Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It's All In One's Perspective

9:00 a.m., late March, 34 degrees, the beautiful sun is shining casting long shadows on the barren ground, birds singing and tree limbs moving to a slight breeze.

What part of that description grabs you?

Sadly, if you look on any social media site, the part of that description most would pick up on is the 34 degrees. One status after another would wonder 'where is spring?' or complain about the ground hog's prediction last month.

Where is the beauty in complaining? Where is the joy? Do I complain? You bet. I'm I saying no one should complain when life is really the pits? We are human. We need to vent, complain, yell, scream and cry. It's okay. However, there is a time after we express our feelings that we need to look outside of our situation.

Lately, I've been trying my hardest to find out what is really important. What makes a difference. How I can be a better person. And, do you know what? It is really hard to be that kind of person.

For in searching, one finds truth. In truth one finds a responsibility. In responsibility there is a form of action. In action I, personally, find a bit of fear. And, in fear I find many 'what if's'.

What am I doing in my life that is making a difference in any one's life or the world for that matter? For instance, sitting at my desk in my warm home tapping on the keyboard to create words I wonder if anyone reads. And, if someone does read this, is it making a difference in their life? Or am I wasting time. Then I begin to wonder why I'm so concerned if anyone reads these many letters that form words.

As I read the following words yesterday, my heart cried out in agreement:
Some of you write in quiet spaces with words you don’t think anyone reads, but you keep writing because writing makes you come alive. And I cheer you on because you’re doing what you love, you’re pushing through and finding your voice and sharing your words as an offering.  ~~   Emily at Chatting at the Sky
An offering I pray is holy and pleasing to God. I know I fail in this responsibility many, many times. Typing words in frustration only to show a person who is a work in progress. And I hope it resonates with you as we are all on this journey together.
I hope you see something human here, something hopeful, something that calls courage out from places within you that maybe you forgot were there, something that resonates with you as a person. I hope you see something here that reminds you that you’re not alone.   ~~ Emily at Chatting at the Sky 
Deep in my soul, I know God is working on me. I know there is something rumbling to bubble to the surface. I have a feeling I know what it is, yet, I don't. Certain things enter my mind and heart and won't go away, won't be pressed down. Yet, I don't know what to 'do'. Isn't it funny how I tend to think I have to 'do' when perhaps I'm to 'wait' and pray?

15 minutes later and it is still 34 degrees. The sun is still shining. I have a roof over my head. I have a coat to wear. I have a car to get me to work and back. I have the freedom to attend a church of my choice this Sunday to celebrate our risen Lord. I have an embarrassingly-blessed life. Why should I complain?
Only a blanket and flip-flops & hat
to keep him warm in the coldest
winter in the jungle in years.

I am trying to think on these things when I get caught up in my problems, my issues and my complaints: Around the world there are heartaches. There are women and children, both in our backyards and around the world, who are treated like trash. There are families living on the streets, under bridges, in tent cities, in jungles where it has been the coldest winter in years. There are others who are ill, in constant pain, or saying final goodbyes to friends and family.
So happy to receive a blanket to keep her family warm.

My problems? So, so small. My dancer daughter brought to my attention my complaints the other day as "first world problems". She has witnesses problems in third world countries. I try to remember how embarrassingly-blessed I really am on this side of the world. Will I always remember these things as I go through everyday life? Probably not but I am sure going to try.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A (Very) Noble Groom

First and foremost, shall we get the drooling and swooning out of the way? Let's take a moment...

