Friday, April 30, 2010

Infidelity in Cambodia

11:54 AM

As I read blogs and magazines and posts, my heart is super sensitive to articles about Cambodia. Since I will be living there all too soon, I like being aware of what's happening in the country, with its people, and the issues they face. One such issue, like so many other countries in our world, is the AIDS crisis. But it Cambodia, it is directly linked to the sex industry.

In a recent article posted on Reject Apathy, volunteers in a small village discuss one of women's greatest fears: AIDS. “Many women live with the reality that their husband is not faithful and so they are at risk of HIV,” says Joke van Opstal, the founder of World Relief’s Hope ministry, explaining that in Cambodia it is quite normal for married men to visit sex workers. “They live with the sorrow of their husband’s infidelity, but they keep their hurts bottled inside. There’s a lot of ‘saving face’ that goes on.”

The horrors of the sex trade make victims out of so many, the women who are "employed", and the men who visit them, the wives they go home to, and the children they orphan due to AIDS.

It breaks my heart to think of the girls I met in Cambodia last summer that might be living with AIDS. Or the girls I will encounter when I return. How I wish I could make this injustice go away, but since I cannot, I will just love each victim it claims.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Reading Challenge of 2010: April

10:54 PM
Renting Lacy by Linda Smith

I read this book in a matter of hours. Not simply because it was short, but because the story moved me. Renting Lacy is a fictional account of non-fictional events. It’s the story of America’s prostituted children. Linda Smith is the founder of Shared Hope International, an organization committed to rescuing, restoring, and rehabilitating those victimized by human trafficking. She uses fictional girls and situations to tell the story of how America’s own children are being swept up into prostitution. It’s often tough to read. Girls as young as 11 and 12 are being brought to Vegas by the pimp, Bobby Bad. And Lacy is his “bottom bitch”, the girl responsible for scheduling the other girls in his “stable” each night, and training the new girls. Renting Lacy does a fantastic job of breaking down what human trafficking actually is, how it works, and how to recognize it. Each chapter is told from the point of view of different characters…from Lacy to Star, a 12 year old runaway, to a judge who is working to pass laws to protect these girls, to a cop who has a soft spot for the children he sees on the street, to the families of the victims back home praying for their babies to be found, to the “johns”, the men who use these girls for the night, the ones who create the demand. Each chapter includes Linda’s own commentary on the topic, covering topics from how the girls are recruited to why don’t they just leave. It’s a powerful read and a great book to pick up if you or someone you know has little knowledge of this topic.

The Shack by William Paul Young

I’m not one for fads or hype. So when something is crazy popular, I usually don’t jump on the bandwagon. So when The Shack came out a few years ago, and every Christian I knew was reading it, I resisted. In the back of my head I knew that I wanted to read it, because of how many people, Christian and non, shared how it affected them. So I added it to my last to read this year. And I’m really glad I did. It’s a powerful, and apparently true [?], account of one man’s weekend with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Probably my favorite thing about this book was how it broke down the stereotypes of God. The main character, Mack, even admits that he was expecting some old guy with a long white beard resembling Gandolf. But when God appears instead as a large African-American woman, Mack is thrown for a loop. And I just love the idea that God becomes who we need. Sometimes we need a father, sometimes a mother, and sometimes a friend. God is neither male or female and encompasses both. Young’s description of the Holy Spirit, a small Asian woman, was also striking. To me, the whole book read like a lesson in prayer. It revealed a new way to communicate with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Mack tackles some big theological questions with the Trinity during his time at the shack. I can see why this book caused such a controversy. I don’t know whether the author was right or wrong with his claims. But I do know that after reading this book, it made long for a closer relationship with God. Which I think was the whole point of the book.

Altar of Eden by James Rollins

This book wasn’t even my radar until a coworker recommended it. And what a great read it was. Set in the murky bayous of New Orleans, veterinarian Lorna Polk comes across an abandoned boat filled with mysterious creatures. Teaming up with Jack Menard of the US Border Patrol, they discover a corrupt world of genetic mutations, animal trafficking, and extreme biowarfare. It culminates on a primitive island, which was perhaps meant to be a fresh start for humanity, an Eden. A lot of the science in the book was lost on me, but the story was not. Humans using animals as their testing grounds is sadly a commonplace in our world. In the Altar of Eden, these tests and experiments were for a violent purpose. It’s not great literature, but it’s engaging and entertaining. The story moves at a lightning speed and the characters sweep you up. Hard to complain about a read like that.

