## Thursday, January 31, 2013

### I really hate formulas...

... but some equations have been proven.  And algebra is fun - you get to arrive at one correct answer, and vague ambiguity has no place there.

When it comes to spiritual, emotional, or relational formulas though ... they often rub me the wrong way. Like sandpaper.  Two reasons come to mind:

1. I have a unique, individual, [sometimes rebellious] heart that refuses to be put into a box. What works for you might not work for me.  Everyone is different, and trying to squish us into the same mold can get ... well, squished.  My heart will not often be reduced to an equation.

2. I need to prove the formula works before I'll accept it.  Which is allowed, thankfully.  If you have this equation:  2x - 4 = y, you can plot a line using a method my math teacher called "plug and chug."  Choose three numbers for x, solve for y, plot on the graph and connect the dots.  There's the picture for that line. Simple. So I need to TRY a few times, and see if I get the same line as some one else.  When it comes to my faith walk, this is how that works:

•            I listen to your suggestion of a formula that works for your life
•            I look for Scriptural confirmation that this really could be Jesus's formula too
•            I "plug and chug" my own circumstances and efforts to see if I get the same results
Then, and only then, am I able to accept a life formula.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't. I read other blogs.  Christian authors and spiritual leaders.  You might read my Thursday blog over time and think: "She's just taking someone else's formula and repeating it, but that won't work for me. I refuse to be squished."  And I get that.  But maybe, just maybe ... more gratitude DOES equal more joy, and more strength to hold onto it.

Choosing thankfulness = a joy-filled life

Please, Dear Friend - try it and tell me I'm wrong.  I'm humble enough to admit that I could be.  Maybe this isn't a universal formula.  I tried. And I know.  For me it works.

Today I count again and someday I'll get to my goal of 5,000.  On that day I'll write and tell you even more about how deliberate gratitude to the Giver of all these gifts of grace has changed me.  Until then, here are a few more.  All glory to Him.  Every ounce to the Father of Lights and Giver of Good.  As HE defines good.

- practice and memorization of Romans 1:1-6 on ScriptureTyper ... I'm getting this

- Your strength to get out of bed on a gloomy morning

- sweet little voices in my home as they wake and emerge from a Saturday "sleep-over"

- playing catch with my red-head cutie.  I'm totally smitten with this little guy at J's Ju Jitsu

- the privilege of sharing advice and encouragement with my Guy over Skype

- oatmeal, cinnamon, and a second chance when I accidentally dumped the entire salt shaker into the first batch

- an encouraging song from J, and hope for the broken because of Your love

- an eerily thick fog, and the break-through of Your sun (SON)-light, a symbol to my heart of hope's power

- for saving J's head and face when he fell off the scooter, and for Your healing touch over his elbows, hips, and hands

- for all You've done ALREADY through our team in India, and the way You give them the privilege of broken hearts: just like Yours for these people

- Your power, demonstrated in the wind, and shelter from the storm

- the way You've protected and shielded my life from so much horror

- S's boldness to bring Christ into the school, and the lovely way she ties You into "Black History" lesson, and for my privilege to witness it

"God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.  And you will joyfully give thanks to the Father who has made you able to have a share in all that he has prepared for his people in the kingdom of light. God has freed us from the power of darkness, and he brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son." -Colossians 1:11-13 (NCV)

Lord, once again today I give you thanks.  My life has been the proven evidence that this formula does work.  Since I started counting, my joy has been more obvious, more prevalent, more tangible.  I see You at work in me and around me because I'm looking for it so that I can thank You for it.  Thank you for growing my trust, for granting me gifts every day that I could never earn or deserve.  Thank You for mercy.  Thank You for Grace.  Thank You for the happy and the deep and the sad and the difficult.  They are all gifts for my good, and I'm so in love with You because You first loved me.

## Wednesday, January 30, 2013

### how do I live radically simple?

Swimming thoughts. Devotions from wonderful Bible teachers and authors aplenty on my desk and in my inbox.

Sacrifice.

Surrender.

Undaunted.

and this, my "One Word" for the year: Simple.

