The Abolition of Slavery and “Learning to Walk in Freedom”

Slavery, and in particular sex trafficking, is an issue that grips my heart. I gained a growing understanding through meeting missionaries like the Garrisons who work with kids rescued out of trafficking.

But it wasn’t until I attended a screening of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls that I really got a glimpse into the depth of the darkness that is human trafficking.

In September of 2011, I attended a screening of the documentary in Harvard Square. I walked away, truly changed. I couldn’t shake the horror of what is happening to those enslaved around the world.

Fast forward to 2012, when I ran 26.2 miles to raise funds for kids rescued from sex trafficking.

IMG_4521

I vowed since then not only to raise awareness, but to put my money where my mouth is. As I wrote Learning to Walk in Freedom, God laid it on my heart to give a portion of the proceeds to those trapped in literal slavery.

Thus, I included these words in my book:

I will mention in closing that God has called me to be part of an army He is raising up. It is an army of people who are willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Alongside my passion for spiritual freedom is my passion for physical freedom—freedom for those who are in literal captivity. Thus, a tithe on the profits from this book will always go to the abolition of slavery.

I want to share this video in closing. In this clip, Benjamin Nolot (creator of the Nefarious film) and his wife Lauren tell the story of receiving a special package from Cambodia, and how it became a life-changing moment for them.

WARNING: This is a graphic depiction of the evidence of a little girl’s abuse.

I plan to keep this post updated with the causes I have given to. So far, I have donated to Project Rescue’s Night Care Shelter program. From the website:

Evening Care Centers are adjacent to the red-light district and are open during peak brothel business hours. These centers provide a way to get vulnerable children out of their mothers’ rooms while they service customers.

Just let the horror of that reality sink in.

This is why I ran a marathon. This is why I give. This is why I talk about human trafficking. Not only for the women, but as the back of my shirt I wore for the marathon said: For The Kids.

 

Freedom Friday: His Goodness

Folks, I have a Freedom Friday post brewing for you.

But we’ve had to leave town suddenly to be with a loved one who is facing the end of life.

And my kids had food dye for the 1st time in a while, and my 2 year-old is literally bouncing off the walls, screaming, “It’s fun time!” over and over, swinging from the long curtains in this extended stay suite, and riding down the table leg as if it’s a fire pole.

I’m not kidding.

I just pray for you that you’d know how good God is. So often I doubt His goodness, and yet He is faithful to His promises.

I finished the marathon.  Barely.

For the kids at Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch.

And I’m learning to let go of someone I love so dearly and feel I desperately need.  Jesus is waiting for him.

I am so thankful and so heartbroken.  And yet, God is faithful.  He’s amazing.

Be back soon. I promise 🙂

Freedom Friday: For The Kids

I need your help, readers.

We often talk about freedom in this blog in terms of being free from metaphorical chains of bondage.  Or the freedom to be who God created us to be.

There are other kinds of freedom and other kinds of bondage.

It is believed that there are currently 21 million people worldwide caught in slavery (forced labor). Approximately 50% of trafficking victims are children, most of whom are caught in sex slavery.

Tomorrow, I will run 26.2 miles for those who can’t speak for themselves.
You can help by praying.  I have pain in my right leg due to what is likely tendonitis.  I also have been having some shin pain this week.  I am just, in general, not a natural when it comes to running.
The kids need your prayers, too.
I am running for the kids.  For those still caught in sex trafficking and those trying to climb their way out.
I will share more on Monday.  But pray for us. And pray about giving.  Don’t just look at your finances or circumstances and decide you’re not able to give.  Pray.  
This is a general admonition, even if I weren’t fundraising.  So often we wait until we have extra in order to give, but don’t stop to pray as to how God would have us respond. I do it as well.  