Socialism is Great! By Lijia Zhang

My book club read of the month was the memoir of a Chinese factory worker in the 1980’s. I had to admit that I knew very little of China’s political climate, socialism and the Tiananmen Square Massacre of ’89. So I was glad this book got chosen, because I love learning new things as I read! Lijia, or Little Zhang, was a young girl with bright dreams. She loved school as a child, and yearned to study at a proper university. But as the Chinese government would have it, her mother forced Little Zhang to take her job at the factory. It appeared to be the only way to ensure Little Zhang’s employment, something a university could not. Feeling clipped at the wings, Lijia learned the ways of a factory worker, checking and repairing pressure gauges. Her factory actually manufactured missiles that were intended to be used against America one day. But the factory couldn’t keep Lijia from dreaming. Her world was bigger than those walls, and she pursued her dreams. I was struck by just how different her world was from mine. She’s probably a decade older than me, living her late teens/twenties through the 80’s, and I couldn’t imagine life as she lived it. From the government propaganda in every aspect of their lives, to the complete control of their appearance, sex lives, and menstrual cycles, it’s a completely world for me. But I did relate to Lijia as she longed for something more than the life in front of her. I love that is a universal longing in us as humans. We strive to make a difference in the world we live in. Whether oppressive or free, communist or capitalist, dreams are more powerful. And we set our minds to accomplishing them, nothing can stand in our way. Lijia’s story was one of empowerment, freedom, love, and regret, all of which are beautifully told.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

This was one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. Recommended on for “People Who Like Books About Books”, I checked it out at the bookstore. Then the cover compares the book to Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking, Monty Python, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I was thoroughly intrigued. Set in England, in an alternate 1985, Special Ops agent, Thursday Next [yep, that’s her name] works in the LiteraTec department, investigating crimes against books. In this world, literature is supreme. Characters rename themselves based on their favorite author [Miltons, Poes, Tennysons, Dickens, oh my!], Baconians [advocates of Sir Francis Bacon] go door to door trying to convince people that Bacon penned the classics William Shakespeare receives credit for, audiences watch live productions of Shakespeare’s Richard III with a Rocky Horror Show cult following [complete with audience participation, props, and inappropriate commentary], literary characters are constantly popping in and out of their reality, and Jane Eyre ends with Jane leaving Rochester and sailing off to India. It’s a unique place to say the least. So when super villain Acheron Hades steals an original manuscript of a Dicken’s novel, he enters the narrative and kills off a minor character, forever altering the published work, SO-27, LiteraTec, is called on the case to avert another literary homicide. Thursday tracks Hades through England, and through Jane Eyre, which alters the end as we know it today. The Eyre Affair ranges from bizarre [time-traveling vortexes, vampire slayers, Will Shakespeare monologue machines] to the corny [government agent Jack Schitt and LiteraTec head honcho Braxton Hicks] to the romantic [after Thursday alters Jane & Rochester’s romance, they repay the favor]. It’s not the best written book, but A+ for creativity. I will definitely be continuing Thursday’s misadventures through literature for some time come.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Morning Morning Loves

11:23 AM

1. Traveling. I'm sure the posts on my blog as well as the pictures kinda gave this one away. I love love love to travel. Whether its a new country, a new state or a new city, I just love it. There's just something exhilarating about discovering something new, something that I've never seen before. Or having a favorite place that I can visit over and over again. I definitely have some travel in my future. With my training for Cambodia, I'll be spending 3 months in Orlando, FL [a new city!] and 3 months overseas [still don't know where yet though]. I'm also planning a road trip to visit some friends and family before heading out! Good times ahead!

2. Relevant Magazine. Magazines are usually something I browse through, but barely buy. But Relevant Magazine is one that I regularly subscribe to. Covering topics like God, progressive culture, and life, it always contains articles that I'm interested in. I usually get hooked by the great cover story, either from a celebrity to a public figure, and then go back and read each article in between. I love their book and album reviews. I'm always looking for a new read or a new band, and I can trust Relevant's recommendations, as their taste is generally right in line with my own! Plus a year subscription is $10. My budget likes that too.

3. Iron & Wine. This incredible band, who is really one guy, is one of my all-time favorites. Sam Beam's smooth voice and the beautiful sound the music makes creates a powerful combination. The "Shepherd's Dog" is my favorite album, with incredible songs like "House By the Sea", "Boy with a Coin, and "Flightless Bird, American Mouth". It's easy to listen to, makes for great background music, driving music, or laying out music.