And by Simple, I don't mean easy. Simple is sometimes more difficult, and takes effort.  To simplify, to let go of, and to downsize. ... When God began to speak this word to me as I asked Him what He had for me this year, I was seriously afraid.  Shaking in my boots and shaking my head "no" afraid.  I don't want to be pruned and I thrive on being active, involved, and thinking deeply.  Simple?  That sounds too hard, God.  My life is too good in its complicated state.  Don't you have a different word?

No. Simple.

Since last year's word was Surrender, I accept it, and I've learned how to accept.  I've had lessons in opening these hands. Receiving takes effort too, and sometimes it takes more muscles to un-clench than it does to close fingers.  Years of knowing Christ have taught me many things, but one of the most important is that of sovereignty. No matter how hard I shake my head no, He WILL have His way.  So I might as well go the easy way of cooperation.

So, two weeks into January - I say it - YES, Lord.  Simple.  Teach me in 2013 what it means to live simple. Simply Yours. Simple in my faith. Simple in my deeds. Simple in my schedule and my mothering and my marriage and my ministry and my work and my writing.  To have singular focus and to pare down on complexities.  I don't know yet exactly what it will look like, but that's why it will take all year.  And I'm praying that come December I can add Simple to Surrender on my growing list of God-concepts I'm mastering.

A very good friend made this for me as a reminder.

And I do think I will be radical.  Because my life is so very ... cluttered. Complex. Complicated. Over-taxed.  Overwhelming. Scattered. An inch deep and a mile wide.  So, be it radically painful or painfully radical - I want whatever He has.  Because I know it will be good.  He loves me and He defines good, and I can trust Him.

"A simple statement of Jesus is always a puzzle to us because we will not be simple. [oh, Lord forgive me] How can we maintain the simplicity of Jesus so that we may understand Him? By receiving His Spirit, recognizing and relying on Him, and obeying Him as He brings us the truth of His Word, life will become amazingly simple." (from My Utmost for His Highest ,emphasis added)

I'm radically challenged to become more like Him.  And if that means becoming Simple, learning it, knowing it, receiving it, obeying it ... I will.

I'm reminded of a certain preacher who steps on my toes in the best way.

"What does the Bible simply say?"  "Okay, whatever it says, let's just do it."

"So then, rid yourselves of all evil, all lying, hypocrisy, jealousy, and evil speech.  As newborn babies want milk, you should want the pure and simple teaching. By it you can mature in your salvation,  because you have already examined and seen how good the Lord is."  - 1 Peter 2:1-3 (NCV)

I'm linking up with Ann today as she explores radical too.  I pray for revival. And let it begin with me.

Lord, Jesus. I want whatever You want for me.  Show me what Simple means. Then show me how to live it. I don't care how much You have to prune.  You are worth it.  You are Worthy.  I want to be radical for You.  I surrender to Simple in 2013.

## Tuesday, January 29, 2013

### when injustice screams and you can't help but help ...

This thought, like a thread, weaves through my days lately ... what if?

What if Harriet Tubman and her fellow abolitionists hadn't fought? What would have happened to an estimated 100,000 and their descendants

What if Corrie ten Boom had not risked her life and sacrificed her family?  "The Jews whom the ten Booms had been hiding at the time of their arrests remained undiscovered and all but one, an old woman named Mary, survived." (Wikipedia)

What if we refuse to fight this horror with everything we have?  What will happen to her?

Photo credit: National Geographic

Injustice bleeds into confusion when I let my heart surrender to broken.  I. Don't. Get. This. At. All.

How can you sell the daughter you nursed? The one who sat on your knee and played with your beard?  How, oh how could you?

The Lord answers, “Can a woman forget the baby she nurses?
Can she feel no kindness for the child to which she gave birth?
Even if she could forget her children,
I will not forget you.
See, I have written your name on my hand.
and the people who defeated you and destroyed you will leave.
Look up and look around you.
The Lord says, “As surely as I live,
your children will be like jewels
that a bride wears proudly.
-Isaiah 49:15-18 (NCV)

I have hope and I will not stop fighting.

Lord, make me like Harriet and Corrie - make me strong and help me fight with perseverance and hope, making a different destiny for precious lives in bondage now.  They are destined for freedom, and I don't want to find out what will happen if I don't fight.  I will do whatever it takes.  Because they are worth it.  And You are worthy.

