I wanted to share this picture. This is most of the group we had for NBC last week. The little girl in front being hugged by the boy in the white shirt is the oldest of three sisters. We didn't have the two younger sisters with us on Friday and a couple of our teen helpers had left us but this is most of the group. What a great group of kids! I can't tell you how blessed I was to be around them for a week.


Slavery Article

So many people have a difficult time believing that human trafficking and slavery actually happen in the United States.

Here is a link to an article that reminds us otherwise. Oh...and this is another one of those warning label-type posts. If you are a niece or nephew of mine, please have your parent read the article before you do. I do check up on you. And yes - it is most definitely because I love you!!!


This second link is in regard to the problem of children being forced into prostitution. In Seattle. It was on the front page of today's Post-Intelligencer.



a little girl

There is a young girl who is hanging out with us as we do NBC. She's not actually "attending" but she is. She comes when something interests her (she loves snacks, crafts and games...) but she hasn't been all that keen on worship or Bible sharing time. Today, though, she joined us for both - worship was right at the end and that was to bring one of the smaller children in and Bible time... well... Bible time. I watched her sit there on the couch looking bored and as if she wished she were a million miles away. "Anywhere but the living room right now..." All of the kids get a bit antsy. After all, it's sunny outside. They have just come in from games, had a short snack and they want to get back to the business of playing. But her face is different than their faces, set different - she not only isn't interested in what's being said, she thinks its presentation a bit, well, stupid (childish would probably work, too).

Elizabeth and I talked about it a bit today on the way home and I have to interject something here - Elizabeth is the Executive Director of Proverbs 31:20, she has been working with these women and their children for almost 10 years now. She was one of these children. She understands them in a way I can know of but can't know completely. There is ugliness in my childhood but I never wondered where I would sleep at night or who would be sleeping in my house or where my food would come from or any one of a thousand other fears. She is a beautiful, God-loving, God-serving woman who is wise with His wisdom and thoughtful in ways I only dream of being.

What Elizabeth feels is her grown-up-ness. In all that this little girl (who is 10, by the way and like a lot of 10 year olds loves horses and those shoes that have the wheels on the bottom...) has seen or experienced, she has had to grow up in ways I can't begin to imagine. It is fragmented, I've noticed - she is an awesome caretaker of the smaller ones, they look to her for things but she can set them aside and race against the boys like any other ten year old (the girls won today, by the way :) ) but if you try to talk to her as if she is a child, there is something in her that shuts down. Something that says "I don't have time for "fun" or "silly" or "goofy." Don't talk down to me, I am not a child." Life is too rough for that stuff and she hasn't been given a choice. Elizabeth made this point - it was her parents' job to protect her innocence and they failed. Whether is was by choice or circumstance, they failed. Whatever addiction held them, she has paid for it with a childhood interrupted.

It would be nice to say she's in a place of hope and that's true but as I type it and re-read it, it sounds so trite and so cliche. We pray over these women and their children - we pray that, since we know God can penetrate all the darkness they've seen, that they see Him and reach for Him. Today I pray that God shows us how we can reach through all of her darkness and show Him to a little ten year old girl who has, quite frankly, stolen hearts (at least mine). She doesn't much care to listen quite yet, it seems and that is breaking hearts. She isn't alone but I imagine there is a huge part of her that feels terribly alone. I pray God shows her that is never true and that she chooses to listen to Him.

Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
~Psalm 27:10



This morning started our church's annual NBC (VBS as most folks know it). We call it Neighborhood Bible Club instead of Vacation Bible School and it works a little differently. Instead of inviting kids in the area to come into our church, we take our Bible Club into the neighborhoods. Families who attend and/or are members of our church open their homes as "host homes" and can have upwards of 30 kids in their home for five mornings each year. Aaron and I had hoped to open our home but with a failed septic system, that didn't work out so well.

Honestly? I think it's turning out for the best, anyhow. Instead of having all of these children in my home (and all of the fun that can come with that!), I'm volunteering at the Everett Gospel Mission. We take NBC to the children who call the shelter their home and what fun today was. There weren't a lot of chilren - there just aren't a lot in the shelter right now (who can possibly complain about that?) - so we actually had more helpers than kids but we had a good time nonetheless. I am in charge of games and I got such a kick out of the energy those kids have that I stood there watching them and realized I'd better pray that I can keep up for a full week!!

More later...


Fathers' Day

A Father's Day to remember, I'm sure. Aaron was able to stroll around Safeco Field with Christopher yesterday. The Mariners' had their annual "Youth Appreciation Day" and I think almost every little leaguer in Western Washington walked in the "parade" they had yesterday. It was fun, though and I think Father's Day is the perfect day for that. So many proud Dad's certain their son is the next Griffey or Johnson or Martinez or Cora or... and the names could go on forever. It was a gorgeous day and the boys had a great time.

Christopher enjoyed learning a little bit more about baseball, enjoying his first Dipin Dots and just hanging out with his Dad (and the rest of us). Except for the fact the Mariners' lost, it was a perfect day. Baseball, I believe, will be an integral part of our family for a while. Child number one was a basketball hound (and an awesome player, I might add!) and now baseball.

My husband, by the way, is about the most wonderful man I have ever known. I find a new reason every day to love him more. He is an awesome father and I am also so grateful for how much he has tried with Chris. He doesn't pretend to try to fill the "father" role for Chris and they have definitely had their rough times but Aaron has always been respectful and decent to Chris and I think they have developed a pretty good relationship. He makes me laugh to the point of pain but can annoy me the same. The thing is, even when I'm annoyed, I still really like my husband and I have such tremendous respect for the godly man he is. He's a good man and that he loves me back is a bonus. The 18th marks our 3rd wedding anniversary and 4 years of knowing one another. And I still like him!!! We both like to joke that we're stuck with each other and feel sorry for the other one but I honestly believe he got the short end of the stick on this deal. A man who deserved a day of pride yesterday, a day to know how much he is loved and enjoyed. I'm glad we were able to spend it as we did.

I learned a new term today and I have decided it suits my husband and how much I love him. Vous et Nul Autre. It means you and no other. So...for the man who is my "you and no other," I love you and Happy Father's Day!


Weekend Survived!

Most of you know, some of you don't, I've been living with one nightmare of a cold for the last two weeks. It's strength-sapping, misery-making, head-filling, chest-coughing (and rib cracking, it feels like!), sleep-depriving ick makes me want to avoid participating in life as much as possible. I'm angry, too - I want it to go away and leave me alone and I want it to leave my house and not bother anyone else in it.

It has truly been the kind of cold that makes me look back on the last two weeks and wonder how I've managed to do half let alone all of what I've done, this past weekend being the biggest. You know how excited/nervous I was for Sunday morning - it was my first devotional at the Everett Gospel Mission's Womens shelter and let me tell you - it was the most amazing half hour I've spent in a very long time. I look at these women, so many (after all, it's humanity) having been hurt so overwhelmingly by one thing or another, sometimes just by themselves and still they exude this air of incredible beauty. Whether it be just in their ability to put one foot in front of another, survive another day, or in their catching you up in your own mess (You know, you really should stop putting yourself down...) and not allowing you to pity yourself. After all, what do I really have to put myself down about? However, she caught me doing it, called me on it and loved me anyway. One of the first to ask if I was coming back to them again. I'm going back this Sunday and then for two Sundays each month and I can't wait. I want to spend more than a half hour with them. I want to dig with these women, learn about myself and them and most of all learn about God with them. Yes, I know - it was a good Sunday and they won't all be that way. Sooner or later I'm going to have someone in that room who will gut-punch me and it won't feel quite so lovely. At the same time, I know God is preparing me for that and will love us anyway. He'll take that moment and make it beautiful, too. That's what God does. "You intended it for bad but God intended it for good..." If Joseph could see it, I pray I do, too.

I had to head down to Vancouver, WA on Sunday for work. I went into a part of Vancouver I've never been in before which in and of itself was nice. Vancouver is a pretty city in many places - not so pretty in others. So, basically, it's a city. I stayed in a lovely hotel and stayed just one block west of an assisted living facility for those who are mentally impaired. Talk about stark contrast. To me it spoke volumes of how so many of our poor or mentally ill are treated. They're right there - right next to us - and often we walk by as if they don't exist. Most of the time, we pretend we don't hear them as they try to speak to us, we pretend we don't see their jars or hats or whatever else they have out asking for our change, we pretend they aren't really there. I'm trying to change that in myself because I am the biggest offender I know. I keep my head up (and therefore my nose up in the air), or turned in the opposite direction because then I wouldn't have to "deal" with whomever was sitting on the ground near me. It is hard to change that response - it's almost as if I have conditioned myself to do that, no matter my intentions. Over and over, though, I am reminded that we're all just getting through one day at a time, we all have hopes, dreams and loves. We're all the same - some of us just have more stuff than others.

My cold is dragging me down so I think I'm going to cut this blog off, kind of in the middle. There was more to my weekend but it'll have to wait until I'm feeling better. One thing is for sure - either I'm getting old or this one is different from any other cold I have ever experienced. I will pray you stay healthy, though!!


