Stand Up For A New Habit

Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010

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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Preparing My Heart

English: Sheep feeding at trough in winter

Today, at A Holy Experience, we are writing about the practice of preparing.

You’d think this would be right up my alley….something I am good at. Preparing is usually “my thing”. Organization. Checking things off the to do list.

Am I prepared?

I wonder.

I’ve always loved the Christmas season, from the time I was a very young child. The decorating. The parties. The holiday home tours and the smell of freshly baked cookies. The classic holiday movies, and buying a gift for those special people in my life. Candlelight Christmas Eve services and Joy to the World.

But, am I prepared?

Silent Night

Holy Night

All is calm

All is bright.

A King born into the most humble of circumstances.

This Child came to prepare the way, for us all.

His journey would lead from a smelly stable manager to a rough wooden cross and finally, to an empty tomb.

From life, to death, to life again.

From His new birth...to our own.

Think about that.

With Him all things are made new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

As the days grow darker, and colder…and the frenzy of Christmas is upon me…my desire is to step back,

and take time to prepare my heart.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 NIV

Confident Expectation

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

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Hope.

Not just wishful thinking…but, confident expectation.

Many of you that have read my blog for awhile, or know me in person, realize that I am an avid reader of C.S. Lewis.  This man died before I was even born, and yet, there is something in his words, that draws me to him. He had something to say about hope, something that stirs me, with words that I do not think I could improve upon. Will you read them with me?

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.  (Oh friends, I know you also have tasted the disappointments of this life. We are really not all that different, are we?)

“At present we are on the outside… the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the pleasures we see. But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get “in”… We will put on glory… that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.  (Have you ever stood and watched the sunrise and wondered at the beauty of it all?)

We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”  C.S  Lewis   (Don’t we all long for more?)

We were not made for this world. We live here, that is for sure…but, we were created for something better than what this world has to offer. Yes, there are many things in my life that bring me great joy and happiness. I stand in awe of the beauty of nature…and praise the Creator. I love my family and friends and am thankful for their relationships with me. I’ve had some wonderful experiences. So much is nice…

And yet.

I am not completely comfortable here. There is longing…longing for, the more.

I survive in this life I live.

Through deaths, pain, hardships, fright, harsh words, misunderstandings, disappointments, anger, betrayal, lies and hurt. This world is full of discontentment…because this world is broken. And I have not escaped this pain. I am broken in it.

But, I have hope.

Hope, that confident expectation, that there is more.

More than this. More than the lacking. More than the failing health. More than compromise. More than grief.

I was made for more, because HE is more. HE is the great expectation. It is Christ, and He alone, that brings joyful hope to a hurt and dying world.

A world that needs Him.

Individuals that need Him.

1 Peter 1:3  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

Romans 5:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Great expectation for what is to come.

Sometimes Thanks Is Not Easy

candle

Image by jamingray via Flickr

Most Mondays I blog about thanks, along with other bloggers, over at A Holy Experience. Many of my blogs are happy thanks.

Eucharisteo….to be grateful.

Sometimes… I don’t feel grateful.

I should.

But, I don’t.

I’m working on it.

Hard work.

It is what Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts, says……is “hard eucharisteo”.

I’ve not had any terrible things happen to me lately. I am thankful for that. I know that life will throw me another curve ball someday—and I pray that I am ready for it.

God has always been faithful…and He will be again.

He is my anchor in all of life’s unpredictability.

I am thankful, grateful, in awe of, a God that is strong.

That is powerful. Whose grip on me is firm.

So, today I thank for the hard stuff…….

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*I am thankful for doctors and their skills. Physicians that care for those I love… Even when it hurts.

*I am thankful for family members that love each other through good and bad, and they feel my love for them even when I can’t see them regularly.

*I’m so very grateful to be able to send love across the miles, when I can’t be there in person.

*I’m thankful for sticky floors that I have to clean, even when I didn’t make the mess.

*I’m thankful for a vehicle to get me from one place to another, even if it isn’t new.

*I’m thankful for times when I am weary, times when  God’s strength and power, alone, are shown.

*I’m grateful that I don’t have to have all the answers, all the understanding of the “why?”.

*I’m glad for having the opportunity to make choices…even when I choose poorly.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you… Isaiah 43:2  NIV

I am thankful, that in darkness, even a small light can help people see.

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Are You Freed By Forgiveness?

splash

Today at A Holy Experience, we continue to discuss forgiveness…..not an easy subject for me. I considered just skipping this post today, but changed my mind. There might be someone out there that needs to hear what I have to say.

As one who loves to write and who has made it a life long habit to put my thoughts into words, I would like to share this excerpt from one of my many journals.

These words echo back to me, from a journal that I kept for an entire year after my first husband died. A decade ago, but I remember writing this as if it were yesterday. The last page of the journal, and it frees me as much today as it did back then.

” November 21, 2001

…… I choose this day to forgive you for lying to me.

I forgive you for hurting me. You were wrong in doing that.

There was no excuse for your behavior, but it is in the past and I am going on.