Some links to organizations who are also fighting for JUSTICE:

The Exodus Road  (two more days left to order your t-shirt.  Be an billboard for change and support real rescues)

What if you fight too?

## Friday, January 25, 2013

Today's writing prompt is straight from the Word of God, and I hope you'll write with me.  It's about something everyone faces - what happens when God takes over.  Let's start with Holy Scripture:

"People can make all kinds of plans,
but only the Lord’s plan will happen."

-Proverbs 19:21

And how about a quote from My Utmost for His Highest:

"Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him.  The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute." -Oswald Chambers

It was a day when s/he/I had planned everything just right.  But the Spirit had another idea...

Freewrite without editing for at least 15 minutes.  Go back and edit as needed, paying particular attention to content and punctuation this week (everyone can hone skills, friends).  Post it with courage in the comments section below.  I'd love to read your heart!

Yesterday as I sat in on a fifth-grade technology lesson, the teacher explained that as we type more and more, our fingers gain "muscle memory," and we retain the ability to press the right keys without even thinking about it.  I was thinking the same about writing this morning.  If we practice often and abundantly, we'll find things like grammar, metaphors, voice, and punctuation coming without as much deliberate thought as once was required.

"The surest sign that you are achieving literary sophistication is when your writing begins to seem effortless" - Renni Browne and Dave King in Self-editing for Fiction Writers

Do you know how that happens?  Only with much practice. And, of course, prayer.

Fridays are for writing ... so let's get to it!  Trust God with your plans, your writing, your time, and your life.  Look for Him to come, and look for it to be good.  Today, once again try this: open hands.

## Thursday, January 24, 2013

### so so so thankful ...

Words cannot express my God-gratitude as sufficiently as I'd like, but they come close.  Maybe writing isn't your thing, though.  Please don't feel like less than. That's the devil's lie again.  The truth is - you have the freedom to say "thank You" to God in your own way, fashion, and style.  Some write a song, some declare it aloud. Some pray quietly, meditating on all these gifts and blessings and graces.  I believe He loves all of that.  But, whatever you do, don't let thanks be left undone.  Like laces of a shoe untied, gifts un-thanked could be the recipe for a tumble.  I hope you're holding your joy, Dear One.  Making it real and received by thanking the One who gave it.

"I will sacrifice to you freely;
I will give thanks to your name, Lord,
because it’s so good" -Psalm 54:6

In celebration of Thursday (and every day), here are a few of mine:

- time to wake up with You and the way Your love melts away my grouchy mood

- bright orange and purple sky - another glorious sunset

- fun shopping for bedding with K, and her silly passion for anything zebra-striped

- this song, over and over and over - You love me and You are strong.  There's nothing else I need to know.

- a bright half-moon, and lack of clouds to hide it

- a bath in Your Word - the stable comfort to my heart

- meeting new friends hungry for more of You and Your truth

- a fresh challenge to "do life together"

- legos, barbies, "school", and beyblades - family fun just the four of us before my Guy leaves for India

- snow and sunshine mixing outside the window, over this mountain of dishes

- warm home, bed, clothes, shoes - what a chilly day, and yet this is what I have

- grace for when I forget

- more grace for when I'm running late

- AD back in J's class today, and the months she spent with her son.  I'm so thankful for her now spending time with mine now too

- a post-card thank-you from a far-away friend I've never met face-to-face, but who I truly love so much

- hope for an end to human trafficking in 25 years, if we all work together.  Hope is precious, and I'll hold it with Your strength

-this song too:

-

"Alive in me ...
Breathe in me Your life I can feel You are close now
I could never hide You are here and You know me
All I need is You and I love You I love You ...
Open up my eyes let me see You more clearly
Falling on my knees til I love like You love me
I love You
Oh Jesus ..."

