Captured by Pam

words and images by pam wright

Tag: Christ

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: Seeking (the Other) Mary at Christmas

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Be honest. How many of you, man or woman, found yourselves running around trying to finish last-minute preparations for Christmas, looking a whole lot more like Martha than Mary?

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Captured: Facing the Mirror of our Lives

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My daughter has this huge floor mirror that she received for Christmas a few years ago. I love that mirror because for some reason, whenever I check myself out in that mirror, I look really thin. Not going to lie, I like that.

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Captured: Discovering the Naomi Within

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There was a time not so long ago when I might have said the same heartbreaking words that Naomi utters in the Book of Ruth after losing her husband and sons in battle, which forced her to return to her homeland with her tail between her legs and her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth along for the sad trip home.

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Captured: Gazing Into Eternal Eyes

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A photo recently taken of my 17-month-old grandson, Riley, and his paternal great-grandfather moved me from the moment I first saw it.

There are just some photos that say so much, that convey a thousand words and elicit deep, deep thought.

The moment captured between the two in the photo is even more poignant today because Riley’s “PopPop,” John Loux, died last week, a little more than a month after the photo was taken.

I can stare at the photo for hours, pondering the gaze between the little boy just beginning his journey here on earth and that of the old man, who was about to walk through the door from this life into eternity.

What are they saying to each other in that gaze? What wisdom is PopPop wanting to impart to his grandson? What questions does Riley have for the man who had lived in this world for nearly a century?

Riley seems so intent on his great-grandfather’s face in the photo. Perhaps it’s John’s striking Colonel Sanders beard that attracts the young lad or perhaps it’s just seeing an aging gentleman. After all, Riley doesn’t come across many people of that age as he goes about his day-to-day existence of being a toddler.

I don’t think that’s it, though.

I think Riley sees something powerful and intriguing about the man with the weathered face, hinting at a life that knew joy and heartbreak, fear and pain; a life marked by his love for God, his servant’s heart and his absolute devotion to family.

Perhaps Riley could somehow grasp that this man had something important to share with him through that gaze.

Perhaps he longed to know the secrets of his PopPop’s long life.

John’s own gaze into the eyes of his grandson is just as precious, and I can only imagine what he was thinking in that moment.

Riley’s grandmother and John’s daughter, Bonnie Temple, was the one who snapped the photo and later told me that John was not doing well that morning.

John had been living with the Temples for several months after the death of his wife.

That morning, John had slept in very late and woke to the sounds of Riley playing in the living room. As John emerged from his bedroom, little Riley toddled towards his PopPop, arms raised for him to be picked up. Bonnie said her father reached down to gingerly pick up Riley and sit him down with him on his favorite chair.

Bonnie was concerned that her father, whose health was fast deteriorating, wasn’t strong enough to lift Riley, but was touched to see a sudden burst of energy empower her father enough for that moment with his grandson.

I think God wanted Riley and John to share that moment together, knowing that he would very soon be calling John home.

My musings take me to the words exchanged through that gaze.

“PopPop, tell me,” says Riley through his eyes. “What can I expect of this life? What should I do? What will it be like?”

“My little Riley — first of all, know that you are beloved,” John responds. “Life is a magnificent journey full of adventure, difficulties and uncertainty. Life will be replete with challenges, of that you can be certain. Sometimes you will be unable to make heads or tails of which way to turn, what decision to make and how to navigate the ups and downs of life.

“But, if there’s one thing I can tell you, it is this …

“Cling to God.

“Cling to him through the good, through the hard … no matter what comes your way, cling to him and you will live a wonderful, abundant life. You may not have a dime to your name at times, you may be ill, you may have concerns and experience the unfathomable pain of loss and heartbreak, but through it all, you will have an abundant life and you will know joy.

“Never forget, my boy, what was done on your behalf and take this knowledge into account in every decision you ever make, especially when it comes to people. Love like you have been loved, and take care of the people God brings into your life.

“Be kind. Be generous. Love well.

“And don’t worry. I can tell you — from this vantage point of having lived a long time and through so much change — that all will be well. God will remain faithful to you and yours, and there is nothing that you won’t be able to conquer with God in your heart and mind.

“I’ll be going soon, beloved boy, but Jesus and I will be waiting for you. You didn’t get to hear all of the memories I’ve made and cherished, but when we meet again, I’ll tell you all about this wonderful life I’ve had. I’ll be watching over you, little one. Be good. Listen to your mommy, daddy, nana and papa … they will teach to you what I taught to them. I love you, buddy.”

Bonnie told me that John grew up in a home that did not allow dancing because of their religious beliefs. She said the first time she ever saw him dance was at her wedding.

Perhaps that is why John’s eyes lit up every time Riley danced about with abandon and pure joy.

Today, John is dancing and singing with the angels, surely with his own complete abandon and purest joy.

I believe he was greeted by Jesus and the people he loved who had gone before. I know Jesus said, “I am pleased, John. You did well, my wonderful son … welcome home.”

