atlanta.

Vacation for me, means very little screen time.  After sitting in front of my computer all day and compulsively checking my phone every 6 minutes (I read that depressing statistic yesterday), it’s necessary and healthy for me to unplug for a bit.  This means I spend more time with the people I’m with, which I love.  I value quality time so I’m not terribly likely to be taking pictures or documenting what’s happening.  I’mma soak it up while I can and be present.  So, I haven’t read any new posts or looked up great resources because I’ve been with friends.  It was a full, but rich day so I only halfway-apologize for the lack of original, thought-provoking content.  These days are fantastic, but exhausting.

We hit the road again to head south this time.  We’ve been in Georgia for the last couple days but tomorrow’s the day we hit the really warm weather.  yay.  I’m too tired to be excited right now.  Anyway, we’re driving through Atlanta on our way down and if you’re not aware, Atlanta, GA is the city with the biggest trafficking issue in this country.  Land of the free, home of the brave.  Yeah…tell that to the girls involved.

Trafficking isn’t just a problem overseas.  It’s not a problem we can talk about but forget because it’s not happening in our neck of the woods.  It’s a very real problem all over the world.  Shoot, we have issues with it in small town Iowa!  I just thought you should know, though my heart is for Nepal, whatever that may look like, it’s important not to write this cause off since it’s halfway across the world.  It is…but that’s not the only place.  People are trafficked all the time, no matter the age, race, gender, or location.

150716162727-file-ajc-child-prostitute-exlarge-169Here’s a story about a ten year old who was tried for prostitution.  ten years old!

Selling Atlanta’s Children: What Has and Hasn’t Changed

 

modern day abolitionist.

  
I’m on the road tonight. Big Blue is heading east this time! I just finished my turn driving and man Oh man. I think it’s the combination of dark winter nights starting far too early, glasses with a glare, Christmas music, and my streak of late nights this month but I only lasted about an hour and a half before coffee and a break was necessary.  
While I was driving, I couldn’t help but admire the stars. I love stars. Always have and always will. Stargazing is also one of my favorite pastimes…along with fridge gazing. 🙂
As Orion loomed ahead of me, I started thinking about Nepal. And how they see the same stars as me…maybe some different constellations, but the same nonetheless. I remember the first time I saw the Milky Way. It was an incredibly beautiful, even holy moment. I laid in an Iowa field in absolute awe of this God that I serve. The galaxy lay above me, too many stars to count. Too vast, too immense to comprehend. And I get the privilege to bask in His glory.

And then, I thought about the Underground Railroad. I like to think I would’ve taken part in it if I were around back then. I like to think I couldn’t have bought into the business of slavery. That I wouldn’t be able to see past these individuals’ inherent value to place a price on their head. I like to think I would have stood with them. Stood up for them in this terrible injustice. I like to think the world wouldn’t sway me or my convictions. But I know me. I’m weak. So I can’t say for certain if I’d be standing with the oppressed back then. But everything in me says I wouldn’t have conformed.

I can say that I am willing to be a modern day abolitionist. A stop on the Underground Railroad, if you will. To help the oppressed along the way. To advocate, protect, support. To encourage, listen and understand. To challenge and take risks. To love, offer grace, and be moved with compassion.
That’s what I want to do. I can’t really see myself being the Harriet Tubman of Nepal, but I would gladly be the open arms at the end of the road, welcoming them in, taking care of them and loving them fully as they recover, reflect, regroup, and God redeems their stories.  

Those are my thoughts on this bleak midwinter night. Big Blue out.

in her eyes.

True confessions.  One of my favorite pastimes it to look at people’s refrigerators.  I love seeing kid art, quirky magnets, little notes, and photos.  My friends have this really captivating photo on their fridge.  It’s a beautiful middle eastern girl with the most compelling eyes and no matter how many times I’ve seen it before, I always stop to admire something alluring in her piercing eyes (similar to this Pulitzer Prize photo).

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Pulitzer Prize Photograph 1984 Steve McCurry

Have you ever stopped to think about someone’s eyes?  The fact that they have a story.  A past and a future.  They have families and people who love them.  They have a job and routines.  They have a life.  An identity.  They are a person of value with something beautiful to offer this world.

“Every statistic for human trafficking is so much more than a number: it represents a face, a silenced voice and an untold story.”

“Every person trapped in trafficking has a story that has been touched with pain. While we cannot change the dark places the oppressed have been, we can fight for them to have hope for their present and future.”