- chap-stick rolling into another room that turned into an invitation to pray

- Your powerful Name that changes our hearts

Oh Jesus, how good it is to offer another thankful sacrifice of praise to You.  Thank You for all these gifts.  I receive with open hands and return back to You all I have that You could want - gratitude.  In the midst of frightening, horrible, sickening, darkness - Oh God, how astonishing it is to see Your light-love.  There is nothing else I want.  Only more of You.

thank you to national geographic for the photo of bird, and hillsong united for the worship

## Tuesday, January 22, 2013

### fighting back ... with love

Join me over the next few weeks for the story of Anna, which isn't a true story, but it might as well be:

At thirteen, Anna loved movies, magazines, and chocolate, though she rarely got any of those.  Her family was so poor that her small home in St. Petersburg rarely saw more than three to four real meals in a week.  Anna often went without breakfast, giving her bread and milk to her feeble grandmother or one of her younger siblings as she headed out the door for work in a local bakery.  She had been attending school, but was forced to make the decision to work and eat instead of learning.  It was a difficult choice, but the meager wages at least gave them enough for some bread, and her brother and two sisters could stay in school that way.  Anna's mother worked at night, and though she never told Anna what she did or where she went, Anna guessed she must have been either selling herself or selling drugs.  She was too afraid to ask and too ashamed to know.

One morning she saw a sign in the bakery window about a nanny job in America that paid \$1000 per month.  Hoping against hope, Anna called the number and agreed to meet the voice on the the other end of the line two days later with her passport and a small bag of clothes.  After a tearful, reassuring good-bye with her mother, siblings, and grandmother, Anna promised to send home all the money she could as soon as possible so her family could move out of the ghetto-like conditions into a better life.

As she boarded the bus with the man, who smiled kindly and examined her papers, Anna noticed four other girls who were a little older than her, all with the same hopeful looks on their faces that must have been on Anna's as well. With the promise of money, adventure, and opportunity filling their thoughts, they settled into their seats quietly.

It wasn't until hours later when they crossed the border of China and still hadn't been given any food that Anna began to worry.  As she asked when they would eat and where they would be boarding an airplane, her escort suddenly turned on all of them.  "Shut up," he yelled.  "When you get to where you're going, I'll tell you what comes next.  Didn't you bring anything to eat?"

Frightened into silence, Anna looked around at the others, who were just as confused and scared.  ...

[join me for part 2 next week ...]

Awareness [think, pray, act]:

• In the United States, the number of trafficking victims is roughly equivalent to the number of murders each year, according to “The Slave Next Door” by Kevin Bales. And while 90 percent of murder cases are solved, only 1 percent of trafficking cases ever reach prosecution.
• Did you know that 4 Asian countries depend on the sex industry for 2% to as high as 14% of their economies? UNICEF reports that out of the 2.5 million people trafficked in the world it is estimated that 22 – 50 percent of them are children. Of those trafficked some studies show that most trafficked underage women are used in the sex industry. Much of that activity happens in SE Asia. (sources: International Labor Organization, UNICEF, UNODC – global report on trafficking in persons in 2012)  Read More
• The human trafficking industry is estimated at \$32 billion per year
In the 1860's, they fought for emancipation. In the 1960's they fought for civil rights.  Today we fight still - for the same things.  This time the people group is not determined by the color of skin, but by the vulnerability of age and gender.

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. :
“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

What ... can ... we... do...?

"Isn’t this the fast I [God] choose:
releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke,
setting free the mistreated,
and breaking every yoke?

covering the naked when you see them,
and not hiding from your own family?" -Isaiah 58:6-7 (CEB)

1. We can pray
2. We can speak up
3. We can give and give and give
4. We can go (or short-term like my Guy and 7 other friends leaving tomorrow for a mission in India - won't you pray with me for their safety, and that the Holy Spirit will move powerfully to rescue these girls for eternity of freedom?)
5. We can become a billboard for change

"He lifted me out of the pit of death,
out of the mud and filth,
and set my feet on solid rock.
He steadied my legs." -Psalm 40:2

Lord, we pray for justice, like only You can bring.  It will take miracles to rescue these slaves and set them free, but You are in the business of doing miracles.  This is why we talk to You about human trafficking.  We plead with You to change our world.  We refuse silence.  We refuse to look the other way.  We choose You and Your plan of freedom.  Use us, Father as Your mouthpiece, Your tender hands, and Your Gospel-shod feet.

Click below to find out how you can get involved too:

## Friday, January 18, 2013

### Fridays are for writing ...

... so let's get to it!

"Nobody should suppose that good writing - the kind that says what it means while being pleasant to read - has ever been easy ... " Jacques Barzun 1

Thank you to google earth images and Hubble for this image of the Butterfly Nebula.  Thank You, Father for making such breath-taking wonders.