And I imagine John took a bit of time to share with all of them the memories he had made and cherished. I imagine, too, that he thanked Jesus for his love and protection, and for precious moments he was able to enjoy with his family here on earth.

I’d bet John’s eyes lit up at encountering the sights of heaven in the same way they lit up when he looked at Riley performing his toddler antics.

And I marvel at what John must have felt at that instant when he gazed into true eternal eyes — into the absolute, unimaginable love found in his savior’s eyes.

I’d bet he thought of Riley and about the moment he shared with his great-grandson not long before his death — that captured moment when the old man and the little boy, separated by nearly a century, gazed — for just a brief, everlasting instant — into eternity.

Captured: And they lived happily EVER AFTER!!

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Truly… and I say this with all sincerity… there is nothing else like God’s love… I promise, I swear…

Been there, done that… I’ve fallen in love… I had beautiful children that fulfilled me… I have loved. Oh… and HOW I have loved…

I’ve been through everything…

And I promise you… NOTHING compares to what God can offer… to the peace and joy and comfort that comes with loving him!! I promise!! Nothing… Just watch this…

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It moves me…

I’ve lived overseas for most of my life… the world is vast… the world is bleeding… the prince of this world is having his way… FOR NOW…

But the PRINCE of PEACE… my savior, my love, my GOD… will prevail… He will crush the one who hurts us all so much here on Earth…

How Great is our God???

Unimaginably GREAT!!

… And they lived happily EVER AFTER!!

I LOVE that… but until that day… I join my brothers and sisters who fight to end, and to champion the things that break hearts…

… ‘break our hearts for what breaks yours, Jesus!’

Hugs to the ones who want to make it better… who want to give their lives for a purpose…

They are heroes!

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: Just Say Jesus

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I pray. I’ve always prayed. In fact, I tend to have a running conversation with God in my head throughout each day, and it has been good.

Sometimes I find that as I pray, words are coming out of my mouth that are for my benefit… words and thoughts that just come of their own accord. And I know these words are of God and they teach me.

However, in recent weeks I have learned something new about prayer… and about my prayer life. There is a new song by 7th Time Down called ‘Just Say Jesus’, that says:

      Life gets tough and times get hard
      And it’s hard to find the truth in all the lies
      If you’re tired of wondering why
      Your heart isn’t healing
      And nothing feels like home
      Cause you’re lost and alone
      Just screaming at the sky

      When you don’t know what to say
      Just say Jesus
      The name of Jesus
      If the words won’t come
      Cause you’re afraid to pray
      Just say Jesus
      Whisper it now or shout it out
      However it comes out
      He hears your cry
      Out of nowhere he will come
      You got to believe in it
      He will rescue you
      Just call out to the way
      The truth, the life

In recent weeks, I have found myself in a place where that’s the only thing that could come out of my mouth… ‘Jesus’ … I would whisper the name, scream the name, repeat the name. And I now understand that God put me in that place because He wanted me to finally, really listen… as if saying, ‘Pammy, would you please just listen to me!! Would you please just be still and KNOW that I am God’. I settled down and today I can see that my prayer life has been a lot of talk and not a lot of listening. It’s one thing to know that, in order to hear God, you really must be still, and yet another one to actually be still and listen. Since I didn’t seem to have what it took to be still… God stilled me himself, through circumstances in my life. All for my good!

I love the quote by John Bunyun, ‘In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.’ That’s where God took me… to a place where I realized that my blathering words, begging for this or for that, just were not what I needed. I wasn’t going anywhere in my relationship with God… it was becoming stagnant. That’s not to say God did not hear my words or that He doesn’t love to hear my words, it’s just that the communication was a little too one-sided. He wanted me to be quiet, to listen… because only HE knows what is best for me, and where I needed to venture next in our relationship.

And, so, I really began to listen… frankly, because I could do little else…

In the turmoil of fiery fires, I paused to whisper His name… and it never failed… He showed up to help me, to tell me what to do! I sometimes thought I couldn’t take another moment, and He would tell me to take a drive and He’d showed me something beautiful along the way, calming my heart. He’d tell me to get out and exercise, which steps to take in my career, to write a blog, or to spend time with my precious grandson. And the blessings were and are innumerable!!

Soren Kierkegaard said this about prayer, ‘The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.’ I like the sentiment in his words… that I am being and will be changed by prayer. I already see so many changes in my life and how I view life. God has given me strength beyond anything I dreamed I could muster. He has provided ‘a peace that passes all understanding.’ He has healed me of wounds that date back to childhood and He has finally made what I already knew into absolute TRUTH in my heart…

… the truth that He wants the very best for me!!

… even if it’s beyond difficult…

… even if it involves pain and uncertainty.

… even if I’d really rather learn it all in an easier fashion.

Despite the hardships of life … the disappointments … the trials … by listening to the words of God and actually hearing His love pour down over your soul from the heavens and the flutter of angel’s wings around your head… NOTHING is too difficult  … and absolute beauty can be born from the ashes.

The name of Jesus is POWERFUL…

… Just say ‘Jesus’.

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