Wednesday, January 25, 2017

the light.

"We all have an inner light waiting to guide us home.  But sometimes the Universe turns off all the lights, so we have no choice but to find our own.  For as long as I can remember, I had this inner knowing that i was here for a reason.  I knew I had this inner purpose, a calling, but the whole thing stressed me out.....I tried traveling to the ends of the planet, in search for something that i couldn't quite put my finger on...I was pushing, striving, and controlling, instead of listening, trusting, and allowing.  It took my whole life to come tumbling down for me to realize that everything I was searching for was inside me all along.  MY SOUL WAS ALWAYS CALLING. I WAS JUST FACING THE WRONG WAY." - Light is the New Black, Rebecca Campbell

Raise your hand if you've ever felt this...even for a millisecond.  Often times anxiety could be a clue that something inside is a little unsettled.  Like we're being left out of a very important conversation our soul is having with ourselves.  Many times I've just felt lost or confused thinking to myself, "what is going on, who am i... someone please heeeeeeelp meeeeee." 

Somewhere in the Spring of 2012 I had what I would like to call an "Awakening".  Growing up in a very religious town... I knew the bible front to back.  I did all the "right" things so as not to "ruffle God's feathers" or give Him any excuse to torture me for eternity with fire and brimstone (whatever that is anyway).  I guess I felt like it was better to be safe than sorry... and that if my religion was the right one out of all the others, i need to really make sure I'm gonna get in to those pearly gates when I kick the bucket.  

What I didn't realize until a few short years ago... was that all of this was just a performance for love and acceptance. Deep down somewhere inside I thought God would only love me IF I did a, b, c- z.  I kept this up for quite awhile... well into my 30's.  I was spent, anxious, full of fear, worry, doubt, guilt, shame.... you name it.  On top of that I was actually a really good person, and I still felt all of those things.  Talk about low vibrational thoughts about myself :( I was literally at the very end of my rope.

In 2010 the lights went out.  All of them.  Not even a little nighty light was left on for me.  I crashed hard... like REAL hard.  As I was traveling the globe for the 3rd time my angel came in the disguise of a tiny Thai mosquito carrying the deadly disease Dengue Fever.  By the time I got to Cambodia not even 24 hours after I'd been bit by the little asshole I pretty much thought I was going to die... until later when I did some research and REALLY thought "ok now I'm gonna die."  Until a month later when my physical, mental, spiritual and emotional SELF shut down and I was a skeleton and severely depressed.... that's when i really really really thought my life was over.  I remember the only word that could explain that time for me was DARK.  

Who the hell flipped the switch on me?  Why?  What tha.....?  I was days... maybe minutes away from my family checking me in to some sort of mental hospital when I made a decision.  It was either die... or find a new way to live.

So, well... I'm here so you can easily guess which route i took ;)  Almost simultaneously to making that decision is when a tiny light began to surface inside of me.  Almost like a little firefly.  It was the most honest true pure light I'd ever noticed.  It was vulnerable, humble, beautiful, courageous and strong.  Doors began to open... I began to make decisions now for my WHOLE self.  Mind, Body, Soul, Spirit.  Once i realized they were all connected to one another.... and that the whole journey begins INSIDE, life made a heck of a lot more sense (in a non-sensicle sort of way). Ahhhh... the Awakening begins.

With each yoga class, meditation moment, eye-opening book, and encouraging conversation I began to see my TRUE self emerge.  The light felt so different this time....effortless if you will.  There was no need to perform anymore because i now knew... in my heart of hearts.... that the love and acceptance I had always strived for was there all along!  Right there inside of me! What a relief and burden lifted! Wow.  I could almost hear God saying, "Well it's about time... I've been waiting to just kick it." Haha.  But for real... what an awesome thing to experience... complete and utterly UNCONDITIONAL acceptance and love... no strings attached!

This changed me forever.  The love deepens, the light grows...

I believe this love was deposited in us in the creation of our souls, before we even had a body.  It's hard to fathom but i truly believe this love is pulsing through the universe constantly... always there- in and through us.  It's a matter of waking up to this revelation that begins to trickle to the broken, abused, rejected places to heal.  Whatever the journey looks like for you... you too have this LIGHT.  No matter what you've done it's there, it's waiting for you.  Acknowledging it's existence in you opens the door to a completely new amazing adventure awaiting... LIFE, LIGHT, LOVE... go get it, it's yours!




Friday, January 13, 2017

rooted.




