Friday, September 28, 2012

Freedom... it's individual.

This is my family... the one I came from.

I am smack dab in the middle of 6 amazing brothers and sisters!

(Disclaimer: Everything shared in this post has been used by the permission of all that I have mentioned.)





Just thought it would be fun to share a visual with you!

Anywho, I was chatting with my youngest sister yesterday while waiting in urgent care with my son... he had a sore throat and fever, ended up being a reoccurance of strep throat.
Her and I were talking about our family, and a couple situations that have come up.

Oooh the drama ;)


We were also sharing our thoughts on religion and how it has so deeply affected us.
It's so interesting... all 6 of us kids were raised in the same household with the same mom and dad, and each one of us has a different bent on religion and how it affected us.

Honestly, my mom and dad are amazing and such generous and loving people. And as parents, they did the very best the could with what they knew how.
They were pretty forward with a lot of things, being as both of them came from the generation where children were seen and not heard.
We were held and kissed and loved so much.
Both of them loved being parents to little children. I think their biggest struggle to this day is with that transition of moving from being a parent to your child to being a friend to your adult child.
They both want to still parent their adult children, and as an adult it is very frustrating.

One of the family dynamics growing up in my household was keeping secrets.
I don't think my mom and dad realized how damaging keeping secrets was to us... they simply were concerned about my dad's reputation as a pastor, and our reputation as a family IN the ministry.
And, let's face it, our family secrets were all the "no no" sins of Christianity.
Incest
Sexual abuse
Pornography
Adultery

(Side note:
Because my mouth was sealed shut for so many years, it's probably the reason I blog. :)
Seriously... It's such a part of my freedom journey.
Shame was such a huge part of my upbringing...not intentionally by any means, but so present none the less.
And the best way to come at shame, is to share your story.)

All the reeally bad bad sins according to the church, that people in the church judge so harshly.
When we really should just take that person in, bring comfort and love and help get them help.
So opposite world, isn't it?

Getting back to my sister...
My youngest sister was raped as a 3 year old by a family member.
She had been being molested for her whole little life, and after one particular instance she had the courage to speak out and tell us.
Come to find out, she wasn't the only one being hurt by this person.
We found out this person had been sexually abusing my younger brother, myself and all our cousins.
But she had received the worst of the abuse.. probably because she was so little, and would be quiet.

Really hard stuff.

Now my sister as a young adult had attempted suicide, and has had an intense road of recovery.. she has since married an incredible guy and has had a baby, my sweet little niece Ellie who is 5 years old now.

Ellie just recently had a scare from a bug bite that landed her in the hospital for a few days.
And my sister and I were talking about it.

My sister told me...

"You know what's really interesting? 
Not once did I pray while Ellie was in the hospital... not once did I ask God to intervene or heal her. People kept telling me I needed to pray for Ellie, but I didn't. I just couldn't.
I kept my thoughts positive and my attitude hopeful.
Why would I want to invite a God that let's bad things happen to little girls into my little girl's hard situation?"

Then she stopped... and said.. " Whoa... I think I just had an epiphany."
ha!

Love her!

And I love that we can just talk so openly and candidly about all this life and God stuff.

She continued.. "There is no way I would ever want or desire to know that "g"od.
He is so scary and mean."

And I asked her.. why would you want to?

Then she said, "But man I would hate to not know that "g"od,  then find out I had it all wrong and spend all eternity in hell."

And right there.... that is the hook of fear that religion throws into people.
Never question.
Never walk away.
Never think for yourself because what if....
What if you are wrong?
What if by you questioning you wander off into places Jesus can't find you, and end up forever burning in hell??

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I recently had a discussion with somebody that struggled with my last post.
They really did not care for my "negativity" towards the church.
Ok.
I can understand where they are coming from, and I totally honor and respect their opinion and journey.
It's ok, we are each where we need to be, and each one's freedom journey is individual.
What is for one, is not for the other.
Absolutely and perfectly fine and pure freedom to both.
My heart is honestly to love people...and I love the people that go to church, I just don't like the religion and the institution called church. I am truly not hurt, or angry or bitter.
This blog is my safe place to share and hash out and write about my thoughts on this freedom journey.
I so appreciate that we are all at different places in our lives and on different journeys...so if you find peace and your heart is encouraged by finding community at a church, then please do that for yourself.
That is just for me.

But..

I do want to offer a word of caution...

I think we have to be so so careful that we don't put our freedom on other people.. OR measure and gauge another's freedom according to our own, and what works for us.... 
it's very easy to swap one box mindset for another.

By a box mindset I mean..

One day I might be in rigid religion...measuring my spirituality, comparing myself to others who are more spiritual then I, doing the right and wrong thing, judging other people who don't think like I do, placing my views on them as the "right" way...

THEN I am awakened... to another way, so I start walking in freedom, and begin doing the same thing I was doing inside of religion...measuring my freedom, comparing my freedom to others, and doing the right and wrong thing with freedom, judging other who are NOT free like me or who's freedom looks different then mine, they are not doing their freedom "right" according to my way...etc....