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

This widow did not wait; she gave.
The God I love and serve didn’t wait until He had extra to give extravagantly.  
He gave His Only.
This is not to say we should enter into giving lightly.  We need to hear God speak to our hearts, but our hearts need to first ask and then be willing to respond.
I’ve responded to God’s call, to give of my time, money and physical resources to run for those who can’t.
Thank you for your prayers.
Lord, help me to give extravagantly this weekend, as You did when You sent Your Only Son to earth.  Help me to run the race You’ve set before.  Thank You that Your power is made perfect when I have nothing to give. Be the Sustainer that I know You are.  Move in the hearts of many, that the hearts of these little children would have the opportunity for You to heal them.  Jesus, Your Name is power. You are mighty.  In Your wonderful name I pray, Jesus, Amen.


For The Kids
My recent personal best at the Zooma Half Marathon

Freedom Friday: Fear of the Unknown

I became a Christian halfway through my 3 years at Second College (I went to college elsewhere for 2 years, took 2 years off, and transferred to a new school to finish).

Initially, I was amazed. God revealed Himself to me, daily, in big ways and little ways.

He came through.

He showed Himself strong.

He was faithful.

Then life happened. I made some bad choices. I didn’t ask God for His help in certain areas. And I found myself in a destructive, and yet familiar, relationship with a woman who “needed my help.”

It’s no secret that I was gay-identified for almost a decade. By the time I came to know Jesus, my identity was firmly planted in being gay. It was who I was, and it was what I knew. It was familiar. It was comfortable in its discomfort (as I talked about last week).

I didn’t know anything else but being gay. So when this relationship began, it simply stood to reinforce my fear: the fear of the unknown.

The fear of the unknown is a powerful force. It keeps us in unhealth because the unhealth we know is familiar. It’s a known pain, a known chaos.

It also keeps us in situations that aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but are not God’s best for us. They are not the next step in God’s plan.

Fear of the unknown keeps us chained.

It keeps us from moving forward.

It keeps us from our Promised Land.

Exodus 14 begins with the Israelites camped by the Red Sea. Pharaoh decided he made a mistake in letting the Israelites go and began to follow them.

We pick up the story in verse 10:

As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

People stay in or run back to miserable situations because of the fear of the unknown. The above quote from the Israelites is a perfect example of that.

I was a perfect example of this. The woman I was in a relationship with had a lot of problems. I had a lot of problems. Even in the best of circumstances, we would have made a horrible match! Underneath that rebellious choice to enter into a relationship that I knew to be wrong was a broken child crying out to her heavenly father, “Are You really enough for me? Can I leave behind everything I’ve known and built my life upon for the unknown that is a relationship with You?”

I have to remember, as I read the above passage, that the Israelites were just beginning to walk out of generations of slavery. It was all they had ever experienced. It was all they knew. They had no context for the Promised Land.

Continuing on in Exodus:

But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”

Moses raised his hand over the sea, and God opened a path through the water for the Israelites. In my case, my girlfriend dumped me, and I decided, painstakingly, one-step-at-a-time, to choose to trust God, not only in the area of my sexuality, but also with my whole life.

When God calls us to something new, it’s not surprising that we will experience fear. Like the Israelites, we have no context for this new journey; all we have is context for the old one. The “what if’s”, the questions, the obstacles – they overwhelm us. They keep us standing still.

But in those moments, you have a choice: stick with the pain you know, or choose to trust God and forge ahead into the pain you don’t know. The latter is a choice to trust that God is who He says He is and He will do what He has said He will do. It’s a choice to believe that He must have something better for you, that this can’t be all there is, that if He’s asking you to move forward, then He will carry us through.

If you are overcome by a fear of the unknown today, surrender it to God. Give Him your questions and hesitations; He’s not afraid of them. Then, stand by. Wait and see how God will fight for you and what He wants to accomplish for you. And “do it afraid”, as Joyce Meyer says. As God commanded the Israelites, go forward, despite the fear. Do not let fear of the unknown paralyze you or keep you from living in the fullness of all God has for you.

I’m praying Romans 15:13 for you today: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Freedom Friday: Black Friday Edition

Happy Thanksgiving, Freedom Friday readers!

This is Freedom Friday, the Black Friday edition. While some are out and about, partaking in this Black Friday, by shopping till they drop, others are experiencing something quite different.

Thanksgiving, for some, was a joyous time to gather with family and friends. It was an opportunity to practice family traditions, eat lots of food, and overall rejoice at all God has given them over the past year.

