Sunday, October 30, 2011

Green Fairy Wings and Story Tales

Witches, pirates, green dinosaurs and pink tufted ballerinas stormed the nearby shopping center yesterday.  Red firemen, fluffy brown poodles, and blue Thomas the Trains hijacked the sidewalks, and commandeered the shops, trick or treating with smart parents on a warm fall afternoon. 

Weaving our way through the short creatures, my teen daughter and I grabbed green glitter glue, fluffy pipe cleaners, and cardboard wings in the craft store.  (Morgan wanted to make her own fairy wings for an evening out with friends.) Then we strolled companionably across the parking lot to a coffee shop for the rest of our mother daughter date.  Over her strawberry-banana smoothie and my hot Guatemalan coffee, we relaxed and talked of life, friends, family, our Bibles and God. 

Soon enough our time was up and we raced home – me to make supper and Morgan to drizzle glue across white cardboard.  Fairy wings and story tale endings are more about day to day efforts, I’m deciding. Fully aware of multiple shortcomings, our family is striving to be intentional – and full of prayer.  

What about you? What helps you be intentional about parenting your kids? What parent/kid dates do you like to do?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Naked Trees Scrape the Horizon

Navy blue light creeps higher in the sky, allowing naked trees to scrape the horizon. Hot coffee in morning twilight, and my three year old son’s truck noises get progressively louder. For the sake of sleepers, I shush him. 

Earlier this week, my peace was eroded as well. It wasn’t the noise – that I was used to with three kids! It was internally. Two weeks ago, I resigned from a part-time job where I had served for thirteen years. It was the right decision so I could have more time with my kids and homeschooling, and we felt peace about it. On Tuesday, though, the reality of it sunk in. Whew, what had I done?! Given up a stable job? 

Grabbing my Bible, journal, and a freshly-brewed cup of hot coffee, I pulled up the kitchen chair to sit at my Abba Father’s feet. “Will you meet with me here today in your word? Will you bring fresh peace for me, Lord?” 

Here’s the kicker. Poor God. For my Bible reading I am in Isaiah, which I am loving, but the chapter I was about to start was Isaiah 28, about judgment coming on wicked kings. Now without bending the original intent of the text, how was he going to bring peace to his worried child at a kitchen table in 2011? 

The story pulled me in. God, the master Writer, wove in poetry, prophecy, play on words, historical accounts, and warnings in truth.  He told his people that he was going to rise up dramatically, supernaturally, citing examples in the past where he did miraculous things, fighting their battles in ways that only he could. The Storyteller described fields that were churned and turned upside down, plowed, threshed, plowed under again – ripping up the old, preparing for the new. The Farmer planted, waited and then threshed anew. Some crops only came through rough threshing techniques, but there was fruit after the hard work. Wrapping up the chapter and description, he spoke: “All this comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” 

My pen scraped across lined paper, responding to him. I wrote and talked to Him, wondering, pondering, praying. Whatever God is speaking to you or me, know this. He does speak, he does bring peace, and his character is to be trusted, throughout the centuries and ages. 

What about you? Where have you been reading in God’s word lately? 

The winner of Kimberly Rae’s “Stolen Woman” book giveaway is Susan Panzica@Eternity Cafe. Susan, please email me with your address so I can mail this to you. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Survivors from around the world are being rescued, and are rescuing others. Counseling, healing, education, training, untainted love and affection, and entrepreneurial skills are being provided for them.

Made by Survivors and other organizations then sell the products made by these survivors, with 100% of the money going back to rescue efforts, and fair prices for the products.
Christmas is two months away. This year, make your Christmas shopping pull double duty. Have each purchase send money directly back to help fight human trafficking. Lush silk scarves, glittering necklaces, dangling earrings, exotic bracelets, purses, bags, t-shirts, and more. These gifts will not only delight your family and friends but will fight human trafficking. Join me in this, will you?

Today's Tangible Way to Fight Human Trafficking
  • Christmas shop and fight human trafficking at the same time. Visit
  • Host your own party through Made by Survivors or Women at Risk International to raise awareness and money to fight human trafficking. (If you live near me, watch for details of my Open House/Party to do some Christmas shopping and fight human trafficking TBA.)

Last chance for a Book Give-away: Win an autographed copy of Kimberly Rae's book "Stolen Woman..." Winners will be announced on Friday.  Each action enters your name anew.
  • Leave a comment here on my site
  • Pray with me here (on the comments) for strength, resources and energy for the people to fight this, or
  • Share this on your facebook page by clicking the "fb" button below (and let me know you did). Let's raise awareness.  

Hi, I'd love to hear from you. This has been a heavy topic, huh? This is the last in this three-post series. What emotions does this topic bring to mind for you? How are you this week? What have you been learning about or reading lately? How can I pray for you this week?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cookies, Milkshakes and Hero Truck Drivers

Hello friends,

A hot crumbly chocolate chip cookie smolders beside me on the desk, waiting to be cooled enough to pop into my mouth. Quiet jazz music plays in the background and the dryer hums. 

Our house had a showing last night so we cleaned feverishly, loaded up random laundry baskets into the cars, and drove away for an hour or two of errands while potential buyers walked through our home. We ended the evening with colorful ice cream cones at Burger King. The scene was so inncocuous, yet I know that all fast food runs haven't ended so well. 

Did you catch news footage a year or so ago of the two cousins who were kidnapped on their way to get milkshakes at Wendy's? Fourteen year old Carol and fifteen year old Kimberly were walking to Wendy's on Main Street in Toledo, Ohio when a white Lincoln Continental car idled up beside them. Thinking the couple inside were a friend's parents, the cousins hopped into the vehicle. They ended up being kidnapped by a prostitution ring, and forced into working truck stops. Eventually they were rescued.

Barry Richards, Executive Vice President of Travel Centers of America heard Kendis Paris, national director of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), speak and saw TAT's 28 minute video. Richards was especially impacted by the cousins' story and now makes the TAT film part of required training for all his employees. 

Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT)'s 28 min video is compelling but not explicit or overwhelming. Please feel free to watch it now, and pass it onto others. It isn't raw or too hard to watch-- in fact, it brings me hope! 

Today's Tangible Ways to Fight Human Trafficking
  • Watch and share the TAT video above. 
  • Print out free, easy posters to place in gas station bathrooms, rest areas, and truck stops that raise awareness, and give a phone number to call.
  • Print out easy wallet cards to give out to trucker friends, or leave in gas stations and truckstops, that list an anonymous toll-free number to call with any suspicious behavior. My friend Kimberly Rae reports on her site that one man made one call that ended up rescuing ten minors, and stopping a thirteen state trafficking ring. Just one call! We can all help.

Book Give-away: Win an autographed copy of Kimberly Rae's book "Stolen Woman..." Winners will be announced at the end of the series, in a few days. Each action enters your name anew.
  • Leave a comment here on my site
  • Pray with me here (on the comments) for strength, resources and energy for the people to fight this, or
  • Share this on your facebook page by clicking the "fb" button below (and let me know you did), or print out any of the posters or wallet cards above. Let's raise awareness! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Calls in the Dark

At my YMCA, down the hallway on the right, is a series of small, rectangular wallet lockers. Keys, wallets and cell phones get stashed there, as their owners exercise. Occasionally as I pass by, I hear cell phones vibrating metallically in their tiny cells, ringing in the darkness. Seventy cubical cells, stacked wide and tall. Calls in the dark, and no one answers them. Helpless to answer them, I amble on, grinning to myself. 

Last week, I finished watching a documentary on human trafficking, following the true story of Lilya, a sixteen year old girl in Estonia. Her story enraged and moved me -- not because human trafficking is a new concept-- but because it illustrated so poignantly how someone can be tricked and sold into sexual slavery. Young and helpless, her calls in the dark went unanswered. Stacked in a row of metallic apartments in Sweden, she was imprisoned.

I can't walk by this need. Her story is but one of millions. Compassion International's fall 2011 magazine estimates that: 
  •  nearly 2 million children are forced into the worldwide sex trade each year
  • 800,000 children, women, and men are trafficked across international borders annually
  • 50% of human trafficking victims are minors
 That's the yucky, hard to hear news.
Here's the good news!  Agencies and organizations are rallying together to fight this. People are being rescued and receiving healing, training and support. We don't need to walk by, helpless to the calls in the dark. We can help.

In this three-part series, I'll end each post with easy, tangible "You can do this today!" ways to fight human trafficking. I hope that excites and encourages you as much as it does me! Plus I have a book give-away for you, and the winner will be announced at the end of the series.

Today's Tangible Ways to Fight Human Trafficking

Book Give-away: Win an autographed copy of Kimberly Rae's book "Stolen Woman..." Winners will be announced at the end of the series, in a few days. Each action enters your name anew.
  • Leave a comment here on my site on what you've heard about human trafficking (if any) this year, or
  • Pray with me here (on the comments) for strength, resources and energy for the people to fight this, or
  • Share this on your facebook page by clicking the "fb" button below (and let me know you did). Let's raise awareness!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Smoldering Brown Eyes and a Neck that Smells Like Toothpaste

A few weekends ago, I was getting ready to attend a Friday night wedding several hours' drive away. I chose an outfit, combed my hair, and laughed about the incongruity of applying evening make up at 1:30 in the afternoon. (Men, you'll just have to take our word on this.) Realizing my necklace looked tarnished, I remembered a home tip I had heard of applying toothpaste to tarnished metal for a fast shine. 

Minutes later, with goopy blue Colgate gel congealing into the crevices of my necklace, I realized with horror that the home remedy probably meant white tooth paste. Laughing at myself, I submerged the necklace into the sink and tried to wash away the blue. "Look for me at the wedding," I chuckled to myself. "I'll be the one with smoldering brown eyes and a neck that smells of toothpaste!"