Did you know the stronger the root system of the plant, the healthier the plant and it's produce? Most of us go through the day never thinking about our own root system or how to manage it, we just keep moving. It wasn't until I looked death in the face that I began to examine my own roots and my dire need for them. Just like roots are the lifeline of a plant... so are they to us. 
"Being grounded means that you are centered and balanced with who you are on a soul level.  It means you're wholly connected to truest, most authentic self. When you're grounded you made decisions that honor and respect your soul's needs, while respecting and honoring the rights of another." -Amanda Meder 
Finding your TRUTH is usually the first step to feel rooted as you connect to the source and find your unending value and worth from the Creator of your soul. In addition there are GREAT ways to "get grounded" and feel our roots come alive! Here are some: 

1.Meditate (specifically outside) 2.Snuggle up to nature (like a tree) 3.Take a hike (or walk anywhere) 4.Get up close and personal with water (any form, but the sound it makes is also healing) 5.Deep breaths of fresh air 6.Eat more Veggies (roots) 7.Animal cuddles 8.Yoga (or some type of exercise movement) 9.Read a book outdoors 10.Disconnect (turn off the phone) 11.Therapy (Love you! Pamper with massage, hot bath, etc) 12.Create 13.Write 14.Eye contact (deep conversation) 15.Just sit and be in nature 16.Cry 17.Work with your hands 18.Watch the clouds 19.Stand and imagine roots growing out your feet into the core of the earth. 20.Whatever you do be kind to yourself.

(Note: Sometimes I'll go to a park or some place with a view of mountains or water close my eyes and smell the smells, hear the sounds, feel the ground.... be in touch with nature, finding stillness.... peace within.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

passion.




"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."- Howard Thurman

Passion: an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. Do you have something in your life that you love, desire, and get excited about?? I'm betting there is at least one thing you can think of. If not, there's no time like the present to find out! A good way to start is by looking at what you spend most of your time talking about... and what do you do in your spare time? If you find yourself mostly consumed with work, school, eating and television then I challenge you to look beyond those things for a moment. What is something you used to get excited about before you got too busy??

A good friend of mine, who travels the world and speaks on destiny and purpose, usually starts off his conversations with the question, “ If you had a million dollars what would you do?” As soon as he says it, the crowd begins dreaming. You can almost see their eyes light up with excitement envisioning all the possibilities. Once the answers begin to surface, everyone starts to recognize their true passions. Unfortunately, most of us wait until we have time, money or resources to do the things we truly love and sadly that time for many of us never comes. This is why we take the moment before us to seek the very things that make us come alive and begin to pursue them no matter what.

If you are even reading this I'd say you are at least passionate about travel, culture, people, and serving. That's a great start! What else? Do you love photography, teaching, dance, kids, sports, art, singing, exercise?? Don't stop there! There are millions of things we could be passionate about. It's amazing to then find ways in which we can help the world with them!!! But first, go ahead and make a list. Write down all of the things you would love to do, or try, if money were no object and time didn't exist. Now, put a star next to the ones you are actually gifted in or have had some training in. Here's the fun part: start brainstorming!!! Last but not least... find ways to put it into action. I'm almost positive you'll discover a cool way to use that passion to serve other people all over the world!

I remember making a list like this about 10 years ago. I started writing down all of the things that I loved to do, or that really intrigued me. At the time I was just getting into photography and writing, but already knew I loved to travel, help people, and hang out with kids. I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to one day be able to do all of those things, unsure if my dream would ever be a reality. Now, I look at my life and almost loose my breath in amazement. I now serve with an organization where I get to travel the whole world, help all kinds of people, hang out with plenty of children, and document these unbelievable cultures and people with my photojournalism skills. Now, I truly am living my dream... but it all started with a passion to live life to the fullest, to love unconditionally, and to serve selflessly with the gifts God has given me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Discovering Your Global Cause



Although I've had the privilege of circling the globe 3 times and making several short-term trips across the sea... it still took me many years to find my purpose in it all. Perhaps my story might help you on your journey as you begin to peal back the layers of this world to see its deepest needs revealed and search for your own personal way to be a part of the solution. A humbling start would be to recognize that a) you do not have all the answers b) you cannot save the world and c) to take it one day at a time/ one person at a time. Let me explain: I initially took it into my own hands to make the world a better place because I assumed no one else was willing. What I thought was heroic was actually quite arrogant. Don't get me wrong, it's ok to be compassionate and willing.... but I tragically began to think that I was the answer to their problems therefore deserving much credit and praise for rescuing the world from issues that have been around since the beginning of time. So, instead of "saving mankind" I was only hurting it by feeding my ego and taking up more space with my head. Not until recently did I realize these hidden motives.

Towards the end of last year I vividly remember speaking with one of my mentors as I expressed such sadness for all of the pain in the world and how I just wanted to fix it all. Through the tears and snotty mess they gently pointed out that perhaps I was carrying the burden of the world on my shoulders. After wrestling with this thought for many days, I began to see the truth in it all. And at first, it was not pretty. I had assumed from the very beginning of my "missions" that it was MY responsibility or "global cause" to save the world from it's problems. With that, and the many I saw with problems I couldn’t fix... I began to carry a huge burden of sadness, guilt, disappointment, and anger. Now that was a definite wake-up call!

Finally, I truly understood what it meant to have a “Global Cause”! It was never really about me, and once I began to see that… I was able to rest in my talents, capabilities and the timing of it all. I finally saw that it really was about one person at a time, no matter where I was in the world! My purpose in it all was to be a transporter. I was a vessel of love, hope, kindness, joy, peace, faith, etc. I was meant to be there in the moment with people... to give them a true hope for a better tomorrow, laugh with them, cry with them, share what I had to give, and to give them something to believe it. So now, instead of feeling the pressure and weight of the world on my shoulders I focus on the one standing right in front of me and ask myself... "How can I love/serve this person best right here, right now?"

