Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Commitments to Obama

0
1:10 PM

The long, seemingly endless election is finally over. Barack Obama is our new President. His victory was clear and decisive.


I have personally never witnessed a more bitter election.

But that was then; this is now. It is time for us to set aside our partisan hats and put on our American ones.

As a country, we still have huge problems to solve...

I want to do my part. Therefore, starting today, I am publicly making four commitments to President-Elect Barack Obama:

I will pray for him and our country.

I will assume his motives are good, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

I will not speak ill of him, even if I don’t always agree with him.

I will cast off the spirit of cynicism, and be a positive force for good.

Yesterday was a historic day. We can all be proud as Americans. Today, we begin a new future. It’s time to come together. I am ready for a united United States.

0 comments:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free and Unfettered

0
9:32 PM
"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

.:Matthew 6:25-34:.

0 comments:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Justice is what Love looks in public

1
10:41 AM
So I just back from a whirlwind trip to our nation's capital, Washington D.C. I experienced some pretty awesome things there! I went for the purpose of attending Not For Sale's Days of Advocacy. Not For Sale is an incredible organization dedicated to ending modern slavery and human trafficking. It began just a mere 18 months ago, with David Batstone, a professor, at the helm. They have put out a great book on the subject and been active in fighting human trafficking both domestically and internationally.

We began Wednesday with a 4 hour walking tour of the city and its history. We saw the Vietnam War Memorial, the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, the White House, toured the National Archives, and the Capitol building. It kicked off the week well because it showed us the history that has taken place in this city and in this country, and now here we were, attempting to make history.



We gathered together at Georgetown University to begin the conference event. There was a 150 of us gathered from across the nation for the same cause....ending human trafficking. I met a college-age couple from Tampa, and the guy actually lived in Brandon! What are the chances!?! It was pretty awesome to be able to network with so many people who are passionate about the same cause I am.

After first meeting the hero himself, David Batstone, the first speaker was Ambassador Mark Lagon, who heads up the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking there in D.C. He challenged us in many ways, including to focus on confronting the demand and giving our community the "glasses" to see the problem for as it is. Because the only way someone cannot see the issue of trafficking in their community is because they aren't looking for it.

We then heard from Angel Santos, who is the C.E.O of the Ricky Martin Foundation. Ricky Martin, yes....the singer!, has started his foundation to focus on raising awareness on human trafficking in Central and South America. I think its so great when celebrities focus on a cause such as this.

We focused a little more on international trafficking and NFS' work in Cambodia and Peru, but the majority of the time was spent on domestic trafficking, right here in the U.S. A resource worth visiting is SlaveryMap, which is a map of the U.S. that abolitionists across the country have reported trafficking cases. This resource is ideal for raising awareness in communities and educating law enforcement.

Needless to say by the end of the first night, after 5 break-out sessions, I was overwhelmed with responsibility to my own community. Not only did I learn how to get the church involved, how to become a state director for NFS, and how to identify companies who don't use slaves in their labor, but also how to map slavery in my own backyard. So after all this, the real work had yet to begin...

Thursday morning began early (!) with a panel on how to be a smart activist. Great practical tips on becoming an abolitionist and putting together a team to help raise awareness. Then Tom Sheridan, of The Sheridan Group, quickly debriefed us on how to best lobby our congressman. It was great practical information on how to best meet with the staff of these powerful men and women. And we actually felt prepared!


So we were off to the Hill to meet with senators and representatives! I was with a group assigned to the Senators of NC and TX. Unfortunately, the staff from FL was not available, but no worries, I'll hunt them down. The purpose of our lobbying was to urge these senators to vote in favor of the reauthorization of the TVPA. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed in 2000 and is the first major legislature written to protect the victims of trafficking and prosecute the offenders. It must be reauthorized every 2 years, and it's behind in its reauthorization for 2007. It is essential to it pass in the lame duck session after the election. So we got the time to tell these staffers the urgency and bring home the local level of this crime. It was a fabulous experience, and I feel empowered to do this more and more. That's what so great about a democracy, eh?

Our time together culminated with an opening night showing of the film, "Call + Response", a musician's response to modern-day slavery. We walked to the theater in a candlelight vigil, passing out flyers on trafficking along the way. And the movie was incredible!! It features artists such as Switchfoot, Imogen Heap, Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Nickel Creek, Matis Yahu, and many more. Actors Ashley Judd, Julia Ormond, and Darryl Hannah talked about their involvement with trafficking. Even our own David Batstone was featured! It was powerful, informational, and inspirational. The British slave trade was abolished in just 20 years. The amount of money it would cost to end this atrocity, it would take the amount the U.S. spent on Valentine's Day last year. This is attainable and this is achievable. And I'm just doing my part to make it happen.


