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Thursday, March 20, 2008

My head in the sand?

A month or two ago, I emailed some of you a link to Nightlights Bankok. A ministry that works with people (mostly women and children) who are escaping from the human trafficking industry. This is a follow up on that email.

To further flashback: Just before Christmas I watched "Hairspray." One of the songs caught my attention. I have placed a link to it below. It is called, "I Know Where I've Been." I remember thinking, "What are the issues we 'march for' today?" "Have we come to a place where things are relatively just in the world and there are no issues to fight for, or am I one of those who have had my head burried in the sand?" Take a look at the clip, if you haven't already seen it.

A few ladies from our church have been talking to God about human trafficking for quite some time. Recently, they began to share what they have learned and we, as a congregation, have decided to walk forward and do something about it. We will be hosting the first of many social justice conferences this fall on the campus of UH Manoa. The first one will focus on human trafficking. Things are still in the early planning stages, but we are hoping to educate people on the reality of the problem and provide outlets to respond as God leads them.

I confess, my head was burried in the sand. One estimate says that over 300,000 children/young teens are trafficked in the United States. And not only in a couple places like New York or Los Angeles, but throughout the country. And that is such a small piece of this worldwide problem. I will probably be traveling to Thailand this summer to help set the stage to, hopefully, send future missionaries and learn more about setting up safehouses You will probably here more about my journey as things progress, but for now take a look at this video.

Check out this site for a good 3min video on the trafficking of
children. The quotes from the victims are quite moving.


Awesome Song

Possibly better entitled "Awesome CD." I recently downloaded the We Believe CD by Brian and Jenn Johnson. I love the CD, but one of the songs has grabbed ahold of my spirit in a most unique way. I have attached the lyrics. iTunes has it, if you are interested in hearing/downloading it. It is entitled, "A Little Longer."

A little longer

w/m by: Jenn Johnson


What can I do for you


What can I bring to you

Csus C A7

What kind of song would you like me to sing


I’ll dance a dance for you


I’ll pour out my love to you

Csus C A7

What can I do for you beautiful king


Bb Csus C Dm

Cause I can’t thank you enough

Bb Csus C Dm

I can’t thank you enough (repeat)

Csus C

Then I hear you sing to me


You don’t have to do a thing

F/C Bb2 F/A

Just simply be with me and let those things go

Gm7 Csus C

They can wait another minute

F F2/E Dm Dm/C Bb2

Wait this moment is to sweet please stay here with me

F/A Gm7

And love on me a little longer

Csus C F

Cause I’m in love with you

ccli# 4429658

Copyright 2003 We Believe

Your Kingdom Come 2/5/08

God has been prompting me to pray for His Kingdom to Come more regularly, and sometimes unexpectedly. This morning was a cool example.

I was getting ready for work and kept hearing this annoying beeping sound. It went on for like 10 minutes before I looked out the window to see the object of my irritation. I saw a city bus driver jumping on and kicking the handicap access ramp. Apparently, he had been trying - unsuccessfully - to get it to retract back into the bus.

First I chuckled at the situation. Then I was prompted to pray for God's Kingdom to come. I asked God to heal the bus and then to bless the driver and the people waiting outside. I won't bore you with the dialog, but I will tell you that as I was praying I heard the people cheer. The beeping stopped and the ramp had retracted into the bus.

You would have thought that someone regrew an arm with the way I danced across the room. :-) God is cool.

Careful with Me

I was driving today, listening to a CD. I began to worship lightly and found myself in a conversation with God. (Quotes not directly from God's voice - my interpretation only. hehe)

"You trust Me, right?"
"Sure. I am becoming stupidly naive. I believe anything is possible."
"You know I have a plan?"
"You always have a plan. For everything. Everyone."
"I do have a plan. Many of them. But I want to let you in on a secret. I am careful with you."

I sat in my car and pondered that for many minutes. What does it mean that God is careful with me? To me it meant that God does more than have a plan for me. He counts the cost of everything that happens in my life. He weighs which decisions I should make completely on my own and which He is going to speak clearly into - and all of those in between. He knows how each life event will shape me and does not take lightly those that will push me or break me in some way. He is careful with me.

I started to question the pain that some of my friends are going through and just felt peace. I purposefully chose you to share this with. And I pray that God will bless you with that same peace in your journey.

Home Visit Christmas 2007

I trust all is well in Hawaii. Things have been ok in Iowa. Family is family, but no one has been shot or rushed to the hospital with emergency infections. :-)

And I have been blessed to spend time with my nieces and great nieces. I may never see myself reflected in the eyes of my own children, but I do see parts of me reflected in those girls. Holly was a very young mother, but God has been gracious and she and Ryan are raising two wonderful girls. The oldest, McKenzie, doesn't miss a thing. She is in Kindergarten. I told Holly she would end up being a writer or some kind of artist. I am convinced that she sees things that most of us do not. There is something unique about that girl. Riley is a little terror, but that goes with being 2. She has the smile of a heartbreaker.