I choose to learn from the past.

I choose to put my future totally in the Lord’s hands.

I choose not to be bitter and hardened by my experiences.

I will live my life and be content….

I forgive you even now.”

Forgiving is freeing.

It is liberating.

And it is necessary.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  Matthew 18:21-22 NIV

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Are you freed by forgiveness?

I Still Have A Lot To Learn

Cross-shaped window inside church in Hicksvill...

Image via Wikipedia

Today, at A Holy Experience, we are spending our second Wednesday talking about forgiveness. To be honest, I have sat at my computer for quite a while this morning, struggling with what to write. I wanted to write something deep and comforting. Something helpful and yet profound. Frankly, it all fell flat.This is not the day for that.

I struggle with forgiving others. I understand about forgiveness. I understand that unforgiveness can cause resentment and bitterness. I get it. I do.

And yet…..

the hurt feelings

the betrayal

the lies

the pain

the harsh words

the moments lost

the feelings forgotten

The human part of me wants for the offender to hurt…as much as he/she hurt me. It is an ugly feeling. One for which I am not proud. It makes me feel less, to even admit it. Would it make me feel better? Would it? Would it be settled in my mind if I felt like the offender had their fair share of hurt?

No, probably not.

And the truth is I am no better. I’m sure in my lifetime I have said a lot and done plenty that has left other people raw and wounded. My words have the ability to cut deeper than any knife.

And I am ashamed.

My eyes skimmed across this scripture…and I didn’t feel quite so alone. We humans have a lot to learn, much to be reminded of…

7Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.  Daniel chapter 9  NIV

God is merciful and forgiving…

He who had never sinned, humbled himself to walk among sinners.

His love was so great…

His forgiveness so immense…

And I need to be more like Him.

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How do you forgive?

A New Creation

Alphaomega

Image via Wikipedia

This is the third post I’ve attempted this morning. The other two posts I saved for another day.

Over at A Holy Experience we are talking about new life. What does this mean to me?

I thought I might write something bookish or scholarly…but, it fell flat.

So, I’ve decided to just be blunt. Plain. Open my heart. Tell about new life, in the only way I know how.

Living a new life in Christ…as a follower of Jesus.

Jesus. The name above all names.

“Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 NIV

The Jewish people called him, Yeshua. As a Christian, I call Him God’s Son. King of kings. Lord of lords. The Light of the world. Messiah. Passover lamb. Rock of ages. Shepherd. The Alpha and the Omega. The Way. The Truth. The Life. The living Word. Wonderful Counselor. The Prince of Peace.

He came to this earth as a baby. He walked this earth as a Jewish man. Began His ministry. Boldly proclaimed that He is the Son of the living God. He spoke wisdom, performed miracles, and changed people’s lives. Yahweh. God in the flesh. Sacrificed for me. For you. For us all. There is nothing I could have done to save myself. I was unworthy. I needed a Savior. A Redeemer. And yet, His love for me, for us, was so great that ….. He died in my place. He rose again. Is living today, and will one day return.

It is because of Jesus’ sacrifice, the fact that He took my place, that I have new life. It is because of Him that I have hope. It is because of Him that I have peace. It is because of Him that I have assurance. There is nothing else in this world that can take His place. Everything else falls flat and empty. It is only through Him that I do not just survive, but truly live.

My life is changed… all because of Him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Do you know Jesus? Not just as a historical character. Not just as a Jewish carpenter. Not just as a character in the Bible. But, as Jesus, the Son of the living God. He wants to know you.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…”  Revelation 3:20 NIV

Are You Living In Friday?

Cover of "He Lives"

Cover of He Lives

The most holy, pivotal celebration, to the life of a Christian……Easter.

On that Friday Jesus hung on a rugged, Roman cross

The Savior between two common thieves

He was mocked and insulted

The clouds darkened…

He asked His Father

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The day was full of anguish

and pain.

He cried out

“It is finished!”

The curtain in the temple tore from top to bottom.

The earth shook.

Then He died.

That day was…. Sad. Hopeless. Bleak.

Jesus’ followers did not understand. They were confused. They were grieving. They were hurting.

Wondering.

What did this mean?

What was the purpose?

Don’t so many of us live in “the Friday” of our lives?  Scared. Wondering. Confused.

How is God going to work things out in our lives?

We can’t see it.

We don’t get it.

We won’t live through it.

What is the purpose?

But Jesus did not stay in the grave.

He conquered death.

He rose again.

He appeared too many.

The glorious resurrection day changed everything.

EVERYTHING.

For all time.

FOR US

The followers had…..Hope. Joy. Peace.

Death had been conquered by the only ONE who was capable.

He took our place. He sacrificed. His blood was spilled.

And He came out of that tomb!

Jesus never left us in the darkness of the crucifixion.

Because He lives, we are brought into the

glorious resurrection morning!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25 NIV

***Join us over at A Holy Experience for Walk With Him Wednesdays, where we are blogging about the walk to Easter. Click on the graphic on my right side bar.***