1 comments:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Preparation for DC

1
12:09 AM
So in the midst of my job crisis [I could lose it any day now, thanks government funding!] and all the stress that it involves, I'm going to DC in a week and a half. I am going to be part of a much needed dialogue on modern-day slavery and human trafficking. And I must say God is preparing me all over the place for this adventure. I was able to do the night at the mall that I last blogged about. A few weeks ago, I started back to my year-long Bible study class, Bible Study Fellowship and this year's study is Moses. And just 2 chapters, I am reading about the Israelite slaves in Egypt and I am overwhelmed by thinking of the 27 million slaves in the world today. This study has already come to life. Then last week I was approached by the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking for some volunteer work. Happily, I met with the coordinator to find out what it involved. Turns out, I'm going to be giving a presentation on domestic trafficking at a campus ministry of USF next week! Pretty cool, eh? So I've been doing all this reading and research, watching DVD's just to feel more knowledgeable on the subject. In my research, I ran across a trailer for the film "Call + Response". It's a documentary from the entertainment industry focused on modern-day slavery. It has stars like Ashley Judd and Juliet Binoche and bands like Switchfoot, Nickel Creek, and Imogen Heap. All coming together for this cause in the form of a film. Of course, its way limited release and of course, its not coming anywhere in FL...BUT it is playing in DC over the 3 days I will be there. Thanks, God! I don't know what's coming, but God is moving and I can't even fathom what's next....

1 comments:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Not 4 Sale

0
11:30 PM

Tonight was not a typical Friday night. I had signed up to meet with these people I barely knew to discuss human trafficking and how to educate our community. I get to the mall and get my handmade "Not 4 Sale" red tank top. And a pair of handcuffs. What did I just get myself into?! Well, turns out the ringleader actually volunteers with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. She had some startling facts about domestic trafficking, which is trafficking going on within the US. Did you know Florida is the #1 state in the country for the number of open trafficking cases? I didn't! But Florida also #1 in the amount of resources to provide to victims. The reason we chose the mall for our battlefield [ha!], is because many young girls are abducted, coerced and stolen from shopping malls! There have been several cases reported in Pensecola, FL. Crazy huh?

So our group of 8, all fired up with Scripture and knew information are ready to educate the whole mall. Only we couldn't approach people. And we couldn't hand out information unless they asked. Let me just tell you it was amazing to see God open doors to conversation. "So you aren't for sale" "What's with the handcuffs" "OK, I just have to ask...what's with the shirts
?" So many great conversations with really receptive people.

But it doesn't stop there. Our mall closes at 9pm, but 5 of us decided to hang out a little longer to maybe catch some stragglers. We find ourselves outside the food court, talking to a group of 10 - 15 skater/rockers/goths. Five preppy white kids shouldn't have made that much of an impact, right? Maybe my newly pink hair and nose ring helped a little, haha. But they asked us so many questions about trafficking, they took our pamphlets, they wrote down websites, and they shared their hearts. Janelle, 19, with her bleach blonde dreads highlighted hot pink, matching pink eyeliner....belt....tights....bracelets....million-watt smile, tells me about working at a local strip club, and seeing the girls get pregnant by their pimps, and being forced to go on "dates" by the management with johns. Broke my heart. I gave h
er our information and begged her to report any forced prostitution going on. She wants to get a "Not 4 Sale" tattoo on her arm with a bar code. Ryan, thin, smoker, so entertaining....homeless...squatter....18. MJ, 21, the self professed mallrat. Brendan, moldable kid with bright red hair...you would have thought we just gave him a winning lottery ticket. Hungry kids, hungry for good and right in an evil and dark world.

By this time, its 9:15....9:30...9:45....and all I can see are these 3 young middle school girl
sitting on a planter with their matching American Eagle tees. They go in, I assume, to call their parents. I follow them in and offer my cell phone. Mom is half an hour away. WHAT????? These girls, 5th, 6th and 8th graders.....at the mall....alone....on a Friday night???? THIS SHOULDN'T BE! This is how girls are trafficked. So I sit with them, hear their stories, and tell some of mine. They got an earful on trafficking, and took the pamphlets. Mom rolls up at 10:20. Even the skater kids have gone. I walk the girls to the car and tell her I was sitting with them and she thanks me. And then I go into my trafficking speech, letting her know how many young girls are abducted from malls, just like this one. She wasn't a fan. But she got her daughter back tonight. Who knows if I hadn't been there, if she would have.

