Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shining a Light

27,000,000 are trapped in slavery today. I don't know how to wrap my head around that number when it comes to people... think 27 million people could fill every professional football stadium 12X.  Or the entire population of the state of Texas.  27 million of anything is a lot.  And we are talking about human lives.  Men, women, and children. 

There are three main types of slavery today, and they are all wrong:

Bonded labor is one of the most common forms of slavery in the world today. Bonded labor victims are often born into slavery, forced to repay a loan, sometimes from generations before. Indebted, often through deception and a system stacked against them.

Forced labor is any work or service someone is forced to do, against their will, under the threat of punishment, with little to no pay. This is most frequently found in labor-intensive, under-regulated industries, such as agriculture, fishing, domestic work, construction, mining, quarrying and manufacturing.

Human trafficking is when someone is taken away from their home, family, or community and transported to another city or country, many times under a false promise of employment or a better life. Victims are stripped of their identity, then forced to work against their will, with no hope or way to return home.

All of the statistics, and there are many, are staggering.  It's overwhelming for me to comprehend the magnitude of this $150.2 billion dollar organized crime industry.

What can I do?  I am just one person with minimal excess income to give and my few dollars and not going to make a difference by themselves. 

This is where team work comes in.  Quakers have long been known for their stance against slavery and they stood for abolition at a significant personal price. 

What are Quakers known for today?  Are we doing anything TOGETHER to make a difference in the lives of others? 

Isn't it time that we team up, all of us who have Friends/Quaker in our name; regardless if we are liberal, evangelical, Hicksite, or Gurneyite; and in beautiful Quaker tradition join hands and shine a light on injustice?

I would love to see an uprising in our meetings across the world.  Until then, I have a team I am putting together at #enditmovement and you are welcome to join my little family and me.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Dollar Store & Gratefulness

After I pick up the kids from school today, we will head to the dollar store...

They seemed pretty excited about this #RAK so we will see how it goes. 

Our daily Bible reading is going well and I can see the benefit of not reading so many chapters in order to really think about what we have just read.  After we read the chapters, we all say something that struck us new, jumped out at us, or meant something to us.  This has become a wonderfully meaningful time. 

The other day we took ten minutes to write down as many things as we could that were grateful for.  Here is a sampling from each list:


While we smiled at some on the youngest one's list, I love that he is grateful for his body and strong arms.  As well as no creepers or overgrown spiders!  I love how the 10 year old could not decide if he was grateful for piano, meaning lessons, but he wants to be so that means something.  Anyway, the rest are just snapshots of long lists that I randomly selected and cropped.  It was a neat exercise and ended up how we spent our family time on Saturday night. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Show Appreciation

Today's #RAK is: 
What a wonderful reminder on this Friday morning.  

We enjoyed visiting with people who fall into the lonely category and yesterday was fun watching my family getting others to smile.  



Thursday, February 19, 2015

February 19 #RAK


I wish I had more time this morning but after my #Pray703 time I began my math homework and let's just say that I like our base 10 system and have no idea why I need to know how to convert to other based.  Also, while learning about Mayan history is fantastic and enjoyable, I haven't used their symbols for counting yet in life but perhaps I just haven't been in the right place.  

That being said, I am working my brain on math homework and while I would rather write a new post, I'll be a good student and focus on my math today.  Pray for me? Thank you! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Woe, to you! Or "Shut up and let God be God"

