Tag Archives: Freedom

Free Because of the Brave

30 May

Today I woke up, and I have the choice to do what I want with my day.

I can openly speak about what is on my heart to say,

I can express my opinion through writing words, and even publish it for the whole world to see online. I can disagree with you.

I don’t spend time worrying that someone trying to silence me is going to knock on my door and arrest me because of my beliefs.

I don’t have to hide who I am.

I can eat what I want. I can make my own decisions. I can walk the streets without being paranoid about what I am wearing. I know if something happens, I can get help.

My husband and I can raise our family the way we see fit. We can have as many kids as we want, and that our bodies our able to have. I can give birth at home or in a hospital. We can choose the medical care we receive.

If we want to responsibly own guns, for protection and sport, we can.
If we want to start a business or ministry or buy a big chunk of land and live off of it one day, we are able to.

I can choose the career I want.

Any thoughts that I am limited by where I was born and who I was born to, the gender I am, or even my education are just an illusion.

I can rise above that.

I can make something of my life.

I can travel wherever I want.

I can produce wealth.

I can give it all away.

I can make a difference in the world.

I can make life better for my children.

I can live without fear.

Whether I choose to see the bad or the good in this country is up to me.

What I do with my freedom is my own responsibility.

What I do with what’s been given to me is my choice,

My life. 

It is not dictated by anyone else. It’s between me and God.

The majority of the world can’t say this.
They can’t claim this.

They live in fear and instability,
Their individual rights don’t exist, according to their government, or lack thereof.

Life, liberty and pursuing happiness is a far off goal that feels unattainable.

Because oppression rules them,
Power and greed are in charge.

The weak are items to be used and discarded.

There is no justice.

Evil reigns.

You can argue with me all you want.

You can scoff at the idea of patriotism and point out all the wrongs,

(That was once me. I wanted to live anywhere but here. I wasn’t grateful.)

You can live under constant fear that soon all this will be gone.

That one day you’ll get a knock on your door and everything will change.

Liberty will just be a distant memory.

That may be true….but...

It doesn’t have to be.

That’s your choice.

And mine.

We create our own future.

And the fact remains,

This morning, if you’re an American, you’re free.

The world is open for you.

Nothing is holding you back.

And it’s because ordinary people throughout our bloody history, felt something, saw something, valued something…

FREEDOM.

They knew the potential. They saw beyond their own temporary existence.

They knew what they wanted for their great-grand children.

They knew the endless possibilities in a people who are truly free.

They knew that one act of heroism mattered,

That it could change the course of history.

And it did.

Today I woke up, and I have the choice to do what I want with my day.

Thank you.

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These Unfettered Lines

10 Apr

 

my story begins not-so-right

fighting and biting my way out of the night

 

aware of having a face that wasn’t my own

obsessed with avoiding being alone

 

pushing, squeezing

trying to work on my breathing

 

never believing

I could really make it out on time

 

but this is how I came to love

these unfettered lines

 

I traded all I thought I was

into who I really am

 

I gave up following a straight line

and started for an uncharted way

 

I turned in my map for a songbook

and traced the light into the day

 

I gave up and lost it all

and let myself fall

 

into the grace of not knowing

where I am or where I am going

 

and soon I came to see

I had been strangling the life right out of me

 

with a rulebook as a noose

and a false sense of reality

 

but this is how I came to love

these unfettered lines

 

I gave up all I thought I knew

and danced in a dark room

 

running for the sunrise

obligatory ambitions absolved

 

I returned to the womb

and started anew

 

these words finally opening my eyes

 

The Struggle Between The Tree And The Wind

6 Jan

Am I the only one that feels this tension, this pulling within?

I am so afraid of being grounded, yet at times it’s what I want more than anything.

I decided, years ago, I’d rather be a wanderer.

But lately I feel old.

Lately I want to take my belongings out of storage.

Lately I want to live somewhere where I can build a home.

I know these thoughts are ok but sometimes I hate them.

I hate the thought of being stuck.

I  think, “I used to be wild and free.”

But no one is putting chains on me but me.