I read my trafficking books. I watch movies and documentaries on injustice. I talk about Cambodia and spout off the facts. But what do I DO? Until tonight, nothing. It's all going to change. My life is changed. I am here to make a difference in my community, wherever that community is! Today its here. Tomorrow maybe it will be the world.

0 comments:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ordained

0
12:15 AM
I was once heard this statement..."We make plans and God laughs". And I knew it was supposed to mean that we can have all these grand ideas about how our lives our 'supposed' to go, but in reality, only He knows where we are headed. But today I experienced it on a much smaller scale. I thought I knew what today would hold and what I would do, but I had no idea. I worked this morning as planned, but instead of going by the office afterwards, I went home (it closed early). Instead of sewing (which is what I needed to be doing), I watched TV and fell asleep. Instead of waking up in just an hour, I woke up in 4 hours. I moved into a house to housesit, much later than planned and hoped I wouldn't be cleaning dog poop up. Instead of continuing to veg and watch TV, I showered. Instead of waiting until tomorrow to shop for my friend's bachelorette party gift, I went to the mall tonight. I'll pause here to say, I'm not a fan of the mall. I don't really shop for fun. But I knew I had to get this gift, so I made the best of the night. I got it, and decided to keep walking down to the other end, hitting a few stores along the way. When I was about finished, I turned towards Starbucks for an evening recharge and I ran into an old friend. It was God ordained. I had JUST thought of her this week at work because my job was aligning with her new job and I really wanted to talk to her about it. So we talked about that, about dating, about life, about movies and finally, about missions. I shared my heart for girls who have been trafficked and how I felt called to Southeast Asia. And lo and behold, it's her heart too. I had NO idea!! She has been considering Thailand and I have been considering Cambodia. Now that we have made that connection, we are going to DC together for a Day of Advocacy against slavery and trafficking. And we've decided to go to Asia together and get into this ministry together. How crazy and cool is our God???? Just by altering my everyday plans, by causing me to sleep for too long, I was able to have this amazing moment of dream sharing with a sister in Christ. Way cool, God, way cool.

0 comments:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dream Becoming Reality

0
5:34 PM
Finally!!! So I never thought I'd be able to say this...but I'm going to Southeast Asia to help fight human trafficking and forced prostitution! I am! I'm going! This fall, just for a few weeks! It's been about 2 years since I felt God really impress this cause on my heart, and its been about 6 months since I first started actively researching organizations I could volunteer/work for. And only about 3 months since I found the Daughters Project. But it seems like an eternity. And now, I've been approved to come over and we're setting up dates! Wooooo!! A dream is becoming a reality... and I'm terrified.

0 comments:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Still More Eating, Praying and Loving

0
2:41 PM
My thoughts are continuing to evolve from reading this book "Eat. Pray. Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her time in Italy was spent healing from her heartbreaking divorce and the whirlwind affair that followed. She chose to remain abstinent during that 4month journey into Italy. She reflected on her current state of singleness and what that meant to her social status and her self image. And I couldn't help but relate. I'm 25 and single. And I know that 25 isn't even old, but living in a culture that is swept up by couples and marriage and dating and sex, I do feel like a bit of an odd man out. But this was my choice to be single. I ended a relationship with an amazing man recently for many reasons, one simply being I felt less ready for marriage. "It's the emotional recoil that kills you, the shock of stepping off the track of a conventional lifestyle and losing all the embracing comforts that kept so many people on that track forever." For me, the conventional lifestyle isn't an option. I WANT to be single, I WANT to travel to Cambodia, I WANT to see the world and discover a love affair with my Savior instead. "You'll need to find another purpose, another measure by which to judge whether or not you have been a successful human being." I don't believe my life is going to be measured in marriages or children, date nights and soccer games. I hope and pray my life is measured in love, by which I mean the love I give and receive from friends, family and complete strangers. That's really all I can ask for, right? In a world where dating reality shows vary from "The Bachelor" and "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila", is it such a bad idea to crave something different for myself? I hope not.

0 comments:

Monday, June 2, 2008

Still Eating, Praying, and Loving

0
4:11 PM
In continuing my thoughts on my recent read Eat. Love. Pray. by Elizabeth Gilbert....
About halfway through her stories of Italy, Elizabeth makes these statements, "...this world is chaotic,...[don't] get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or function I may once have intended to serve....one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation." This so resonated with me, just a reminder about change. As my life evolves, and I evolve with it, I can't cling to what I thought I knew or who I thought I was. One thing that won't change is my relationship with God, or in essence, who I belong to. I am so grateful to know, and I mean really know, that I held safely in Him. While my life is defined with change and with unknowns, He is known and I belong to Him. Everything else is just part of the journey! And I'm determined to the enjoy the ride.

