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Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

by Pam Day

I know you have been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for an update on our patio project.

Here are a few pictures of our progress thus far. There’s Brian, patiently and carefully putting the pieces of flag stone into just the proper spot.IMG_0159 IMG_0161 IMG_0160

I haven’t been helping with this part of the project. This stage is pretty much a one man job.

My part right now is to observe, encourage and get the heck out of the way!  And of course write about it!

As I was standing on my observation deck (inside, looking out the patio door, drinking my wine) it occurred to me how these pieces of flagstone resemble the puzzle pieces of our lives.

We are constantly trying to decide, choose, cut and fit just the right pieces of our lives into just the right spot to create a lovely mosaic. Okay, maybe I had too much wine!

Seriously though, sometimes life can feel like an intricate puzzle. If you are like me, I often wonder what the heck God is up to and how in the world He plans to fit all the pieces together.Puzzle piece blog

Four types of life’s puzzles pieces come to mind. (Yes, there are many more but I am writing a blog post, not a novel.)  See if you can relate to any of them.

1.  The “FORCE IT” piece of the puzzle.  This is the piece of us that is determined to have our lives all figured out, all our ducks in a row.

It’s that piece that we CRAM into place and MAKE fit no matter what.

Then we wonder why there are times when the corners of the piece crumble off, or the middle will fracture because it is pressed into too tight of a spot.

That doesn’t seem to hinder us though, we just fill in cracks with sand and cover it up. Then we pray to God it, or should I say we, won’t fall apart.

2.  The “I DON’T FIT” piece of the puzzle. This is the piece of us that frantically runs around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Oh man this takes me back to my younger days when we raised chickens.  Not a pretty sight when they don’t have heads! Okay, I digress… where was I… oh yes, chickens, heads.

We flit around from one place to the other, DESPERATELY trying to find our spot in life.

We put our piece into a spot and then we get all worried about what people will think of us if we stay in this spot.

We want to please them right? So we decide that it’s not the perfect spot so we jump into another spot.  We never seem to be able to land and find our spot, or figure out who we really are.

3.  The “HOLD ON TIGHT” piece of the puzzle. This is the piece that sometimes we don’t even want to look at. Many times it’s the hardest piece to break or cut into the right shape.

It’s those unhealthy habits we have adopted and those limiting beliefs we have internalized. It’s those areas of resentment we are holding onto.

4.  The “IN SYNC” piece of the puzzle. When we choose to let go, accept change, and allow God to cut the piece into the size and shape that He wants, we find freedom and our life flows.

We can trust that all the puzzle pieces of our life fit together into the perfect spots in His plan.

I heard a quote not long ago that I LOVE! It’s by Francis Chan. Perhaps it will encourage you. “God created you and placed you in this time for His purposes.”

Guess what? You fit! You have a purpose and a spot or many spots to fill along your life’s journey. When we each put our purpose into place we build the puzzle together and create something beautiful.

Till next time,

Blessings,

Pam

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Meditation. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this word? For years my thoughts and reactions to this word were primarily based upon someone else’s opinions. Some of those opinions sounded like this: “meditation is not Christian, stay away from it, it’s -new age. “ Or, “it’s safe if you put the word Christian in front of it”, or “it is way too hard,” or “it’s okay if you focus only on scripture in the Bible.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that a big portion of my life story is about breaking free from the legalistic, fear based, rule driven, boxed in form of Christianity. Boy, that’s a lot of adjectives. It’s a process for sure, but I can say that finally I am experiencing a Freedom and Joy that I never thought possible.
So, where was I?

Oh yes, I was talking about Meditation. God brought Meditation into my life about three years ago when I went to stay for a long weekend at St. Benedicts Monastery.

Meditation/Prayer room at St. Benedict's Monastery

Meditation/Prayer room at St. Benedict’s Monastery

This was another first for me. I had never been to a Monastery. If you have, then you know how peaceful and QUIET it is. No phones, TV’s, Internet, or other people to talk to. It’s just you and the birds singing joyfully in your ears. Honestly, I had no idea what to do with myself. I brought several books along, some art supplies and my hiking boots.

The most challenging thing for me was how to use my time. What should I DO? We are such a “doing” culture. It’s sometimes difficult to just “be.” And did I mention the QUIET? For those of you who know me, I’m a pretty quiet person so I thought this “silence thing” would be a walk in the park. After the first day, it truly was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had, but it took some doing to get myself to relax into the space and the silence.

The grounds at St. Benedict's Monastery

The grounds at St. Benedict’s Monastery

After getting settled in, I found myself in the library perusing through the books on meditation. Why? I don’t know it sure wasn’t in my plan. I already had a very large stack of books I brought with me to read. However, I knew I was there standing in this library by God’s design, not my own. Many of the books I flipped through felt daunting, but all of a sudden the perfect book stood out amidst the others. It was a sort of “how to guide” on meditation. I took the book back to my room and began reading, then practicing, reading then practicing. Like I said, I was a newbie at all this.