We aren’t supposed to be okay with injustice.  It goes against everything God stands for.  Everything He created us to be.  We are created in His image, after all.  It should be innate nature for us to cringe when we hear about injustice.  And it should be a natural reaction to want to do something about it.

Our fight for justice doesn’t just change their lives.  It changes our lives too.”  -Rapha House

you can make a difference.

It was a brisk -20 degrees in small town Iowa.  It’s cold but it was a good, full day spent with friends.  I’m tired and I don’t know what to write today.  I’ve hit a wall which is a problem considering there are two more weeks to go.  I’ll come up with some new material for you.  It won’t always be this short.  Also, I’ll work on not starting every sentence with an “i”.  That’s annoying.

Here’s another article I read last week about trafficking.  enjoy.

what do you want?

It’s been a snowy, frigid, blustery sort of weekend.  That means movies, blankets, and Christmas cards.  It’s been a chill (pun most definitey intended) Saturday watching some of my favorite movies.

I started with Mary and Martha.  It’s one I’d seen pop up online but I never sat down to watch it.  so good.  Two boys die of malaria in Mozambique.  The mothers meet and decide to do something about this very preventable health crisis killing far too many children each year.

My next movie was Lady Jane.  This one is good and challenging for so many reasons.  Lady Jane ruled Engald for a mere nine days, but in that time, she stood up for justice, displayed mercy, spoke out for the outcast and poor, and defended her faith.  “I want a world where men are not branded and men are not sent to slavery because they cannot grow the food they are to eat….A world where the happiness and comfort of a few are not bought by the misery of many.”

And finally, Patch Adams.  Patch is an unconventional medical student.  Instead of treating a diagnosis, he treats a person holistically.  He knows their name.  He listens.  He laughs and cries with them.  He looks beyond the problem to see the whole person.  He eventually started the Geshundheit Institute, an organization that challenges modern hospitals and how treatment is carried out.

These three movies have a couple things in common.  Their based on true stories.  They’re also about strong individuals who saw a need, had convictions, and decided to do something about them.  That’s what Dressember is for me.  It’s my start to doing something about the injustices happening in Nepal.

Now, I understand not everyone cares about human trafficking.  That’s okay.  It’s great actually.  There are so many important issues out there.  Sarah McLaughlin has her mutilated puppies.  Michelle Obama, nutrition.  Bono, Africa.  Leo DiCaprio, the environment.

What’s your cause?  What sort of changes do you want to see?  What are you going to do about it.  Think about it.  What are you passionate about?  What makes you angry?  Lean into that and start to look at how you could get involved in alleviating the needs that arise.

advent conspiracy.

2013-12-advent-conspiracyChristmas isn’t my holiday of choice, though I’m coming to appreciate the advent season as a whole.  I get frustrated with the commercialism and materialism and become a grinch.  To combat that, I found Advent Conspiracy a few years ago and I’m sold.  It’s a global movement that pushes back the stress and consumption and instead, focuses on worshipping fully, spending less, giving more, and loving all.  Because really, Jesus did these things to the fullest extent by coming to the earth.  He glorified God with everything he said and did.  He resisted the ways of the world and stood up for the injustices at the cost of his time, energy, and reputation rather than an abundance of funds.  He gave his life as a sacrifice for all.  He loved with abandon, fully, generously, unconditionally.

I know spending less and giving more may seem contradictory, but hear me out.  All of these things can be accomplished in a single purchase, if you so choose to pursue that route.  Spending your money wisely in a conscious manner is what it boils down to.  Donate to a ministry in someone’s name.  or Purchase a fair-trade item that stands for justice (something God cares an awful lot about), treats others with dignity and respect, may cost a little more, but is a more meaningful gift in the end.

If you’re like me, December probably flew by and the week before Christmas snuck up on you like a fox in July.  Do you have some last minute Christmas gifts you still need to buy?  How do you feel about doing good well?  Great, me too.  There are options out there that allow you to accomplish both.  We can spend less by spending more.  That doesn’t seem to make sense, but it will.  The items you purchase will be quality and last longer than something cranked out in a sweatshop.  They’ll be made by real people with decent working conditions.  You’ll be supporting families and causes rather than CEOs’ already too big wallets or corrupt or oppressive businesses.

Fair trade or organic goods cost a little more.  I get it.  But, the effects are lasting.  to individuals, economies, and the environment.  It’s worth spending a bit more for a quality product that I know was produced in a healthy environment.  one that contributes to the lives of other individuals somewhere in the world.  one that helps rather than harms.

Here are a few resources and shops you can check out for future purchases that contribute to the good of society.