Being Extreme

Today, at A Holy Experience, we continue to write about--The Practice of Radical….living in Christ and with Christ.

Jesus

The dictionary calls radical: Departing markedly from the usual or customary; extreme

How does a wife become radical? How does a mother, move the world? Can a special education teacher change lives? A daughter, delight? A friend, be a motivator?

How does radical work in the here and now? Is it possible to live radically for Christ in the dirty and broken of today? Can I truly live this extreme for the One who loves extremely?

As a follower of Christ, I’m called to be radical. Unusual. Different from the world around me.

Make no mistake about it, Jesus was no pushover. He was considered a radical during his life time. He loved where others hated. He showed mercy, when others showed disdain. He did not back down from the leaders of His day, and was not afraid to call them out. He answered questions, taught through parables, loved the unlovable, changed the hard-hearted, prayed continually to His Father, and shepherded the weary. He was a light in a dark place and He led the way, even unto His death.

And I am supposed to conform myself to be just like my Jesus! Now, my friends, that is a radical thought.

How can I ever live up to that standard?  Simply put, I can’t. Not by myself, anyway.

 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus … Philippians 2:1-11 ESV

Radical living is about sacrifice.

Putting others before myself.

That is where truth meets reality….

and that is where radical begins.






Remember Those With No Voice

Today I went back into my archive of posts. The words I wrote in the past, still tear at my heart.

This week was human trafficking awareness.

So many of us are still completely unaware….

Stand Up For A New Habit

11 Jan

Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010

Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, at A Holy Experience, we are blogging on habits.

Habitan acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

I have habits. Don’t we all?

Some are good habits…

Some I wish I didn’t have at all.

The great part is that I can make a choice.

Some people don’t have a choice….

They are forced into a life style that they neither wanted nor chose.

For whatever reason, they are living a life that most of us will never know.

Today, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

I wanted to repost a blog entry that I wrote last year.

Make it a habit this year, to not ignore the facts.

To be aware of what is going on.

To make a difference wherever and whenever you can.

Stand up for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

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NO LONGER SILENT

15 May

WARNING: This blog may contain some material that readers will find difficult to read or might find offensive. Some may choose to believe this doesn’t really happen….but it does and if you are touched by these stories you can be a part of making a positive, life altering change in the lives of thousands of women. ONE WOMAN AT A TIME.

Last Saturday my daughter and I had opportunity to hear about W.A.R ministry. (Women At Risk) The mission organized a few years ago to help women around the world that were captured in the horrors of sex trafficking. Many people will read this and think, “That is someone else’s daughter, or sister, or friend. I don’t have anything to do with that. Sex trafficking is such a dirty, perverse life….well….I just don’t want to even think about it.” I beg you to reconsider. There are women that are crying out–but they have no voice. Children and young girls are sold into a life too heinous for us to comprehend. I want you to read the story I am about to tell.

A young, 14 year old girl, the daughter of missionaries in Bangladesh saw with

her own eyes the treatment of females in southeast Asia. Her parents worked at a missionary hospital. One day she was there with her parents when another 14 year old girl was left in front of the hospital like no more then a sack of garbage. The girl had been raped by male members of her family. She cried out and resisted their attacks, to no avail……but because she had resisted and screamed she had to be silenced. They poured acid down her throat so she could no longer cry out. Her throat was badly damaged and she could not eat…she was dying. I suppose they didn’t want to deal with her dying so they threw her in front of this hospital. The staff of the hospital showed her love and acceptance. God healed her throat through the skilled hands of the doctors at this missionary hospital. She was able to eat again and to have good health again…..but she never uttered another word. She could not talk. Her words were gone.
This young missionary daughter remembered this and years later started W.A.R to help give voice to the silenced cries of women of the world. This mission outreach creates circles of protection in the name of Christ. They provide safe havens for women who have never known safety, or have never known what it is to feel worthy in the eyes of others. Safe houses are used to rescue women, women’s centers teach job skills and offer medical support, sponsorships for women and orphans, empowerment, humanitarian missions, and research.

