Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prodigal Thoughts.

Just a quick update to say I will be posting more about LOVE146 soon. My best friend from Virginia is visiting me, has been in a war with the altitude since she landed, and this morning the altitude won sending her to the ER with a massive migraine. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for her, you know who you are.

But I just had to share a quick thought with all of you today:

God still does miracles.

Yes, yes He does. So GLAD for a breakthrough in a situation with dear friends today. I have spent hours in prayer for this one. But God didn't just show up and do all the work...it took someone stepping out, in blind faith. It took guts, vunerability, and hope in the idea that love can be bigger than all the junk life dumps on us. And it is isn't it? Lavish, selfless love changes lives and will change our world.

And another miracle- Ainsley Kat just got home and is reunited with her old BFF...another situation I have taken before Jesus for what has felt like about a hundred years. Again, it took both Ains and her friend stepping out, saying hello, being vunerable. But then God showed up. I am honestly beyond words at how He can turn around seemingly impossible situations. For good. For our good. Just because of His prodigal love for us.

Did you know the word "prodigal" means wastefully, lavishly extravagent in Ancient Hebrew? I want to be loved in a wastefully lavish extravagent way. Don't you? Isn't that the deep longing of all of our hearts...to be drowned in perfect, overwhelming love? Donald Miller, one of my favorite authors, said the following:

"Earthly love… is temporal and slight so that is has to be given again and again in order for us to feel any sense of security; but God’s love, God’s voice and presence, would instill our souls with such affirmation we would need nothing more and would cause us to love other people so much we would be willing to die for them."

I want it. Don't you?

Peace dear readers. Til next time. :)

-Props go to Dr E for his "prodigal" message. Good stuff!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blowing up Blogs...

Today's plans got crashed. So I am going to write a little. Or a lot. Haven't decided yet.

I have been anxious lately and not completely sure why. After stewing, thinking until my brain started making strange popping noises, and then finally praying...I know, silly me, pray first Val...I have let go of all the stuff I can't control and realized that wasn't what was causing the anxiety. Hmm. By the way, is "hmm" considered a complete sentence? And that's when it hit me! Bam! Pow!

This anxiety is actually excitement!

Surely you have confused the two emotions before too, right? Anyone?

I am so excited about my future in writing I want to burst into a million particles of sunshine!

(And come up with better metaphors. )

I shouldn't be sharing this info with you, because then you will know all my secrets and think I am a sham, but I must tell someone. I have been studying up on BETTER BLOGGING! We went to Barnes and Noble last weekend, saw several new and amazing books on blogging- Mom Blogging for Dummies...wait, did that book just insult me?...and Power Blogs, How to Make Ten Zillion People Read your Blog and Love it! Ok, I made up that last title, but this was some seriously good stuff. However, I didn't really want to spend 60 bucks on books. So we headed over to the library, realized the library didn't even CARRY the new fancy blogging books, and found slightly less spectacularly titled, but equally useful books on successful blogging. Pretty soon my blog is going to be so amazing you are going to be waking up at 2am just to check for new posts. I have faith.

Until next time dear reader. And thank you for hanging in here all this time while my blog has been somewhat mediocre. You are the best. :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My cause.

Child sex trafficking.

This is part two of my blog on the Sunday that changed my life. I am going to be discussing some tough things. But please hang in here and hear the voice of the helpless- because WE can help them. Isn't that such an encouraging thought?

I went to a concert at the Vineyard on Sunday night, July 17, after spending the afternoon at The Net with my younger girls, dear friends The Cleres and their sweet girls, and some other amazing people from our church. I wrote about that experience in my July 31st blog entitled, What defines me. At the concert that evening, I learned about an organization called LOVE146 and my heart was gripped.

Shameful admission here- I have ignored social injustice issues for most of my life because I did not like thinking about uncomfortable things. So petty and selfish of me. But I also felt like there were too many horrors- it was all too big for me to do anything.