Anne was always close to me. I went to college when she was 5, but before that she was always at my side. She is the one that I see myself reflected in the most. She even dances around the house like me. :-) She is almost 21 and going to college for human services, surprise, surprise.

Tonight I went to a hockey game and then to the casino with Holly. I lost my allotted amount early on (I decided on my amount before hand), but she came out ahead. It was worth the money to spend quality time talking to my niece, but I am soooo not a casino person. It felt like I was literally buying time.

It snowed some today, but has not yet been bitterly cold. I am thankful for that. I miss you all and will be thinking about you on Sunday.

Deep Thoughts - or Slightly off color Joke

I received an email forward from my roommate, Sauni, this morning. I included the forward at the bottom of this email so that you can reference it at any time. :-)

The forward is a picture which changes, depending on your perspective - and on which side of your brain happens to be in charge at any given moment. It prompted the question, "I wonder what else we don't see?" It is amazing how much our physical bodies determine our perception. For us who are spiritual minded, it might bring up other, similar questions. It was in thinking about perspectives, etc. that reminded me of a thought that had occurred to me earlier this morning.

I had been thinking about the passage in Genesis where Abraham was walking with God and discussing the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. It appears that Abraham bargained with God not to destroy the area if there were even 10 righteous. I have heard many discussions around the question, "Can people change God's mind?" using this passage. This morning, I saw it from a different angle.

Surely God does not solve problems in the same way we do. His thought process is most certainly higher than ours. I think God already knew what His decision would be. But He decided to partner with Abraham. He lowered Himself to be seen in human form. Then, without a lick of pride, walked Abraham through what was about to happen, letting Abraham think and talk through the situation.

I was waxing eloquent (ha-ha) to Sauni (roommate), when I said, "It is amazing that our God, who is so big, would come and let us peon people partner with Him in a way that we could relate to. . . "

Sauni never got past the first part of my sentence. She was doubled over laughing. This is what she heard. "It is amazing that God, who is so big, would come and let us pee on people. . ." It is all about perspective! Scroll down to see what started all of this,. :-) Oh, btw, I saw her turning counter-clockwise.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fall Update 10/07

Well, since my mom and dad have both pointed out in the last week or so that it has been a while since I did a mass emailing, I decided to send out another update. In some ways, not much has changed. Nothing new to tell. And in other ways, so much is happening. I am sure you all know the feeling.

I was glad to catch up with some of you during my California travels this summer. That was good fun. I got to see a lot and talk story with some people that I don't get to do that with often - at least not face to face. :-) I also got to see Mario and Lyndi when they visited Lyndi's dad on Maui. Thank God for $25 inner island flights! It was a great time where I got to catch up a bit in person and see their beautiful new addition.

I am still teaching music at Windward Nazarene Academy and I enjoy it. We hired a person to close, so I don't have too many days when I am working from 7:30am-6pm. At least not days when I am forced to be on the clock all of that time. There have been plenty of long days for other reasons, but at least I don't feel locked into them. I really enjoy the year around schedule. It allows me the variety I so desperately need. I have learned that I get much less productive when placed in a position of doing the same thing for months or years at a time. I need the shake up every few months. During this break, I have worked a little bit and attended a 2 day conference. Mostly, though, I have been using it as a time to follow up on some people that I have been working with in church. More on that later . . .

Church is going well. I feel like we are starting to break new ground. At least for us. We have something called a "Holy Spirit Retreat" 2-3 times a year. It is a time to introduce those who are interested to the "job description" if you will, of the Holy Spirit and at the end of the retreat to spend some time just waiting for God to come. There are usually some pretty cool, and often life changing, things that happen on those retreats. We just had one a couple of weeks ago, but things at church started changing even before that. I can't pin point exactly when it started, but you could see things kick into gear as a burden of prayer began to fall over various parts of our community. We started meeting every other Saturday night to pray together. Our pastor, Jordan, made it very clear in our leadership meetings and in services that he was praying specifically that God would lay on us a spirit of intercession. I would say that has happened. :-)

It was during a worship night that we had after our regular Sunday night service that we first saw God start to break through in a more obvious sort of way. People came to the front of the room and worshiped freely, but there was also a heavy spirit of conviction in the room and even while some celebrated, others were crying out to God. We did have some of those funny manifestations that people get uncomfortable talking about, but it was clear that we were in the presence of God. We have continued to see good things happen in our services.

Earlier I mentioned our Holy Spirit Retreat. Now, this is normally a great time to refocus and then charge up. We study a few scriptures about the Holy Spirit on Friday night, talk about I Corinthians 12-14 on Saturday morning and break for people to meditate, pray, play, socialize, whatever for the afternoon. Saturday night brings us back together for a time of fellowship (dinner), followed by our confessional time (we actually get into groups and practice confessing sin out loud) and then we come back together into the big group for worship and prayer. It is during that time that we ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill. Good times. Well, this time things were a bit different.

