Tag Archives: current events

There were no ordinary days

I see Ferguson. I see Ebola spreading. I see ISIS terrorizing. I see poverty destroying entire countries. And yet, I dream. I dream of what the Church can be in moments like these…

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The history of the earth is comprised by stories of men and women like you and me. Experiences compressed through time to make a greater story. This is our moment to tell our story.

Because like it or not, history will read the pages we are currently writing.

I don’t care if they know who I was or who you were. Most likely future generations won’t talk about which church had the most campuses or who toured the conference circuit. They will want to know our true story.

I pray. I dream. I hope that this – this is what our story is:

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They did something. The world around was falling apart, but the people of God did something. Their plans weren’t perfect, but regardless of failure they got up and kept going. The Church didn’t make excuses, they made progress. Their short-comings didn’t haunt them.

They didn’t gossip the Gospel, they lived it. They advanced it. Each one looking at the brokeness in front of them and responding. Big or small. There were no ordinary days. The Church in that generation found their voice. A mighty voice that roared on behalf of the silent.

They were driven by a love for the Greater. They solved social problems previously thought un-solvable. When they grew weary they rested in the presence of God and drew from wells that never ran dry. The people of God never gave up. They sat around their kitchen tables dreaming into the Kingdom. While riding in their cars they called upon heaven to intervene on behalf of the disenfranchised. Miraculous things happened. There were no ordinary days.

Each one took the tools they had and worked. Labored – remembering the stories of generations before them. Holding to the testimony that has preceded them. The vision was greater than a fleeting pleasure and righteousness grew in their midst.

They risked everything knowing that Eternity calls their name.

There were no ordinary days.

History may have forgotten their names and faces, but a greater Kingdom knows them well. The fruit of that generation is still being harvested today. A group of courageous people who stood up when they didn’t have to. They did something.

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In the Kingdom there are no ordinary days. Let’s give the historians something to write about. Let’s do something.

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Filed under current events, Faith, Fire, Uncategorized

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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Tolerance and the Duck Dynasty debacle

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Okay, everyone take a deep breath. We are gonna get through this post in one piece, I promise. 

I went to bed last night having read the news about Phil from Duck Dynasty being suspended for anti-gay remarks. There was such a heaviness in my gut as I tried to go to sleep. It wasn’t anger or frustration… it was sadness.

I’m not a lawyer but I am assuming the same rights that give Phil the freedom to say what he believes  (although, the word choices could have been better) are the same rights that allow A & E to employ who they want. And if A & E isn’t allowed the right to choose employees that align with their values or beliefs, then that means a  Christian run business is also not allowed to choose employees that align with their values & beliefs. So, I’m not here to bash a television network or it’s star.

I think Phil has the right to express his belief because he was asked about it. I think A & E is a business that has the right to hire/fire whoever it wants. You have the right to boycott or write letters to whomever you wish, but that isn’t really what this post is about anyway. It’s a post about how we treat people we don’t agree with…or don’t like.

I believe in the power of tolerance. I believe that people who disagree with one another on faith, politics, environment, social issues, morality or anything else can truly love and respect each other.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, in fact I know I am.

The sadness I felt last night wasn’t about this specific situation really , but the way in which we handle people who are different than we are.

I am a Christian and I see church leaders fighting each other on the application of scripture. I am a Democrat and I watch political brawls go down on both sides of the aisle. I am a mother and I watch mom’s waging war on educational choices, vaccines and sleep schedules.

My daughter goes to public school and has been vaccinated. I can’t even tell you how many mean-spirited articles I have seen on Facebook that tell me how I am screwing up my kids because of that. And it goes both ways. You non-vacciners have gotten your fair share of Facebook rebuke. What happened to sitting around kitchen tables actually discussing these things?

We are going to disagree and debate. That’s fine. However, we have lost the art of constructive disagreement and replaced it with destructive disagreement. I see our nation tearing each other down on a daily basis.