For others, Thanksgiving wasn’t quite so joyous.

The past year for them may have been full of growth and victory, setbacks and forward motion. They may have gone into the holiday with high hopes for health, for maintaining appropriate boundaries, for showing their family how far they have come.

Yet they walk away from that day, feeling like a failure, wondering if they’ve grown or changed at all.

For still others, Thanksgiving was a wake-up call, a realization that things cannot continue the way they have been. Boundaries need to be set, words need to be spoken, and possibly some relationships need to be put on pause or even severed. Just the thought is likely completely overwhelming.

All of these people are experiencing their own emotional Black Friday.

They find themselves rapidly plummeting into their default setting, experiencing despair instead of trust, falling into complete and utter hopelessness. They might struggle with turning back to old coping patterns, or even attempt to paint a prettier picture of the past than is the reality (a concept I discuss in the article “Craving Egypt“).

Freedom no longer feels attainable, and we wonder if we put in all this effort for nothing.

Before you make any rash decisions, wait.

Pause. Take a breath.

There is still hope.

When we experience the petri dish that often is our family, it is normal to fall back in to old patterns of relating. We revert to the way we’ve always interacted because that’s what we know.

Egypt was all the Israelites knew as they wandered in the wilderness. The promised land? They could only guess what that would be like. But Egypt, despite being slavery, felt familiar. Familiar was comfortable for them.

Even unhealthy patterns of relating can have their own level of comfort, even in the midst of their discomfort. That may seem odd, but this is why people generally fall into certain roles within the family. That role, healthy or unhealthy, becomes familiar. The reactions of other to that role, good or bad, is predictable. If one tries to fit into a new role, people react in new ways. Conflict creates a new type of discomfort. Thus, we often revert back to our unhealthy role with its own discomfort and chaos because at least that discomfort is predictable.

This is also why we often revert to our destructive coping mechanisms. The pain they bring is at least familiar. The pain of growth and change, as we strive to let go of those damaging patterns, is new pain.

The distress of trying to break into new patterns is also new, but necessary, pain. Just as believers need to learn to walk in freedom in our journey of faith, we also need to learn to walk in freedom in the ways we relate to our families.

What can we do to avoid another emotional Black Friday?
1. Remember what God has done. Pull out your encouragement file. Grab your journal and your Bible to recognize who He is and what He’s done in your life and the lives of others.

2. Recognize what happened and still needs to happen. Ask your Source to show you with His eyes what really happened on Thanksgiving. Ask for His perspective. Was there a moment when a boundary was crossed that you should have left the room or stood up for yourself somehow? Was there a time you did stand up for yourself where you should have been silent, that the energy you used was like throwing your emotional pearls to the pigs? Did things really go as well as could be expected or hoped for, and yet it was simply your perception or expectations that were off? What boundaries need to be set and what healing needs to take place?

3. Reflect on what God can do. Look back on your stones of remembrance, the ways God has shown Himself strong and faithful in your life. Practice gratitude. Find something to give thanks for. Put your hope in Him based on His character, His love for His children, and His desire to bless you richly. He desires that you become who He created you to be even more than you do! And finally, choose to trust Him.

Even today can be turned around. Make one good choice. Choose to turn to God and not self-medication. Choose to call a friend and not isolate. Choose to share how you are feeling, out loud, to God rather than stuff it down with too much pie.

Choose freedom. My prayers are with you.

Freedom Fridays: Embrace Grace, Part 1

We know the bottom line: that God is the freedom giver. But how exactly do we find freedom, and how/who does it come from?

The answer is grace.

It is for freedom that Christ set us free, right? How did He set us free?

Through salvation by grace alone.

From the Gospel according to John, chapter 1:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:24

All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 12:9

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

We need to understand what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished, in order to learn to walk in freedom. Jesus’ death on the cross took care of all our sins – those we committed before we were saved AND those we committed since then.

