Captured by Pam

words and images by pam wright

Category: Fear

Captured: Standing With Paris

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I understand those who point out that it’s hypocritical to #standwithparis when there are so many places where terror and violence occur on a daily basis, and my heart surely grieves for anyone subjected to fear, brutality and inhumane treatment.

But anytime the world can unite in peace and love, it’s a good, good thing. I am moved by the outpouring of love and support through the Facebook tricolor profile pictures of individuals the world over.

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Captured: Encountering a Dream Angel

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

Many years ago, I was just coming out of several years of heavy drinking that very nearly killed me. I was so very fragile emotionally, physically and spiritually. I started going to a 12-step program in Seoul, South Korea, 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.

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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: 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: 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!

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