4. TOMS Shoes. I'm unlike most girls in several ways. One way is that I'm not a shoe shopper. I don't own hundreds of pairs of shoes. But one shoe company almost turns me into one of those. TOMS Shoes not only puts out great quality and super comfy & cute shoes, but the shoes also serve a purpose. With every shoe purchased, another pair is donated to children around the world who don't have any shoes. Going barefoot often prevents kids from going to school, being able to find work, and even being able to stay healthy. TOMS Shoes does regular shoe drops around the world to help change these kids lives. And my shoe purchases help!

5. Hipster Puppies. Oh the novelty website. Hipster Puppies is exactly like it sounds. Puppies who look like hipsters. Seriously, what's funnier. And they are creating a book soon. Now that's even cooler.


Sunday, April 25, 2010


7:06 PM
I just got back from a weekend away with my job. We took 45 high school students out for a spring retreat. It was a long two days, but a fun-filled two days. From ultimate Frisbee, to canoeing, to volleyball, to air hockey, we did it all…with some learning in between. We challenged the students to think about some goals they have for their lives, and taught them how to create a plan to get those goals accomplished. We helped them identify some strengths in their lives, and recognized some roadblocks that could trip them up in reaching those goals. Pretty heavy stuff for high schoolers! Most teenagers aren’t focused on more than this weekend, this test they need to study for, or this school year. But our group of teens are different. These are a group of kids going against the grain, going against culture, and making tough choices sometimes in order to get the best out of life. And I couldn’t be more proud of them! I’m honored to be a part.

So I got home and my laptop was dead, my iPod was dead, my phone was dead, and I was dead. We are all in a state of recharging, but I think I will take the longest.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wide Awake

10:30 PM

Tonight I got to be part of a great event. Some students at Southeastern University organized an event called Wide Awake. Partnering with Stop Child Trafficking Now and Redeem the Shadows, a message of action and encouragement was delivered to the attendees. The speakers did a great job of giving an overview of human trafficking, and bringing awareness to the injustice both locally and internationally. Stop Child Trafficking Now does a lot of work here in Tampa, and had much to offer about the situation currently. Redeem the Shadows is another great organization, focusing their efforts internationally, specifically in India. They are putting together what looks to be a powerful documentary about their trips there. But attendees weren't just given the information and left on their own. Several action booths were set up in the back for people to get involved right then. I was lucky enough to have one of these booths! I had information about my trip, and postcards to share with people. I connected with so many great people, it was all so overwhelming. Tami, from Heaven Rules, also came alongside and sold t-shirts which also help benefit me. It was a great night for connection and networking. It was so exciting to see a room of 150+ just get fired up about this injustice. Seeing other people's passion reignites the passion in me. I met a woman who had another action booth who is also doing mission work in Cambodia, and it's just so refreshing to meet new like-minded people. I just love it. So God is definitely up to something, and is knitting all these pieces together one stitch at a time. I can't wait to look back and see the whole picture of how I made it to Cambodia.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Morning Loves

3:02 AM
Happy Monday everyone! Another installment of just a few of my favorite things...

1. Urban Outfitters. I'm not a real clothes shopper. The mall to me is truly exhausting. But one store that I just can't get enough of is Urban Outfitters. Often it's either out of my price range or because I don't have the figure of a 12 year old boy, I can't pull off all their looks. But I don't let that discourage me. I own several cute dresses from Urban. I especially love their home decor items. From my bedspread, to my chair, to my wall hooks, and probably even more, so many little decorative items I own come from them! And one of these days, I'll get the fashion sense to truly pull off a great outfit.

2. Amazon Kindle. Oh, my Kindle. I didn't realize how much I'd love my Kindle. I feel like a salesperson for Amazon. I'm constantly raving about its benefits. For being such a reader, having the ability to carry hundreds of books with me at all times, is truly amazing. I love the ease of downloading, and being able to jump from book to book. Plus, it has international wireless availability, so I can keep the fun going in Cambodia, and wherever else my travels take me. No more heavy bags of books for me while traveling! Me and my Kindle are soulmates.

3. Cambodia! I first visited this country last year, and I can't wait to get back! I loved too much of this country to list in this little post, but if you read any of my other Cambodia tagged posts, you'll understand why I fell in love. I mean...look at this!