This really was one of the keys in helping me to overcome my struggle with habitual sin. I used to try to achieve obedience, freedom and mastery over my sin by my own strength. I would pray and ask for God’s help, of course; but then when I’d fall, I’d beat myself up for a good amount of time because of my fall. This behavior fit right in line with how I treated myself before I became a Christian, especially as it pertained to my eating disorder. If I ate too much (in my opinion) or didn’t exercise enough, or if I woke up one day and my weight was too high, I’d belittle myself and make resolutions about how to change
whatever it was that I didn’t like.

Galatians 3 says “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

This way of thinking made me pretty legalistic. I made all sorts of rules for myself (and others) in an attempt to measure my faith as well as theirs. If I had boiled down my thinking, my core belief seemed to be that it was easier to follow rules than to try to live in the reality of grace.

It reminds me of Paul’s warning to the Colossians:

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Let me tell you from experience that rules alone will get your nowhere fast.

I just read this today: “Self-striving nurtures self-hatred.” Yes and Amen.

I cannot, cannot do this myself. I never could. That’s precisely why Jesus died on the cross.

More in Part 2, which may or may not be next week. I’m going out of town and will have to see if I have time to post!

Freedom Fridays: Make It a Break-out Year

It’s Freedom Friday!! And I’m taking yet another break from the series, “Learning to Walk in Freedom”, to talk yet again about the holiday that is upon us.

It’s New Years.

Are you making resolutions this year? Lose weight, quit smoking, cut down on your Starbucks spending….

How about making some freedom resolutions?

Back in 2003 or 2004, I started a new way of creating resolutions (my former pastor’s wife taught me this practice). Rather than focusing on specific things I wanted to change, I started to do the following:

1. Brainstorm the different roles you have in your life. Here are a few examples: wife, mom, friend, musician, child of God, daughter, etc.

2. Pray, and using God’s direction, pick 2-3 that you’d like to work on for the year.

3. Brainstorm statements about what you’d like to improve upon (priorities).

4. Formulate goals accordingly.

Here’s another things I learned. Goals should be SMART:
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Timed

A quick note about goal-setting and figuring out if your goals are “SMART”: try to think about whether or not your goal is something that someone would be able to hold you accountable to. If you say, “I’d like to read the Bible more” or “I’d like to make more Christian friends”, it’s not really measurable or specific enough, so someone wouldn’t be able to hold you accountable to that. But it also needs to be realistic. Saying, “I’m going to read the whole Bible in a day” isn’t really attainable nor is it realistic. Saying, “I’m going to find a weekly Bible study to join in the next 3 months” or “I’m going to read a chapter of the Bible 5 days a week” would fit the SMART model.

Think of a way to frame your goals so that you can assess whether or not you’ve reached them. Some goals may be more general and those are the ones that are more difficult to narrow down. Another question you could ask yourself is what are some practical steps I could take to achieve this goal?

Here are some examples of what I’ve done, in terms of brain-storming roles and making priorities and goals out of them.

For 2005, my focus roles were:
Lover of God
Worshiper
Wife
Healer
Recoverer

Yes, I chose too many, but as the year progressed, it became clear which ones were to be my main focus.

Based on that, my list of priorities:

To Keep my Focus on God:
• In My Actions
• In My Marriage
• In My Recovery
• In My Music and Singing
• In My Work with Others

That year, I ended up really focusing on healing. That focus naturally overflowed into my other relationships and roles. Practically, I focused on healing by growing in my understanding of who God is and who I am as His daughter, through reading the Bible and Christian books, listening to Christian speakers, growing in my friendships and praying. I unfortunately cannot find my specific goals that I set, but you get the picture.

Here’s what I wrote at the end of 2005 as I reflected on my resolutions.

2005 has been a “breakout” year for me, truly. I heard a pastor preach on this theme at the beginning of the year, and I embraced it.

It was a choice.

And it was a hard choice, but healing and victory and joy and freedom are always choices that we can make, if that’s what we truly want. If it’s not what we want, then we will keep making the same mistakes. I decided I didn’t want to live that way anymore. And praise be to God, I’m choosing not to live that way anymore, with God’s help.

When you look toward 2011, what are your hopes and dreams? What are you looking forward to?