Sigh. I'll wait a moment while you wipe your chin and get control of yourself.......[insert music here]
A Noble Groom, by the wonderful, fabulous Jody Hedlund, is a book you should purchase immediately! Too bossy? Okay. Let me re-word. It would be to your advantage to purchase a copy of said book for your reading enjoyment. How's that? Better?
Welcome to Forestville, Michigan, 1880-1882 where German immigrants, who are trained miners, become farmers in a wooded region in order to survive. Stations in life and traditions, whether right or wrong, are still being followed from the old country. Women are under the thumb of any man who wants to marry and the women have no choice in the matter. Farm animals are treated better than most of the women and children.
Annalisa is a young mother and wife who gives up on fairy-tale love and accepts a loveless marriage. Her daughter and unborn child keep her sane as she tries to avoid her husband. Suddenly, Annalisa's husband dies mysteriously. A new groom from the Old Country is chosen by her father and all await his arrival.
In walks Clark. Clark is running away from his past. He has become quite efficient at running away. He has something to hide. If uncovered it will rock the world of those in Forestville, MI.
While the family waits for Annalisa's groom to arrive, Clark is asked to help Annalisa on the farm in hopes of securing the farm until the groom gets to MI. This is where it gets good. Really good. Clark is unlike any of the German immigrants, except the pastor, in Forestville. He is kind, considerate, and treats Annalisa like a lady. Clark is on the run and doesn't plan to stay forever. A friendship develops. Do you see where this is going? Mmmmm hmmmm.
Jody, you did an excellent job (again) of making the characters human...not just flat, one dimensional people in a book. I could feel the heartache. I was mad when the women and children were treated terribly. I wanted to shout a few times at Clark when he would say certain things around Annalisa making her question whether he would stay or run like the wind. I could see Clark holding the baby. I found myself needing to slow down my reading during the scenes of "action" because I started skipping over words to know if everyone was okay. Well done, Jody, once again!
Jody has written three other books (which you need to read...that's an order! Obviously I'm a little bossy today.). Preacher's Bride, The Doctor's Lady and Unending Devotion. All three focus on a person from history. Jody told me A Noble Groom is more "traditional". Even if Jody considers this "traditional", it has an underlying theme.
Like Unending Devotion, which dealt with human trafficking in the 1880's, A Noble Groom also brings to light the treatment of women and children in that era. Maybe it is because my daughter just returned from a few third world countries and saw the awfulness of human trafficking on women and children that this came to the forefront of my mind. But, as I read A Noble Groom I couldn't help ache for the treatment of the women and children when some think of them as just a piece of meat. They have no voice. They do as they are told because it could mean physical and emotional mistreatment.
Clark, to me, represented what Christ meant when He said, "Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the church..." Ephesians 5:25  If Clark saw a husband mistreating his wife, he didn't stand by and keep quiet. He wanted the men to take note of how they were treating the women and children. He cared. He loved. Just like Christ cares for the 'least of these'. It doesn't matter if you are dirty, poor, wealthy or are born into the "right" family. God loves you.
Are you convinced yet to run, walk, drive, hail a taxi, hop over to your favorite book seller on the web and purchase this book? Good!
And...eeeeeee!!!!....Jody has Rebellious Heart coming out in September and available for pre-order!

Friday, March 15, 2013

But What Can I Do?

Dancer Daughter has returned from her season with a mission group. Six months of living with people who have become her second family. It is bitter sweet for her. She has grown to love her second family. It is hard. But, she'll survive. Text, facebook, Skype, reunions already being planned. Technology is a wonderful thing.

The graduation ceremony was filled with praise songs, original songs written by a few after what they witnessed, dances set to songs about slavery, poems, videos and pictures. Very emotional as the students shared from their hearts. One sentence out of a video shown about a part of the third world country he was sent to do outreach has stuck with me.  "Everyone here knows the drink Coca-Cola but they do not know who Jesus is..."

I am filled with mixed emotions for our girl. First at her home away from home when good-byes were being said after graduation. Since she didn't know where we were parked and it was too dark to find our vehicle easily, I stayed in the building to wait for her to finish with good-byes. At first I stayed on an enclosed 'porch' to give her some space but it got too cold. So, I moved inside where she was giving and receiving hugs. I may or may not have had a lump in my throat as I watched the scene unfold. It was emotional as it always is with good-byes. I love having her home. But,I know this time at home is only for a period of time. As it is with our oldest daughter one day as well. They grow. They move on. T'is the blessing/curse of growing up and of parenthood.

Two months out of the six found her in three countries loving women and children at risk. Human trafficking became heavy on my heart as I learned more and more over this time period and in the time since. My heart broke for women and little girls exposed to things we can't even imagine. I didn't experience this tragedy called human trafficking first hand but the stories are embedded in my mind and heart. So much so, I can't seem to shake it. I tear up now as I type just thinking about little children lying beside their mothers in a brothel while a strange man lays beside them.

Human trafficking is not only happening in "other" countries, it is happening in our backyards. Slavery never ended like our history books like to say. Human trafficking is happening today. Tomorrow and each day after that unless we do something. But what? How?

Where is the hope? Where is God? Yes, I just asked that. We are His hands and feet (as old as that cliche' is it is true) to show them Jesus. And, we are human. Humans with many flaws. Sometimes we think we know more than God. That is when we get into trouble. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of the unseen (Hebrews 11:1) Prayer, faith and those going forth in the name of Jesus to make Him known to everyone. Aren't those a few of the foundation of our faith in a loving God? God knows what is happening. God aches for all people. The rich, the poor and the enslaved. God will help them; that is faith. And, that is what I am holding on to in the moment.

Please watch this video as our daughter and a few others share the realities of children at risk.

If you'd like to watch more videos like the above click here.

Will you join me in prayer?