Friday, January 31, 2014

What I tell her is sad

What I tell the woman in this picture is a travesty. 

See, I tell her horrible lies about herself.  How much weight she needs to lose to be beautiful. How she really can't wear pretty sexy things because she's not thin enough. How lazy she is because she doesn't always make healthy food for herself because she's so busy going to school and working that frozen pizza is all she can manage. How lazy she is for not working out regularly and what a poor example she is for her children. But part of the reason I tell her these things is that she much more often looks like this 

Then that first picture up there. She's in sweats and yoga pants without a shower or make up or 'fixed' hair.   You know what I miss when I tell this awesome woman those things?  That smile. The one on both of those girls in that second photo. How can you miss that? 

I miss how driven she is to make a better life for her family that she has had to make choices about what to prioritize at this stage in her life. I miss the deep love she wants her children to have for themselves and the fact that she needs to model that for them. I miss her spunky nature. I miss her consistent smile for everyone. I miss her passion to live fully. I miss her compassion for the broken hearted. I miss her great baking abilities. I miss all of those wonderful things about her and so much more. I hesitated to even send that bottom picture to my love because Heaven forbid he see me at a less than perfectly crafted status. 

When I miss these things about myself I miss them about you too. I become critical of everyone else's flaws. I buy into the beauty being a number bullcrap. And I want to be airbrushed and starving. Because I think that will make me happy. 

But it doesn't. What makes me happy is completing hard school work that I thought was beyond my abilities. What makes me happy is sitting in my sons' room drinking coffee this morning waiting for them to wake up. What makes me happy is teasing my daughter with a million kisses. What makes me happy is dressing up for a night out with friends no matter what number I'm weighing or wearing.  What makes me happy is relaxing all weekend in sweats with those I love. What makes me happy is coffee, lots of coffee. What makes me happy is looking within to find that peace from God. What makes me happy will never be a number. 

But it might one day being able to see my grown children know that what makes them happy is on the inside because that is what they saw from me.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sex Trafficking, Slavery, Jon

This blog post is NOT APPROPRIATE for children

We know a lot more now then we did when I was growing up.  It was not considered common knowledge that slavery still existed in our country in the 80s and 90s.  As a teen I wasn't championing against it.  I had no idea it was happening.  I championed for a lot of things back then but this wasn't one of them. I can assure you, if I had known, I would've fought against it.

But these days we know more.

When we discuss slaves lets talk bluntly, it saves everyone time.  These are women and girls kidnapped to perform sex acts, while chained to beds or unwillingly injected with drugs or beaten and raped until they can't or won't run.  This is modern day slavery.  The average age that a girl is abducted is age 12.  33% of sex slaves in our country are American citizens.

This is certainly the dark underbelly of our culture.  It is horrific and it needs to stop.  But I am here to tell you that it won't.  It won't until we stop the demand.  The people that put these women and girls into slavery, they're doing it for the money.  As long as there is a Jon, there will be a sex worker.  If we shut off their trucking routes and raid their facilities and get the girls to safety, they will just find new ways to do their trading of human flesh.  Because there is still a Jon.  There is still someone willing to pay for sex. And money is what they're after.  Demand = Supply, by any means necessary for these people.

I don't think that means we stop fighting the battle.  I don't think that means we stop trying to get those girls home.  Because we need to do that.  We must do that.  We need to help them heal.  We need to find them and save them and prosecute their captors.

But I also think the war against slavery in our country needs to shift its focus.  Stop solely trying to rescue the girls.  Still do that.  But do something else too.  Go after the Jons.  Find them.  Hunt them down if we must and prosecute them.  Make them see what they're doing as a crime and make them pay for that crime.   Make the Jons understand that they are a slave owner.  Jon has just paid for a portion of that girl's captivity.  You didn't really think the girls got the money, did you?  Jon has just helped a sex trafficker have to money to hunt down more girls, to abduct more girls. What if Jon that next girl is your daughter when she is 10 or 12?