Do you want it to be a “break-out” year, like 2005 was for me?

What roles or areas of your life can you focus on in order to make it a break-out year?

Do you need to go to counseling, find a mentor, get a life/freedom coach, join a Bible study or support group, start going to church regularly, pray for God to re-make you, allow His spirit to illuminate who He is in new ways?

In the sermon I referenced above, my pastor played the Switchfoot song, “Dare You To Move“. I wasn’t super-familiar with the song, but I walked away thinking, over and over, “I dare you to move.”

Today you have a choice: to stay stuck in the same place, doing the same things that are not working for you, or you can allow God to move you into true freedom.

I dare you to move.

I dare you to trust that the God of the universe has a vested interest in seeing you learn to walk into freedom.

Make a choice today: to do whatever it takes to make 2011 a break-out year for you.

Freedom Friday: A New & Glorious Morn

Today I’m going to share with you the One Thing that is the key to learning to walk in freedom!

This is not a continuation of last week, but a separate teaching due to the holidays 🙂 When I say “due to the holidays”, what I mean is “due to the fact that I am out of town and left my notes for today’s entry at home.” Then again, I thought it’d be kind of silly to ignore the fact that much of the world is celebrating Christmas tomorrow!

Last year at this time, I published an article entitled “God Gave His Only“. You should read it.

God knew before He created you and me that we’d inherit from our ancestors in the Garden of Eden a propensity to make bad choices, with the complete inability to throw off the chains of struggle.

Before the foundation of time, God devised a master rescue mission. Jesus was not God’s Plan B or C, as my pastor pointed out last week. He was God’s plan A.

My 3 year old son thinks Christmas is all about presents and for the past few weeks has daily presented me with things he cannot live without and must get for Christmas. I realized, quite pitifully, that he had no idea why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place.

Mommy FAIL.

Anyway, we started reading about the birth of Jesus in his kid’s Bible. For the first time, I noticed that little manger packed with straw and it really struck me: Jesus was a baby.

Mary pushed that baby out the old-fashioned way with no epidural or fetal monitoring in a barn with animals and their poo hanging out everywhere.

I’m sure this struck me as especially interesting because I had a c-section with my 3 year-old and a homebirth with my youngest. I had people ask me if having a baby at home is sanitary. More sanitary than a barn!

Anyway, Jesus was a baby. He cried when He needed His mom (contrary to what “Away in a Manger” says), He was breastfed, He had poopy diapers. For years, He needed adults to meet His every need.

Jesus could have easily come as a full-grown man. He was God, after all. He could have floated down from the clouds and made quite an entrance for Himself!

Instead, as my acquaintance Alicia Britt Chole says, Jesus had 30 hidden years (get the book with your Christmas money) during which He knew His call & His purpose, yet He lived a life that looked pretty normal from the outside – and did not sin.

Jesus was God’s plan A for learning to walk in freedom.

God saw that people He loved were drowning in their sin. Because of His great love for His creation, because of His compassionate heart for His children. He knew that it would be painful for both God the Father and Jesus His Son, but He did it anyway. He spared no expense, but extravagantly gave His only; He did what needed to be done in order for us to have the opportunity to be reconciled to Him, the chance to live in freedom, once and for all.

As The Message says, “Christ has set us free to live a free life.”

As we meditate on the birth of the Freedom Giver, let us reflect on the words of this song that are heavy on my heart:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Jesus, in His birth, His life, in His death and in His resurrection, gives us the opportunity to become recreated into the person He designed us to be. Because of Him, we can walk into “a new and glorious morn”: an abundant life of true freedom.

“Let all within us praise His holy name.”

Freedom Fridays: Act Like a Free Person, Part 1

What have we covered so far in Freedom Fridays?

Intro: What is Freedom? Part 1 & Part 2

1. Spend Time with the Freedom Giver: Part 1 & Part 2

2. Spend Time with Freedom Seekers

PSA: I Am Not a Superhero

And today: Act Like a Free Person

It may seem pretty basic, but part of learning to walk in freedom is choosing to act like a free person.