0 comments:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Eating, Loving, and Praying

0
4:07 PM
My book club started up again (YAY!) and our first selection was Eat. Love. Pray. by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was pretty sure I had heard of it when I was told the title, but had no idea what it was about! I'm always reading something, and at the time I found out about this book, I was reading 3 other books. Not sure how this was going to fit in, but I was looking forward to book club starting again, so I began my hunt for the book. I surprised to find it in the travel writings section of the bookstore. I was already more interested in the book! Then I read the tagline "One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia". Yeah, OK, I was hooked, and I hadn't even opened the book! Being a travel FREAK and having already traveled to India myself, I knew I'd thoroughly enjoy this one. And I can honestly say I did! In a nutshell, Elizabeth Gilbert, a travel in her early thirties, had just suffered a heartbreaking divorce and a torrid love affair, when she decided to take a year to discover pleasure in Italy and learn Italian, to learn the art prayer and mediation in India, and to experience contentment and balance in Indonesia. She was definitely on a spiritual journey, which I can appreciate, because I believe we are all in a constant state of movement towards our Heavenly Father. But early on I realized I wasn't going to line up with her theology. But I was hooked by now and wanted to know what happens!! I was surprised how much of her life outlook truly resonated with me, even not coming from a Christian worldview. "But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help, appealing to a higher authority in order to find your comfort." This IS why I pray and why I seek God's guidance. This crazy, chaotic, cataclysmic world isn't going to provide me contentment and peace. It's impossible! How easy it is to forget this and to search frantically for peace on earth. So thanks, Elizabeth, for that reminder. Now let's hope I can remember it! Stay tuned for more eating, loving, and praying insights....

0 comments:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rejection

0
4:47 PM
So, I have been interviewing teens for about two weeks now that have applied to work for our program over the summer. Over 35 apps....15 spots.....this wasn't going to be easy. Especially not after I started interviewing!! They were all great! I mean WOW, if all teens in America could be this articulate, intelligent and passionate about their beliefs, this would be a different world. Seriously. But unfortunately, I've had to reject some. Alot of them. With my upbeat personality I hate being the bearer of bad news. And that's exactly what I've been the last couple days!! All that to say this sucks. Not my job, just rejecting people. It's just sad. :(

0 comments:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Reading, Reflecting, and Relaxing

0
9:21 PM
Today was Memorial Day, and instead of spending it with friends or family, I opted to spend it with myself. I've had a busy past few weeks and I have a busy summer ahead, and I thought I would enjoy the solitude. And I did! I drove out to beautiful Siesta Key beach in Sarasota,and after some creative problem solving, I parked and was on the beach! What a gorgeous day today...some cloud cover, a nice breeze and lots of warm sunshine. I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat. Pray. Love" mainly because it's my book club's selection for the month. I have really been enjoying it. Probably something to do with my insatiable love of travel, my own spiritual quest, and my outlook on cultural norms...it really lines up with her. I was also able to journal too. It seems like lately all my journaling and prayers and readings have revolved around "What the heck am I doing with my life?" And sometimes I feel that if I keep asking myself that, I'm going to miss my life. Today I prayed for peace for where I'm at. Living here in this town the rest of my life terrifies me. I don't know why, but it does. But I also know that at this point in my life, God has carved out a job and a purpose for me, and it would be wrong to walk away. Whether this changes in six months or a year, I don't know. So that's why I just simply asked for peace. And contentment. Yeah, contentment would be nice too.

0 comments:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why So Sad?

0
9:34 PM
Today I sent my Facebook status to "sad" and I was kinda surprised how many wall posts, messages, IM's, and even a phone call I got because of it. Weird. I mean its actually great that so many people care about my wellbeing. Perhaps its because I'm not sad often, or if I am, I don't show it. I don't know what it is about me that I feel like I always have to have a positive or upbeat outlook. When I actually let on that I'm sad, people get really concerned. Do I not show my feelings enough? Do I let people in enough? I let one person in, real close, but now I don't have him. And it hurts and it makes me sad. But I hear its all a part of life. Ups and downs, highs and lows, gains and losses. Interesting. Doesn't really make me less sad or less hurt. Not sure what's next. But I know deep down God has a plan. And He'll reveal it when He's ready. Waiting....