4. Macbook. I was a PC for the first 25 years of my life. Then, I converted. Several people I knew were Mac users, and I needed a laptop for work, so I thought...why not! And I've never looked back. From its streamlined look to its super easy use, what's not to love?! Everything I ever do is on my Macbook. I'd be lost without it.

5. Switchfoot. There are few bands that I can listen to at any time. Switchfoot is one of them. I've seen them live 4 times, and every time they amaze me. I love their sounds, their lyrics, and their energy. Somehow they manage to be a band of Christians, instead of a Christian band. Too often I hear a Switchfoot song that stops me in my tracks. My favorite, Awakening, reminds me to wake up and discover my dreams. This video is one of my all-time favs, starring Buster from Arrested Development and Emma from Glee!

So there you have it! Another installment of my Monday Morning Loves!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

When it Rains, it Pours

12:24 PM
I consider myself positive and upbeat. In any given situation, I try to see the glass as half full. But fundraising has really put my positivity to a test. Logically, its impossible. I’m trying to raise a significant sum of money in a time when the economy is at its worst and people are cutting expenses more than ever. And I’m asking people to give. But spiritually, I know God will provide. I have the faith that this is something he has called me to. He will provide, whether through his children, through his church, or through unbelievers. I don’t know. But I know he will. And this week was a reminder, a boost in faith that I needed.

Last Friday, I attended a Mary Kay/Stella & Dot party at my friend Becca’s. It was a super cute night, and I was able to meet new people, which is always fun! Becca had also asked if I could bring information on my trip to set up to share with everyone. I had some really neat conversations about the ministry I’d be doing there. The girl who was selling the Mary Kay suggested I host a “charity event”, in which a percentage of all sales would go towards my trip. How exciting is that?? One of my best friends, Katie, is a Mary Kay rep and is so excited to help me in this way.

On Monday, I had lunch with God-ordained friend of mine, Tami. The reason I call her “God-ordained” is because it was truly God that brought us together. For about 2 years, she had been dreaming of this ministry she would start one day, called Heaven Rules. Its vision was to support ministry and causes happening around the world, through selling tshirts. As she dreamed and planned and shared with people her passion, four different people told her about me and my trip. So she reached out and said we “needed” to meet. Her passion is contagious and her faith is so strong, and I’m so glad brought us together. So, Heaven Rules has taken on me as a fundraising effort. And Tami is one for networking! Just over 2 days, she set up potentially huge awareness events for us! These events will not only allow people to find out about our ministries, but could also bring in some serious funds! Heck yes.

One interesting result of being invested in this cause for so many years now is that I have somewhat become known as “Human Trafficking Girl”. I get all the Facebook invites on the cause, movie recommendations, and news articles sent my way. Which is really cool, honestly. Because of this association, my cousin, Morgan, who is a freshman in college, texted me on Wednesday and told me about an event her college was doing on sex trafficking. I was immediately interested, because I knew it was a Christian university that would be sensitive to missions. I contacted the people in charge, and got an open invite to their follow up event next Thursday, which is a way to get students involved in fighting modern-day slavery. So me and Tami [with her shirts to sell] will be there!

So that was my week. Just one week. I love that my God anticipates my needs before I even know them. He ordained so many things, and touched the hearts of so many people to make this week happen. And I know he isn’t done yet.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Family Night with My {Soon-to-be] New Family!

10:59 PM
Today I met a new family. I visited the YWAM Orlando base, where I will be attending the Fall 2010 Compassion & Justice Discipleship Training School. I’ve been so anxious to visit, and to see what the program was all about and how I’d be living for 3 months! And I’m so happy that I went, because it just made me more excited.

Anyone that I had ever talked to at YWAM Orlando had been super nice, so I was expecting the same in person. They did not disappoint! I was shown the facility by two staff girls who were just great. One had actually helped lead the last Compassion & Justice DTS and filled me on some the experience. I met plenty of other staff and students, and was quickly overwhelmed by names and faces.

YWAM Orlando not only does DTS’, but secondary trainings, which can be anything from Basic Leadership, to Ministry Development, to Worship. And these schools are basically to intensify your training and calling to full-time missions. So there are a number of students at the base at any given time. Students range from 18 – 30 in the basic DTS, like I’m doing. Most students decide to do a DTS because they really have no career/education path and feel God’s call into ministry. It’s a great refining tool. I’m a bit odd [shocking] in the sense that I actually know where I want to end up, and the DTS is a means to that end. But that being said, I’m stoked for the training that will take place in Orlando.