Can you see it?
The switch of one box for another?
It's so easy to do.. in our human nature we love definites.
They make us feel so safe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One of my sweet bloggy friends commented on the last post...
a friend had mentioned to her in reference to her freedom, and her going or not going to church...

"If you're not free to leave, you're not truly free. And If you're not free to go back, you're not truly free."

I am sorry but this quote slaps of a different kind of "religious" mindset, and says NOTHING of freedom!

If you have a measuring stick or any kind of "gauge" for if a person is free or not, then that is NOT freedom at all.

Measuring and gauging is NOT how it happens, and I am sorry, in my opinion, they are NOT God's heart either.

That quote just makes me cringe inside.

I know what words like that do to people like myself who want to be free so desperately, and at the same time want to be pleasing to God...
I'll tell you what it would do, it would keep my butt planted in a church seat trying so very hard to please God, AND be free inside a place that was so incredibly abusive to my person and heart.
And to people like my sweet friend who shared that quote, it is death to her heart and offers not a bit of freedom.


So, I look at my sister.
Her beauty, her gifts, her gorgeous heart... how she loves her husband and daughter... how she longs to find freedom, peace and joy.
In the very deepest part of her being she longs for connection to her Creator, but for her to find Him inside organized religion would be death to her soul.

Freedom speaks to her and Freedom speaks to all of us to just be.
And come and sit and be loved and be healed.
Freedom doesn't care if I call it George or Sharon.
Or Her or Him.
Freedom doesn't care if I go to church or stay home.
It leads you, as you are.
And it leads me, as I am.
So if me experiencing God looks like me loving my children, or taking a nature walk and I finding Him in the beauty all around through the lens of my camera..
Or whether it looks like I experience and find Him in music or meditation, or yoga, or the laughter and pleasure of my lover.

It doesn't matter, because in the end.
God.
will.
be there.

He will always be found by you.



Wherever that may be...wherever your heart will be able to see Him.

It's that pure.
and.
It's that simple.

There is no hook of fear that Freedom offers.
There is no measuring stick or gauge.
It just is.
And it knows you and I.
It knows our wounds and our filters.
It knows my story and all the places that kept me bound.
And it reaches past all of that to the places where we can connect and know God.

Can we offer each other that?

No judgement or criticism?
People like my sister... people like you... and me.

Can we realize that freedom looks different for every person, because we are all so different.
Can we put aside our boxes and just let each other be and grow inside of freedom?
Because freedom IS individual, so let's love each other and offer grace AS individuals.

xo

Amy

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I don't think I could ever return to church.

Firstly, for my friend Kmarie.. wanted to show a couple pictures of our beautiful view just right outside our window :)

I adore these mountains.. I was telling my daughter how moody they are ;)
Some days they are so clear and fresh, other days they are completely covered up, and then other days they are hazy... not quite hidden but not out in the open either. They are just amazing!
Love driving every morning with them right in front me :)

We had some rain yesterday, and the mountains were so so clear!
Had to take a shot!
Sorry about the power lines :)




Ok, so onward on to the topic of this blog post..

I don't know if you remember this post.
It was a post about a really big life choice that I made after another attempt at attending a church service with my husband this past summer.

You see, my hub has no difficulty with going to church. He loves it, he isn't set back by it, and it encourages him.
Me, on the other hand, it does.

Over the past 4 years, as a act of love and support, I have tried over and over again to attend church with my hub.
And everytime, I walk away totally set back, filled with terror and doubt, and just plain a mess!
It triggers all that doubt stuff inside me, and I begin to question everything I have learned while being outside of religion.

So, I was driving the other day, thinking about the past years on this journey, and it came to me...

I don't think I will ever be able to go back.

Like. Ever.

Not a surprise to a lot of people I am sure, but to me that was a bit of a big moment for me.

I feel like Neo and the scene in the movie The Matrix with Morpheus...

"Morpheus to Neo: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. 
You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.
 You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."

I took the red pill! 
I am too awake!
And when I think about going back to organized religion, I think, there is no freaking way I can.
I know too much.
It's all man made.
It was never meant to be that way.
We were supposed to live life in relationship with our Creator and that's it.
Not this crazy cage that we have been made to believe is the only way to have relationship with God.