When I was at Desperation Conference in June with my girls and our youth group, I prayed for God to show me where to help and how to help- I prayed for specifics. I did not get much that day, just a churning in my heart that I could make a difference, if I would only be willing to act. That's all it takes isn't it? To be willing. On July 17th I got my task. It was two-fold, with the first being The Net. The second is LOVE146.

LOVE146 is an organization created to end child sex slavery and exploitation. I have copied the following from their website that tells about their name:

In 2002, the co-founders of Love 146 travelled to South East Asia on an exploratory trip to determine how they could serve in the fight against child sex trafficking. In one experience, a couple of our co-founders were taken undercover with investigators to a brothel, where they witnessed children being sold for sex. This was their experience. This is the story that changed our lives.

"We found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with predators in a small room, looking at little girls through a pane of glass. All of the girls wore red dresses with a number pinned to their dress for identification. They sat, blankly watching cartoons on TV. They were vacant, shells of what a child should be. There was no light in their eyes, no life left. Their light had been taken from them. These children...raped each night... seven, ten, fifteen times every night. They were so young. Thirteen, eleven… it was hard to tell. Sorrow covered their faces with nothingness. Except one girl. One girl who wouldn’t watch the cartoons. Her number was 146. She was looking beyond the glass. She was staring out at us, with a piercing gaze. There was still fight left in her eyes. There was still life left in this girl...

"...All of these emotions begin to wreck you. Break you. It is agony. It is aching. It is grief. It is sorrow. The reaction is intuitive, instinctive. It is visceral. It releases a wailing cry inside of you. It elicits gut-level indignation. It is unbearable. I remember wanting to break through the glass. To take her away from that place. To scoop up as many of them as I could into my arms. To take all of them away. I wanted to break through the glass to tell her to keep fighting. To not give up. To tell her that we were coming for her…"

“Because we went in as part of an ongoing, undercover investigation on this particular brothel, we were unable to immediately respond. Evidence had to be collected in order to bring about a raid, and eventually justice on those running the brothel. It is an immensely difficult problem when an immediate response cannot address an emergency. Some time later, there was a raid on this brothel and children were rescued. But the girl who wore #146 was no longer there. We do not know what happened to her, but we will never forget her. She changed the course of all of our lives." -Rob Morris, President and Co-founder

We have taken her number so that we remember why this all started. So that we must tell her story. It is a number that was pinned to one girl, but that represents the millions enslaved. We wear her number with honor, with sorrow, and with a growing hope. Her story can be a different one for so many more.

Love is in our name, because it is our motivating drive to end child sex slavery and exploitation. We believe love to be the foundation of real, sustainable change. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." We hold that to be true. Love Protects. Love Defends. Love Restores. Love Empowers.

We are Love146.

I will have more information on this organization and on human trafficking in the weeks ahead. I am researching how to become a part of a local LOVE146 task force, there are several here in Colorado. I can't explain the passion in my heart for this organization, but I know in my soul this is where I will work hard to make a difference in the world. I am planning on blogging my journey into this issue and this organization.

This is my cause.

Have a good Saturday dear readers.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Music and the After...

I should say upfront I am still wanting to procrastinate writing the blog I know I need to write. It feels too heavy in my heart. The topic deserves respect and research, and the very best words I have to give. My heart is already heavy this morning and writing about anything more intense than cupcakes might just sending me reeling into tears. There- I have assuaged my guilt a little with that weak excuse.

So I am gonna tackle my sadness and also write about one of my favorite things. Besides cupcakes. :)

One of my very favorite bands is in Boulder today doing a music industry gig...thing...dealio. That would be Burlap to Cashmere and you have only missed all my postings and updates on them if you've been deliberately squeezing your eyelids shut and stuffing your fingers in your ears. I am seriously fighting the urge to drive toward the Flat Irons and stalk them at the hotel and spa where they are staying. I figure if I take my girls with me I stand a fighting chance of talking to them...my daughters are too adorable to be ignored, yes? YES. :)

Haha. I am just joking here. But I am going to have Burlap to Cashmere's new album on repeat today...it is peaceful to my soul.