Each of the 12 weeks of the lecture phase has a different topic and teacher. The best of YWAM missionaries and leadership come from all over to teach classes on spiritual development, breaking down strongholds, spiritual warfare [and so much more!] which are essential in equipping us for the next 12 weeks spent ministering overseas. My DTS outreach still hasn’t been picked, but after hearing the South Africa stories, I’d be completely happy if it was there again!

Day to day base life will be pretty low-key. The word “base” is a little misleading, as I was expecting more of a giant college building. In reality, it’s an office, and then we rent a church for classes and service during the week. Our payment to the church is cleaning and maintenance. Guess I might use my first lawnmower! Our housing is literally in houses. YWAM Orlando owns about 10 – 12 homes in 2 neighborhoods, where staff and students stay for any given time. The home I was able to see was a 3 bedroom, and housed 8 people. So it will be close quarters for sure, but I love the idea of having a “home” to come home to. In addition to daily chores, homework, and class time, the schedule is pretty lax. I know I’ll be making some trips home as well as exploring more of Orlando.

Tuesday nights are the Family Night service, which I attended. This service is open to anyone, and there were quite a few guests visiting with me. I felt welcomed by everyone I met. I have 5 months before my training begins and I want it go both fast and slow. I’m anxious to begin, but there’s still so much to do before going!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Morning Loves

3:10 AM

There's a blog that I religiously follow by Promise Tangeman, who is an incredible artist, designer, photographer, and creative. One of my favorite posts she regularly puts on her blog is her Five Things I Love, and it's basically a post about 5 things she loves! So clever. I decided to "borrow" the idea and start posting my Monday Morning Loves each Monday morning. Mondays can be rough, so I like to start the day thinking about some of my favorite things. I'm going to keep it light and fluffy, so obviously some big things I love won't be here [God, family, friends]. These are just a few glimpses into my soul. So here's my first!

1. Kurt Halsey. He is my all time favorite artist. I even have a tattoo of his work on my foot. His designs are whimsical, clever, heartwarming, and often sad. Just like life. Art is such a big part of my life, and I feel like Kurt Halsey draws life as I see it. Sometimes dark and dreary, blurry around the edges, and sometimes bubbly and colorful. So take a peek and enjoy some of his work!

2. My iPod Touch. Oh, where was I before this purchase?? It not only holds my 32GB music collection, but also my favorite photos, video clips I enjoy, my day to day calendar, and hours of countless entertainment [Words With Friends!]. Maybe I am slightly addicted to my iPod touch, I don't know. But seriously, I love that little guy.

3. GLEE. One look at my iPod playlists, or cell phone background, or key chain, or DVD collection will clue you into this one. I love the TV show GLEE! It combines snarky dialogue, over the top musical numbers, and high school drama. How can anyone NOT like this show! It's become such a phenomenon, and I'm just along for the ride. It's only aired 12 episodes, and already all of America is in love. This week marks the return of the first season, and I can not wait. And maybe I'm crushing a little on the cutest glee club teacher around, Mr. Schue [Matthew Morrison], but can you blame me!?

4. Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade. This delish drink is my standard summer beverage. It's cool and sweet and all around refreshing. Made with Tazo's Passion Tea, the blend of lemon makes it a summer must. Plus, with my own reusable Starbucks cup, I save on each fill-up! Yes please!

5. Mumford & Sons. This band rocks my world. I actually wrote an entire post about them a few months ago. M&S is a British bluegrass band with powerful lyrics and compelling music. It's a CD that I can listen straight through and never skip a track. Typically my band crushes wear out quickly, but since I discovered this gem back in February, I can't get enough. Check them out, I promise, you won't regret it!

So there you have it! Five things I love this Monday morning. Stay tuned every Monday for a little more insight into what makes my crazy heart beat.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Movies and My Life

11:23 PM

I’m such a movie freak. Movies are seriously one of my favorite things. And as a result, I get real excited when I can go somewhere a movie was filmed! I did this in New York, in L.A., and even in Savannah, GA. I don’t even really know why it’s so exciting. But for some reason it is!

Hello Rodeo Drive!

Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, CA, seen in Some Like it Hot

Yummy Serendipity Cafe, as seen in the movie Serendipity

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, NYC, seen in One Fine Day [and more!]