One of the most vivid memories was when my YWAM (Youth With A Mission) team traveled to northern India in 2009. We found ourselves in a little village in the boonies looking very different from those who occupied the land. One woman I met must've been approaching 100, or at least her skin said so. This woman was so gentle, beautiful and delicate. Although she had been blind most of her life, we formed an unlikely bond. I clearly remember spending many hours praying for her sight to return. I held her hand tightly through the church services and meals. Even though her sight didn't improve too significantly, I had a complete peace that she knew in those moments that she was loved like she had never been loved before. So even though God did not heal her eyes, I knew He was healing her heart. One night as she was squeezing my hand in the back of the tiny church, I knew there was no where else on earth I was meant to be than right there right then with this beautifully aged soul.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

gripping love


One particular morning last week was spent fighting anger and frustration… hoping that joy would prevail. After a few things caught me off guard and I was a bit edgy, I had a meeting with a flood of details and responsibilities. Jeremy, being the great leader that he is, knew I needed to process and simply let things out. Almost simultaneously to his suggestion to walk, were the tears that began to roll down my face. When we got to the end of the church lot, I almost fell on the grass from emotional exhaustion. This is when things began to surface. I first realized that I have not really gotten away lately… in nature… with God. Things have been building up the last few months I guess and I haven’t had much of a release. So as I began to let out some of these possible reasons for being overwhelmed, it came to my mind that it might not be these at all. You see, it was just all of the details and such that were causing me to be frightened in some way… but it was by those very things that God was drawing me near to him. He allowed that moment to be a breaking point and allowed these things be a tool so that I would fully be able to recognize the end of myself and see His amazing unreal pursuit of me.
As we walked and a truly compelling story of God’s love was shared, I started to see little signs of “wooing” from the Lord. Throughout his story I would see a flower here a something there and God would say, “I grew that for you today.” Then I thought about the spectacular double rainbow that He had given me that very morning. Then I recalled the speaker talking about his wife’s name (Rebecca) meaning captivating and faithful… that’s my middle name. And then I realized that I was captivating to this unbelievably great God. And that even though he would whisper to me to get up and spend time with him and I would respond by just standing there… He continued to run after me in heavy pursuit with all of these beautiful things. My heart began to break as my eyes became truly open to his glory and my heart became full.
On our walk back I had to fall down in the grass again. I could hardly handle this love that I was experiencing. All I wanted to do was lay in a field somewhere and bask in His love and glory. To feel the warmth of the sun and just soak all of this in. Then it really hit me! I was troubled with all of the “details” and “responsibilities” because my heart was not here. He was holding it. Somewhere in all of this processing and realization of His unfathomable love for me, I had completely fallen head over heals for my lover in heaven. I felt as though I finally understood what it was like to be here on earth, but not be here. I began to feel this tension in my heart between just being with my lover and being here on earth living out the purpose he’s called me to live. As Jeremy was praying for me He saw Adam walking in the garden and said that all he had to do was walk around in the garden with the Lord and hang out in communion with God. THAT’S CRAZY AWESOME. I mean, I knew this… but to see how God is wanting me to know this garden experience on earth is so cool. This is my desire… to be in this constant garden with him in the kingdom of heaven in the world. My ultimate heart’s desire of course is just to be with Him in the garden. But knowing I need to be here now… this will do, and it will be spectacular. After the conversation and prayer and revelation I just wanted to run away and be with Him. My heart is so excited for that day when nothing else will be in the way of his pure sweet love for me, but until then… I’ll take as many of these garden moments as I can… and cherish it for eternity.
It’s so unbelievable to me that (like this picture), God reaches out through His kingdom and grabs hold of our heart… desiring that we know this amazing love on earth. I suppose the next step to knowing this love would be to spread it. This great responsibility could be burdensome if this true love isn’t received in the way it was created for. But when the magnitude of this love is realized and accepted, the reply is not only easy but full of joy! The response to this love is a natural outpouring that cannot be contained. It will overflow into all areas of your life… including the uncomfortable ones. The uncomfortable areas are the places we would normally fear to tread. These are the despised, hated, hurtful, crazy, angry, dangerous, risky ones to love. The ones that may never love us- or God- in return. But guess what? We are still called to love them… WITH NO AGENDA. And we don’t ever stop loving them! Jesus didn’t did he? And he never went with a personal agenda other than pointing to the Father. He took His love for us all the way to the cross, then hell and back again. I can’t imagine a deeper more unconditional love than that. You see it’s not always about heaven or hell, but more about this lifelong separation without God thing.
So this evening.. before you rest your head.. think about God’s pursuit of you. And then give Him permission to grab your heart. I have a feeling you’ll never be the same.

no time


There never seems like quite enough time in the day to get done what you want to do, let alone what is pressing and NEEDS to get done. Why is this? Why, in generation of shortcuts and quick solutions, do we need more time? When I was back in the states, i remember a pretty consistent answer i had to the commonly asked question "how are you doing?" to which i would reply "good, busy... but good." As i would ask the question myself and observe other conversations, I found that this type of answer was being said A LOT. One day I felt a little tug from the Lord where he asked me a series of convicting questions..."why are you so busy", "is what youre doing that is more important than me", "when did stuff become more pressing than people?" So... I began to pray into these things to really see what He wanted me to do with this. His solution? Stop giving people that answer. I felt like he was telling me, that even if I was asked that question... and even if i really was busy... that i was not to say it. So I took it out of my vocabulary and the funniest things happened. A- I became less busy... and B- People became more interesting to me and C- they felt more loved bc i was choosing relationships over "stuff" by my answer. This revolutionized everything for me! My "stuff" became stuff again... but would now get done. People became important. I became less busy.
And my relationship with God became more intimate.

What was meant to save time... has now enslaved us to duty. Shortcuts will never effectively accomplish our goals or enrich our lives like going the full mile. God deserves our full heart... people deserve our attention and love...and our thirst for the holy spirit will only become dry if we continue to find other ways of fulfillment rather than the true source.

Deep calls to deep


I've heard it said that we've explored more of the universe than the depths of our own sea. This pretty much blows my mind. Sometimes I wonder why we settle for what is right in front of us instead of searching for more. Do we (in a sense) loose part of the knowledge of what truth is, when we don't go looking for more of it? Just like all of the beautiful life and mysteries that are in the deepest parts of our ocean that will never be found if we don't risk something and go looking for them... is the great mysteries of Christ that we miss out on because of settling for what is being fed to us sunday morning... or for what the bible study leader brings up in class... or what our daily devotion shows us. How many people reading this think there is more to God than what you know right now this very second?? Because there is more... there always is. We will never know ALL of who God is until we are with Him, but we can go deeper on earth. How much it pleases our Father when we dive in to go deep and uncover mysteries! As we find these treasures of wisdom and knowledge of Christ (col 2:2-4) he rewards us with a rich intimacy with Him and a love that surpasses all love.

I feel as though, for quite some time now, God has been calling me to a deeper place with Him. I hear Him whisper, "Daughter, come away with me...let's spend time together" beckoning me with His undying love. I hear Him in the gentle breeze, the warmth of the sun, in laughter, the rivers current, the light rain on my face, the bright stars in the elegant universe.. and almost audibly at times. At these moments i'm captivated by his love and my heart must skip a beat. Sometimes i'm speechless and stand in awe and other times i burst into tears. But every time I answer back "yes Lord, here i am... please send me, thank you for loving me the way you do". In the stillness of this intimate moment nothing else matters but him. The person of Jesus is what drives me to seek Him to love like He loved and to lay down my love completely.

So... for the past few months i've felt this longing to go deeper with Him. God's ben asking me to get up earlier so he can have my first moments and He can be the first to say He loves me. If i wait... it seems that I find mixed messages of love throughout the day and not the TRUE love that he can give me. He is our foundation... and he wants to reveal that to us first thing. (Ps 5:3) This is our precious time with Him to really press in and wait.

Then one night i had a very vivid dream. I was pregnant with Jesus and it was the second coming. When i realized who i was pregnant with, I was overwhelmed and humbled with God using me as such an important vessel of life. When I woke up I started listening to an old sermon of my pastor from nashville and was a little startled when it was about Mary and her humble realization of God using a simple servant like her to bring the King into the world. Please read her poetic response to God in Luke 1: 46-55.
It was pretty evident that the Lord wanting me to go deeper and identify with mary some how. Many more things came up the next few days with mary... whether it was a song, verse or vision. As I was speaking with the base leader, He felt I was supposed to identify with Mary's availability... and that God had unbelievable plans for me if I stayed willing and available to his calling. This will involve much sacrifice, but when we identify with His sacrifice... ours doesn't quite compare does it?

A few nights later I showed the new Invisible Children movie (invisiblechildren.com)
to the students for mission night. Afterwards we asked everyone to go on a walk to not only make an effort to identify in some way with these children who suffer so much but to intercede for them as well. As I began walking i felt like God wanted me to go a step further to identify. I threw off my shoes as I passed by the house and began walking the rocky road with bare feet. The pain was almost unbearable at times as it felt i was walking on broken glass... But as much as this hurt, i knew it compared nothing to what they endure every single day.

As I go deeper I discover more wonderful mysteries of who he is... and the more i enjoy my time with Him. We have a choice. We can settle for a normal mundane life.... or we can search the depths of the infinite universe searching for more truth of who he is and become overwhelmed and captivated by his love, making our existence one that knows no normalcy only an extra-ordinary life full of adventure, and a life that's dedicated to the most creative creator that has ever humbled himself to walk this earth.... this journey with us, his creation... his children... his pursuit.

I leave you with this: "Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his standfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life" Ps 42: 7 & 8

Hold on


I hardly know where to begin with this blog because it's so packed full of little treasures that i truly hope will be used to encourage your spirit to acknowledge and hold firmly to the promises of God. It's pretty fantastic how God can speak to us through nature, symbols, visions, and stories. And even more insane when he uses all of those things at once. This story began the day i landed on this isle and the exciting adventure continues...

The familiar story of the rainbow that began way before our time involved a man and a strong calling, lots of rain, a family, a bunch of animals, death, a dove, lots of poo, an ark, a promise in the form of a rainbow.... and new life. Most of us have heard this story a million times and in some ways it's become mundane. In my case, God has brought this story back to life.

Many years ago in Nashville I had a dream of a tornado the same night as a good friend. The following day we realized the significance and decided to look it up. We did some research and realized that tornadoes in dreams could mean that the ground was being dug up, the soil was being turned.. so that new things could grow. This made so much sense in both of our lives at that time. Right after that we went swimming. As we were visiting, I began to read from a little devo book and couldnt believe what i was reading. The verse (which i have not been able to find since) was about a tornado/ storm and something about how he used it for his good. The devo was about a man on a mountain overlooking the aftermath of a tornado. This man was upset as he asked God "why"? Why all of the destruction and pain? The next day the man went up on top of the mountain again and began to see all of these new beautiful things things that were now growing because of the storm that took away the old and uncovered the new. He realized that God did know what was best for us, and that even though things seem painful at the time... He's allowing it to make room for life. As we were reading this devotion the clouds began to almost circle above our heads. We stood there in a long pause of AWE before we ran to the car to escape the rain. As we drove away I told her of what God showed me through rainbows years before that.... and that they are always there in the sky, we just don't see them unless the conditions are just right. It usually takes the Sun, rain... reflection and perspective. Just like rainbows are God's promises. We have evidence in the story of Noah as we do still today. God's promises are solid... they are always there, but sometimes we fail to see them unless the conditions are just right. Our perspective plays a huge part in this... are we going to choose to seek His promises through the perspective of our salvation in Christ?? Or believe the lies that contradict all of the beautiful colors of who He says He is?? And sometimes it's the reflection of his promises we see through our tears and the brightness of the Son. Nevertheless, remember that they are behind the clouds you see in front of you... His promises are TRUE AND STRONG. Sometimes when we think we can't see or hear Him we tend to doubt Him. Why do we continue to stand on the ground as the waters rise screaming out to God "where are you, where are you??", instead of walking on to the ark of safety He's created that's right behind you? Or maybe some of us have accepted His will and are on the ark screaming "how long God, how long?" How much do we miss out on because we are so busy searching for God instead of simply believing what He said in the beginning to be true and following through with His calling on our lives?

As i was finished telling my friend this story I mentioned how cool it would be if we saw a rainbow. Right at that moment at the stop light a big truck turned in front of us and plastered on the side was a GIGANTIC RAINBOW. I love God's sense of humor and precise timing :)

Moving on to present time: The first week I was here in New Zealand I had a dream about a tornado and a flood. The tornado was most likely representing God's powerful presence rooting up the soil in our lives - turning it because it's gotten stale and nothing can grow. And the flood seemed to be the holy spirit saturating our life. Several others dreamed of rivers flooding, etc. Not to mention it had been raining non-stop. Other staff got visions of God raining down, that we would all be drowned in his mercy and hold on to the promises. From the building of the new building, to the raft race our staff participated in, to a guy named noah who was going to help with a ministry we had... I felt like God was trying to tell us something. One day we had a time where we were drawing pictures of visions on a giant piece of paper and I found one more empty place and began drawing an ark, a flood and a rainbow. As I'm drawing it i realize there were already raindrops coming down, then someone started praying that we would be drowned in his grace and mercy, then as i was drawing the rainbow someone else was praying we'd hold on to his promises! Then someone else had the vision of Spring- a new season for us and the students... and I had the vision of God's glory shining through the clouds with a rainbow on the other side. The next few weeks was God showing me rainbows all over the place! I've heard songs about rainbows... seen pictures... and even in the square in downtown Christchurch where we do ministry was a huge rainbow made out of flowers. (As we were doing ministry there one night we began to draw an ark underneath that rainbow and struck up many conversations as they helped us draw the animals in chalk:)

One day there was a group of backpackers who took a hike up to Mt. Oxford. They came back with a beautiful picture of a rainbow over Oxford which we could not see... but they could from a "higher perspective". Since then, i've seen REAL rainbows almost everywhere I go! God is so good, He loves you and will NOT forsake you! Hold on to his promises- believe He is who He says He is!

dusty wings.


I picked the dying butterfly up off the garage floor in a heroic attempt to save it's life. All i did was wipe the colorful dust of it's wings. I couldn't bare to watch this beautiful creature die all alone on the floor of a dismal garage, so i took it to higher ground. I took it to the exact place i'd want to be when i die. I delicately placed the insect on top of a flower overlooking the sunset.

You know, I don't want to waste my last few breaths talking to friend on the phone, trying to get my mom to see my point of view, reading the latest best-seller, or shopping for a new dress. No, i think i'd spend it here. In this place. Doing absolutely nothing... but taking my last breath praising the one who gave me life.

And as i watched the sun disappear into the horizon i would quietly reflect on this life i'd lived to the fullest, letting go of my temporary past...embracing the eternal bliss that awaits me on the other side of the sun (son).

i keep wondering why that butterflies dust was rubbing off on my hands... then it hit me. butterflies werent meant to be held. they were meant to fly.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

squatters village


The last leg of our trip to Cambodia took us to Siem Reap. We stayed in a little retreat amongst all the pain and devastation of the "squatters village". Journey's within our community has been developed to allow folks to vacation while seeing and helping the needs of the surrounding community. As we journeyed outside the four walls of our safe haven, our eyes and hearts got more than they bargained for. The poverty and living conditions were almost too unbearable to see. I walked down the bumpy dirt roads constantly wanting to shut my eyes, only to open them and be in a different place. A happier place perhaps... a place of hope.

The first child i encountered seemed a bit separated from reality as he sat on the ground playing with broken glass. Not a mother in site. As we walked down the streets further i began to see a pattern develop. The next child had an aerosol can in one hand and some type of knife thing in the other... and a few other children were laughing and giggling as they played with plastic bags in their mouths. Are these children alone? Does anyone care about them? Ones heart could not help but leap out for them. Something has to be done, i thought, but what???

I discovered, through many questions to our guide, that these villages are all over. Basically, these people have absolutely nothing... so they squat in a place that has no value, the trash dumps or sewage areas. They use sticks, mud, trash... whatever they can find... to build a shelter. They're water is dirty and food scarce, so many of the people become sick ... some even die. The parents don't care too much about the children, for they have problems of their own to worry about.

What would be our hell on earth... is there only choice.

Thank God there are people trying to do something about it. This non- profit has actually started to raise money and has begun building wells for the people in this area. I know their efforts seem small in the grand scheme of things, but it does make a difference. Every little thing makes a difference, even if it's only one person... it matters. I enjoyed getting to know this crew and hope to work with them some in the future.

Here's the thing... this is injustice. And they are living without hope for a better tomorrow. There are millions of people in this same position and I could not write this blog without defending every single one of them, vowing that i spend my life fighting for their lives! That there is a true story of rescue, hope and love... and a Savior who fights for us and who longs to make His love known to all.

Spiritually speaking, many of us may be in the same boat...
are we playing with the very things that could be destroying us? Like the child with the broken glass or the bags or the knife. What if that child were to tell me that the broken glass hasn't hurt him yet and won't hurt him unless he falls on it. What if the kid with the knife said the same? I know in my own life there are things that i've waisted time justifying because I enjoyed it.. when all along i was playing with fire just waiting to get burned. There is always gonna be a time when those things are gonna hurt us... or others... because they were never intended to be used that way in the first place. Let us trust that God knows what he's doing when he asks us to stay away from certain things. It crushes Him to see His children hurt.

the door.


One of the most time sensitive things God revealed to me while in Cambodia was the open door opportunity we have right now. As you must know by now, this country has not always taken kindly to strangers.. especially strangers with a purpose... especially a purpose of providing hope and freedom to a country whose leaders would rather them be oppressed and lowly. Just in case you are not familiar with Cambodia's past, several events occurred in the late 70's that not only killed hundreds of thousands, but murdered the moral...and devastated the economy. Very similar to the holocast, Pol Pot's regime led many to kill for meaningless reason leaving the country and it's people in total devestation.

Present day Cambodia... Although they've tried very hard to overcome this genocide, they've sought endless things that continue to let them down. Like most 3rd world and developing countries.. the rich continue to get richer and the poor... well, the poor are just out of luck. Spiritually speaking, Buddhism is still the number one religion... but as the older are dying, so is the buddhist faith. So where does that leave a country in great need? Where do they turn? Who do they look to for strength, for motivation, for help?

Now this brings me to that door i was talking about... the people of Cambodia are searching. The younger generation is seeking something to hold on to... right now, many are finding false acceptance and love through sex, drugs and alcohol. Many people are at a loss what to do, and would hold on to anything that provides any type of security at all. Just so you know ... many other countries (i.e. religions) are stepping in this door right now and offering a bit of truth or lots of money to join their "group" promising love, acceptance and truth. What is happening here? Well, as soon as they "join" they begin to twist that truth... add things to it, and take away from it.. until it is not even close to the truth. Many are walking through this door and feeding the innocent lies... many are being led astray... many will follow... and many will live a life of false hope. Where are we?

And he said to them, "the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Luke 10:10

Every time i think about this country, i hear this verse in my head. There is a door wide open right now. Who knows how long it will be open... how long we'll be able to get in to this country or speak about a God who is real and alive... who loves them for who he made them to be, not strings attached. He just desires their love in return.

Who will enter through this door with me? Who will enter, not knowing exactly what is on the other side, but being confident that you have a God who will never leave you or forsake you... and confident that through your faith in a living God... you will see mountains move.

Side note: This door may not be Cambodia for you, but could be an unknown in your own life, a door you've hesitated to walk through. If you feel a pull, a calling... i pray you have the faith to walk through with confidence in Him. Once you get to the other side, your eyes are opened and you wonder why you hesitated for so long... Time is short, let's not waist it! Begin your adventure today... whatever that looks like!! Just like in Indiana Jones... even though we can't see that rock bridge across the ravine, we must take that first step and trust that some way, some how... it will be there. God is good, all the time.

daughters.



So far, in our time here in Phnom Penh, we have found many models of safe homes for young women and children from the sex slave trade industry… but none quite like this one. After a long tuk tuk drive to the slums, we arrived at this peaceful place run by a lady named Ruth from the Daughters organization. Very quiet in nature, this humble women led us through her place of refuge. There are several things we found interesting about her after care program.

Ruth is very intentional of not only providing a place of hope, but also a place to learn skills as well. Her idea is to start several micro businesses with the young women allowing them to have something creative to do as well as providing an alternative income for their family (since most of them were sold into the brothels by their families for money). So far, their after care program consists of a school, a gourmet cake making business, a seamstress business and a soon to be silk screen company. The benefits of having these learned trades are outstanding. Eventually, they hope every girl can be re-integrated into society, able to make a living on her own and minister to other girls caught up in human trafficking.

A big difference in the Daughters model is that there are no forced escapes or sting operations. Daughters is known for their good relationships with the brothel owners. Although this can be quiet controversial I see how giving the girls a choice to leave actually follows biblical principals. Think for a second about the truth of God if you are familiar with Him. Did He force you to believe in Him? Of course not, or everyone would. Did he force you to love Him? No, although that would probably be His first choice. God is a gentleman and will not force someone to love him, even though He’s done everything in the world for them. So many times I’m sure he sees the mess we are in and shows us the love that is available. He offers all hope and freedom if we desire to take it. But just like most of these women, we fear what we do not know. We stay in the slavery of pain and suffering, because we just cannot bear the let down once again. Do we not know that the result must be far better than what we are enduring?? Don’t the girls realize there is something more to life? No. Most of them don’t. Not until people like Ruth step in and tell each one that they are worthy of living a good life.

You see, the root of lies goes deep within the hearts of most girls. From a very young age they are told that if they leave or are “rescued” that they will surely be taken to prison. For what they are doing is wrong. They are also taught to run away and come back if ever taken away. So, in a matter of speaking, these young girls are brainwashed and numbed to a place of no return. In this case, Daughters gives them the choice to gain their respect. If they force them to leave, they might not be trusted. But if they choose to leave, there is a better chance they will stay and desire to change.

I wish you could have seen the life that has been renewed in these girls’ faces. Their eyes were filled with joy, and the air filled with laughter as they lived a life of freedom and purpose. Most of them have left their chains behind, but still have to visit the darkness of that place every night. We are so encouraged to see Daughters bringing hope to a world of destitution by living among the need. We hope to be able to partner with their efforts somehow in the future. As you can see there are many ways in which one person can be a tremendous help and make a powerful impact in this industry. Help us make Human Trafficking and Sex Slaves quickly something of the past and provide freedom for the innocent now!

SVAY PAK- brothel town


After leaving The Rahab House, we took an eerie stroll around the dusty streets of Svay Pak. Quietly, Don (of Agape) informed us of the many families involved in this sex slave trade industry. There are many problems to be dealt with on many levels. We will try and explain a few so you can be more familiar with this industry. First of all, we’ve found that children in this country have little or no value placed on them. This would resolve why so many of them are sold into this slavery at such a young age. Many of the homes we walked past were empty shells housing brothels. Not only do they grow up in sight and sound of brothels, but they are also exposed to porn played at night on local shop televisions run on car batteries.

The narrow dirty streets were so symbolic of the foundation being laid for the rest of their lives. Some research is already showing that many of these innocent young boys are going to grow up to be the perpetrators and pimps. And nearly 100% of the girls in this particular brothel area will undeniably be involved in the sex industry … and at an appallingly young age.

Creepy men with empty stares glared at us through the windows. Sensual women with daunting walks breezed past with wrong intention. Little girls with brave ambition, but helpless eyes flirt with little boys. Little boys with a smirky grin and a hidden agenda push limits with little regret. All of which have seen things your eyes will never know… they have been exposed to a world of guilt, sham and desires that have come as a result of unfortunate circumstances. There are many preventative measures… we are working on some now. Our hope is that this journey we have taken will provide you with real evidence of this hell on earth… and that you might wish to join us in our efforts of saving young girls from despair, and introducing them to a world of hope and freedom… one person at a time.

the rahab house.



Amber and I first heard of this developing project a few days ago while chatting with Don and Bridget of Agape International. Immediately our interest peaked. About two years ago, you might recall, Dateline did a piece on human trafficking called “Children for Sale”. Unbeknownst to us, we’d be visiting the very same brothel as the one shut down through their sting operation. What Agape has done is go into this brothel area and create a safe place for children at risk to come by turning a building full of hate, lust, and evil into a home of hope, freedom and love. This very much resonated with our soul and what Freedom’s promise is all about.

During the short, but very intense, tour… we saw and heard things that have been burned into our minds forever. Our intent by voicing these things is not to arouse feelings of anger and bitterness, but to allow a love deep within to surface for these young children and victims involved. Ok, take a deep breath… here we go.

As you walk through the metal gate of this building you can almost feel the battle that took place just a few short years ago… one that continues all over the region... and many parts of the world. This unjust behavior will continue until we bind ourselves together, step out on faith… and do something about it! Where the chairs and tables now rest peacefully with the intent on educating, the swapping of young girls and children for money was so common. As we walked along the dark narrow hallway, evidence of fear and hopelessness was all around. “I love you” was found written in red on one of the doors… presumably being a cry for acceptance and true unconditional love. Inside were painted crosses with sad faces on them and poems written posing the question, “God, why has this happened to me?” and “If you are real please save me”.