(This is me surviving.Walking, pacing, watching the sky change.)

I always tell people to embrace these  seasons of coming and going, of no strings attached.

It’s not like I have a family to take care of.

It’s not like I even have a job where I am stuck in one place.

(But oh at times, how green the grass seems anywhere else.)

I am 26 and no more sure than I was 10 years ago.
But I am ready for life to not be about me.

So I tell myself I can follow my passion.
I can live in abundance…

Wait….. I do.
I do live in abundance.
I have so much beauty, love, people. I am doing what I love, too.

Someone from New England asked me last night if I just love living in Texas.

After 8 years I could say honestly that I do.
(Trust me, even forming those words is an act of rebellion to my vagabond soul.)

I used to count my days by the places I went.
I relished living out of a suitcase.

I dreamed of endless places and people and possibilities.
It was never easy but it was worth the freedom I felt.

Have I gotten so comfortable?
Have I fallen into desiring normal instead of living an adventure?

Those things that were so intertwined in the fabric of my being, being reminded over and over that it’s not only ok not to know, but I’d rather not, cause

“Life is better off a mystery.”

So I can be free.
Every day can be magical
It’s all up to me.

I ask myself,

“Can I be a tree or can I be the wind?”

The answer is,

“Both.”

“When did I lose it?” I ask, fearing the worst.

The answer is,
“Never.”

Why I Don’t Wear “The Ring.”

7 Nov

This is a ring.

It says “Semper Honorablus” which mean “Always Honorable” in Latin, I guess.

I was given this ring when I was eighteen, after “committing to live a life of honor.”
I don’t talk about this much. I might say casually when people ask me where I went to school,

“Oh, this errr… bible college.”

Sometimes, I will mention to people I lived on a bus for two and a half years. Some look at me like I am insane, most don’t really care.

I don’t always mention all the wonderful and terrible things that happened from being a part of Teen Mania Ministries for four years.

I don’t mention I took the ring off soon after leaving in 2007, because I didn’t even know what it meant anymore.

I began to question what I really believed and whether aspects of my faith were really mine, or something that had been forced on me.

Can I be honest and say, it’s hard to write this?

I decided to no longer remain silent because things seem to be coming to a head. People are hurt, and people are angry at those who are hurt.

People say Teen Mania is an abusive cult.

People say it is a life-changing program, the best ministry ever.

People say that it is where God is.

People say that God has used this ministry to transform thousands of lives. I  understand that, mine included. I was seventeen and desperately needed God. I knew if I didn’t go to the Honor Academy I would end up in a trailer park with the baby of some druggie.

But right now, I need to shut out what people are saying.

Right now I am letting go of it all, the good, the bad, the ugly.

Not because of what anyone did to me, but because of the bondage I put myself under.

Please hear my heart in this. I am not slandering anyone.

I  am speaking up now, because a lot of things have changed. Because I have changed. Because I used to be afraid. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of not being accepted by God, (at least not after a while) I was afraid of not being accepted by them.

Being accepted by the group I claimed allegiance too, spent thousands of hours on the phone convincing people to attend, gave four years of my life to… that meant everything.

At one time I felt guilty. I felt like I owed them my allegiance. After all, I experienced the love of God there like I never had anywhere else. I realized my life had purpose there. I learned to love myself there. The world opened up to me. I got to travel, experience incredible things. I met some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and many of them I still have a deep connection with.

But now I know, those things were simply the grace of God in my life.
Jesus was loving me.
I am not angry. Ok maybe a little. I am angry people are hurt and no one is listening. I am angry at the gross militaristic “us vs. them” mentality. I am angry at religion trying to make people pay for what God has already given us for free. But by the grace of God, I am not bitter. I am thankful for the things I learned, the opportunities I had, and the beautiful people I met.

But I can’t wear the ring. To me, it represents a mental and emotional legalistic pressure that Jesus never ever put on me.

I am under no obligation to anyone but Christ.
And in that, I am free.

I don’t need to “be the standard.”
I don’t need to conjure up some fake pious morality.
I don’t need to sign a creed and commit to an ideal, a better way of life.

