Monday, April 30, 2012

Blue Sunday

Yesterday was Blue Sunday, a day we highlight and remember the children that are neglected and as a result die from the abuse. Each day, there are more than 4 children who die from abuse and most children die in the hands of parents and or guardians who are suppose to protect them from the world. That adds up to 1560 children who die each year in the United States in their own homes under neglectful parents, who they rely on for love and safety. Blue Sunday is the first day of a 7 day prayer week that focuses on the children, the parents, the family, the role of the church, the responsibility of the community, the workers for children, and the policy makers. All of these people are critical in saving children who are gifts from God.

Another aspect of Blue Sunday is to remember and become aware that human trafficking is a growing business all over the world. This isn't happening only in China, Columbia or India, but it is right here in our own country, in fact, Chicago is the main national hub for human trafficking. Every day there is someone walking through the arrival gates of O'Hare International Airport that is being trafficked. 325,000 children are being trafficked every year in the United States of America and the prime age of sex trafficked children are the ages between 9 and 17. Human trafficking is so popular among criminal business groups because human being can be sold over and over, where as guns and drugs are parishable comodities, they can only be sold once. These things also cost money to obtain and or create, where as human beings can be kidnapped and traded like baseball cards.

According to UNICEF, 21,000 Children still die each day of preventable causes. They're mission is "to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood, including health care, clean water, nutrition, education, protection, emergency relief and more." By their definition, an orphan is a child who has lost one or both parents. There were over 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2005, and those are orphans from the listed countries, not to mention orphans from the rest of the world. It is estimated that there are 143 million to 210 million orphans worldwide. Out of the millions of children orphaned, only 250,000 children are adopted annually, and those who are no adopted and are institutionalized until they age out at 18, 10% commit suicide, 60% of girls become prostitutes and 70% of boys become hardened criminals.
  The numbers are staggering and it seems there is nothing we can do that would make any difference. "I am only one person!" we cry out, "what can we do?" If we cannot bring in the millions of children all over the world into your homes, start with one or love and become a good example to children who are fatherless. Protecting children is something we can all do without breaking the bank, volunteering at your local school or becoming a foster parent can protect them from the hands of abuse. If this is too much, you can be a safe house, where children stay in your home for a week to a month at a time. This program allows parents to keep their children in a safe place while they look for jobs or get their life situated without the stress of taking care of a child on top of their laundry list of things rectify in their lives. This program also allows the parent to recieve their children back into their embrace without potentially losing their children to the State. You can also donate to children focused organizations such as Crossing Borders NK ministries, UNICEF, your local adoption agency and become the defender of the weak.

“Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Deliver the weak and needy from the hand of the wicked.”  Ps 82:3-4

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Manic Writing No more

I was convinced that I had nothing to say any more, that I had become a mindless drone, a product of another one of my anti-depressants (or serotonin booster). I go back and forth with Cymbalta, on one hand I sleep so much better by popping one pill a day and on the other I am so much more free to think and it's not so hard to shed a tear. It's always the same with these SSRN medications, makes you a even and a sensible human being or shall I say robot. You're not sad but you're also not happy. I'm not sure which is more desirable, the ability to be myself, feel, cry, laugh and think about all the things that occur to me and put them on paper or sleep, be sensible and not have a million thoughts and images going like a flip book in my mind's at all at the same time. It's a toss up. Can't there be a happy medium?

Then it makes me think about how my writing isn't always so driven by my emotions, although it is a lot easier when you are melancholia is pouring out of your fingers in such a dramatic way, you don't ever have to think up ways to be interesting. Why is it by the way, to be so creative and prolific when you're sad and emotional? Why don't we have more talented geniuses that are happy and fulfilled in life? Can you think of a genius artist that was actually happy? Let me climb out of that rabbit hole. (shake) What about the talent and the ability that God has given me and I forgot that I once began writing because I had something to say about God and his work in my life. To tell stories and record of his good works because there are so many, I don't ever want to forget them lest I am disgruntled.