My heart began pounding harder with each story they told of how the girls were locked in the rooms during sex so that they could not escape. Can you even imagine a fear of this magnitude? Does hell exist on earth?? I’m sure these children thought at the time that it does… and most thought they may never escape. Only the older children were allowed to leave these rooms, for the pimps presumed the small children might run off if released. This is slavery my friends. This is inhumane. No one…EVER… should have to go through what these precious innocent children are dealing with every single day in this neighborhood and many many others just like it. As if this wasn’t bad enough, viper snakes, rats, and many other rodents were found in this building before the cleaning process began. The living conditions and mal nutrition is horrifying to think of on top of the pain and fear of giving ones body over forcefully time and time again at such a very young age. Seeing this made it real, but I could never imagine myself or loved ones ever having to go through something like that. I am certain the despair and pain will torture them the rest of their days. Even more so if we do nothing to help.

Just when we thought we were finished with the unspeakably heinous images, we were led upstairs to our final but most horrifying place. At the top of the stairs was a bright pink room. Much like one we’d see in the Western world, with pink flowers and such. Yet, instead of it being a safe comfortable room for a child to play and learn… it was being used for a place in which children would have all of their innocence stolen from them for the first time being introduced to a new world of pain, fear and sorrow. This my friends, was called the “virgin room”. Later we found out that virgin children are becoming a high commodity and are being sold for up to $4,000 these days. Unfortunately, in some cultures businessmen find it lucky to sleep with a virgin… even if it costs the child everything. There are actually some cases in which the mothers will sow the child back up, only to be sold again for a high price. Oh, the inhumaneness of it all breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes. If only those tears could bring just a drop of peace to a victimized child’s life… but they are scared forever.

Right now, Amber and I are working with this organization as well as many others to find ways in which we can be most beneficial… and fast. Time is of the essence here, this gruesome door of hopelessness is opening daily for children being forced to enter in this world of endless pain and suffering.

Fortunately, in the midst of this animalistic behavior, we can do something about this. There are several NGO’s like Agape in which we can partner with and support. Financially, there are many needs to be met and physically there are hands on things that we can do. Start thinking about what this may look like to you. Don and Bridget are doing a great job of providing care for the young children and women who have been rescued as well as providing this place of refuge (soon to be church) right in the center of this intense brothel area called Svay Pak.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

risky business.

The caterpillar took one look up the tree.. and decided to re-think this whole transformation process. "That's a long way up," he thought... "and honestly, I don't even know what awaits me up there." Constantly, we weigh are options. Day in and day out we make decisions based on the worth of something. Is it worth it? Is it worth what we are giving up? Is it worth what we have to go through to get there? Is it worth.... the sacrifice? You see, what the caterpillar doesn't see... is that this climb that may take him a day or so is going to change the rest of his life. No longer will dirt satisfy him. He'll see that there is more... oh so much more to life. And instead of looking up to see an impossibility, he sees something that could only be accomplished with help. A higher help. God wants us to see Him as a risk worth taking. Not to belittle your thinking, but God did not build this tree... this long journey, to observe at a safe distance. And he definately did not intend for you to do it alone. So why on earth are you still blaiming the one who wants to give you more... why are you still on a dirt diet if you can have sweet nectar?

Here's the thing... what doesn't cost us very much, is not worth much at all. If you take a look at the cross, you begin to see that there was a very high cost to be paid. But regardless of the pain... He paid it. That was the highest cost of all. Therefore, the gift that lies before us is the most worthy. A relationship with Him. Now take a second look up that tree. Do you see a long day's journey filled with obstacles and splinters... or do you see something else. Something most don't see at first glance... that is, a journey with the worthy one. I'm not even talking about all that other stuff you'll see on the other side of it... and the blessings that will occur along the way. I'm simply talking about following the One who loves you and counted you as worthy enough to die for. Listening... and obeying. Taking a magnificent journey...not necessarily for the destination, but for who you will be traveling with.

What's funny about the caterpillar is that it crawls around all day just a few feet below that sweet nectar the butterflies are so blessed with. And as long as that caterpillar is satisfied with his crawl, he'll never taste the difference of a better life. Unfortunately, the caterpillar does not have the means to access such a blessing because of the life it's chosen and the ground it's settled for. I sometimes wonder if the caterpillar can smell the sweet nectar and occasionally wonder if there is more to life. I wonder if they look at the graceful butterfly with envy, curious why their destination wasn't the same. Not realizing the same future awaits them only a days climb away.

I wonder if you sometimes catch a whiff of the sweet nectar of life... and desire more. And then i'm curious as to what it is you won't let go of to make the climb. You see, something has to happen before you can access this new life, something most people aren't willing to do.... die. To become a new creature, your old self must die.

Go ahead, ask the butterfly if it has any regrets for the risks it took... i know i don't.

Some things in life are worth the risks, a relationship with Christ is one of them... and by far the most important.