Isn't it glorious?

Let's take a stab at writing a sci-fi piece!  What would it be like to explore space?  Begin a short story or poem about encountering this on a journey or adventure ... take 15 minutes to freewrite, and continue as you have time.  Post your un-edited piece in the comments, if you like.  Or edit a bit, if you prefer.  How can we not declare praise when we know the Creator of the Stars?

"The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born." -Psalm 33:6 (NLT)

"What is the Matter With Our Writing?" in The College Board Review, No. 107, Spring 1978, p. 14, quoted from Writing with Style by John R. Trimble

## Thursday, January 17, 2013

### Thankful on Thursday ... and every day

Gratitude and joy hold hands.

"At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, 'O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.' " - Luke 10:21 (NLT) [emphasis added]

Has God ever filled you with joy?  I hope you know this: even in the midst of everything awful, God is still loving you by pouring joyful goodness (as HE defines good, remember?) into your life through the funnel of the Holy Spirit.  It's there if you open your eyes to His grace.  In the sunrise, and in the baby's dimples, and in the Word, and  in the nuggets of hope.  If you look... it's there.  I promise.  So how does one hold on to this pouring joy?

The same way Jesus did.  In acknowledging that God had revealed His power through the ministry of the seventy-two, Jesus received the gift God gave.  In His gratitude, He praised God, sealing the deal.  Declaration of it removed the question of whether or not God was at work and could be trusted as FAITHFUL.  His thankfulness was His grip on the joy.  Satan could not steal it once He said it that way.

Is my life composed of this kind of thanks-declaration-holding-joy too?  May it be so.  Is your life full of thanks, like Jesus's life?  It's not too late to start ... count your gifts and hold on to the joy.

Want help?  Check this out.

Once again, here are some of my declarations of thanks, recorded in my journal ... these mere etchings on paper might as well be billboards of His praise!

- doodling with R at Panera

- Don't Cry for Me by Lillian Sparks, and the perspective about the way each life is precious, and eternity is all that really matters

- ibuprofen from the nurse for my cramps

- the privilege of loving my Guy with time

- a quick hug and honest moment with T after school

- courage for a friend to walk away from a toxic relationship, and the way you bring her back into my life after so many months

-for all of this favor and all of these blessings, none of which I deserve.  It could be me in a brothel and my child in a "creshe" [more on this next week, dear Ones... stay tuned]

- amazing sea creatures on an episode on the APL channel, and Your gorgeous creation

- sweet good-night kisses from my kids, and their arms around my neck long past what I planned, but I don't want to break away either

- the way my Guy leaves love notes in my car - You gave me a loving husband, and I'm so thankful

Lord, sometimes the joy is like a flood, and sometimes life feels like an unending desert , devoid of anything happy.  But, regardless of appearances, You've taught me that joy from Your Spirit comes faithfully, if I'll see it, and that if I want to hold onto this pouring - make the liquid a graspable, solidified entity - I must say thanks.  And so I do again today.  I pray for the joy also to be poured out through me to others, and I ask for more gifts, committing back to You my vow of gratitude.  Thank you for GOOD gifts of grace.  Jesus I love you so much.

## Tuesday, January 15, 2013

### Tuesdays we fight ... for justice

The Lord wakes me up with a verse this morning.  Wakes my heart before my eyes can hold open.  And I kind of love that He does that.  He knows I want to be up writing, but 1:00 a.m. is a late bed time, even for me, and 5:00 a.m. comes fast when you're a sound sleeper. So I grab my buzzing phone, snap off the alarm, climb back into the warm sheets, and beg for a few more minutes.  His answer to my plea -

"Rejoice in our confident hope." -Romans 12:12a (NLT)

I only know it because my Guy and I resolved last year to teach vs. 9-21 to our kids, and isn't it in the teaching where we do our best learning?  And so I know it, but today my heart learns it over again, and it's not only written but engraved there now.  Because oh, how desperately I need hope right now.