I don't need to rely on manic, dark capes and crazy haired, in dark corners in the recess of my depressed soul to produce good writing! I just need to practice, I need to choose to be honest again. For a stint of time, I had shriveled into a ball of insecurity and privacy because I thought I owed people the right to speak into my life and give me directives I don't agree with. Sure, I'm open to your suggestions and if I am clearly involved in some base human smut too ugly no one should endure, sure let me know and I would change my ways, but I don't mind airing out a little dirty laundry. Why? Why so honest and open? Because I know that I make mistakes and I am not a saint, but I am confident in my weakness for God is glorified when he is the one that makes me anything worth loving. Plus I know that I'm not the only one that feels the way I do, you can relate to some of the things I post right?

Sorry and Thanks

I'm sorry you knew me at a time where I wanted to abandon everyone I knew to pursue selfish dreams. I'm sorry I met you at a time I had wanted to flush my whole story in Chicago down the toilet so that I could be anonymous and different to a whole set of new people. I was going to live a life set up for me, and finally pursue the dreams I wanted instead of waiting for something that wouldn't come, that should have come. I'm sorry when you knew me, I had a crisis of choice and life change that shut the door to a selfish choice and opened a gate to a choice that had never been so clear to me than at that moment. From you I found my true calling, higher than I dared to climb and still terrified that I would fall off this high mountain.

I am so sorry that you didn't know me when I was sure of myself, carefree with more to give then the three years I had known you. By the time our roads crossed, I've been battling bitterness, depression and disappointment  I can't quite explain to you or recount for myself. Then you entered into a dark place with me when I lost my first child and almost lost my adopted one because I got pregnant. I don't know what I would have done without you, I feel I only benefited from your grand entrance into my life. I guess what happened before you has nothing to do with you, your journey with me only starts when you finally enter, but alas, you entered at such an inopportune time. I say inopportune partly because I'm embarrassed of the side you've seen, the weakness you've supported, the ugly you endured, the foolishness you tolerated in me. I wish I had been a better example, I wish I had given you the best of me, the kind of person I was before I met you.

For me, you were perfect, for me you were  a gift God had given me as I waited for my adoption to finally come through, like a pacifier as I wait for my true sustenance. You entered at the climax of the story that had been written time before us, and more than not, you were the catalyst to what is the turning point in the dramatic play depicting a child and his family uniting as one. You were the one that ushered him into my consciousness, that guided me and nudged awake to adoption, when I had planned to postpone that idea till I absolutely had to, when all my selfish heights were reached. I'll be different you'll see, I want to show you that you caused me to be better and although I wanted to be your life changer, you changed my life.

Thank you for letting me live out the girlhood I missed, letting me be the teenager I never was. Thank you for not seeming me as a fool, but considered me your equal, your friend. Thank you for letting me get out what I needed to, thank you for becoming the extended family I longed for, to adopt me as a sister and fulfill in me the need to be accepted for who I am. It's still true you know, I feel ordinary with you. Like I belong and I'm not so weird and glaringly different.

Choose Every day

I began writing a story that reflected what's past in someone else's life and planned to present the world with a "ta-da" of what their life has turned out today because of the love and care of God on high and the lowly servant who gave her life to another. My intentions weren't weren't to hide behind someone else's sordid past to prove my point or write a good story, but it seems, I couldn't bring to life what a redeemed like looked like when it wasn't my dirty laundry to hang. No matter how lovely the story or how inspiring they are to me. Then I thought about how my life wasn't once so base and I am a new creation never to fall into the traps laid out by the dark forces scurrying about the earth. Nor am I free from my own lust for my frivolous and fleeting desires for a fickle heart but I am constantly resorting back to days of foolish youth. The difference is though, I am no longer young and the kind of mistakes I make while frolicking about in carefree abandonment has greater consequences on not only my own character but to the heart of those around me. I am responsible for more. I don't want to grow old but not grow wise, for a young fool becomes an old fool if you are not making small decisions very day toward that goal.

I took my choices and every day decisions for granted, blaming outside circumstances for the life that just happened to me. The activities I'm involved in, "Crossing borders asked me to be on staff, I had no choice," the service I do, "someone just asked me to be on praise team, and I couldn't quit, I had no choice but to serve for nearly 11 years." No one is putting a gun to my head, making me choose these small every day choices to attend church everyday, pray every morning, and ask for forgiveness every night. I'm not boasting in the things I do or showing that I am the person I am today because I did this, I made this lovely humanitarian princess that you see before you, no. A large part of my redemptive life was because of the saving Grace of God that urges me every day to become more like him but I also will it.