0 comments:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hunting

1
11:25 PM
I hate not being connected to a church. It's weird, honestly. As much as I've despised church, as much as I've been burned by churches, and even though I've poured and poured myself into church and got nothing back, i still miss it. Maybe its the corporate worship, maybe its the teaching, but I think mainly its the community. I feel that since I haven't regularly attended a church since I've moved home last year, that I've actually lost friends. And I know thats not true, but I miss weekly connecting to people with a similar heartbeat towards God. Tonight I visited a church, and I met some nice people, went out afterwards and was social, but they weren't MY friends. It's just not the same. I don't like church-hopping and I don't like being disconnected. Element will be starting up soon, which is cool, but will it be MY church?? I heard about this other church in town I'm looking forward to visiting, called Watermark. I guess its the artsy, hippie church in town. I guess I'm hesitant in getting involved again because that means I actually live here again. Which, well, isn't the most comforting of thoughts. So I'm hoping this isn't a permanent state of being for me. I am hoping to settle down and plant myself spiritually somewhere. I think.

1 comments:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Things that Make Me Happy...

0
2:23 PM
...a lazy Sunday....
...finding great fabric for $1...
...finishing a book....
...Netflix...
...a made-for-TV movie that is actually good...
...reconnecting with old friends...
...liking my job...
...a new Kurt Halsey print...
...meeting people who see the world like I do...
...having a God-connection with someone...
...love...

0 comments:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sleep

0
4:07 PM
Why is it that we need sleep? Why is it required to refresh and recharge us? Why do some people thrive on 8 hours of it and others feel best with 6? Why is it the single most thing that makes me happy? I look forward to going to bed at night and knowing I don't have to wake up to an alarm in the morning. I so love just sleeping until I feel like getting out of bed. Why is that? And why do I feel like I never have enough? Am I addicted to sleeping?

0 comments:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dreams Reborn

1
5:06 PM
So about a year ago, I was living in Georgia, working for AIM, not really sure where life was going to take me. I hadn't even decided to go to New Zealand yet. But God was working, unbeknown to me. I read a book called "The Natashas" by Victor Malik which profiled the horrors of the sex trade in Eastern Europe. I watched a Lifetime (I know...) movie called "Human Trafficking" which put names, faces, and circumstances to the victims of human trafficking and forced prostitution. Then I read "Terrify No More" by Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission in which Gary and a team from IJM went to Phenom Penh, Cambodia and actually went into brothels and took girls out. These events began to ignite a fire and a passion within. I remember having a dream one night, that I had opened up a home for girls who had been taken out of these trafficked situations, and I was able to teach them new life skills, like English, computers, sewing, business, and more. Things they could do to earn money without selling their bodies. As my eyes are opened to the world, I realized ministries like this exist! My roommate, Amanda, lived in Bangkok, Thailand for 3 months ministering to the girls in bars and offering them a hope of a better life.

So here I am a year later. Back in USA, back in FL, and back in Tampa. My world is small again. And I am unsatisfied. I began thinking about a few months ago, "if I could do anything in the world, what would I do?". And I immediately started thinking of these girls in Southeast Asia. And I knew I couldn't avoid it or run from it any longer. Through a series of God-related incidents, I am feeling called to Cambodia. I have found a ministry, Daughters, that does exactly what I dreamed of doing over a year ago. So, all that to say, things are going to get a little crazy over here. I'm not quite what I'm being called to. But I know its bigger than me and bigger than the life I could have dreamed of.

1 comments:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again...

0
9:38 PM
Ok, so its been awhile since I've blogged....a LONG while. Maybe its just because nothing too exciting has happened!! I don't know. But I apologize for the absence. I'm back.

So things in my world are still spiraling. After working a 7month stint at a local coffee shop, I've moved on to a "real grown-up" job. It sounds ridiculous because I don't feel like a real grown up! Regardless, I have a job, full time with salary! I work for a pregnancy center coordinating a program for teens who choose abstinence. It's kind of exciting actually. I get to plan events, encourage, mentor, lead and inspire these already awesome students. AND get paid! So God is still giving me ministry outside the church walls and I'm loving it.

While church world has been less than perfect, I am anxiously awaiting the start of Element Church this fall. It's being planted by one of my faith heroes, and should be a great journey.

Personal news, the boyfriend got a puppy and I've never loved a bundle of fur more!! Her name is Lucy and she's a 6month old beagle! I'm a proud mommy!!

So that's all for now. Greetings to all...good to connect again!



0 comments: