Category Archives: human trafficking

Sex, Money and Ordinary People

 

A GOD WHO IS WORTH

If it had been a Hollywood film, this is where the attractive actors would look meaningfully into the distance and the soundtrack would intensify. Then with a series of brilliant shots and carefully selected music your emotions would explode with the power of the moment. The moment when everything changes.

But this is real life. And it came as a text while I was doing dishes this afternoon. 

The message said the young woman our team at UnBound had been advocating for was going to be heading to a safe house. Even as I type this out she must be settling into the idea of a new home. A place where her life will not be threatened, where her birthday will be remembered when it rolls around each year and no one – no one will own her body.

I can’t tell you her name or the details of the story, but I can tell you that she is a survivor now. No longer a victim of human trafficking – she is free. After years of being forced to have sex for money, she is free.

Our team who worked on this case alongside local law enforcement are phenomenal people. I wish I could name them and recount their efforts one-by-one. But they are very ordinary. Stay at home moms, lawyers, pastors, teachers…normal people. As much as I love them, they are not superheros. Just dreamers who aren’t scared of a fight.

People who believe this world is not too far gone. Not too far gone to keep trying.

Average people who decided to show up to life and make a difference. They put their game face on and look evil in the eye. ‘Cause they serve a God who is bigger and a cause that is worthy. 

When I got the text this afternoon, I found myself thinking that this isn’t the way things like this are supposed to go down. If Martin Scorsese was directing, news wouldn’t break with a simple text in the middle of cleaning my house. That’s how stuff like this works though. Between emails and sips of coffee. Squeezed into pockets of time between the busyness of work and family.

Yea, there are days in my life that sound pretty legit. A few weeks ago I was in a meeting with FBI agents, a congressman and his staff. While it may seem impressive, it was just people around a table. People trying to figure out how we can solve a problem. I wasn’t Erin Brockovich and I didn’t have solutions tied up with pretty bows.  Just there to say, “Hey, I’m here and I want to help.”

‘Cause that’s really all any of us can do. Just show up with what we have and help where we can. There are no blue ribbons for the best answers or dress codes monitoring who looks the part. You. You fit the part friend. You who only have a few hours a month to serve at a soup kitchen. You in the middle of your depression offering a smile to  a stranger. You who can write checks for thousands of dollars. All of us. Together, giving what we’ve got.

If you come here often you hear me talk about  Something Bigger. That internal voice or impression that you are made for more than you are living right now. A desire to make an impact and shift things around. I believe we are all destined for something bigger.

The text I got today at 4:16 pm confirmed it. I was so proud of my friends and teammates who are working one case at a time to see modern-day slavery put to an end. The are showing up – day in, day out. Volunteering the skills and time they can humbly offer. They are the ones who chisel new messages in the pages  of history. Reminders that giving up isn’t an option.

I don’t know what is in your heart to do, but I know it matters that you do it. The world is breaking down all around us and it’s time we show up. For the lonely commuter next to us every morning to the victim of sex trafficking on the internet.

I’m calling on all you destined for Something Bigger who are wondering if showing up will really matter or not with all this chaos. Know what? It matters. You are a mover & a shaker. An ordinary person with an extraordinary God. See you tomorrow everyone, armed with hope and big dreams. Let’s take the world by storm.

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Go ahead, dreamer. Do the crazy thing.

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You know. That ‘thing’.

It never seems to go away. The idea, the dream, the passion, the vision that stays ever before you. The ‘what if’ scenario that resurfaces in your imagination – over and over and over. No matter how you try and rationalize it out of your psyche, it keeps coming back. As if you were made to think it. Born to do it.

Sometimes they are big and busting at the seams with meaning. Others are simple whims that buzz around your head making you smile as you think of them. If only, you think to yourself. If only I had the time, the money, the capacity, the opportunity…If only I could do it.

My gypsy soul has done some crazy things.

I fell in love when I said I wouldn’t. So in love, I married at age 21. The thing I was too young to do.

For years I dreamed of Seattle. Going and living in that vibrant city which sits on the edge of the next-big-thing all the time. When I was 23 I went there to plant a church. And I did. I did the thing that looked impossible.