Later that night, smelling minty fresh, I watched from a pew as the bride and groom stood before us all and made promises. Their eyes stared deeply into each other's eyes, obviously having faded away from all other sounds and sights, save the words and the promise and the looks that asked, "Really? Just me? You mean this?" 

I sat enraptured by the glimpse into their minds and hearts. There is a vulnerability in a man's and woman's eyes at that point, when they ask, "Really? You mean this? You are promised to me, and I am promising myself to you, and this is a vow before God, before this church full of people." Beautiful, tender, and then they kiss, and the eyes shine out, and the view in their eyes is different, less vulnerable, because the conversation for now has passed, and their attention is turned. 

It strikes me later, after the glistening soap bubbles floated into the night air, amid laughter and spills; and the horse-drawn carriage pulled away, and the reception ended. My God whispers his vows to me, and I so often stare back at him, eyes wide and vulnerable, "Really? Me? Forever?" 

Too often I forget the radiance and the glistening wonder, and still feel like the girl on the pew with the neck that smells like toothpaste, striving instead of resting.

Hi, thanks for stopping by. What has God been talking to you about this week? Can you relate to feeling like the girl on the pew sometimes?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bike Dates, Dark Moonlit Nights, and Doxology

Blonde hair shining in the sun, my three year old asked me on a date this afternoon.  Sandwiched between two parked cars, sitting astride his blue and yellow plastic tricycle, he turned expectantly. “Mom, bike a me?” (Mom, will you bike with me?) I grinned, and pulled out my towering two wheeler. 

Pedaling barely enough to keep my bike upright, I followed him down the road on this last summery day. The hot 79 degree weather belied the amber trees and the crunchy dried leaves under our wheels.  

Gleeful at being first, Daniel threw a glance over his shoulder and proudly pedaled on, leading the way. Suddenly a white windowless van barreled down the road towards us. Daniel, froze, looked at me, and waited to see what I would do.  I angled my bike in front of his, hemming him in between me and the curb. “Go to the grass,” I directed. “Hold still.” 

After the vehicle passed, he sped on, bravado back in place. Weaving across the road, Daniel was often unaware of curbs, and biker right of ways, and pedestrian sides of the road.  I biked alongside him, my heart swelling with love for this little guy, while I kept a clear watch on oncoming traffic.  Always aware of danger for him, I subtly angled him to the side of the road, staying on his outside rim. Several times, Daniel was blissfully unaware of approaching cars until they were right upon him. 

“Hemming me in, behind and in front of me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too large to comprehend,” whispered my God in my ear, reminding me of some writing about Himself.

Hours later, in the cool night air, as I am leaving a work meeting, my car brakes wheeze out and malfunction. Thankfully, my speed was slow and nobody was hurt. Lost in a foreign neighborhood, I roll through the dark streets, weighing the options. I knock on a door, a sleepy Samaritan loans me his phone, and I make arrangements to be picked up on nearby crossroads. Sitting back on the grass in a dormant suburb next to a dead car, I wait and listen. 

Distant traffic. Evening frogs and crickets orchestrate in the woods below. With surgical precision, the right side of the moon stares at me, bouncing back white light. Wind rustles the birch leaves above me. Two tall radio towers blink red, and I breathe deeply into the night air. Pneuma, breath. Isn’t that the Greek name for the Holy Spirit? His Spirit moves and wills as it blows. In the beginning, God’s spirit hovered over the waters, hovered over the deep, dark and formless, breathing life, rippling out onto the void. 

The trees blow overhead and I inhale Breath. “Thank you, God.” I choose grace counting. I inhale again. I choose thankfulness. “Thank you for the night air, for the warmth of this last summery day. Thank you for protecting me – the brakes gave out here in a safe, sleepy, slow-speed suburb, not on a highway during rush hour. Thank you for a second vehicle that runs to come get me. Thank you for hemming me in, behind and before. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too large to comprehend.” 

Late tonight, my toddler awakes crying, illogical and inconsolable.  The bedside clock blinked red 1:45, then again at 2:30. By 3:07, I climb out of bed, pad to the computer and type. I choose grace counting, but not by default. As wakefulness creeps in, and the Spirit convicts me of discontented responses and complaint, I stop, restart, and choose grace counting. “Thank you for health. Thank you for normally undisturbed sleep. Thank you for this boy, and this chance to choose grace, to see you, to practice doxology.” 

“How does that Psalm go? Where can I go from your Spirit? …If I go to the far side of the dawn (Very funny, God)… even there your hand will guide me… you hem me in behind and before. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too large to comprehend.”  I’m close but not quite there, so I pull up Bible Gateway in my dark living room, as the family sleeps. 

1 You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.  (Psalm 139: 1-10)

Hello, you. Thanks for stopping by just now. What has God been whispering to you? 

How can I pray for you today? (By the way, do you know of any reliable used vehicles for sale?)