I've met a Jon or two in my life.  Men who have paid for sex, frequently.  The Jons are of one mind.  They believe that the girls are there willingly.  They deceive themselves into believing that the girls are just hard on their luck and trying to earn some extra cash.  They comfort their depraved consciouses by saying it might be illegal, but at least she wanted to do it and I paid her.  But that's bullshit and we know it.  There is a percentage of the population that would willingly be a sex worker but it is so minute it is barely a blip.  Because how many of you know a woman who would want this job? I don't know of any and I have been desperate enough to feed my children to consider doing just about anything. But not that.  Because as researchers say "Prosititution is not labor, it is paid sexual exploitation.  It is often paid rape."  Which makes sense because those who purchase sex from prostitutes can also be rapists.  What we are doing by not prosecuting the Jons more fully is allowing them to practice rape for a price, until they go back home and find someone else to rape who they're not going to pay.

We are perpetuating a culture that allows women to be worth less.  We allow sex trade to happen in our country and therefore we allow rapists to practice.  "Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution." Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Purchasing sex is a crime, it's a crime because it is enslaving another person's body for your use.   No more than we allow organs to be bought and sold should we allow the trade of human life for pleasure.  But this a long war and one that needs to be fought by more than a few small shouting female voices.  We need our brothers to stand by us.  Because men, you have something we don't.  You have knowledge.  You are part of the segment of the population that unfortunately has to associate with the Jons.  And while we would never equate you with them, we know you know more about them then we ever could as women.  Maybe you hear the jokes in the breakroom, maybe you know a guy who has paid for sex, maybe you were offered prostitutes or you know where to find them eventhough you would never go there.  This knowledge gives you power I don't have, so I'm asking you to speak up.  Find your part in this fight.  I believe that you care.  You have loved ones that you would be devastated to lose to this tragic reality in our culture.  Because of your intense love for the women in your life, find your voice and use it to champion this cause.  We need you, we believe in you, men of character in our lives, we love you and we are so thankful for you.

End Modern Day Slavery #shockingtruth

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Blessing, Calling

I met up with an old friend recently.  We knew each other a lifetime ago for both of us.  We got to talking.  The talked stretched into another hour until my children's school schedule pushed me out the door.

During the conversation I kept having the feeling that I haven't known this woman for 15 years and yet she was so familiar to me.  As if I could have counted her among my good friends in after another hour of conversation.

Later on I received a message from her.  She said she felt this same way, but what she also did is bless my calling.  She said that I am the type of person that God's ministry needs.  I sat there in the glow of that statement for an hour after I read the words.  I still haven't had the courage to respond to such a blessing.  How do you respond to a person when you feel like God is the one speaking through them?  A very humble quiet thank you, will that suffice?

I have been thinking a lot about my calling recently.  I can define it specifically but as I job search I find myself wanting more and more to begin living out that calling now.  Because "the job of a preacher is to find some kind of good news for people.  And that good news really should be about who God is and how God works and what God has done and what God will do. (What passes for preaching in many cases is more here's the problem, and here's what you can do about it,which I myself have never once heard as being 'good news.')" - Nadia Pastrix  I don't want to solve people's problems right now.  I don't want to offer community action plans.  I want to show people God.  I have good news.  I have experienced good news, in my life.  Right now, today, in my past and in my present.  And there is more, for you and for me, for our families and the strangers on the street.

I feel like I have so much to say about this right now.  This is God, he is not who you think he is.  This is what God does, not this terrible judgemental condemning stuff, he leaves that to us, we humans do plenty of condemning all on our own.  He doesn't need to add to it.  What this boils down to is Hope and Heart and a Word.  I have it, and I want to give it to others.  Hope is not something to hoard, it is a gift to be shared.  God's words aren't something to be hoarded either.  I keep receiving blessing after blessing.  How can I not give that to other people?

Another friend texts me from across the country, giving me an opportunity to speak God into her life.  I give her a verse.  It bolsters her spirit and what does she do?  She returns the favor and speaks a verse into my life, into my heart "Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty." Phil 4:14

Blessing after blessing.  And yet my stubbornness doesn't wane.  A week ago, God pushed on my spirit.  Tell this person that I love them.  I stood God down for an hour on telling someone that God loves them?!  Why on earth would I do that?  When I relented I caveated God's words with a disclaimer and said "It might seem weird to you for me to say this now, but God loves you." Tears spilled for them and also for me as I think about my haughtiness not to speak that blessing to someone else.  Because repentance is still necessary for me.  False humility disguised as pride masquerades in my life.  Co-dependence can plague the best of us, in the need to predict the other person's response before speaking.