It's funny looking back and remembering all the prayers I prayed and my church prayed for revival..
I believe this is it.
But nobody can see it because they think it's supposed to take place inside the cage.
I know that is such religious terminology, so call it what you will... revival, a mass awakening, enlightment..
It's all the same.. God is awakening people that are inside the cage AND out to truth and freedom.
And I am so grateful for that...so very grateful.

~~~~~

I live in a city that has sooooo many churches... literally every street corner.
Colorado Springs is the hub of almost every Evangelical Christian ministry there is.
I drive by and see all the many different types of services and programs they offer to draw people in...
these super modern and cool looking pastors with the little tattoos and fohawks.
They have even started to say words like damn and hell in their sermons..kind of with a shock jock genre in mind.. for shock value and coolness, you know?

And all I see anymore is a cage... a cage that they have decorated to try and look like the wild.
All wall papered on the inside with grass, and fields... and everyone get's their own treadmills to run on.
lol!

A movie that reminds me of this is the cute Disney animation, Madagascar..
When Marty the zebra is running on his treadmill and imagining the wild as he looks at his painting of the wild.
It's the same thing.
I imagine them saying at the cage door... come inside.. look see.. it looks just like freedom!
It looks like the wild.. come inside.

Knowing that there is just no way I could go inside.
The freedom that is here outside the cage... how could I go back?
How could I sit there and take in all that false teaching and poison?
I would have to suppress myself again.... and conform...and die a slow death.

Religion is man made. All of it.
Is God a part, yeah I think it probably started with God...and a experience with God that a man had.

But then that man took his experience that was meant just for him, and he tries to re-create it.
The surroundings, the sounds, the actions of what he was doing at that very moment of his God experience, his actual position that he was in when it happened, etc..
and then he begins to tell people about this experience... and that they too can experience God as he did if they follow this formula.
THAT is the man made part. THAT is the cage. THAT is religion.
When all along that experience was between that one man and God. period. done. end of story.

Another thing about religion that I am learning is it has very little to do with the heart/spirit and everything to do with the ego/head.
And I am reminded so often, God's ways are not ego's ways.
God's ways are spirit.... ALL spirit.
And in spirit nothing is earned. It isn't works driven, it just is.
And religion is all about works and what you can DO to reach God and to earn His favor and gaze.
And that, my friends, is ego.
And ego is not God.

How could I go back to that?
I can't. and. I won't.
Freedom comes from living from your heart/spirit, and I want that so deeply and ferousiously.
I want to cultivate spirit, not ego.
I want to surround myself with those things that contribute to my heart/spirit.
And that includes where I spend my time, what I think on, who I choose to be in relationship with, etc..

Just a big "ah ha" moment I wanted to share with you.

xo

Amy

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

O. M. G!!

I canNOT believe how long it has been since I have posted or even read any of my friend's blogs.

Wow!

I cannot tell you how crazy busy it's been....but more then that I think in the busy, I have just not had a lot of words. 

So as I am waiting for my acorn squash to bake...nummer lunch... I thought I would sit and just write until the timer goes off.



Since we have moved to Colorado Springs, the forward motion and activity has been intense.

Not been a lot of time for sipping coffee and writing.


Such a wild summer!
O.
my.
gosh.

W-I-L-D!

I find that when life turns up the intensity, this momma hunkers down and gets reeaaaally quiet.
Pulling in, and surrounding myself with my small inner circle of support. from my small inner circle.

And to be honest, I don't know if I handled it "well", per se...but I did it.. and decided to not judge myself inside the hard season, but just live and be in it.
I felt so strongly inside to keep my eye on the prize.. like when you are giving birth to new life, and all you can think about is getting that baby out, and pushing and breathing... 
This baby was all the things that God has whispered to me... dreams, desires and intuitions towards the future.
I stayed inside all of that.
And you know what?
It kept me centered.
When everything that could be unknown to man was in front of us, 
and fear was screaming in my ear..
I stayed inside hope.
And I loved those around me, and was present..




And the beauty of life, and this new state I was now living in.. 
I just took it all in.
As if it was food to my soul.


Even inside all of the unknowns of the how's and the when's and the what if's we celebrated life everyday!


And then one day everything changed...
And a season of waiting, turned into a season of running!

We moved to our new city..



My kids started school just literally days after we moved down from my brother's house.

My brother and I were asked to shoot a wedding!
One of my first paid weddings.. woot!
In beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado! Gorgeous!



Here is a linkie lou to my photography blog if you want to see!
It was SO MUCH FUN!


Photobucket

I literally edited pictures every day for the past 5 weeks since!
Crazy crazy... that is just way too long!

5 weeks is just way too long to edit pictures day after day after day... I have learned a HUGE lesson, and will be working on my workflow...wow!
I also learned that I really really struggle with the computer..period.
I get depressed if I am staring at it for more then an hour.

So this week, I am taking off. No more then 1 hour of checking email and doing what's in my heart to do, and then I am done.

The computer is so noisy to me... is it to you?
I can't explain it other then that.. and I can hear it and feel it more and more.
It seems the more I live from my heart, the more sensitive I am to external stuff and surroundings.




Ok so bunny trail there.. ha!

Coming into the fall, I look back over the summer with so much gratitude.
This was one of those life situations that God had brought around to push on and work out a HUGE area... the "fear of the unknown".
I have had different situations come in my lifetime that have pressed on that area, but none so intense as this past summer.
And I have lived to tell the tale! ha!
It broke off a TON of fear and despair... really just ego stuff in me.
I don't think I have yet to see all the fruit come from this past summer, but the freedom to hope, and live and BE inside love despite external life stuff is so deep inside me.

My timer just went off, so I am going to say bye for now... loves to you my friends... and life... and freedom.

xo

Amy