Monday, July 27, 2009

My Beautiful Challenge

This is big. This is real big. And I'm super psyched!

For the past couple weeks/months/years I've been toying with this idea that's been rolling around in my head. Forgive me if I've already mentioned this to you - I have a ridiculously bad memory when it comes to stuff like this.

Basically, I want to start some sort of organization to help victims of human trafficking. I'm thinking, like, real grass-rootsy. The main focus will be on rehabilitation - but we'll start small. A big house, people that have had to endure modern slavery can live there and our organization will help them figure out where to go from here. It'll be small enough that I can tailor the program to fit each person's unique needs. So, for example, one girl is a 18 year old from Ohio who just found out she's pregnant by her abusers. She can't go home for one reason or another. If she decides to keep the baby, she'll need Medicaid and prenatal care and counseling and a Drivers License and to be enrolled in a GED program so she can go on to college. Soon she'll need help finding childcare and money for school, etc, etc. Another girl is a 38 year old from Brazil. She needs a way to get back home - her kids, who are still in Brazil, were kidnapped by a trafficker. She probably needs counseling, too - but right now, what she really needs is a plane ticket and maybe some help in Brazil locating her babies.

This is what it looks like in my head. But, who knows how it will end up. All I know right now is that I have a deep sense that it's a God thing. A couple of weeks ago I was at church during service thinking about this beautiful challenge and my thoughts kept coming to Isaiah 61, I looked it up and what I read blew me away:

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called mighty oaks,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

8 "For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations. [TNIV from]

I've been praying and dreaming about a tangible way I can really dive in and help fight slavery and I think God is leading toward that. So, here we go! Phase 1 - The Research Phase. My friends: Jess H. and Priscilla and Mike immediately come to mind because their research skills absolutely dazzle me!

Ooh, speaking of amazingly wonderful people - We sang this song at church this weekend and I'd like to dedicate it to Andrea and Abi and Meghan and Amie and Jess and Jess and Priscilla because it makes me think of you guys and cry. :)

One last thing - calling all people serious about helping to build this dream. So be it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

I am an Athiest

I found this video on Brian McClaren's Blog and it really touched me. Don't have a whole lot of time to write today, but I thought I'd take a moment to put this out there. Thank you for letting me share. (:

PS. Quick To-Do List Blog update [because I'm sure you're on pins and needles, right?]. I did what Andrea suggested and categorized them by Essential and Non-Essential. Guess What! I've crossed off all but three Essentials! They are - my school state stuff, my health insurance application and my budget. And I'm working all three - they could even be done by next week! Yay God!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created Me to Be.

[Editor's Note: This blog could be filed into the "finding myself" category and I feel like I do this kind of thing a lot. Please forgive me if I do and feel free to point out the all too similar blogs. :)]

I'm sitting in Panera Bread attempting to practice the discipline of writing. I know I'm supposed to write and I don't do it enough. So, here I am.

Here I am.

Only problem is, I can't decide what to write about.


Hmm. Well, I write to find out what I'm thinking about . . ."

Sounds like a fun science experiment.

I was sick yesterday. My stomach hurt all kinds of bad. I didn't get out of bed all day except to eat a burrito that Jermaine bought for me and to go to the bathroom. Not in that order.

Even now though, I'm not sure if I actually was sick. Yes, I'm willing to accept that my stomach hurt. And I'm willing to accept that it hurt more when I got out of bed. But am I willing to accept that I legitimately couldn't get out of bed all day??

I know, I know. I sound like a suspicious mother questioning whether her child is trying to play hooky. Except that not only am I the suspicious mom but also the naughty kid.

And that's just it. I don't trust myself. I used to lie a lot. And, I'm learning, it has had some very peculiar consequences. Namely, this one.

Why, one might ask, would I fake being sick [and how would I not even know I was doing it]?

Well, I think I'm a little depressed. Missing Sadie. Worrying about her. Just about everything I do is riddled with thoughts of how the situation could be improved with my little mini me. A minute ago, I ordered lunch, sat down with my baguette and thought, "Aw, if Sadie were here we could share this. My, how she loves eating my bread."

Tuesday night I sat down with my trusty netbook and made a detailed to-do list for Wednesday. Of course, you know the rest of the story. NONE of it got accomplished. And I can't help but wonder if my "popular" side was rebelling against my "perfect" side [click here for brief explanation].

Personalities. Oh, goodness. Let's dive in here. God is teaching me that I was created to be a lot more laid back than I am. A lot less tense than I am. A lot less serious than I am.

So what gives? Why am I this way? Hmmm, well, I think I can safely blame it on my parents.

[Mom and Dad - please keep reading! I LOVE you and think you are amazing parents! That last sentence was partially a joke - if you keep reading you'll understand]

My mom and dad are fantastic. Anyone who knows them will agree. They are caring, thoughtful, detail oriented people who, once they decide to do something, will not rest until the job is completely perfect. Did I mention they waited seven years to adopt me? Seven years!