Modern Day Slavery

This is an issue so deeply ingrained on my heart, I think about it constantly. Lately, I wake up in the middle of the night trying to process a dream I just had (and most people who know me know I don't remember my dreams) and then try to get back to sleep as my mind tells me "somewhere... right now..." and I weep at how ineffectual I feel. I want those who hurt these women, children - boys & girls and even men (usually labor slaves) to be stopped, to be shamed, to be thwarted in every possible way. Some of what I read about this issue just boggles my mind. People are cruel to other people - that's been going on since the fall (think Cain & Abel) but what boggles my mind is HOW people are cruel to one another. It's as if they can't stop coming up with new ways to torture others, to take advantage of those who are weak or just weaker than they are. And children...how do you hurt children and sleep at night? Yes - I know - money (that was a rhetorical question). Grrrr!!! I can physically feel my frustration.

With that...what do I do? I continue to read and educate myself, no matter how many tears it causes me to shed, no matter how hard it is to take in because these trafficked victims are people. They have hopes, dreams, they love, they smile...and that shouldn't be taken from them. If it is, we should do everything we can to give it back. I know the only One who can make them whole again but we are His hands and His feet on this earth and it is our job to love them, protect them, help them whenever and wherever we can.

I pray. That may sound like a cop out (after all - how often do we say "I'll pray for you" and then not?) but I do. I pray constantly and I know God is preparing the way for what He wants me to do. Then I pray more because no matter what I do, it is Him who will be glorified and I have to remember I don't do this to further me at all. That creeps in there on occasion and I have to search my heart again, make sure no impure motive has crept into my heart.

Before continuing: if you are my niece or nephew - ASK YOUR MOTHER BEFORE CLICKING ON THE LINK!!!!!!! I love you more than words and don't want you to look at this stuff or read this stuff alone, ok? You need (and yes, Jonathon - this means you!) an adult to talk to about this. Not an impersonal blog. Trust me on this and respect me enough to listen to me, 'k?


This link takes you to a blog - it's full of information, links to articles, videos, etc. If you want to learn more about this issue, please - feel free to check it out. I feel very restless today. It's the kind of day that makes me want to do something reckless (like quit my job and volunteer myself full time on this) but I won't... I'll pray. And read. And prepare myself for this next week. It's a big one. Sunday is my first devotions at the shelter and then Sunday afternoon I head to Vancouver. I have to work down there on Monday but Tuesday morning I'm going to meet with someone from Shared Hope, tour their offices and get more ideas of what to do next.

I'll keep you posted here. I met with some folks from other area churches this past Monday and we're talking about forming a coalition. We'll work together, fight this horror together. We have a few ideas of what we'll do, directions we'll take, etc. Keep tuned!


Balance Somewhere

I've been reading a blog recently. It's a beautiful blog because it is full of hope. There is, however, immense sadness in this blog as well. The woman who writes it and her family recently lost their daughter/sister who lived just over 2 hours after birth. This same woman is friends with a woman who, along with her family, lost her son/brother about 1 1/2 hours after his birth and then on May 27th, this woman's sister-in-law and her family lost their 2 month old son/brother to SIDS.

The thing is - you can't help but cry when you read this woman's words. I don't cry much but this is tears pouring down my face crying. You wish you had arms big enough and strong enough to hug them all until their pain just went away - or you absorbed it - because it doesn't seem right that one family should have to deal with so much in such a short period of time. On top of that, you sit there amazed because it could just as easily be your daughter, son, nephew, niece, brother, sister and it could be your pain and you wonder if you would be as hopeful, grateful and comforted as this family is.

Their faith in the One who created this world is astounding. They know that He allowed all of this to happen and they don't begin to try to answer the biggest question of "Why?" Of course, the constant question of "Why does God allow these things when He could just stop them?" always comes up but they know there are reasons beyond their knowing, plans beyond their thinking and love beyond their feeling that has all of it balanced and under control. They don't have to know all of the answers, even though they would, of course, like to - they just have to have faith. And they do. They still cry out to God, they are still angry, hurt, anguished beyond comprehension but the comfort from their faith encompasses them in the way that people only wish we could - the hug that relieves the pain just a bit, gives them hope enough to put one foot in front of the other for one more day comes from El Shaddai, Mighty God.

In the midst of it all, they lean on Him - over and over they turn to His Word, His love... Him. They know they can't do it, they know that if they allowed themselves to turn from Him, they would be swallowed up in a blackness so deep they may never see light again.

There isn't too much to add to this. I wonder if I would be as gracious to God if it were my children. I think so and I hope so. My life is what it is because I have put my faith in God, turned my life over to Him. It's not perfect, that's for sure (I still have plenty of mean, petty thoughts and say & do mean & petty things) but I was such a miserable, lost, mean person before I realized there is One who loves me perfectly and started living for Him instead of for me. He isn't surprised by the depth of this sadness at the loss of these children. He gave His own for all of us and He did it so we could be right with Him. And He allows us to come into His presence even though we had so much to do with His Son's death... That never ceases to amaze me, either - the depth of His forgiveness and love.