Captured by Pam

words and images by pam wright

Tag: Religion and Spirituality

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…

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0F21EFNU

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: What if… Then Maybe

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I am SO human… so predictable and I don’t ever seem to get past this one…

I recently had an interview for a job that I’m still waiting to hear about. I would love to get this job and I honestly feel like it’s a perfect fit. But, through the process, I have become really annoyed with myself because I find myself doing the ‘What if… then maybe game’… hoping to get something out of my behavior.

You know what I mean…

What if I love everyone, to the point of exhaustion, ignoring my own needs and well-being… then maybe I will be loved in return.

What if I work incessantly at pleasing people… then maybe I will be loved in return.

What if I am the perfect Christian… following all of the rules to a tee… then maybe God will love me in return.

What if I give all my money to help others… then maybe I will be blessed and loved in return.

What if I do all of the above… then maybe I’ll get that job!

I remember the very first time I did something that garnered praise and love… I must have been 4 and I took it upon myself to clean up the bookshelves that housed my brother’s and my toys. The reaction I received from my father over that little clean-up changed me forever.  I loved his reaction! I loved how grown-up and worthy I felt. He was proud of me!!! It would dictate how I began to work in order garner praise and love for the rest of my life…! People-pleasing…

I still seek that from others … and, wrongly, I still seek that reaction from God. I continually hope that my behavior will make him proud of me. If I behave in a certain way… then maybe He will come through for me.

I limit God by placing human expectations on Him… I think many of us do.

The only things that God is asking of me is to trust him and to wait on him… with patience. I don’t need to do anything or behave in a certain way. I just need to chill… and love and trust my Heavenly Father…

What If I let him have control of my life? What if I trust him with that life? What if I just wait on Him??

Then maybe I won’t have to try so hard and I can appreciate the true expression of love … God’s unfailing love.

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: 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: Open Hands

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Hands.

Hands are really quite extraordinary. They are the instruments of love, work, conflict, peace and worship. They are used to wield a hammer and an axe, to prepare a meal, to caress a loved one, to join with another in marriage, to write and paint and sculpt great works of art, to gesture, to catch a baby as it enters the world, to gather, to minister, to express. Apart from God’s creation that we find in nature, all that we see around us was created by the ingenuity given to us by God and through the toil of human hands. Hands are God’s singular masterpiece of the fleshly body, setting us apart from other creatures on this planet.  Oh, the strength of hands, the usefulness of hands, the tenderness of hands…

…and the humility and beauty of an open hand.

Max Lucado reminds us in his book, He Chose the Nails, of the gift of God’s own hands. The same hands that lovingly formed Adam out of the clay also parted the Red Sea, released the locusts on Egypt, wrote words in the sand, and inscribed the commandments on stone tablets. These are the same hands that, when incarnate on Earth, healed the blind man with just a touch, captured His own tears as he wept for Lazarus, gathered the children to him and ministered to all who encountered him. And, in the final hours of His time on Earth, Jesus willingly opened those very hands to receive the nail as payment for our sin. Imagine. Each mighty hand of God, instead of clenching or becoming a fist in response to the treatment of the Roman soldiers, was instead humbly opened to receive the nail on our behalf. The same hand that formed Adam, received the nail. As Lucado remarked, “As the hands of Jesus opened for the nail, the doors of heaven were opened up for you.”

How do we respond to this overwhelming gesture of love? What do we do with our own hands in return? Do we shake them clinched in anger at God when we do not understand the circumstances of the world we live in or are disappointed in our own circumstances? Or do we, instead, raise open hands to the heavens in worship and gratitude and join with other hands in creating a better world? Do we use them to rebuild areas like Agham Road in the Philippines ravaged by fire (the photo above) and lend support in finding some semblance of normalcy for the conflicted areas of the world, or do we waste them gesturing over grievances and playing video games?

The lesson I take from Jesus’ loving gesture towards me in opening His hand to the nail is to humbly do the same. I wish to walk through this life in a posture of open hands. Hands open in prayer, in tithing, in service and in submission to God’s plan for my life. There is no greater gesture I can offer than to do as He did for me… open my hands for Him.

Hands open to humbly receive…

… hands open to generously give, however feeble my attempts.

reposted and updated from http://www.tumblr.com/blog/pamwright24

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’.

Beckoning….

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God is beckoning me…

… into new opportunities, new realities and a much deeper relationship with Him. I’m not sure I am ready, but apparently God thinks that I am. Lately, the challenges in my life have seemed insurmountable at times, wrought with loss, heartache and pain. But there have been moments of grace that have sustained me… that have comforted me… that have nurtured me.

Sometimes it really is only a moment of grace, but it is enough…

This blog will be my attempt to capture God’s unfailing grace, mercy and love… in my life, and in others’ lives.

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