Last week my dad had to be rushed to the emergency room due to severe dehydration and heat exhaustion. Why? Because he had spent 8 hours in the Carolina heat sanding his garage floor.

When I was a kid, I remember getting in trouble because I didn't clean the laundry room properly.

My brother is 14 years older than I am and I have always thought he was exceptionally cool. But I can still remember the day I knew he'd gone over to the dark side. We were visiting him and his wife, Kim, at their beyond awesome home in Georgia and my mom kept insisting that we vacuum the room we were staying in 2 to 3 times a day. I thought this was ridiculous, of course. I mean, our feet can't be that dirty. I found my brother and complained to him, seeking, someone who would understand how silly the notion was. His response - he sided with her! He said, "Well, you know, Bran, when this many people are staying here, sometimes you have to vacuum a lot."

And, indeed, sometime you do have to vacuum a lot. But, as vacuuming goes, I generally don't. In fact, I generally don't do many of the things that my parents value. I sleep late. My house is messy. I eat dinner at 9 or sometimes later. I keep Sadie up way past what most would deem a socially acceptable bedtime.

And what I'm learning is . . . that's cool. That's who I am. And there's no one quite like me.

But when I was growing up, that was not cool. What I took away from all of the experiences described above [and many more I didn't mention] is that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me. Because I'm not like them. I'm not detail oriented. I'm messed up. In more ways than just my house.

It's not that they're wrong, either. Of course not! They were created to be the way they are. And they do it beautifully.

Right after Kim had my niece, Katie, my parents and I drove down to visit them. I don't remember the conversation leading up to it, but I distinctly remember Kim telling me that I seemed much more laid back than the rest of my family.

And that gave me great joy. Because I knew deep down that it was right for me to be that way. But now, 12 years later, I find myself arguing with my husband on a regular basis because I've got this ideal in my head of how I'm supposed to be [and, ugh, how he's supposed to be] and we frequently [ie: always] fail to measure up to these ridiculously high standards.

There are times when I realize I got it at 16 much better than I did at 20. At 24. At 27?

I just finished reading Velvet Elvis for the 2nd time. In it, Rob Bell describes a breakdown he had and how in counseling he was led to the realization that his one and only job was the relentless pursuit of who God created him to be. And [here's the zinger] - everything else is sin.

The relentless pursuit of who God created me to be.

I'm excited about that.

Because these passions, these desires within me, God gave them to me! God created me to be an abolitionist. An environmentalist. A good friend. A writer. A performer. A pastor. A poet. A late sleeper. A Big Idea person. A loving mom and wife. A messy housekeeper.

I love what I love for a reason. And I can use it to bring heaven to my little plot of earth.

Can I get a "Yay God!"?

Thank you for reading my blog. You make me so happy.

Ooh, I feel compelled to add this, at the risk of being obvious or cliche - the takeaway here is - Who did God create you to be? Are you excited about relentlessly pursuing that person?

PS. The picture spot goes to 2 of my favorite girls ever! Meghan and Abi continue to dazzle me daily with how well they know themselves. I love them both so much!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ron Soodalter and The Slave Next Door

I'm pushing it today. I just wrote a blog and now I'm starting another one. But this one will be short. And it's less of a blog and more of an invite.

Ron Soodalter, co-author with Kevin Bales of The Slave Next Door will be speaking on "Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today" and signing his book this Saturday [7/11] at Politics and Prose in DC.

I'm SUPER excited because I've driven by that little bookstore/coffeeshop a half a dozen times and always thought, 'Man, that really sounds like a place I'd like to go.' And now I have one of the best reasons ever!

I haven't read the book yet. I'm a little sad about that. But, I most definitely plan on it, and will review it as soon as I do.

You are SO welcome to come with me if you live around here [or are visiting, AMIE :)]. Just let me know.

The following video is a little bit about modern slavery from Kevin Bales.

Thanks for reading/watching my blog!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Short and Bittersweet

My eyes are tired from crying. And from being tired. I said goodbye to Sadie yesterday morning. It's going to be a long month. I'm trying desperately to enjoy it, tho - I mean, July is, like, one of the best months in the whole year! I don't want to inadequately appreciate the blessed summer fun. But it's hard to be home. So far away from her.

I've resolved to work on my blogging. The Bible blog is coming up very soon. Details to follow shortly. I pray that God gives me the discipline to write everyday [even if it's not a blog]. My friend Amie gave me the sweetest compliment today regarding my poetic skills and it filled my heart with joy. There is this conviction deep down in my gut that I need to be writing more. So, daggone it, I'd better get to it.

But not tonight. This is brief. Short and bittersweet.

Sadie quote of the day: "Is it raining or did I just spit on myself?"