Everyday we are becoming what we are to be. We aren't disconnected from the activities we choose to do in a given free day nor are we unrelated to the words we say. We cannot say, "that's just the language I use, but what I am on the inside is different from what you see." The culmination of what we think and do makes us who we are, thus we can't be surprise to see ourselves in the mirror one day and say to ourselves, "how did I get here?" "why am I doing this?" I had a moment just like this lately, looking back on the last three years. I had been getting drunk more often and it was a common day when I would have a drink or two, with only two days at the longest that I would go without. I came to this point gradually. I began drinking more and more because I had found a new culture outside of my usual and it was acceptable, it was expected and nonchalant. Not that I wasn't drinking before, or getting drunk but this was way more than I had liked or expected. It's the small choices I had made in each heated moment that inched me toward this life and how bigger thing snowball from another glass filled.

I don't drink more than one glass of wine or beer and I don't even drink every weekend. Not because I feel drinking is wrong, but I have a propensity toward it and I have to make a decision for myself that will make me wiser, more controlled, more present and aware of my actions and words. I want to follow The Spirits guiding and not guided by spirits (sorry bad pun). Day by day, I had chosen to close my self off from people because people hurt me and I choose to deprive them of my love, my full emotional availability. I think that's why I've been in such a quiet mood, not because I am becoming more humble but I am driven by fear. I find that extremely disappointing when I had married a tattoo for the rest of my life that states, "For God didn't not give us a spirit of fear..." on my right hip. I feel I am at a perpetual state of under development because I have chosen for myself God and the world, because I want both. I want to love both. But humans aren't created this way, you only love one. God or the world. You have to choose every day.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Good Friday

Today, I attended the annual Good Friday service at my church. Like usual we had our neighboring churches join us and like usual it was  somber, quiet. But this year, I am unusually touched by the emotional state Jesus was in the night was betrayed by his friends and into the hands of the ones that will accuse him with hard lies. The Three crosses he had to bear below are what we reflected on this night, even before he was to be crucified to a wooden cross the next day.  I feel blessed tonight by another layer of understanding, another facet of that fateful day when Jesus would give his life for us.

1. Betrayal:
Scripture: Psalm 41:9; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 26:14-16 and 20-25; Luke 22:54-62

Betrayal is both hard to imagine and yet easy to do (both peter and Judas vigorously denied they would betray Jesus, yet they did). How does your loyalty to Him Compare with His loyalty to you?

I don't know how many times I've betrayed Jesus myself, denying him every day because I couldn't or wouldn't deny myself of fleshy desires. Fulfilling my immediate wants and thoughts, waking up everyday thinking, "how can I please myself today?" I may not say that verbatim, but my posture sure bends toward that attitude. Then as the day wears on, I do fulfill every whim, hunger whether it's physical or heart, emotional or intellectual, my deep hunger must be filled with something, anything before the pang of makes me grow fangs and tempers flare up. How am I loyal to Christ when I have denied my identity by conduct alone, not to mention thoughts, actions, words and the my hearts desires? I have made him small in my eyes and in turn, I have muddied myself turning away from Him who is the Rock on which I stand. 

Prayer: Jesus, Thank you for your loyalty and commitment to us Bend our hearts to be loyal to you as well.

2. Aloneness:
Scripture: John 12:23-28; John 16:28-32; Mark 14:32-41

Jesus knows that it feels like to be alone, even abandoned by others. In face, many times we are now the ones who abandon Him. Despite this, He bore the burden of aloneness so that even when we feel most alone, we aren't. How does this encourage you? 

In the scriptures above, Jesus prays that he is anxious and wants this cup to pass from him. He wept and cried tears mixed with blood while his friends slept. He asked the disciples to pray with him and stand guard, to be there for him, as we would if we are afraid or when we are feeling alone. When he had to ask several times, he must have been disappointed and felt utterly alone that his friends, his closest confidants could not even stay up one night to comfort their beloved Jesus. Why did God give his son over to death to bare all the sins of people over the coming history of the world, and make him bare more than just physical death? Because this way, He knows, He feels what we feel and know what we know about being human. More than sympathizing but empathizing, wearing flesh over his pure soul, being marred physically and emotionally so that we will have the benefit of being encouarged when we are betrayed, alone, accused.