I talked to God and asked Him to show me what He wanted me to learn. Words really can’t express what I experienced with God during that time. All I can say is, “He revealed Himself to me in an altogether different and much deeper way than I had ever known.”

The practice of Meditation has stuck with me. Since then I’ve learned more about what God’s Word has to say about it. Yep, it’s in there. Meditation has been one of the most powerful ways I’ve experienced connection with God. It has grown my relationship with Jesus in a much deeper way by showing me more about who He is, and how I perceive Him. It has helped me learn to recognize His voice, how to trust Him more. It has calmed my anxiety and reduced depression.

Why am I writing about this topic? Because I imagine many of you are seeking a deeper relationship with God, and what you are doing is not working for you. You are following all the rules, the programs, the 5 step plans, but feel stuck in the same place you have been for years.

My hope is that my story will give you new perspective and courage to step out of your comfort zone. If you know Jesus, then ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. When He does, trust that it’s Him, trust Him to guide you and go for it, He will not let you down.

Till next time,
Pam

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How do you know if you are in the midst of religious fog?  You may be asking yourself, “Who says that I (Pam) am the expert on this?  Thus, I am bringing out the disclaimer from my last post once again.

Disclaimer: You may find yourself feeling offended with some of the things I have to say. I am not placing blame on anyone or any situation.  Many of you will not share my passion or my viewpoint.  That is okay, we do not have to agree.   However, if you are willing, I encourage you to hear me out with an open mind.  I am by far not an expert on this subject.  I only have my experience and my story and feel led to share it in hopes that it might help others. Lighthouse

The fog started showing up in my life at an early age.  I believe that the churches and people in my life at that time were also in a fog. Honestly I don’t think they even realized it.  The fog that I’m referring to is labeled “legalism” in the “christian” language.

What legalism means to me is a bunch of ridiculous rules put into place in an attempt to control you.  They engulf you with guilt and make you believe that who you are authentically does not have a chance to be loved by God. In turn this makes God out to be some sort of monster dictator and someone who could never relate to a person like you.

Some of the rules that I experienced sound like this, that is if you were to write them out on the stone tablets next to the Ten Commandments.

  • Thou shalt not miss church or any church activity.
  • Thou shalt always choose a church event over a non-church event.
  • Thou shalt not hang out with those outside your “church family”, especially “non-christians.”
  • Thou shalt not talk about your problems.  Always act like everything is great even if you are dying inside.
  • Thou shalt not question church authority.
  • Thou shalt always look, speak and act like your life is perfect.  You should be worried what other people might say about you.
  • Thou shalt always be fearful that you might go to hell if your life isn’t perfect.
  • Thou shalt not believe that God speaks or works outside the prescribed plans the church authorities give you.
  • Thou shalt have humility – to the extent of believing that you are bad, worthless…
  • Thou shalt be fearful to hear other people’s beliefs.
  • Thou shalt always defend your beliefs to the point of always needing to be right.

How do rules help us cultivate an intimate friendship with Jesus?  Is this really why He came to earth, so we could learn how to live under a bunch of rules?  Absolutely not.  We do a good enough job making up rules and regulations all by ourselves.   Jesus came so that we can get to know Him, (not how to live by a set of rules.)  He came so we can have a friendship with Him, if we choose it.  He came so we could live our lives in freedom.

Rules are meant to control and I bought into them hook line and sinker.  I internally made an agreement with them and allowed them to run my life for a long, long time.  I believed that this was the person I should be if I were someone whom God loved.  I allowed the rules to control me to the point of losing who I was and who God wanted me to be.

Then came the day that I hit bottom and my very small, controlled, limited world came crashing down around me.  I had made some really bad choices that caused my world to crash.  I couldn’t get out of bed for days.  I wanted to die.  I was 34 years old and lost in a sea of darkness and didn’t know how to get out.

That was when the lighthouse appeared. At first it was a dim light over a very dark sea.  But as I rowed closer, the light became brighter and brighter.  I began to break the agreements I had made and I began to find who I was.  I began to see myself the way Jesus had always intended, minus all the fog.

Do you recognize if you are in midst of the religious fog?  If so, close your eyes and picture a lighthouse.  Now picture yourself in a boat in the cold, damp, dark, fog.  You see up ahead a bright light, it’s the lighthouse.  It’s God and He’s flooding the way with His brilliant light to show you the way to freedom.  If you are willing to change and let go of the rules that have shackled you for so long, He will give you a life that is illuminated and free.

