Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The "F" Word.

Yesterday, a wonderful friend of mine and I were sharing about our concerns and frustrations in life with each other over the phone. What we were sharing seems to be the general theme I have heard shared from many lately. It has to do with the “F” word, but not the one you might be thinking of.


Whether our failure is only perceived, or an actual gory mess that we have blundered our way into, we are all trying desperately to dodge this seemingly tenacious beast. There are times in our lives when it seems that no matter how hard we try, whether in our marriages, our families, our jobs, or even friendships we just fail.

There can be a crippling sense of shame that follows this slithering beast named failure. Paralyzing us as it wraps it tentacles around our hearts and minds, digging deep into the areas where our doubt and self worth intermingle. Like a haze of fog it clouds our views of the reality of who we are and who our God is.

The further we descend and entertain this beast the more he takes liberties with other areas of our lives and hearts. He infects us with his lies about our true nature... About whether God could really still love us. He bleeds images of our Heavenly Father shaking his head in disgust and disdain at yet another failed attempt in our life.  

Confidence can begin to crumble away like the land when it is in a drought.  Instead of running to someone for help as we begin this fall, often times the shame folds over our mouths like duct tape. We turn from the ones who love us and wander quietly away. Secretly hoping someone will notice the shadows of hopelessness overtaking the light in our eyes, but too scared to speak up.

Whatever the cause for your sense of failure; whether it’s a temptation you continually fall into; a ministry or business that has never really gotten off the ground; or you are caught in the contagious trappings of comparing yourself, your looks, your success to others… Please know this.


Stop looking down at your problems, your imperfections, and shortfalls. Stop looking down and look up.
Like a little child being bathed by their mother. She coaches her child to keep looking up as she washes the shampoo from his hair.

“Look up at me. Keep your eyes on me.”

She whispers gently to her beloved child trying to keep his head tilted upward so that the stinging soap can be safely washed away from his precious eyes. When her child is overtaken by doubt or fear and looks down, that’s when the soap pours down over his little face, stinging and burning his eyes.  What was it our mother’s told us?

“Look up.”

It works the same with our Heavenly father. He does not look at us and shake his head in disdain when we try and fail. He looks at us and coaches us in gentle whispers,

Look up. Keep your eyes on me. The enemy will try and steal your joy, but I sent my son for you to follow so that my joy could be complete in youKeep your eyes on me. It is in your weaknesses and perceived short comings where I can shine through you and do the impossible. I love you and want only the best for you. You are my child. 

If our eyes are on Him we will see how He truly is. A father overjoyed in our open hands that may be unskilled, but when placed in His capable hands can do the amazing. When we fall, He is there whispering, “Look up my child." He offers his shoulder to lean on and His truth as our solid rock to stand on. When we repent he washes the shame away in the warm healing waters of forgiveness. He offers His shield during the attacks of the enemy and He whispers constantly, “Keep your eyes on me. This battle is mine.”

There are two stories I encourage you to look into this week, both are in Matthew 14: 15-32. Each time there was a key integral moment between human failure and the Lord doing something impossible through someone. In both situations the choices were caught between looking at the persons circumstances, and human inabilities or looking up at our Lord to what He can do with our weak hands, and diminished supplies.

Take courage my friend. 
God loves you more than you could ever imagine.
I am praying Paul's prayer for you today.

Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Are you struggling too friend? 
How can I pray for you?

Beholding Glory

Monday, August 20, 2012

Love Does! A wake up call...

My Attention Deficit Disorder Sociology Professor had meandered off the beaten path of our topic for class that day. (I am not being flippant, honest! My Professor warned us he had A.D.D. and it definitely made for an interesting and spontaneous class that was slightly difficult to study for.) Once again he was sharing yet another quirky story about working in the GM plants of Flint from "back in the day". Some of these stories were hilarious, but I had heard this one before.

Like a typical nineteen year old, I rolled my eyes in annoyance and stretched my neck from side to side, trying to stay focused. Tapping my fingers on the pages of my book, I let my eyes wander the large grey lecture hall for anything of interest. Finally propping my head in my hand, I looked down scanning the pages of my text book for any important information that my unpredictable Professor might put on our next exam.

I can still remember the moment when my eyes came to rest on the photos. One picture in particular drew me in. It was of a little girl and her large woeful eyes were staring right back at me; they seemed as if they were locked on mine. Suddenly I heard the professor dive back in on the intended topic for class, with the harsh facts of human trafficking.

 "Did you know in Thailand these girls are on average 8-12 years of age when they are sold into the sex trade?"

Startled, I looked up…

The words reverberated out of his mouth sounding a gong as he continued on to explain the horrors of the sex slave trade. Each fact and statistic was permanently imbedding itself in my brain like a gun shot in my head. I was in shock. My mouth went dry. I looked down again at the photo; her little face looked so despondent, hopeless...