They also have emergency rescues…..this is the story of one such rescue.
A 2 week old Thai baby was sold to sex traffickers for $200. Her mother already had 4 children and could not afford another. She made the choice to sell her infant daughter to sex traffickers who would raise her in that culture– “breeding her” for the life of a prostitute. When the Women At Risk women heard about this they got the baby back. She was redeemed. Eighteen months later she is now processed for adoption into a loving home.
Baby trafficking is on the rise. Most sane people don’t like to think about that. It turns the stomach. It hurts me to think about innocent children being used for such vile purposes. The woman at the meeting on Saturday informed us that there is a village in Cambodia that is known for being completely used for pedophilia. Men that are interested in that lifestyle know about this village and evidently it is a popular vacation spot for those who are the depraved among us.
These women and children who have never known worth are exposed to the love of their Heavenly Father…..many for the very first time. They are told and shown that they ARE worthy and that they ARE fearfully and wonderfully made. That God loves THEM. That He SEES them….and that He HEARS them even when they are forced to be silent.

You too can make a difference. You can host or attend a WAR chest party at home, work, or church etc. High end products made by disadvantaged women rescued from traffickers and employed with dignity. You can also pray, creating circles of protection for these women and those helping them.

Please visit http://www.warinternational.org for more information.

FACTS:
*800,000 people are illegally trafficked against their will every year. 50% are children. 70% of the women are sold into sexual slavery.–US State Dept.
*The new slavery…human trafficking, is the fastest growing segment of organized crime. 100,000 are trafficked INSIDE America.—FBI
* Virginity is sold by traffickers to the highest bidder and children forced to perform sexual favors.
* 2 Million girls a year are brutally circumcised, one every 15 seconds–Secretary General
* 5,000 honor killings reported a year. –Christian Science Monitor
* Every 14 seconds, a child is orphaned by AIDS. 19 million women live with HIV/AIDS.–United Nations
* Routine Physicals are death traps, when organs are stolen for sale on the black market.–Sudanese Human Rights Lawyer
* 114-200 MILLION

women are “demographically missing” due to infanticide, dowry deaths, domestic violence and all manner of risk. –UN Secretary General

UNVEILING THE HIDDEN GENDERCIDE
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Into His Image

This day, at A Holy Experience, we are writing on: The Practice of Joy…. What does it mean to choose Crazy Joy? How do we authentically walk through hard times? How do we practice the “gigantic secret” of Christians?

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Present

How do we choose joy?  Is true joy a choice, something we make for ourselves? Or does it just happen to us? A whim? A destiny? How can we choose to be joyful on a daily basis? And can real joy change our lives?  I’m not talking about happiness which is circumstance driven. Happiness is a fleeting emotion…it can’t be depended on. I’m talking about a joy that comes from knowing.

I was startled when I first read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Her written words so closely echoed my own thoughts. I could relate, when she said, “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become a gift? For He might not have.” (p.94)

Doesn’t it all become a gift? It isn’t difficult to find joy. It is there in the every day. Often times I am too rushed, too busy, too self absorbed, too afraid, and much too cavalier to see the joy.

There is something that happens when thanksgiving is being lifted up. Being thankful to the Giver of all Gifts, changes the heart. Each good thing becomes even more precious. Each hard and difficult time shapes me. As a follower of Christ, both of these things conform me into the image of Christ. As a follower of Christ I know that the greatest gift I’ve ever received is the gift of salvation. If I never was given another gift, He alone would be enough.

Jesus is the gift. He is joy…and it is through Him that all the other things make sense.

It Hurts

U Anáše chapel in Římov, passion tour depictin...

U Anáše chapel in Římov, passion tour depicting suffering of Jesus Christ. South Bohemian region, CZ help (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today at A Holy Experience, Ann asked each of her readers to write on:  The Practice of Suffering…. What does it mean to pick up a cross? How do we walk through hard times? How do we participate in the sufferings of Christ?

Suffering…pain…heartache…devastation.  Never an easy topic to discuss. I, like many, don’t enjoy spending a lot of time thinking about suffering, much less enduring it. It hurts too much.