Until next time…

Pam

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I’ve been reading a great book by John Eldredge called Beautiful Outlaw – Experiencing the playful, disruptive, extravagant personality of Jesus. There are many take-aways for me throughout this book; however, I’d like to write about one in particular that hit very close to home.  This brings us back to the title of this post. Relgious Fog

Seems like most of my life I’ve been trying to find the right knife that will effectively cut away the religious crap that clouds my view about who God really is.  I realize that it has taken many different kinds of knives to do the job.  Sometimes my experience calls for a butter knife, and sometimes it calls for a machete.

Okay, it’s time for my disclaimer. Today’s post may seem like I’m using the machete.  As you continue reading, you may find yourself feeling offended with some of the things I have to say.  I realize many of you will not share my passion or my viewpoint about this topic.  That is okay.   We do not have to agree.   However, if you are willing, I encourage you to hear me out.

What do I mean by the term Religious Fog?  Let’s just say it is a subtle shroud that envelopes us.  It somehow feels “right” because it is cloaked in the name of religion. Keeping that definition in mind, read this story of Jesus experience with religious fog.

The religious leaders tried their best to box Jesus in.  They tried to trap Him and convince Him He was doing something wrong because He wasn’t following the “law” or the “rules.”  Here’s the story in progress…

Mark 3: 1-6 –The Message – italics mine.

Then he (Jesus) went back in the meeting place where he found a man with a crippled hand. The Pharisees (religious rulers) had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal him, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. He said to the man with the crippled hand, “Stand here where we can see you.”

Then he spoke to the people: “What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?” No one said a word.

He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! The Pharisees got out as fast as they could, sputtering about how they would join forces with Herod’s followers and ruin him.

Have you ever been in a situation where it felt like you were being watched by “religious people?”  That they were just waiting for you to mess up, to break the rules, so they could chastise you, fire you, smear your reputation or as it says in Mark, “ruin you?”

I remember a time years ago, when Brian (my husband) was called to a “meeting” with the “religious rulers” in the church we were attending.  They had been watching him as we worked with the teens in our community.  These “religious rulers” told Brian to stop working with these kids because it made the church look bad.  They felt it told the community that this was the church that attracted all the “bad” kids.  They wanted to be like the church across the street that attracted the “good” kids.

I can recount countless situations just like this that have occurred in my life over the years.  All in the name of God, all in the name of Jesus and all in the name of Christianity.  Ugh.  You might be thinking, well if I were you I would have dropped God a long time ago.

Guess what?  I did, for a time.  At least I thought I did.  I figured if this was what it meant to know God and if this is what Christian’s looked like, then I did not want to try to fit in any longer.  I gave it a good go, I tried to fit in, my gosh, my Dad was a pastor and my husband was and still is a music minister for heaven’s sake.   However, there were several times in my life where I went berzerk and went off the deep end.  I coined it my f#@% it all attitude.

Even though I dropped my husband, family and friends for a time, God never dropped me.  To be honest, at some of my lowest points I felt like He was not there, but I know now He was just patiently waiting for me.  I see now that I was not dropping God, I was trying to drop anything that reminded me of the religious poison that I had been exposed to.

I needed to go through all this, so that He could cut away the religious fog that had subtly settled in on my soul and my life.  Had I not gone off the deep end in my 30’s, I shudder to think where I would be today.  Maybe I would still be sitting in the front row, in the first hypocrite church, doing my best to follow all their “rules,” as the fog continued to shroud in around me.  In turn, blinding me once and for all from the Truth.

Thank God He rescued me and freed me from this evil.  Most of Jesus’s story is about how much He loves us. My gosh, why else would He have gone through what he did on this earth had it not been all for us? He wants to hang out with us. He wants us to just be who we are – real, authentic – not perfect or hypocritical. He wants to help us and be with us through our journey in life.  However, there are instances when Jesus does get angry.  And who was it most often directed towards?  Yep, you guessed it, the religious rulers.

When I find myself in a situation when I  feel I am being sucked back into this religious fog, I get mad.  When I hear the stories of people who have experienced this religious abuse and it has tainted their perception of God, and worse yet, turned them from ever wanting to know God, I get pissed.

I am sick to death of religion, I am sick to death of people trying to cram us into a box, all in the name of God.  I am sick to death of hearing about what we should be doing, what we should be acting like, what we should be wearing, if we are really “Christian.”

Does that mean I’m perfect and have it all figured out?  Heck no!  I’m still working on breaking out, but it’s getting easier as I ask God for guidance.  All I have is my own personal experience.  My hope is by sharing it with others it might be of help.

Okay, I’m done for now.  If you are stuck in this religious web and would like to get out before the spider comes and eats you alive, give me a call or email.  I’d love to hear your story and come alongside you as you find the freedom that Jesus came to give.

Thanks for reading.  Next time … Chapter two – How to Recognize if you are in the Midst of the Fog.

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