Those things are bullshit.

They don’t work.

Jesus made a covenant with God and has given me all things. I just simply have to believe. I don’t owe God anything… How can you pay for something that is a free gift? Even if I tried, I couldn’t pay Him back if I tried. God doesn’t want my disgusting bloody rags, my failed attempts to be holy.

He just wants me. And He has me.
He wants me to understand what he did on the cross was enough.
I don’t have to “try to get closer to him,” He is part of me.
I don’t have to rally people to a massive conference to beg God to “come down,” He is everywhere.

And I already am holy. Because He made me a new creation. It wasn’t my doing.

(At times, the self-righteous nineteen-year-old in me is cries, “Heresy!” in the back of my head. But I am learning to shut her up.)

I am completely free.
I am under no obligation to any system of religion, any conformity, any pressure to be a leader, or to keep up appearances.

I can just be Brooke.

And Brooke, with the Holy Spirit in her, is more than enough.

EDIT-

Ok, I need to add this. I don’t want this to come across like I am bashing Teen Mania. This is not my heart. I almost didn’t put the name here, but I figured most people would figure out what I am talking about anyways. This is not against people, this is against a system that tells you you have to be more then Jesus has already made you in him. I could apply this to many churches as well. There are Christian communities out there that are loving and grace filled and not exclusive. Those are amazing, we need more of those. The point is, my identity is not in being “alumni” or a church member at so-and-so.

Shout It From the Rooftops

13 Oct

God doesn’t hate you.

He is not pissed off at you.

He is not rolling his eyes at your stupidity.

He doesn’t point out your flaws.

He doesn’t think you’re crazy.

He is not embarrassed by you.

He never, ever condemns you.

He isn’t impatiently tapping his giant foot up in heaven, waiting for you to grow up, to get over your addictions, to clean up your act.

He doesn’t just “put up” with you because he has to.

He doesn’t inflict disease on you to teach you a lesson.

He doesn’t leave you alone so you will realize you need him and stop taking him for granted.

He doesn’t emotionally manipulate you.

He doesn’t demand you give your “110%,” to work until you are worn out.

He is not schizophrenic, hugging you one day and slapping you the next.

He is not far away, someday somewhere in the sweet by and by.

He doesn’t “hide his will from you” and then choose someone else when you don’t “follow your destiny.”

He doesn’t think you’re more awesome than his other kids because you attend church, tell everyone to accept him, sponsor poor kids, or try to overcome your porn addiction on your own.

His doesn’t change his mind about you when you decided to throw it all away and completely F up your life.

He isn’t impressed by your self-made “holiness.”

He isn’t shocked or surprised by your horrific disgusting sin.

His view of you has nothing to do with how hard you try not to sin, how much you strive to be good.

NO!

God simply loves you because he IS love, not because he has to, but because,

You are his son, you are his daughter and he sees you as worthy to be loved.

He only gives you good things.

He only offers you life.

He only responds as a loving father with open arms, not just forgiving your sins, but throwing you a party.

He is only pure grace and pure beauty, and he gives himself to you.

He only sees who you really are: whole, loved, absolutely fantastic and brilliant.

He will do anything to free you from the chains around your mind.

He will do anything for you to see what you already have in him.

He only asks you see who you are and believe it.

AND

You will realize you are already healed, whole and restored.

You will stop trying to do and realize it has all ready been done.

You will live in peace and contentment.

You will live a beautiful adventure, free from guilt, shame and fear.

You will create and grow and change the world without even trying.

And you will love people and love yourself and feast and drink and see that you have the Kingdom of God in you, beauty all around you, and eternal life here and now

“God’s Will” Doesn’t Tie Us Up

24 Sep

Christianity is a weird and awkward thing. The more I love Jesus and see who He really is the more I realize I want absolutely nothing to do with religion.

“Religion” literally means, “to bind or tie.”

I have returned to bondage over and over again in my life.
I have listened to the voice, and I have parroted the voice that says:

You are not praying enough.
You need to read (and translate and study and apply) the bible more to your life.
You need to give God more of your life.
You are not doing enough to meet the needs of the world.
You are not telling enough people about Jesus.
You need to make sure you avoid anything that looks sinful.
You need to give everything you have, not waste a single second, always be trying to become a better human being.