Trinity Church, NYC, seen in National Treasure

Mercer-Williams home, featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil

Washington Monument, Forrest Gump & Wedding Crashers

Recently, I had the reverse experience. I watched a movie that was filmed somewhere I had already been, and a part of me was left there. I watched the movie “Holly”, set in Cambodia. With each scene, I was reminded of my time there. It’s the story of a young girl, Holly, and her life as a young sex slave in Svay Pak. The movie begins right in the midst of her turmoil, as she tries to escape her captors. When she does not, it seems that life is about to get much worse for Holly. But she befriends an American traveler, Patrick [played by Office Space’s Ron Livingston], who’s interest in Holly is far from sexual, but more paternal. He sees past her pretty face, and into her deep hurting eyes, and he longs to take Holly from that place. But Patrick is a troubled soul himself, who’s life in Southeast Asia appears to be something less than legit. His partner in crime is played by the late Chris Penn, brother to Sean Penn. When Patrick finally realizes how he wants to save Holly, it seems to be too late, as she’s been sold to another brothel and on her way to Siem Reap. Patrick attempts to track her down. But Holly has taken things into her own hands and gets herself far from the traffickers and onto a boat to Battambang, where she can only hope to be safe. Or is she?

Needless to say, I loved this film solely because it was set in Cambodia! I was flooded with memories from my time there. The red plastic chairs…the Ramen noodle like breakfast…the 2 liters full of gasoline…the poverty and hardship that breaks your heart…glimpses of joy that cause your spirit to soar. The film itself showed several sides of the issue as well, from the traffickers, to the johns, to the victims, to law enforcement, and to the aid workers. I really struggled to like the character of Patrick. He seemed to be full of good intentions, but his own confusion causes some confusion within the viewer as well. Is rescuing Holly a selfish attempt at atonement for past sins? Or is there more to their relationship that meets the eye? I was glad that “Holly” did not go the route of excessive and needless violence, but I also felt the travesty of this injustice was downplayed. The only true moment of horror was when Patrick was led into a brothel, and was subsequently propositioned by 5 and 6-year-old girls. I cheered quietly for the character of Marie, a French relief worker, tirelessly fighting against the scum that invades the country and restoring the victims it claims. I saw some of myself in that moment. However flawed, I’m thankful for the conversation that it starts and the awareness that it raises for the country I’ve grown to love.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Resurrection Day!

11:57 PM
Happy Easter to all! What a beautiful day it is to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior! Through Him all salvation and eternal life is granted. I absolutely love this holiday. I could think of no better reason to celebrate! It's the day when we became free from sin to enter into relationship with God, forever. I don't think it's any coincidence that I was reading The Shack this weekend either. It's a book that I've been off for some time now, but finally picked it up Friday night, and finished it Saturday, because it moved me so. I'll have my full review of the book later this month, but it definitely left an impression on my soul on how I view my relationship with God. Last night, my Watermark Church community celebrated with a Passover Seder. We experienced together the ritual of the Last Supper and the significance it held to Jesus' death & resurrection. This morning, we rejoiced in remembrance of His ultimate sacrifice. Our incredible pastor, Tommy Phillips, shared not only a powerful sermon, but also a beautifully poetic song expressing the emotion of this holiday. Listen to some of his incredible music here! As with each Sunday, we closed the service with communion, and His sacrifice felt all the more real. I will be spending the rest of Easter Sunday with my wonderful family, complete with yummy food and good fellowship. Enjoy this clip from Rob Bell to get into the Easter spirit!

Resurrection: Rob Bell from The Work of Rob Bell on Vimeo.

"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
I Corinthians 15:54-58


Friday, April 2, 2010

Putting the GOOD in Good Friday

3:21 AM
Today is Good Friday. For most people around me it’s just another day to skip school or work, go to the beach, or sleep in. I got to do none of those things today. But for me, it’s still a Good Friday.

As a Christian, today is the day that I celebrate my Jesus' death on the cross. Today is the day when I remember my own sin and humanity would never be “good enough”, and I am in need of a Savior. Today is the day that I reflect on how the only perfect person to walk this earth took my sin with him. Today is the day that I celebrate for thousands of prophecies were fulfilled. Today is good because a way was made to salvation. And that is worth celebrating…

But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. 

Through his bruises we get healed.

We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. 

We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.
He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word.

Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered 

and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence.

Justice miscarried, and he was led off— 

and did anyone really know what was happening?

He died without a thought for his own welfare, 

beaten bloody for the sins of my people.

They buried him with the wicked, 

threw him in a grave with a rich man,

Even though he'd never hurt a soul 

or said one word that wasn't true.
~Isaiah 53: 5 - 9 [MSG]