We’ve already talked about freedom being a one-time gift and a process. 2 Peter 1:3 says that “His (Jesus) divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” Everything we need – and not just for life, but also for godliness.

Galatians 5:24 says that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh (or sinful nature) with its passions and desires. It doesn’t say “are in the process of crucifying the flesh” or “will someday master crucifying the flesh”, but it says it has already been crucified!

Lest you think this is a typo of some sort or a copying error, remember Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Jesus Himself said in John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

Galatians 5:13 says that the reason God called us was to be free, not so that we would struggle through life, just barely holding on till heaven.

Romans 6:6 says “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” Verse 17 says we used to be slaves to sin, and verse 18 goes on to say that “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

So now that I’ve bombarded you with Scriptures stating that we are now free and no longer slaves in our sinful desires, you may either be feeling 1) empowered or more likely 2) defeated and discouraged. Either way, please keep reading! There is a way out of the cycle of sin.

If this is really true, if I’m really a free person, why do I continue to act as if I am enslaved to sin?

Shouldn’t it be easier, when we are faced with temptation, to just say no and walk away? Why did Paul even talk about, in Romans 7 directly after writing all these verses about not being a slave to sin, his struggle with doing what he didn’t want to do?

I remember a former pastor of mine sharing a story about elephants. I used to think it was about chickens, so if you heard me speak, this is the story I used to share about chickens. But my husband said it was actually about elephants and now it makes a lot more sense!

So, back to the story. In the circus, a common way to train elephants is to tie them with strong ropes to a sturdy pole. The elephants are tied to the pole when they are very young and quite small. Naturally, they initially fight being tied to the pole, but eventually resign themselves to the fact that they cannot get free.

As the elephant grows, the pole and rope stay the same size. Though the animal has everything in him that he needs to break free, he stills acts as if he is in bondage to this pole & rope. The elephant is so used to being enslaved to the pole that he never takes the time to try and see if he could be free.

We as believers often act the same way. We are so used to responding to the desires of our flesh that we don’t realize we can make different choices. We can act like a free person.

Let me share another analogy. Imagine that a person who has walked with a limp his whole life finds out there is a procedure available to correct that limp. He has the surgery, but he is so used to walking with a limp that he needs to undergo physical therapy to relearn how to walk.

Therefore, we as believers should not be surprised when we fall into old habits and patterns. That’s why I call it “learning to walk in freedom”. We need to proactively make choices to act like a free person.

And with that, stay tuned for the conclusion of this next week 🙂

Perspective: Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch

Today, the founders of Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch visited my church. They had visited our church several years back, and their mission has been heavy on my heart. It was great to see them today and hear an update.

Their main work is the rehabilitation and defense of street children in the Philippines. Happy Horizons monitors and cares for hundreds of street children, many of whom have been abandoned or orphaned by civil war, abused or rejected by dysfunctional and poverty-stricken families, and further traumatized by the indifference of the societies in which they live. They also rescue children from the sexual slavery. You can read more about their mission here.

Did you know it is estimated that:
~ 27 million people are currently enslaved
~ 80% of those are women & children
~ 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year

Glenn Garrison, one of the HHCR founders, shared a story about how children at the Ranch need to be told that they will be having meals 3 times a day; otherwise, they don’t finish their meals but rather stuff food in their pockets to save for later. They are used to eating every few days. This, in particular, struck me. My parents never gave me the “there are starving children in Africa” line in order to get me to finish my meal, and we do not participate in the “Clean Plate Club” at our house. But having overcome an eating disorder, I still sometimes struggle with knowing when I’ve eaten enough and definitely have eaten when I was not hungry because I felt like eating or the food tasted good. There are children everywhere who do not know where their next meal will come from. This striking story reminded me of the importance of giving my body what it needs and stopping there.

Glenn shared that these children are often completely defenseless. A man comes along and buys a girl a meal and a nice dress and she feels indebted to him. Many of these children don’t have a name and don’t even know their birthdays or how old they are.

I can’t help but think of my own children. Jesus said “whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me.” The Garrisons are doing exactly that. It’s an important work. Check out their website and support them if you are able.