When did we become so mean? Just the other day I got this Facebook message from someone I knew in high school. Hadn’t talked to him in years, but he just decided to express his not-so-nice opinion.

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I’ll be the first to say my blog needs some work. No news there. But, really? A Facebook slam for no apparent reason other than you think I suck and you want to bash on social media? If you really want to help me be a better blogger, give me feedback on how I could improve my content. But, he didn’t want me to get better. He just didn’t like me.

I’m not saying I am a saint. I can be mean too. And I want to change. I want to be better.

I believe in humble disagreement not proud arguments. That means messy and dirty – loving your neighbor as yourself. Even if they believe in aliens, if they think global-warming is a hoax,  if they say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, if they are gay, Muslim, Baptist, Republican, Democrat, if they think the United States should be run entirely by militias….whatever the heck they they think is true.

If you don’t feel you have the freedom to tell me what you think or believe then how can  I know you?  And if I don’t know you, how can I love you?

My hope is that we actually move beyond tolerating one another to actually loving one another. Genuinely building community with people who are different – maybe even opposing – to us in some form or fashion.

I want an America that embraces each other – not keeps our distance afraid that we will step on toes. I want Love to win, as I know it will. My desire is for people to stop saying mean things, but I want to love them even if they never do.

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The Narrative of Grand Things and Ordinary Moments

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via polyvore

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

Government Shutdown And Who Is Right

I know you readers are from around the world, but if you aren’t aware our government has shut down. If that is news to you, I suggest you read this first.

I love America. I love that we have a system of government in place that demands agreement in order to move forward. What is problematic for me is the way this is all going down and the critical approach both sides have.

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Me and the hubs in DC this past spring

I was going to write about the shutdown, but then my brilliant and fantastic friend Stephanie at Stifling Trivialities did. So, I am reposting her thoughts here. I’d love you to comment at the end about what your thoughts are regarding the shutdown. But be warned — I will only allow posts that are kind, respectful and constructive. You can disagree, but be nice.

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This morning I was listening to NPR and they were talking about the Affordable Care Act and the fact that there is a 40/48 divide in America regarding the way that America should be run. 40 percent of Americans believe that we need “smaller” government, and 48 percent believe that ‘big’ government is more effective. **disclaimer- I have not seen this study, I have no idea how this question was asked, to whom, and how many people were polled.

However, I do know that 1/2 of America ( or so ) believe FUNDAMENTALLY they are right – we need LESS government, BIGGER business, less intrusion, lower taxes, the government needs to step aside and let America be for the people by the people and give the people back the ability to rule ourselves…

Another 1/2 of Americans believe FUNDAMENTALLY they are right – we need the government to step in and do their jobs. To legislate where things are blocked, people are falling through the cracks, the minority is terrorizing the majority, to stop the widening gap between rich and poor, to control the flood of guns and violence, and death due to poverty…

So who is right?

One or the other.

There can only be ONE right? That’s the way we’ve allowed this to be constructed. That there is a right, and there is a wrong. As if it is a game of political Red Rover. You are either for or against.

The problem with being right is that it assumes there is someone who is wrong. There are some places where things are this black and white. Touchdowns and death for example – but politics not so much.

Politics is more of a game of Go Fish…and it’s about that exciting as well. Just think about the fun the OMB had when they sat down and said, ” Well, we’ve got a 40/48 split – what’s the line in Vegas on a shutdown October one?” When they heard the numbers, they ordered in Chinese and set to deciding which 87% of Veterans Affairs were essential, which 81% of the Department of the Interior needed to be furloughed. Commerce another 87% – 97% of NASA, 94% of the EPA, 81% of the Interior, 80% of the Treasury, 69% of Health and Human Services and so on and so forth…

“Do you have any State Park employees?”

” Go Fish”

“I would but normally I do that at Acadia National Park”

It’s well known that in the most successful negotiations everyone walks away without getting everything they wanted. No good negotiation is a winner take all game, or it’s not a negotiation. Somehow, Americans seem to have forgotten that.