But, I live in a world that knows suffering. It groans under the weight of it. There are so many times when I am silent in the presence of others pain…because I don’t have the words. I can’t answer the why questions. I don’t know why. When the heart aches, the answers aren’t always going to make sense anyway. Just emptiness.

Sometimes, during times of suffering, all I can do, is be present. Be there. Hold a hand. Calm a spirit. Love a person.

To this very day, I still cry when I hear of someone losing a loved one, to death. I don’t even have to know the person, and it still makes me cry. I know that particular suffering from personal experience…..and it changed me. My heart aches for the widow and the fatherless. The tears flow as a parent’s heart breaks, knowing that their child won’t be coming home. A child, no matter how old, feels empty when their parent is no longer there.

Suffering is hard. It hurts. It changes people.

I do know that if I had not been widowed at a young age, if my father had not died, if all my family members were still here….I would not feel the same way that I do now. I would not be able to share in the suffering. I would not be able to comfort others, like I can now, because of what I have been through.

Because of Christ‘s comfort given to me, I can comfort others. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

I believe, as a follower of Christ, I am called to be His “hands and feet” to others who are hurting. To be honest, it isn’t really what I would have picked for myself, had I had opportunity to decide. I mean, would any of us choose suffering? Ever? If there were any other way?

I am so eternally grateful that even though Jesus knew the suffering that was ahead for him, he said, ” Abba,Father everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  Mark 14:36 NIV   It is because He chose the cross, that I know suffering will not be forever. It will one day cease to be.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 NIV

God’s Country

Autumn Landscape of Door County, Wisconsin

I was given the book years ago. I think it was a yard sale find. The book currently sits on my shelf, where I will  pull it out and soak in the vibrant landscapes of “God‘s Country”.  That is the title of the picture book.

The pictures are of the Blue Ridge mountains, Holmes County, Ohio, Door County, Wisconsin, The Ozarks, Mississippi, rural Idaho, the canyons of the southwest, and the panoramic views of the Pacific northwest. Each of these places has much to offer the eyes and each has vibrant colors and texture to appreciate.

God’s Country.

I’ve had opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful places in the United States…and those places I haven’t been to yet, well, I enjoy the pictures.

Every time I see the pictures, I am reminded. Reminded that these pictures are just images of the real thing. The pictures prove that the beauty exists.

A couple of evenings ago I was outside walking around the property. I came around the corner of the house and there it was, laid out before me. The sky infused with pinks and purples. The trees on the horizon were silhouetted by the last of the evening light.  Breath taking, really.

The thought I had at that moment, “If God creates so much beauty here and now……what must Heaven be like?”  If He does this for me now, allows me to soak in the beauty of His creations, gives  me this picture…….. this place that I live now is gorgeous, no doubt about it. Nature cries out at the glory of its Creator….but, oh  how I can’t wait to see Heaven.

What I have now is just a dull image of what is to come.

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Jump over to A Holy Experience where we are all writing about: The Practice of Citizenship: How You Live Here When Your Home is in Heaven.

 

Where Do You Live?

Today, at A Holy Experience, we are writing about : The Practice of Citizenship: How You Live Here When Your Home is in Heaven.

A couple of days ago I read a blog about contentment. The author of the blog was talking about being in the “in between” times of life. The unsettled. The unsure. I know those times. Those are the times when I want more, but get less. I dream big and wake up to reality. The wandering in the wilderness kinds of times.

Even before reading this blog I had contentment on my mind. Evidently God wants me to keep thinking about this subject because He keeps putting things in my daily path that cause me to have to evaluate my contentment.

Pathway Between the Old and New Market

Ouch.

Sometimes God’s lessons aren’t easy for me to handle. I want what I want. I’ve got ideas. I’ve got lists. I’ve got “the dream”. I NEED these things on my list, in order to be content. After all, I deserve them. Right?!

I struggle.

I want life to be easier.

I want to understand.

I want security.