I've plunged into the passionate awareness of human trafficking once again, and once again I'm broken as I hit the bottom of this sludge.  It's everywhere I turn - on the web, and in my blog reading list, on the news, and in my email, in the new books on my kindle, and - I know God doesn't send me subtle messages this way.  He's shouting battle orders in my ear.  "Fight - for My precious ones!"  How could I ever go AWOL now?  The missionary tells my Guy over skype that the ladies will minister at a prostitute village. I'm not going with them this time, but my heart is.  I cry for a day and then two, and now a week.  "These tears are such powerful prayers," a dear friend reminds me from across the country over the phone.  I read the stories and study the statistics and see the faces with dead eyes, and oh how I reach and claw and scramble for just a thread of hope.

• Every 60 seconds, a child is sold for sex worldwide
• Human trafficking is the 3rd largest global industry, behind drugs and guns
• The average age of entry into pornography and prostitution in the US is 13 years old.
• There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today… or about 1 in every 250 people.
• Sex trafficking cases have been reported in all 50 states and in more than 90 cities across the country.
• In the United States alone, it is estimated that there are 200,000 slaves.
• More than 1 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade each year.
• Today, the average price of an individual slave is \$90.
• Approximately 800,000 – 900,000 victims are trafficked annually across the international borders worldwide.
• The US is the second highest destination area in the world for trafficked women.
• Last year, the slave industry made more money than Google, Nike, and Starbucks combined.
• There are more people in slavery today than at any other point in history… Including the 300 years of trans-Atlantic slaves trading from Africa.

Those are nauseating numbers, but I refuse to look the other way for even one more day.  If I vomit I vomit.  If I cry, then I cry.  Am I or am I not a follower of the One who picked up a cross and put down His blood?  Monkey see, monkey do, and I will become more undignified than this.  Lay down my life for just one of these ...

Oh, God - please ... stop this murder of innocence, this killing of innocents, dead long before they stop breathing. I can tell in their eyes.  No life remains.

But when you put the Word in your soul, God will bring it back to you at just the right moment, and what did we study a few months ago ... ?

"The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. ... They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.  Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “You alone know the answer to that.
Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!  I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
... So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. ...Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. ... When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord.  I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”
(from Ezekiel 37 - NLT)

I studied it and prayed it for the friend I send for just one.  It hits me again and it hits her too, on the same day.  She calls and we cry together, tears reaching through cell towers and satellites and around the world.  Tears that move mountains and bring bones back to life with His word.  Breath of Life.

Today - this day - we have hope for the dead eyes.  Hope for the statistics.  Hope for the individuals.  Hope for this girl.  Hope for that woman.  Hope for our generation and our world.  Why?  Because we know the God who does things like this - He takes the deadest of the dead and - gives them BREATH. Will I go and send and speak for and give toward His resurrection work in these lives?  I don't have a choice - it is fire in my bones.  Will you?

Today, we "rejoice in this confident hope:" We love the God who does miracles like this.  He sends rescuers to break their chains.  He brings healing.  He changes the indifferent into the passionate.  He gives life, and then a breath.  It is hope.  It is confident.  And I rejoice.

Want to know how you can get involved in the war against human trafficking?  Click these links and refuse to bury your head in the sand another day.

The Exodus Road - funding undercover investigators, real rescues, changing this injustice once life at a time

F.R.E.E. International - stopping human trafficking here in the United States, with the love of Christ

Tune in here from the nest next Tuesday for even more hope in the face of injustice.  Together we fight for Him and the ones He loves!

## Monday, January 14, 2013

### book review monday: Trafficked by Sibel Hodge

by Sebel Hodge

If you know me at all, you realize this book is outside my usual genre of Christian Non-Fiction, but it's good to break out of the box sometimes.  This short novella (96 pages) is FICTION - which I'm glad I knew before I started - but based factual events and testimonials from real sex slaves/prostituted persons, and the author's research on human trafficking.

As my husband and several dear friends travel to India in less than two weeks, this book was relevant to my life at this time.  Though painful to read because I know the reality of what she wrote is genuine, I also couldn't put it down.  This short fictional novella could be real.  Is real for girls and women all around the world, in more alarming statistics than you can wrap your brain around.  And in a couple weeks, our India team could have to opportunity to encounter young women just like the character in this book, Elena.  Reading this book helped me know how to pray a little better.