I have a passion for travel. So, I became a travel agent. The dream job for me in so many ways. I made no money at it and didn’t renew my license. I did the crazy thing that failed…and it wasn’t that bad.

Seattle became a home beyond what I could have imagined. So much of what defined me was there and one day we felt the nudge of God to let it all go. Pack up and move on to the next thing. So, despite many tears…I moved. I did the thing that felt like it would kill me, but it didn’t.

Graduate school has been a passion of mine for years. I decided to study for the GRE…hours I studied and then never took it. I did the thing that never went anywhere but taught me so much anyway.

I have two kids and am adopting two more. I am doing the thing that seems beyond my capacity.

I am trying to write a book. I am doing the thing that intimidates me.

I am pursuing my passion to see an end to human trafficking and work with an organization to see the 27 million slaves in the world set free. I am doing the thing that seems too big for me. The dream that has always felt intangible and distant. The dream that scares me the most.

So many things.

Crazy, beautiful, motivating. Ideas and dreams I couldn’t shake.

Thoughts that didn’t seem to matter to anyone else – they were the thoughts that wouldn’t leave me alone. I do things that seem impressive to others and things that people find trivial. I do things that no one else understand but God and myself. Some I do well and others I fumble. But I do them.

Go ahead. You were made to do the crazy things.

The idea you tinker with in your spare time. Things so crazy no one has done yet. Or things so seemingly ordinary people don’t understand your passion for it. Lives so brave they make the complacent uncomfortable. Focus so wild it intimidates the giants who say it can’t be done. You were made for this.

So go ahead. Do them. Do the crazy things.

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Filed under Faith, Fire, human trafficking, Lifestyle, My Life Thus Far, something bigger, Uncategorized, Whimsy

Thanks-GIVING

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Apparently, the shelf life for gratitude is approximately 24 hours. On Thursday Americans will celebrate one of my favorite holidays – Thanksgiving. What could be better than an entire day set aside to remember all of your blessings & spend time with family and friends?

My inbox has been filled this week with so many emails from stores letting me know about their amazing sales and pre-dawn opening times for Black Friday. Now we can reward our grateful attitudes on Thursday with some indulged shopping on Friday.

I know, I know. Stores slash prices making it the ideal time to make large purchases you needed anyway. I am a girl on a budget and I totally get that. However, the idea of following up a day of giving thanks for what we have with a day of acquiring new things seems to miss the mark.

This morning I was looking at the word Thanksgiving and thought how profound it is that “thankfulness” and “giving” are matched on this holiday. Yea, sure. It’s a day that we give thanks. But what if the connection is more than that?

Maybe to really experience thankfulness we have to be willing to give. The act of giving requires a belief that you already have what you need. Generosity is an external act of an internal attitude. I may not have everything, but I have enough. That is what giving says.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I propose that we each celebrate by being thankful AND giving.

Black Friday is coming with it’s swarms of deals and hoards of crowds. Last year Americans spent $11,400,000,000 on Black Friday. That averages out to $423 per person who went shopping that weekend.

This year I would like to suggest that instead of spending tons of money on ourselves we GIVE to others in order to meet some of their needs.

In honor of  Thanks-GIVING I am going to donate before I buy. Join me in winning back Thanksgiving? —> click to tweet

This Friday I am going to go online and donate before I shop for anything. The world is full of people who are trying to make ends meet. Investing in a cause bigger than myself is the best way to kick off the holiday season in my opinion.

Grab that new pair of boots you have had your eye on, but give away a pair of shoes you already have in your closet to a shelter. Stock up on Christmas gifts for your grandkids, but purchase a gift card for a mom who needs assistance getting gifts for her kids. There are so many ways to help.

Will you join me?

I have listed out a couple great causes that I can personally vouch for as being good candidates for donations:

 UnBound – I work with this group to end human trafficking by educating and empowering local communities to combat slavery in their city. We are volunteer run & all your donations go directly to our anti-trafficking efforts.