This Quaker girl is struggling with Lent, again.  It's Ash Wednesday.  Really, we haven't even begun.  As I was wrestling with fasting, I felt like we were making new year's resolutions.  Then, God led me to read a blog post by Doug Harrison.  No, I do not know him.  No, I have never been to this particular site before.  I tell you, God led me here.  So, as I was frustrated with myself for making Lent into what I know it's not (self will power/new year resolution).  He said,
Lately I have begun to think that our lenten choices are beginning to feel more and more like new year’s resolutions than spiritual exercises: quit smoking, exercise, skip dessert, drink less, eat more broccoli…  And if I happen to loose a couple pounds along the way, so be it.    Self control and discipline are good and praise worthy, but I do have to wonder if that kind of discipline really needs God.  If our lenten practices have become mere efforts of will power and self-help then I am pretty sure we are still missing out on the transformative power of this kind of fasting can be: grace. 
Lent is more than just a period of spring cleaning.  The grace of Lent is that all of our lives can be lived, risked, and dared with the promise that we don’t come to the end of our story just because we come to the end of our own strength and will power.   So instead of being a time for us to find out just how strong we can be, Lent disrupts our lives, asks us to give up things we want, and in fact even things we need - like some food - so that we have to confront what we cannot do.

So when I give up chocolate I am removing a vice that keeps me from facing parts of my life where I really need God.    But giving up chocolate can also give me just enough distraction that I become more aware that I am craving for chocolate, than I am for healing.
The test is whether it is about the chocolate or about God (emphasis mine).
As I spent time in prayer, the Holy Spirit directed me to Matthew 23:23-28.  Brace yourself, I was blown back in my seat!

Here it is in the NIV:
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

The Message:
23-24 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?
25-26 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.
27-28 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.

American Standard Version (ASV):
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone.
24 Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside thereof may become clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

I don't want to polish up the outside of me but on the inside be full of excess, greed, self-indulgence, and pride. 

What if....  What if what I gave up was more than something physical but something that brought me closer to God? 

What if I...
Give up resentment and become more forgiving.
Give up hatred and return good for evil.
Give up complaining and be more grateful.
Give up pessimism and become more hopeful.
Give up worry and become more trusting.
Give up anger and become more patient.
Give up pettiness and become more noble.
Give up gloom and become more joyful.
Give up doubt and turn to God.
(Found on FaceBook at St. Jude.)

For me, I may not know what Lent is, but I know what it's not.  It's not a time for me to clean up the outside and neglect the inside.  I do not want Jesus' words to the Pharisees and scribes to ring true for me. 

Using Doug's words, " So as we venture head-long into these forty days in the wilderness,  let us be brave, not in the kind of heroic sacrifices we can make, but let us be brave enough to face the places where nothing but God will help us.    And if we can’t be that courageous, then let us just have enough faith to empty our lives a little so we have to face our need for God. And if we can’t have that faith may we just have enough obedience to shut up anyway and give God a chance to be God (emphasis mine)."

Today's #RAK is:
Visit someone who is lonely.  Take some time every once in a while to visit someone at a nursing/retirement home or hospital who doesn't have many visitors. 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#LentChallenge2015 UPDATE!
We, my little family, and I decided to join Margaret Feinberg and the Lent Challenge for 2015.  The plan is available on youversion that does the work for you, under "The 40-Day Gospel Bible Reading Challenge."

Also, I found 36 different ideas to do as random acts of kindness (#RAK) and have extra copies of a few of them to make 40 #RAK that will we do this year.  I am super excited about this.  I have them in the jar and everything. 

Each day, I will post the #RAK that was picked and you can decide if you want to do it, too.  If you do, please share in the comments and our little family will enjoy reading about your experience. 

As far as fasting goes, the boys decided to put screen time limits on themselves when they are at their grandparent's home on Friday and Saturday,  They also are going to make sure they plan outside an hour before asking to have any screen time here at home.  (They already have a one hour time limit during the week). 

Our daughter, who is 17 years old, decided to fast from "extras."  That means anything that is not the main food is out.  She will not snack or have any sweets Mon - Sat. 

We elect to have a "feast day" and while that is usually Sunday, we are flexible if there is something that warrants changing the feast day. 

Yours truly is going to limit her social media use to 30 minutes a day.  Setting a timer works well for me, so I am excited to see God work through this fast.

What are you doing?  Are you fasting?  Adding?