Written in diary format, counting the days of her captivity,  22-year-old Elena recounts the horrors committed against her body, soul, and mind from the time she's conned, drugged, kidnapped, and sold by a "friend of a friend" who promised her honest work in Italy.  Hodge strikes a wise balance between giving shocking details and leaving certain graphic particulars for the reader to fill in.  You'll find a few realistic expletives in this book that I don't normally like to read or recommend, but I'll make an exception for this because ... at some point I need to look at what is really happening, stop hiding my eyes from evil, and fight it.  The novella continues as Elena is brutalized, raped repeatedly by her captors and their clients, and sold to different pimps under filthier circumstances when she tries to escape.  One day, barely holding onto the will to live, she comes up with a plan that just might give her some hope to see her daughter and freedom once more ...

Hope is precious.  You know that if you've ever run short of it.  For these girls (some of them as young as 9) and women, their only hope is someone who will go to them with compassionate love, fight for them, and share Christ with them.  He is the only Hope that will do.  His miracles the only way they'll ever escape the prison of their existence.

I recommend this book for anyone who cares to plunge into the knowledge of good and evil, and when you finish it - you won't have a choice - you'll have to struggle to the surface of the sludge, pull yourself back ashore of your beautiful life, thank the Lord for His fortunate favor, and then do something about it.

For more information, awareness, and opportunities to fight this evil, please join me tomorrow for my first Exodus Road post.  I'm so excited!

## Thursday, January 10, 2013

### Thursdays are for Thanks ...

Had a busy morning in my son's library class today, followed by a good cry with a friend over injustice, back to work, run to the store for jumper cables because my one of my kids (no one knows the blame - it's not important) left the door open in the car in the garage [but who can jump a car in a one-car garage?], cook dinner, clean up, take K to cheer, fold laundry, play legos with J ... and it's still Thursday, and I'm still thankful.  Even for all of that! All of it grace.  All of it full of gifts - hidden, obvious, comfortable, and difficult.  From the Father who gives lights and bread, never snakes or stones.  Because He loves me.  Just. That. Much.

Here are a few I've recorded.  (Still haven't started counting yours? ... Today's a great day to try, and what have you got to lose, when this or maybe even a camera [!] is what you could gain?)

- a fresh new day, gorgeous sunrise, and the healing power of sleep and Your love

-Your words and instructions - life and healing for my soul and body (Proverbs 4:20, 22)

- playing backgammon with my Guy, and a good talk together

- snuggles, hugs, and prayers with J.  I'll never get tired of this...

- news of a reuniting phone call between mother and son after over two years

-  "I would rather know the truth than be happy in ignorance.  If I cannot have both truth and happiness, give me truth.  We'll have a long time to be happy in heaven." -A.W. Tozer

-  my Guy's sermon [1/6/13] about Matthew 18, and reconciliation's definition of exchanging hostility for friendship

-  Psalm 91, and courage to face the world fearless

-  for being the father I need, and for coming to find me, even before I knew who You were

-  "When a man gets to God, it is by the most simple way - words."  - Oswald Chambers

-  time to exercise, vacuum, and read

-  steam rising from Export Creek in the early sunlight, wafting over the snow-covered banks

-  secret letters in a notebook with my daughter

-  RJ's vote of confidence and faith:  "And you have me!" ... laughter is such wonderful medicine, Sweet Father.  Thank You, Oh Thank You.

-  two little brunettes at the library, and a tiny baby too

-  a feeling of productivity, even though I didn't accomplish everything on my to-do list.  Jesus, Your agenda is always better than mine.

-  encouraging verses from R, strength to keep my chin up  "But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) -Ephesians 2:4-5

Lord - just ... thanks. You sustain my heart when I don't think it can break one more painful time.  When these tears threaten to dry into a calloused soul, Your living water fills me up again.  Your love amazes me and I love counting the ways because I feel like I'm somehow loving you back.  Didn't I once preach about that?  And this, a few years later - living it.  I'm so grateful for every ounce of Your love, and I want to hold onto it.  This gratitude is the strength of my grip on it.  If I thank You, how could it ever slip though my fingers, for I have a written record of the ways You've given me undeserved grace day after day.  You deserve every glory.  Once again, it is You alone who are worthy.

thank you, National Geographic, for many of these photos of birds