AND I pretty much prefer no big surprises.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love surprises if it happens to be my birthday or a special Christmas gift. Hmm…..or a weekend get away. Or an unexpected visit from family or friends. BUT, not hard, life surprises.

Like unexpected job loss. Heartache. Friends that hurt my feelings. A sick child. A loss of faith. Arguments. Frustrations. Mistakes. Surprises that, quite frankly, are no fun.

God calls me to be content in my circumstances. All of them. Not just the fun ones. I am to learn the secret of being content, no matter the circumstance. (Phil 4:11-12) It’s hard. I try. Sometimes I succeed. Other times I fail. Oh, how I fail. It’s a journey that I’m on…this journey of learning contentment. I wish I could say I have this particular thing under control…but, I’m being honest. I don’t……and so there are lots of bumps on this rocky road I’m traveling and many times I fall down.

The truth is I don’t have everything I want in life, but I do have everything I need. For today. For this minute.

God is good like that.

I believe we, as human beings, go through periods of  the “in between”.  It keeps us grounded and focused.

For me this isn’t home. I’m just a pilgrim on a journey, through a land of discontentment. A land that I am just passing through. I’ll admit that it is difficult. When I take my focus off of God I become discontent…stuck…and shackled to the negative. BUT, if I look to my Heavenly Father, I can see a glimpse of HOME.

He allows a glimmer of what it will be like. Home. A place where contentment will be real, not just the fleeting shadow of what I strive to achieve here on Earth. I will be fully content, because I will be with Him.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  ( 1 Corinthians 13:12) 


From my blog archives, first posted on May 15, 2010

I Know I’ll Be Home

Today, at A Holy Experience, we are discussing resurrection.

Resurrection. A powerful word. I spoke about it a lot in the weeks leading up to Easter. I understand that resurrection. Jesus, alive, no longer in the tomb! This morning I looked up the word, and I came across these definitions:  resurgence, revival.

Casais Estacios Pillows

I looked at the word, revival. How am I part of that word? What kinds of things can I do, to be revived? I’ll be honest. There are a lot of times that I know I need some revival. Life can be dry. Withered. Needing refreshment.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Heaven. I used to think about it a lot after my first husband died. Heaven became not just a place, but a destination. The end of a journey. Home.  No, I was not anxious to see Heaven, in the sense that I wanted to die….but, I believe it is natural to think about when you lose someone you love.

Presently, I’ve been thinking on these verses, found in the book of John.

 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”  John, Chapter 14  NIV

Because He lives, and because I know the truth of John 14:6, I will live too.

I think on Christ’s words.  Don’t be troubled. I’ve gone ahead. I’m preparing a place for you. You will be with me.

Heaven is real.

And this is how my mind works……. I think on the words,”preparing a place”. I know that I try to prepare if people are coming to visit. Fresh sheets on the bed, cleaning the house, special meals prepared….. I want the visitors to feel at home. I think about what Jesus meant when he said he was preparing a place. I know there are Biblical scholars, much more intelligent than I, that probably could speak to this, but even they don’t know for sure. Not really.

I know my family members. I know what their favorite meals consist of, I know the shows they like to watch, the style of clothes they wear, what decorating style they are drawn to, even what flavor of toothpaste they prefer. I know what makes home, home for them.  As Christ’s child, His redeemed, He knows me intimately. He is preparing a place just for me, and if you are also His child, then He is preparing a place just for you, too. A place where you will feel revived, new, and wanted.

I laugh to myself. For as long as I can remember, when shopping, I’ve always wanted to touch everything. The silkiness of the drapes, the plush feel of the couch pillows, the softness of the sheets. The warmth of a fuzzy blanket. God made me very aesthetic. I am drawn to detail and how things make me feel.  When I take pictures of sunsets, the sky ablaze with vibrant color, I feel peace. When I sit on my front porch on a lazy summer afternoon, watching the llamas across the road, I feel content. When I hear the crunch of the gravels on the driveway…I know I’m home.

Don’t I know, in my spirit, that Jesus will have my place prepared? He knows me. And won’t my spirit be revived as I enter my new home? Seeing Him, who makes all things new.