Who would tell her that she mattered? How could anyone stop this?

"Care for the least of these"

The words began to echo through my head. (Matthew 25:34- 40) That is the moment when I knew the Lord was finally giving me the go sign on sponsoring a child. I had been praying about sponsoring a child with Compassion International for over a year, but it was crystal clear to me in that second that I was to find a girl from Thailand and give her hope. It was my small step toward saving her from being sold by her parents into a brothel. This was what I could do to help insure her freedom.

At nineteen years of age, I sponsored my first little girl from Thailand named Tairinee. I vowed that Tairinee would not be sold into the sex trade like so many other girls her age. She would grow up to have a future filled with hope and freedom. She would mature knowing she was cherished and loved by the people at the Compassion Center and through my letters and prayers.

A few weeks ago I challenged you, that if you were unsure of where to start with missions, to start with one. To realize you could do for one person, what you wish you could do for all people. At nineteen, I remember being overwhelmed by the facts I was given, but God showed me I could start with one; one little girl in Thailand.

Friends, I encourage you to live God’s love into action every day. 
Start with one person and watch how love grows. 
Love does. 
Love is amazing.

So who is your one? Has God revealed them to you yet?

Have you ever sponsored a child or are considering doing so?

Please share your questions, your stories, or experiences. 
I will be in prayer for each one!

Here is the link for Compassion's fantastic Child sponsorship program.

I truly praise God for this wonderful organization, and the people who are being God’s hands and feet daily for us to these children.

Remember how truly blessed we really are and to share these blessings with others. 
Remember Love Does. 

 So... Let's stop studying love and what it might look like to love others and actually get around to loving people now. :) 
May God Bless you greatly!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sandbox Memories and Endless Possibilities.

It was about 27 some years ago; there were 2 little blonde heads, bent together in the sand box of my childhood home. Taking turns, the heads would bob up and down as the little bodies dug a hole into the sand. My best friend and I were taking turns with the plastic shovel. Since it was no longer my turn, I was using both of my now grimy seven year old hands to scoop and scrape into the gravely sand. We continued on in determination as we made it through the last layer of sand in my sand box.  Foraging ever deeper we dug down into the dirt like tenacious Pirates searching for a long lost treasure.

I could feel and see the texture changing as the dark soil beneath was slowly being revealed. I knew we were getting close to our goal as my fingers grew cold, matching the temperature of the earth I was delving into. Still we kept plunging our shovel and little hands deeper down as we scratched away at the earth.

As I leaned down into our hole I reached with both hands, fingers out stretched and pulled away as much of the dirt I could muster back up the slanted wall of our ever growing hole. We giggled as we pondered the possibility of reaching China through our hole like they did on our favorite cartoons. 

A few more handfuls of the dark dirt were flung away, and our giggles quickly changed to excited exclamations of victory. We had finally found our long sought after damp, hard packed treasure. My best friend and I had struck the gold we had been digging for, the cold, and clammy, pack of grey clay nestled in the earth below. Today we were going to make something with this clay. It held endless possibilities in our young imaginative minds and clumsy little fingers. 

As I grew older I followed my longing to create in the art world. I can remember the musty smell and the way the wet clay would feel in my hands. I can recall the exhilaration I would feel as I pondered the possibilities for this unassuming simple lump of clay. 

Would I create a functional piece? Maybe I could spin a bowl for a families’ dinner table, or an elegant vase for displaying beautiful flower arrangements. Perhaps I would carve and mold the bust of someone famous, or a sculpture, a master piece of fine art. The possibilities were ... You got it, Endless. 

You are the potter I am the clay,

Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
We are all the work of your hand.

I love how God used this analogy in the Bible. Could it be possible our Lord wanted us to understand our possibilities are endless in His hands? God is the most creative and skilled Master of Art that has ever existed. Just take a few moments and look at His creation. 

Take a walk through the woods

or stare at the intricacy in the designs of His flowers.

Admire His amazing paint that splashes across the skies in a beautiful sunset…

Or the mystery and wonder of His lovely underwater world. 

He is absolutely amazing in His variety and the hand crafted beauty of each of His precious creations. You see, the possibilities for a lump of clay in God’s hands are endless.

My friends the possibilities for us are endless as well. We too are created and designed for a purpose by His hands. No longer is the confidence of who I am or designed to be wrapped in my own success or failures. Now I see it resides in who I place my confidence in. 

You see this confidence is not about who I am…
It’s about who my God is. 

I know I am frail, and prone to selfishness.  At times, I long for the easy way out, and I sometimes suffer from the fear of making mistakes…
But when my eyes are on my God, then everything changes.

