do something…

He performs the miraculous in my life. He calms the storm within.  He provides just what I need the exact moment I need it. He has bound up my broken heart. He has filled the spaces occupied by loss and heartbreak and fear, with bounty and hope and joy and confidence.

And guess what? I didn’t crumbled. I didn’t break into a thousand pieces. I didn’t succumbed to depression and despair. I didn’t completely disintegrated. All the things I imagined would happen when I found myself in the midst of this Job-like experience didn’t happen.

I realize today that all of these things that happened, that I thought were going to destroy me, were really only answer to my prayers. In my prayers, I offered every part of my life to God… into His hands so that he could transform me… I prayed and prayed for God to mold and conform me into the woman he created me to be. And he answered my prayer through these losses, these trials.

I know this because I AM being transformed.

… by God’s UNFAILING LOVE!!

Today, my being is utterly consumed with hope instead of despair, with trust instead of panic, and with certainty instead of all the doubts that I knew only weeks ago.

Next weekend I will be moving in with my gracious daughter and son-in-law until I can get back on my feet and I am so very grateful for their love and generosity. Having to move in with my daughter at my age isn’t bothering me in the least. Six months ago, however, I would have been horrified at the thought of having nothing and needing to rely on others for my wellbeing. I’m grateful because God is replacing so much pride that I’ve harbored within me with humility, and His strength is replacing my weaknesses. And because I am ‘jobless’, I am in a position to pursue the gifts that God instilled in me and for which I am passionate … writing about His Glorious Name and revealing the beauty of His creation through photography.

Above all, God has dealt with me directly about my fear. His perfect love has cast that from me… I fear nothing. Honestly, I fear nothing. I lost my fear of death years ago because Heaven awaits me. And yet, I’ve struggled with fear over my time here on Earth. But, you know what? I’ve been through everything here. I’ve lived through the death of loved ones. I’ve been through the hell of addiction. I’ve been through emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual assault. I’ve lost the love of a man. I’ve lost my income and my home. And I’ve been through many, many other difficult experiences.

But, I HAVE GOD!!!

… And that’s ALL I need.

Not that long ago I would have been mortified to reveal my circumstances and my ‘failures’ to close friends, let alone to the world, but what matters is not if I’m ‘proud’ of my life or my experiences. NO! I am just SO very, very proud of my God … at what He has done and can do with this little life he gave to me.

It’s not about me!

It’s about God!!

Everything is and should be about God! However, it’s through my experiences and my hurts and my trials that God’s power and unfailing love can be revealed! And I want that!! I want to show him off to anyone who will listen!!

THIS IS MY GOD!!! Check him OUT!!

I no longer question God about the trials I face. I don’t question the trials any of us face. Yes, I need to be compassionate, empathetic and BE the loving arms of Christ to show His love to those who are going through the storms, like so many did for me. However, I don’t pity those in the midst of storms. I don’t pity myself. I know what can come and how God can transform and truly bring roses from ashes. Instead, I ‘consider it pure joy to face trials of many kinds’, as Paul reminded James.

God still has a lot of molding and transforming to do in me and I know that trials will come… but that’s cool! I’ll be all right!! I won’t crumble. I won’t succumb to despair. I won’t disintegrate. God has me under the shelter of his wings, in the arms of His son and in His heart forever… He truly is my eternal love!

So, I say in response:

… Adieu Despair

… Adieu Doubt

… Adieu Fear

Rest in Peace!

Captured: Dream Angel

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I have had encounters with angels. Several times. This is the story of one of those encounters.

Over the past several days I’ve been swamped with work so I’ve averaged only about 4 hours of sleep a night. So this afternoon, I decided that I needed a little nap to rejuvenate. I woke up from that nap after a terrible nightmare… one of those nightmares where you are weeping in your dream over some heartbreak and you find yourself still weeping as you wake up. I hate those dreams and I hate the way they make me feel. However, as I recovered from my dream and separated myself from the pain of that dream, I remembered another dream that I had years ago … A dream where I encountered an angel.

Back at the time of that dream, I was just coming out of several years of heavy drinking that very nearly killed me … literally. I was so very fragile emotionally, physically and spiritually. I started going to AA in Seoul, where we were living at the time, and there I met a fellow alcoholic with more than 25 years of sobriety, who would have a great impact on my own recovery. We called him ‘Father Bob’ because of his wisdom and the fact that he really was a pastor. He was a huge, older man, with a greying beard and huge hands… He made me think of Ahab from Moby Dick or Hemingway’s old man from the sea. Every time I would share my sob stories with Bob … about the sad facts of my life and how terrible things were … he would just pat my hand, chuckle and say with his deep, gruffy voice… “Ahh, it ain’t that bad, Pam, just work the steps”, referring to the 12 Steps. Well, that would annoy me to no end. He just didn’t get it. He didn’t understand how horrible my life was. How nobody loved me. How terribly I was treated… on and on and on… and, each time with the same gruffy voice and a pat on the hand, he’d chuckle and say, ‘ahh it ain’t that bad, Pam, just work the steps.” Time and again, it was the same thing.

Later that year, as my family and I were preparing to return to France, my husband’s home country, I was nervous and scared. I always had a difficult time there and was afraid that without my support system in place, I might relapse. I said goodbye to my AA friends and sponsor, and off we went to France for the summer. Now, this was before the days of the Internet, Facebook and text messaging. The only way to communicate then was through mail or the telephone. When you left, you were out of touch, which is part of why I was so nervous, and felt so lonely.

While in France, I had a dream one night. One of those dreams that are so vivid they seem real. It was incredible. In the dream, I found myself in a classroom, which was odd and highly prophetic because I would soon find myself beginning a teaching career. But at the time of my dream, I hadn’t yet even considered teaching. So there I was …

in my dream …

all alone…

sitting at a student desk …

in a French classroom.

I didn’t quite know why I was there. Suddenly, in walked Father Bob. When I saw him, I shouted in joy, ‘Bob, what are you doing here???” I was so happy to see him. All he did was to slowly walk in to the room…sit down at the desk next to me … smile and pat my hand … and with the same, familiar gruffy voice say … ‘Aaaah, Pam… you’re going to be just fine. You’ll be alright’. With that, out he walked from the classroom … and I woke up. I felt so much joy and peace when I woke up. It was wonderful.

Now, I have been journaling for as long as I can remember. And I was particularly prolific in my writing that year as I worked though the steps, my emotions and my relationship with God. The first thing I did when I awoke from my dream was to journal the experience. I was just so amazed at how vivid it all was.

And that dream truly helped me get through my time in France.

At the end of summer, after returning to Seoul, I went to my first AA meeting. I could not wait to tell Bob about my dream and how it had encouraged me to stay sober and well. He didn’t show up and I finally asked one of Bob’s good friends if they knew where he was. With a look of sadness, our friend told me that Bob had passed away over the summer from complications after emergency surgery. I stood there in shock, unsure what to say or think…. And then it hit me.  I knew.  And so I asked my friend what day Bob had died … but I already knew in my heart when he left this world for ‘home’.

He told me. I went back home and checked my journal for the date of my dream visit with Bob …

As I looked at my journal and saw the date, tears began to form in my eyes and flow down my cheeks as I glanced at the date…

Bob died on the very day that I had the dream. He visited me in my dream to encourage me one more time before heading off to Heaven.

He came to me as an angel.

I never forgot that dream or how God sent Bob to me to share love, encouragement, a view of the God’s future plans for me to be a teacher …

… and the knowledge that I was never, ever alone. What a gift!

I miss Bob.

And I can’t wait for the day when I will see him again and we can marvel at our encounter between two worlds.

… when he was my dream angel.

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