We have begun to think that it’s our way, or no way. It’s behavior that we despise and punish in our children, that we critically critique in the coming generations, and demand uncompromisingly from our political representation.

The problem with being right, is that you can’t be right all the time , it’s a statistical impossibility. Beyond that, it’s difficult to like that person – the one that can never be wrong. And we are a nation full of them.

Two bickering sides.

Both always right.

Neither side ever wrong.

To what end?

At what cost?

I ask, in the long term, how can anyone benefit from this petulant behavior?

The problem with being right, is that it’s not working, and we’re not learning – and no one seems to be ashamed of their behavior.

We should consider who we vote for.

We should consider what we demand from them.

We should consider our political posture.

We are not moving forward, we are not at a standstill, we are sliding backward.

In three weeks, we will be facing the discussion regarding the debt ceiling and we can barely have an adult discussion with one another regarding the rules within our own home.

Our politicians are simply representatives of the people, they do as we demand. I cannot be angry at them for something that I am pretty sure starts with me. —> click to tweet

I am looking for places to concede and compromise, had our founding fathers been as obstinate and bull headed as we are, there would be no Constitution or United States. It might benefit us to remember the great concessions and compromises they made in order to move this great republic forward.

So what do you think? If you live in another country what is your take on this? For Americans, how do you think we actually solve this breakdown? Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

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what chris brown taught me

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To say that I’ve had some big failures in my life is an understatement. I knew that I couldn’t do a series about fear without discussing that. My Intangible Cage started 4 weeks ago and will finish next week. It has been a time of talking about the fears that hold us back from who we were made to be. Believe me, I have quite a few of those fears.

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Just about a year ago when my blog was starting to see some significant growth, I did something stupid. Really stupid. I wrote a post that was very personal and perhaps a bit controversial. I got a comment from an “anonymous” reader. It was bashing my point of view and accusing me of being arrogant. ( It has been deleted, so no need to scour the archives to see it) At least, that is what I thought it was.

In all my wisdom I tweeted ” Got my first hater on the blog today”.  Right. So, turns out that “anonymous” was not so anonymous. It was a friend whom I had known from childhood. Who follows  followed me on social media. My stomach sank as I read her email.

She let me know that her comment was simply a different opinion and since when did I get so arrogant to publicly mock someone for attempting civil discourse? She had changed to a different faith around college and I was pretty much her only tie to her Christian past. But now she wanted to cut ties completely. She blocked my calls, emails and de-friended me on social media. She hasn’t talked to me since.

Fail. Epic, sweeping, keep me up at night failure. It made me seriously consider stopping blogging all together. I could not get over how immature I had been. I should not be trusted with a blog.

But, I learned something about fear & failure from an unlikely source.

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photo: Jonathan Alcom

Please stop cringing. I know that Chris Brown is not the standard go-to example for things. Remember when he was arrested for beating Rihanna in 2009? I can think of few things that are bigger failures. To not simply disappoint people, but commit a terrible act. Maybe one of the worst in my opinion.

The news was ruthless and the public slammed him. Which, you know, he deserved. If I were him, I would have moved to some obscure village in the Himalayas and tweeted continual apologies. But, he didn’t retreat to a rural mountain village. Chris Brown apologized, got help and then came back.

Back on the red carpet, back in the news, back onto the music scene & even got back together with Rihanna. I’m sure you have an opinion on their whole dating situation, but I’d prefer you tell Perez Hilton and not me. The point is that he didn’t stay down.

Everyone knew he did something terrible. Chris Brown failed. Not just failed but was flat-out awful. He was mocked. He was guilty.

I am not excusing what he did & I genuinely hope that he has changed.  Like him or not, he came back. Hate me for saying it, but I admire his courage. Chris Brown showed me that just because I failed doesn’t mean I have to remain a failure.