He is all powerful.  He is magnificent. All knowing, all loving, and in control. He is Truth, and trust worthy. He is faithful even when I am not. Anything is possible with Him. With this knowledge, no longer do my fears resonate in me, but instead the Holy Spirit proclaims God’s Truth and His power.

Today could you take a moment and silence the fears and doubts about yourself and what you are capable of? Instead, rest in who your God is. Go in His strength today. Let His peace and purpose for you guide your every step. In the big and in the small trust the Potter. We are safe, and cherished in His skilled and loving hands.

On In Around button
Beholding Glory

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wonder women to Free the Girls! Who is with me?

Greetings my Friends and Wonder Women everywhere!

I have to tell you I am so excited. I am participating in both of the projects I posted about on Monday in my, "Wonder Woman, Wonder Bras, and the Fight for Justice" post.

My postcards came in on Monday evening from IJM's 100 Postcards Challenge and I have some signatures already started in our battle for freedom for those caught in the grips of Human Trafficking. It's been easy to garner signatures and honestly I have yet to meet someone who does not want to end slavery. 

Mostly I find this postcard project is helping to raise awareness about Human Trafficking in general. This is such a simple and easy task. You simply take a few of the postcards with you when you go out and visit friends and family, or run errands. I especially like that my children can help as well. (They are educated on the basics of Human slavery for their little ears do not need to know all of the details about Human Trafficking quite yet.) We will be taking the IJM postcards to church this week as well. This is a win-win situation in which we help to get Congresses attention while raising other's awareness that slavery in all forms still exists and is thriving.

Now, the following is  FOR LADIES EYES ONLY…

This next part is TOP SECRET!!!

Now can I share with you what makes me giggle? (I can assure it is not Human Trafficking, but a twist on how we can fight Human/Sex trafficking and get more women to join us in a fun way.) Quite honestly, I get a bit giddy, when I think about it…

We are going to start a bra smuggling operation in our church for the "Free the Girls" Ministry. This operation is loosely based on those crazy facebook posts the women do for breast cancer support. Have you seen those? We women post a crazy message on facebook, but refuse to reveal to the men what in the world we are talking about? (I always enjoy reading the comments that follow those posts…they crack me up.)

Now envision this being applied to collecting bras for the “Free the Girls” ministry. I have enlisted some of our College and Teen Girls to be "Collectors". I have also enlisted some of my friends in the Women's Ministry to get the word out to the women secretly. The women are to go out and gather up clean, gently used bras for donation and then bring/smuggle them in secretly to our teen girls, along with any monetary donations people would like to make for shipping the bras from Free The Girls, to Mozambique.. 

The object is for all of this to be done in secret. The women secretly collect the bras and then hide them through different means of bags and/or packaging. Then, they are instructed to "smuggle" them to one of our "Collectors".  (Honestly I do not want anyone to have to lie about what they are doing. I am not endorsing lies. We are intending to have a funky catch phrase that honestly tells what we are doing, but does not actually reveal it in its entirety.)

Now of course I will let our Pastor and the Youth Pastor know, but besides the few key leaders who need to be in the know, we will keep this secret. We are currently working on a catchy phrase for our collection. It may be, "Free the Girls, it is Top Secret." or perhaps something a bit stranger and vague... I will keep you posted.

My question today is, who is with me?

(This photo is taken directly from the freethegirls.com website.)

Will anyone else join in this Top Secret Campaign for "Free the Girls" at their church.  One of my favorite things, is when God's body of believers unite across the denominational lines and work together.
 Are you with me?
 Do you have ideas to add or a catchy slogan we should use?
 Please leave a comment in the comments section below.

All right ladies it’s time to stand and be Wonder Women together.

Isaiah 58:9-10
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wonder Woman, Wonder Bras, and the Fight for Justice!

Oh the wonders of Wonder Woman! Between the ages of 5-7 years old, she was who I wanted to grow up to be. She was absolutely amazing with her flashy indestructible bracelets that deflected bullets with a quick flick of her wrists and her magical lasso of truth.
I giggle now as I recall leaping around the yard, swinging from the monkey bars or tree branches in my wonder woman underoos! (Yes! I wore them outside.) 

Even when my mother caught me and I was forced to cover my fantastic Underoos with normal everyday clothing, I still felt this spark of confidence and a responsibility to fight for justice while secretly wearing those bold red, blue and gold colors. My little eyes were watchful and ready for any forms of injustice to appear, for danger to be lurking around the corner or behind a suspicious tree. I had super powers, I just knew it.