Sounds like good advice…..right?

In the past, it sure seemed like it. I used to give that advice to others when they struggled. I used to preach that advice, believe it, try to live up to it, but now the grace of God has revealed it for what it is: disgusting.

It adds links, one by one, to the heavy rusted chain around your neck, choking all life out.

When you grow up in the mindset that these things, listed above, are necessary to be “in”— to be loved, to be worthy to gain an eternal reward— it is hard to be released from those sort of shackles.

It feels safe inside the bondage of religion. It feels easier to try to be under the law and attempt to gain some sort of right-ness with God by the petty little things you do, but it is just worthless.

So worthless.

Then, to complicate things even more, I brought “THE WILL OF GOD”  (Duh, Dun DUHH! Pause for dramatic music) into the whole matter.

(Now, I cringe at that phrase, thinking how many lives have been ruined by attaching that label to a selfish, evil, or just plain lame decisions and events.)

As if it were not enough to try to avoid sin and “get closer” to God, I believed if I wasn’t close enough I wouldn’t be able to hear His voice and understand what he wants me to do with my life. Oh the pressure.

This is especially treacherous when you are eighteen and you have to have a complete life vision and plan from the LORD all laid out or you will end up a drifting loser and make all the mistakes your friends did, living some mediocre life in the suburbs with your eyes glued to the television and the world will end up dying because you did not fulfill your DESTINY.

Or, at least that is what I believed. Maybe I was crazy.

So I fasted, cried, read more books, sought consul from “more mature” Christians, prayed, and screamed:

“God just tell me what to DO!!”

I lived in fear that I’d marry the wrong person, have the wrong job (or be in the wrong ministry, because the thought of having a “normal” job sounded like suicide,) move to the wrong country, miss out COMPLETELY on God’s “perfect will” and waste my short life, ending on my death bed with regret. DUN DUN DUHHHHHH!

(All these thoughts were religious, returning me to bondage.)

The great irony is,

The will of God is simply that I live in freedom, in love, in Him.

It was never hidden until I was “good enough” to see it, it was always right there for me to see, my eyes were just closed.

I am so grateful for a God that rescues.

He wouldn’t let me stay in my chains playing with my filthy rags.  He gently led me to a place where I realized I had nothing.

I saw my neediness. I saw my failure. My own stinking humanity.

I saw the worthless and futility of it all.

I came to see I can’t do a thing, and that’s the point.

But there is a but.

“Then who can be saved?”

“With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. “

Yes. Hallelujah. LIFE. This is the Good News.

There is no fear in that. There is no pressure. There is no condemnation. There is no “getting it wrong.”

As I my eyes have been opened to what is behind the veil that has been torn,

I see all things have already been done, all things are already mine, and it changes everything.

I don’t need to ask God what His will is, it’s right there! For me to start believing all that I have in Him.

Yet at times I still choose not to believe, to allow emotions and confusion to take place of the reality of His life in me. When I can’t see where I am going, when I don’t know where I am going to live or what I am going to do or how I am going to make it, I go back to my old cry, “God just tell me what to DO!!”

And then, I hear it, a  whisper:

“Here’s what to do- let me love you.
Stop trying.
Realize this is a gift, this life, this right-ness with me.
There is nothing but Grace, it is not a concept, it is ME.
I have given you all things.
There is nothing you can do to be closer to me, I am as close as your breath.
I will take you on this beautiful, wild adventure if you just stop trying to figure things out.
You don’t need to return to bondage by trying to be better, you never will be.
Let go of that.
Let me live through you.
Let me love in you and out of of you.
Then you will live in joy. You will not know guilt. You will be free from fear.
Your life will be abundant because it will be my life.
You will not look at your petty sin because you will look at me.
You will dream big and have the courage and motivation to follow those dreams.
You will not need to constantly stop and ask me which way to go, because you will know I am the way.
You will stop asking for answers and rest in my love.
You will stop asking for a plan and realize, this is the only plan- to know me and be known by me.
That is my will.”