Jesus,  Thank you for always being there with us and for us. Forgive us for the times that we have left you alone.

3. Accusation
Scripture: Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 12:22-24; Mark 14:53-64

Perhaps you've never gone as far as Jesus' accusers did, but Christians are often tempted ot say, think or believe things about God that are simply not true (e.g. God doesn't love me anymore). How has pain or frustration tempted you to accuse Jesus of things that are not true of Him?

Many times I will say that God has forgotten about me, and let me alone in the desert with the wolves when he knows I cannot withstand. I have thought one time or another that I am being punished for being disobedient or not fulfilling a destiny I should have manifested by now. No, none of it is true. I have also made God to be a vengeful slave driver, who is not happy until I have become a soul-less robot only living to do his bidding. I am afraid that if I fully commit to him and say it out loud, he will take away every fun, humorous, glittery part of me and reduce me to an old hag who only wears black knee length dresses with lace collars, singing old hymns all day long.  Why will I not see that being devoted to him sets me free and more than being the dead soul I am now, I can be the joyful, patient, devoted, humble, wise, content, loyal, loved person he is longing for me to be.

Jesus, guard our hearts against any false picture of who you are and what you are like. Help us to see you as you truly are. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Everyone Disappoints

I would hate to think that I'm a tester. That I test people's intentions and love for me, pushing and pulling just to see if anything would give way. I don't have the mental capacity to manipulate, plan or scheme, but in my small innate way, do I ask certain questions, push my love or omit it from you to see if you really will love me forever? I don't believe in human love any more...I may be in a funk of some sort right now, but for now and right now, I don't believe in human love. You promise to love me, when you say, "I love you," "olive Juice," "elephant juice," all of it, I believe it in the moment that the words appear before my eyes. It's more than letters strung together, I believe you and I want to love you too.

He was the one pillar in my life that loved me unconditionally, so I thought. He never raised his voice or intentionally hurt my feelings and if he had by accident, he apologized without a moment to spare. He is the solid foundation and solid rock, almost as though Jesus had made him to be a poor man's savior for me, while we're on earth. He would be the oasis so that when I am done swimming and I need to dry off, I lain in his warm soft sinking sand and I am enveloped by the suns rays. When I'm tired from treading water, I can crawl into shore and finally lay with all my weight given on to him and I am resting again. Nothing seems to matter, nothing seemed to be that bad when I'm with him.

Now... I see that he had betrayed the solidity and sufficiency I had in him. I see that he too is human and he can give way. Is this to lesson me on the love of Jesus and how there is truly only one pure love? To re-educated me to knowing that I shall stand alone, not as an island, but with broken legs, balance out without crutches or a wheel chair for me to rest on. Teetering an tottering forever on, without the support of even a ledge to release me from the pressure of my own weight and the pain of the wounded leg.

who can I fully trust but Jesus himself? no one. No one can be trusted and no one can be trusted with me.

Alice, you're losing your Much-ness

Alice, you're losing your "much-ness." The fall has landed you in a place that is unfamiliar and curious. You grow big one minute with love flowing from every which way you look. The group envelopes and hold in a cocoon of affection, filling your heart with cream and you are over grown and can't get out. Then you grow smaller, with each look, love of omission hurts the most, you shrink into a smaller version of you not able to voice your opinions, your jokes, your "remember whens." You are neither big or small, you are you and the change in you is exaggerated in the vortex. Everything seems so real and nothing seems real. You don't know how you fit into this room, too big and too small, how to reach the table above, and the key below, you are turned around and pulled every which way.

The smiles cajole you and you reach into it's cat green eyes, lost and lost in the smoke of happiness and delirium of carelessness. What is this place that we can't see straight and think straight. We are no longer ourselves, in good ways and in most monstrous ways, everything seems dramatic and theatrical, crying, laughing, doubling over from the passion we feel. But we must leave, and know who we are "I am Alice." For if you stay here too long, you will lost yourself and in turn everyone else will forget you too.

Follow back from hence you came, follow the path and go home and know that you are "Alice," and even in Wonderland, there is just one Alice, but she's the Alice that has gumption and muchness. Don't cry from rejection, don't fret that the queen of hearts will come hurrying down with her army of cards, her threats of "off with her head!" is no longer a threat, but an honor that you threaten her seat of Queen-hood.