Many Hopes – My friend Haley is working with Many Hopes to help raise $10,000 towards building homes for boys living in poverty in Kenya. It is a great project and a huge need. Support Africa & Support Haley this Thanksgiving!

Beth Stedman – Many of you may remember when Beth wrote a post for me earlier this fall.  Beth’s husband is battling stage 4 melanoma. They have two children, one with severe special needs, and I am sure that they could use a little generosity this holiday season. — she has no idea I am doing this. At the end of each of her posts there is a link to donate via paypal. The link says ” If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea”. Click on that and you can give a donation in any amount to her securely on PayPal.

I think we can work together to make a big difference in the lives of others this Thanksgiving holiday, but I need your help!

1. Share about Thanks-GIVING with others through social media or word of mouth!

2. Tell us about other groups/causes worth giving to in the comments section!

Happy Thanks-GIVING everybody!!!

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Filed under Faith, Fire, human trafficking, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Whimsy

The Narrative of Grand Things and Ordinary Moments

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Tomorrow morning I will pack up my suitcase and board a plane with my husband and another woman for Washington DC. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you what we will be doing.  Actually, let me back up even further. In addition to writing this nifty little blog, I also am a director for an anti-trafficking organization called UnBound.  Titles aside, I am a stay-at-home mom and my life as a writer and abolitionist are just my side hustle.

Why am I going to Washington? On Friday we have meetings with several members of Congress to talk to them about our “Your No Is Her Hope” campaign. Later  that day I will meet with delegates from almost every African country to educate them on human trafficking and UnBound’s work. Saturday my co-worker and I will be training DC public school counselors on human trafficking and how to spot it in their schools.

Sounds so impressive, doesn’t it?

Want to know a secret? It isn’t impressive. My life is just an ordinary life made up of ordinary days. Emails sent with typos, dinner flavored with too much salt, hours spent in preschool pickup lines and numerous trips to the grocery store. It is just a normal life.

This narrative that God writes within our stories is nothing incredible when broken down day-by-day. We don’t notice the small secrets that are woven into our errands, phone calls and family dinners. And yet when I tell you what I am going to be doing this weekend, I realize that something beautiful is happening in belly of my very normal stay-at-home mom life. The hours spend chatting with my kids in my minivan are deceptive.

In the middle of my seemingly uneventful days, my story is being written.

Grand acts never seem grand in the moment. They are simply hidden in the events of ordinary days. —> click to tweet.

I am beginning to learn the gift of average days. On their own they seem unimpressive and boringly simple. And yet, our lives are lived in one long succession of individual days. When we look back at their sequence we can see our destiny unfolding…

Perhaps your life seems like mine. Routine and average. Spilled coffee, dishes, bank statements, and unreturned phone calls. Let me encourage you. Don’t toss aside your ordinary days for within them lies your story.

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Filed under current events, Faith, human trafficking, Kiddos, My Life Thus Far, Politics, Uncategorized, Whimsy

Porn’s Biggest Secret

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So, porn… I’m gonna be quick and to the point. Pornography is helping fuel human trafficking. I personally know stories of human trafficking victims who have been forced to make porn.

Do adults have a right to view pornography if they want? Yes, they do. However, due to the internet, children and young adults are being introduced to it at younger and younger ages. Most of them stumble across it accidentally.

This accidental introduction creates more people with porn addictions, thus the demand for porn increases. How is this demand being met? Human trafficking.

We have launched a campaign inspired by recent actions in the UK. Our goal is to petition gov’t to make internet providers put filters on pornographic images unless a customer wants access to them

Reducing the demand for porn will reduce the trafficking of women & children to meet the demand. Will you join me in saying “NO!” ?

1. Visit UnBound’s site to learn more.

2. Spread the word to your friends via social media & email! Use the hashtag  #no4hope

I am saying “no” to human trafficking! Will you join me? #no4hope —> click to tweet this now!

3. Sign the petition right now!

This isn’t about politics or religion. It is about people. These are real people I have met and people I care about. Will you help me spread the word and say “NO”?

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Filed under current events, Fire, Global, human trafficking, Lifestyle, Uncategorized