Fast forward to my teen years, my Underoos long since out grown, but this desire to fight for freedom and justice is still burning inside of me. I remember watching documentaries about the 60's and 70's, of women in the streets protesting for equality, and respect. 
I found it exhilarating thinking back on the stories I read about the suffragettes who fought for the right for women to vote. I even cried as I read accounts from former slaves that followed underground rail road to freedom from the slavery and oppression they were facing here in the U.S. Or later as African-Americans fought for the freedom to vote, and for the freedom from segregation laws. They fought to work, eat, attend school, and live where they chose.
Norman Rockwell's depiction of Ruby Bridges as she walked to school.
He called it, "The problem we all deal with."

 I was in awe of this passionate and fierce breed of women and men who were so bold and daring as to fight the mainstream culture for freedom. I remember dreaming of what I could do someday for those in need of freedom. What would be my "cause" to fight for some day? 
Now here I am, a wife, a crazy homeschooling mother of three creative and beautiful children, and I am a christian. What does God want me to do? His cause should be mine as well.
 Today I am writing to you about two of the many ways we can get involved with a call God holds dear to His heart. He calls us to follow Him and to fight for the oppressed, and to bring justice to the hurting. You can see it in the following verses,

Isaiah 58:6-10
verse 6 especially where the Lord says, 
 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Psalm 10:17-18
Psalm 9:9
Psalm 146:7-9

But...But...What can I do? Have you been there friends? Have you been longing to join an epic battle, to try and save the world from injustice, but to scared, or busy, or overwhelmed to even attempt it? Consider with me for just a moment that you just might be called to don your inner super hero clothes and to fight injustice here or across the world! 
(QUICK! Keep reading before you start listing to yourself all of the reasons for why you cannot possibly do this, I promise it is worth it!)

Today I want to share with you that slavery is still very much alive today. Actually there are more slaves now than in any other time in history. I shared with you last week that I would show you a variety of ways we could get involved in missions. 

Here are 2 avenues you could choose to get involved in that do not cost you a dime, only a little of your time, and you too can be a super hero in the fight for justice for those caught in the grips of Human trafficking.

Human/Sex Trafficking is the fastest growing industry in the world and is second only to the illegal drug industry. Sex trafficking is horrifying and devastating on every level. Sadly, sex trafficking is not a problem that is far away in distant lands, but right here, in our cities, towns, hotels, in our apartment buildings, and in our neighborhoods. (If you do not believe me click here, Trafficked in the US, ABC news, or Human Trafficking in Michigan, MLive)

Right now the International Justice Mission is launching a post card campaign to get the attention of our Federal Congress. Congress has been stalling legislation that would help to protect and defend those that have been forced into this industry.
This will cost you zero dollars, but a little of your time. IJM (The International Justice Mission) will even cover the costs of postage.
Take a moment and check it out. Please consider standing up for the women and children who are being kidnapped and forced into the sex trafficking world with little hope of escape in our very own nation.
****Update**** I received my post cards, I will need to cover the postage to mail them back, but that is it. So far it is an easy and powerful way to get the word out while getting signatures. :) **********

With the Free the Girls campaign, you can help provide job opportunities for women who have been rescued or escaped from sexual trafficking just by collecting used braziers.  (Yes, that's right... I just said, "used bras!") 
You can have a party with your friends, your church, or business and collect gently used bras for these women to sell in the used clothing markets of Mozambique. These braziers are a luxury item which means, you are helping these women to not only survive, but thrive! They make 3-5 times the amount of minimum wage doing this, allowing them to provide a safe home for their children, and so on. 

You can watch a video by CNN hereCNN coverage of Free the Girls
Click this link here to learn more about bringing freedom and opportunity to these woman, just by collecting bras.

So what about you? Will you join me in the fight for justice for the oppressed?

Here are a few statistics and facts on Human Trafficking. 
Human Trafficking Facts

The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion

27 million:
Currently 27 million men, women and children are being held as slaves—more today than in any other time in history

80% women and girls:
Women and girls comprise at least 80% of the world’s trafficking victims, and up to 50% are minors.  They are exploited in fields and brothels, in homes and conflicts, and in factories and fisheries. More women are being pushed out of developing countries due to economic, familial, and societal pressures – becoming ever more vulnerable to modern slavery.

Women continue to be enslaved in commercial sex around the world. They are often arrested for participating in a crime that victimizes them when they should instead be provided with services and benefit from a well-trained police force implementing proven and compassionate victim identification measures.

Women continue to toil in sweatshop factories without food or break, sewing garments, peeling shrimp, and weaving carpets under threat of violence. Bonded by debt and force, they pick cotton, mine conflict minerals, and harvest rice alongside their children. They toil in diplomatic households and suburban residences as domestic workers often without anyone knowing they are there let alone being abused.

2 million:
According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possible death.

(Sources: Trafficking In Persons Report 2010, Kevin Bales, Disposable People,  U.S. State Dept)

Beholding Glory