There are days where I totally hate what I do. Embarrassment crashes down and I chastise myself with unforgiving thoughts. A self-inflicted punishment sends me back into my intangible cage. I don’t deserve to be let out. I will only mess up and be humiliated again. That is the thinking of someone with no Savior. And that isn’t me.

I have a Savior. One who isn’t intimidated by my brokeness and my sin. Failure no longer remains a fear.

No need to keep my head down when I don’t measure up. The days I say and do stupid things do not have to define me. My lack does not dictate my future. Your lack does not dictate your future. God is bigger. He covers us, forgives us, and makes all things new.

We will fail but we will not remain failures. Our lack & weakness will be overrun by endless Grace & Mercy. 

It is week 5 of our series. The week we stop exiling ourselves to our cages. The week we stop glaring at our shame and look our Savior in the eyes instead.

Goodbye fear of failure.

Hello courage to risk & try again.

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I absolutely hate that I am writing this post. I think we are all still stunned from the Boston bombings on Monday. At least I know I am. Then last night happened. A factory in the town of West, TX exploded. I am sure you have seen it all over the news by now. I live in Waco which is about 15 minutes south of West. This happened to my community.

I sat last night watching images of the mushroom cloud, listening to the evacuation centers be listed  and seeing tragedy in my  own community. Ironic how I talked about running in my own backyard a few days ago. Footage of injured and debris were crossing the screen, my phone was ringing, and my Facebook feed was littered with posts of people I know trying to contact friends and relatives near the blast sight. Didn’t this just happen a few days ago in Boston? Dear God. The entire world seems to be on fire.

I have had that feeling several times in my life.

The world was on fire when I was in 5th grade and the tragedy happened at the Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco. Again in my own back yard.

The world was on fire when I was in high school and the Columbine shooting happened. It seems like that fire is still going…

The world was on fire on September 11th when I was a sophomore in college and the whole world shook. My dad was on the border of Pakistan and Afganistan when it happened. He was there for 11 weeks providing pastoral support for those involved with the issue of two American women imprisoned by the Taliban.

The world was on fire with disasters like the tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti to name a few.

The world was on fire when I dropped my daughter off at kindergarden and came home to see the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook.

The world was on fire this past Monday with the events in Boston.

I know someone whose house was destroyed in the blast last night. My friend Melissa is a chaplin at a local hospital and worked providing care and support to victims and their families. Several other friends of mine are ER nurses in area hospitals helping treat the wounded. So many people came out to help they had to be turned away. I love this community. We are all in this together.

Our church opened up it’s doors along with many others to house those whose homes are gone. We have been serving coffee and breakfast to those in the hospital waiting rooms and those who are on the ground in West. Churches are gathering together to provide shelter , practical needs, and support for our community. The Church serves because we are all in this together.

Baylor students are putting together care packages with toiletries and other necessitites. Hardware stores in our area opened up last night in case anyone needed building materials or supplies. Restaurants are donating food to responders.They rallied because we are all in this together.

A man I saw interviewed had pulled 16 people from a nursing home destroyed from the blast. Many of them elderly who were unable to leave their beds and were covered with debris and fallen ceiling materials. He was one of many who ran into the danger to help. He ran because we are all in this together.

Despite the danger and heartache, we are all in this together. The world may be on fire, but we are all doing our part to help. To everyone in the Waco area who has been up all night trying to find survivors and help victims, thank you. To everyone who has been praying around the world, thank you.

The world is full of chaos. Tragedy, disaster, loss and unthinkable violence sometimes. But in the middle of it all is a God who can hold the mess together and comfort those who have suffered unimaginable loss.

So, maybe you are sitting here like me. Watching the world burn in front of you. Maybe you are wondering as I am exactly how things like this can keep happening. Wildfires of violence, natural disaster and political unrest.

What do we do when the world is on fire? We help put it out together. And we pray for Rain.

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