We all have a calling, we all have a hope or word or heart to offer the world.  I pray you and I both find the place to offer them and don't hesitate before the altar to give them willingly.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Children and Church

We have found a new church.  It's a lot more old fashioned than the churches my children have attended previously.  All three of my kids, even my three year old, are required to sit in the service for part of the time.  And I want them to be quiet.  REALLY QUIET.  As quiet as the 70 year old lady they're sitting in front of.  Two weeks ago when we went with them for the first time (my love and I have been going without them on our kidless weekends) the kids did really well.  Eowyn stood up on a chair and sang with the adults, she really liked the singing part.  Which makes sense since she walks around singing ALL THE TIME, at the top of her lungs (thank you Aunt Brookie).  As I saw her standing there singing, I thought, "Yep, this is why I think it's good for my kids to go to this type of church."  So long guitar band, well financed children's ministry churches, we enjoyed you.  You had a time in our lives and I thank you for all you taught my children while we were there.  But we've moved on, to this little teeny country church of 50 where my daughter and sons sit in the service.  Apparently this author also thinks it's a good thing too:


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Word for the Year


That is my word for this year. For those of you that know me, you know I'm a pretty passionate person. I'm the kind of gal who will champion your cause, read 30 books on a subject or cancel all of the day's agenda on a moment's notice because my children need more snuggles. 

That being my inborn personality coupled with the breathtaking speed at which I live my life has lead me to be off kilter more often than I'd care to admit. Much of what causes the imbalance in my life is outside of my control.  Crazy exes and financial stressors that are not under my control aren't things I can do much about. But when I have been living out of sync with myself to begin with and one of these 'life issues' flares up it can really throw me for a loop.  I've been pondering how to get out of this whirlwind for some time now.

I remembered that for the past couple of years a bunch of my favorite bloggers have picked a word of the year.  I thought this sounded cheesy of course (there's my inborn cynic) because how could I ever remember to focus on one word for a year.  And what the hell does focusing on a word really do for me anyway?

But the word BALANCE kept coming to me.  This made me like the word of the year idea even less, balance sounds all feel goody, be in harmony, hug a tree and although I like trees that is just not me.  But my ever persistent soul was not to be deterred.

Shannon, you need more balance in your life!

Shannon (this was in the mom warning voice) you're going to get sick if you don't achieve a state of balance.

Shannon, I want you to be happy and if you're more balanced you will be happier.

So I'm going to go for it.  I'm going to try this word of the year thing.  This year my word is balance.  I have some ideas of how to accomplish this.  I've already started the practice of writing for 5 minutes every day, which goes a long way to keeping me centered.

But the biggest reason I'm buying into this word of the year idea is because I'm missing out on things I want to do in my life NOW because I'm so busy.  I miss going to church more often then I want because I work or study or clean on the weekends.  I don't sit down and paint my nails or my baby girl's.  I don't recreationally read anymore unless it's out loud with the kids and even then I had the goal of finishing one chapter book with them over Christmas break and I didn't.  I'm not sure what I was so busy doing that I missed out on this with them.  I don't craft anything for myself anymore and I'm realizing that I miss that.  I haven't worked out in longer than I care to admit.

BUT the warning of my word of the year is that I can't take on doing all of these things at once.  I must have balance.  Here's what that's going to involve for me.  I'm going to get up at 6 every week day morning, that way I can fit in more work hours if need be, working out, writing, or crafting or make yummy food for the day.  I'm going to write for 5 minutes every day and read the Word as well.  Last night as I was sitting down to do that my oldest jumped in my lap picked up the Bible and read his first sentence out loud to me that he's ever read out of that book.  This was momentous and beautiful.  I will teach him to read it by reading it myself.  I will cook something most days of the week. And I will practice inviting my children into the world of what I'm doing more often, thereby creating more quality time with them, teaching them and modeling my priorities to them.  Today that's going to look like them joining in with me as I do a work out video.  This should be interesting ;-)

What do you think of the word of the year idea?

What would your word be?

Or am I just some tree hugging hippy that needs to find balance ;-)