 

*For a great biblical teaching on this, check out Andrew Farley’s Message Click on “Recent Messages” Then  “8-28-11- Finding God’s Will.”

Or e-mail me- writeeveryday@gmail.com and I’ll send it to you.

Also you should read a blog by Don Miller, because he is awesome.

Live Free or Die

1 Jul

This quote sits on the background of my desktop. The more I read it, the more it feels like my own holy mantra. I love the idea of my existence being a rebellion in an un-free world. Not rebellion in a sense of fighting against what is good and true, actually the very opposite.

When I was a kid, I was sort of paranoid. I used to lie awake at night, imagining enemies. They normally weren’t monsters or goblins, these enemies were real people. Burglars, kidnappers, rapist. I was afraid of people. I was also afraid of God, in a sense. I knew He “loved” me because that is what I was told. But, I never thought I was good enough for that love.

I looked in the mirror and found myself achingly different from the girl I wished I was. I remember as young as six making a mental list of the (major) things that would have to change in my life for me to be “normal.” I thought that was all I wanted. Really, I wanted to be free. Free from the nightmares. Free from the unspoken thing that paralyzed my mouth shut when it came to communicating with anyone older then me besides my immediate family. I didn’t know why I was afraid, I just was. I was in bondage to silence.

When I began to get free from my past, it was like I transitioned straight into another sort of bondage- the religious kind. I thought it was my job to decide whether I was a holy person or not, depending on how much time I spent on my knees, what movies or music I would or would not subject myself too. In my harsh judgment of myself, I couldn’t help but judge other people. I couldn’t see their motives, know their full story, or read their heart intent, but I stuck with the idea that “You will know them by their fruit.” I entered into a new kind of paranoia. Instead of writing a list of the things that needed to change in order for me to be normal, I wrote a mental list of things that needed to happen in order for me to be a “Jesus-freak. World-Changer. Not-of-this-world.” I was quick to point out those “hypocrites” who talked about celebrity gossip instead of reaching Muslims for Christ, the ones who claimed to love God and yet spend more money on worldly things like their purebred puppy and nice furniture, while there were starving children dying of AIDS  and worldly teenagers having sex who were going to burn in hell.

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (Gal. 1:4 NLT)

As Jesus began to gently lead me into the realm of his grace, at times I have felt my former self back-lashing.

“Do you realize how heretical the things your saying sound right now?”

“People are going to get offended…”

“Are you SURE, you are not just trying to rebel?”

As time goes on, condemnation has gone from being my master to becoming obsolete. It’s scary, almost, because I was so used to it.  I was comfortable seeing morality so stark black and white, I was comfortable being one of the few select, being able to judge the world instead of the condition of my own heart. I was safe in my cage.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Gal 5:1 MSG)

As we are taught through our history, freedom cost something. It is risky, it is rebellious.

But the cost for our freedom was paid for, fully. We get to grab it, walk in it, make it our reality.

We don’t need to live with one foot in the cage and one out of it. We don’t celebrate Independence Day because you are sort of free. Yes, people may be in fear that our nation is losing it’s freedom, but the state of our physical freedom simply cannot touch the freedom that is on the inside of us.

Fear, condemnation, guilt, those things are no longer your masters. If you walk with Jesus, His Spirit is in you, that means FREEDOM.

(Those that say in their hearts “Yes, but that means people think they can do whatever they want, they will use their freedom as an excuse to be selfish and SIN,” don’t really get it anyway. That is not the point.)
Your response to an unfree world doesn’t need to be anger, endless political discussions, great planned-out “battle plans.” It doesn’t have to  mean working in ministry until you are half dead, constant suffering and sorrow for a cause, or playing the martyr.  Sometimes it simply means to live free.

So make every day Independence day.

Enjoy life. Take a risk. Love someone who will never love you back. Make friends with those the church rejects. Go on an adventure. Have a beer, light some fireworks, jump in a lake, laugh.

Live Free.

(I may be biased, but New Hampshire has the best state slogan EVER.)

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