I was scheduled to help set up and work the registration table. A young boy (18) who often helps with worship walked in. I could tell that something was very wrong. After speaking with him for a few minutes, I learned that he had visited his doctor earlier in the day and had been told that he needed to do everything that he needed to do this weekend. Both of his lungs were preparing to collapse and even with surgery, there was only a 40% chance that he would live. (It is a long story, but he had just been released from the hospital a few days earlier so we took what the doctor told him seriously.) He was not supposed to do much of anything, particularly he was not supposed to sing. I prayed with him then briefly. When Jordan found out what was happening, he pulled a group of us into a side room to pray for healing for this boy. Talk about an intense time of prayer! There was a large window in the side room where we were praying. As people walking into the Holy Spirit Retreat, they walked into this. Interesting way to start . . . . (By the way, the end of the story is that the boy is living his normal life with no surgery. I haven't heard the official doc report, but since they did not take him into surgery last week, I take that as a good sign! Also, the physical symptoms he was having did disappear.)

You can imagine that the retreat was more intense, even from the beginning. During the Saturday prayer time, we had at least 1 other deliverance. I was personally involved in that one as well and, as it took up much of the night, I didn't spend a lot of time watching what was happening around me. But I heard good stories. :-)

Some of you may think that I am certifiably crazy by now . . . :-) You can see why I don't always jump to share my stories immediately. I don't think that is what people expect to hear when they ask me how things are going. hehe Although, those of you who have been around me for a long time are probably not too surprised. :-)

Looking ahead, I expect to continue to see God work. More than anything, I want to continue seeing people set free from whatever holds them in bondage. I am looking at the possibility of traveling again in 2008. We have a couple of trips planned that deal with organizations that help rescue people from human trafficking/sex trade situations. Both in Asia. One organization is around Thailand, I believe. The other is in Northern Asia, old Soviet Union area. We also partner with a place called, "Home of Love" orphanage in Bangladesh. Two of my close friends are preparing to do DTS and this spring and then move to Bangladesh to work with the orphanage. I am not sure yet where I will go, but I am praying about it. You can pray with me, if you wish. I would also like to do something in our country. One of the ladies at church travels to Delaware every year to do Holy Spirit Retreats at the church where she grew up. I may see about going with her - or just see if any other doors open.

Goodness, are your eyes crossed yet from all of that reading?! I had better sign off. Please don't forget to include me in your updates. I always love to learn what is happening in your part of the world.

Lessons Learned In the Trench 5/2/07

I am currently working on putting out 2 programs for school. One of them is this Friday; the next the following Tuesday. In all practicality, there is no way that I could do them both as I had originally envisioned them. I sort of knew that going in, but figured it was worth a try. :-) In the midst of my being frustrated with myself for forgetting things, not communicating well, or simply letting things fall through the cracks, I am learning a pretty big lesson. And that is what I wanted to share with you.

You see, even as my pride has been injured through this journey by the knowledge that things will not be as smooth and polished as I might have conjured them in my head, I think that I am beginning to see a bit of what God sees as important - His agenda, if you will - in these programs. As I am forced to let go and trust Him, I see His picture beginning to form. And it is a picture that brings tears to my eyes even now. I think God is being gracious in allowing things to come together in a manner that I think will be pleasing if not perfect, but here are a few of the ways I am seeing God's agenda playing out.

In the younger grades:
*Maddie, our kindergartner with Leukemia, has been able to participate in some after school rehearsals and is planning on performing with us. She is an "in-your-face" visual reminder that God will sustain us, even in the Wilderness. To hear her sing the words, "For all You have done Lord, my heart fills with gratitude. And for all that you are, Lord, I give you my praise. Now here in this very place, I have found your redeeming grace. Now I finally see how great Your love is for me." could melt even the hardest heart.

*Through a series of events that was not altogether pleasant for her teacher, God is taking one of our young soloists on a journey of learning submission. Out of respect for her I don't want to say too much, but I don't think the timing is a coincidence.

*Some of our children who have had problems in the past have found success in various little parts of the program. Two of my kindergarten boys have really stepped up to help lead their peers. Daniel and Koanui have had their struggles during the year and I love seeing them take their program responsibilities so seriously. They make great spies!

In the older grades:
*I assigned solos to many children who have never had one before and they have risen to the occasion. Not all of them are perfect, but I am so proud of them for getting up there and giving their best effort! For some, this is waaay outside their comfort zone.

*Some of the students decided to participate in skits. A few of them wrote their own lines and it was fun to watch their creativity ride. One of my girls is doing a monologue that talks about Jesus being our friend, not just our judge. I have enjoyed watching her as the words sink into her heart. The skits have provided more than a few teachable moments.

The older group did a run through of their program today and I saw some changes from when we started preparing this program. I saw students congratulating one another on a job well done and cheering one another on. I heard them laugh together and sing together. And I think these are the reasons God wanted this musical to happen.

All in all, I like what God is doing. Truly, in our weakness, He is strong. :-)

Thanks for letting me share.