Tackling the sadness now...the "after" of having guests...

I had the thought once again this morning I had last year when watching friends move away-

It sucks to be the ones left behind.

I am thinking of a Donald Miller quote here, from his book Through Painted Deserts:
"I could not have known then that everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing."

I have done plenty of leaving in my lifetime- leaving city after city, going to new places, following my husband who always had a job and a plan. I had little girls, and the exhilaration of the new. The chaotic high usually kept me distracted until I carved out a new social existence for our family- friends, church, school. That was my life for the first ten years or so of our marriage- we never lived in one place more than a couple of years.

But we have been in Denver now for six years come Labor Day, and in this home for four years. We've been here long enough to make friends and get left behind as they have moved out of Colorado and into new adventures. We get left every year as family comes to visit and then heads back to the East Coast. We used to be the ones sweeping into Virginia for a visit and rushing back out again. Now I know the ache our family felt as we drove away. We have done the leaving, now is our season for staying.

But it still sucks to be left.

As a side note- I really dislike using that word, the one sitting in the middle of the sentence above. I teach my girls not to say it, as it is crass slang. But when writing, it is best to use the first word that comes to mind, especially when expressing emotion. I wandered around in my brain looking for an equally adequate replacement, in vain. Because it honestly does suck.

However, I suppose it is like every moment in life- sweet and bitter. Would I say to my family stay away so I could avoid the pain of goodbye? Never. We don't avoid the joy just because there is pain at the end. I hope to live my life to the full every day, joy and sadness, always growing. God has adventure and purpose around every corner, and we must learn to embrace the hard moments that turn ashes into beauty.

Ok, that is enough deep musing for now. Back to cupcakes. Wonder if Bliss at Southlands has any Bacon Maple minis on the menu today? Those ARE truly bliss on a plate. :)

Peace dear readers. Enjoy the sunshine today.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I have a lot to write about. Picking a topic and attempting clarity and wittiness is usually the hard part. I've had this jumble of thoughts stewing in my brain and heart for a few days now. I know this isn't the blog I promised to write next, but my heart still needs to process more before tackling that one.

Several BIG themes keep surfacing in my life. The first is I am not the same person as I was last year. This is a very good thing. None of us are really. But for myself, I've experienced more emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual growth in the last year than at any point I can remember in my life. The road trip started a journey in my heart forcing me to deal with my past regrets and all the lies I have bought into over the years about my worth and my future. One can't believe in a good future without hope. That is one reason I am becoming so passionate about rescuing children trapped in the sex trafficking trade all across the world- because if hopelessness has a face, these victims carry it. But I will speak more on that another day. I didn't have much hope last June. I had busyness, denial and depression that froze my blood and body into inaction a lot of the time. And I had really bad music. Not immorally bad, just lyrical and melodic crap. If you've ever sat through an entire Twilight Saga soundtrack, you know exactly what I mean. Except for the Muse of course. :)

The road trip taught me most of all I am brave, competent and can accomplish more than I ever imagined. It was not in the driving I learned I was brave, although driving half cross country four times in six weeks builds nettle. The details and the unexpected are what brought out my courage. I was in charge of keeping my girls and my best friend safe, fed, sheltered and going in the right direction over 100 driven hours of road, swamp, river, plain and mountain.

Last fall was the toughest part of this journey. I prayed for God to move in a situation and He did, ripping out deep, twisting roots of lies that were suffocating my heart and sucking the life out of my purpose. It was the best for me, and sharp as a razor to my heart at the same time. But it brought peace, joy and deep contentment like I've never experienced my whole life.

Each month since then has brought challenge and opportunity for growth. I could have opted out, choosing the easy path over the uncomfortable unknown. And I few times I did. But I usually stepped up to the plate. It is a wonderful and rewarding feeling to find accomplishment in the new, even falling down is more exhilarating than painful because at least you stepped out.

So where did all of this journeying and stepping up and out lead to?

Well, for the first time in my entire life I can say I like me. I like me a lot. :) I do not say that in an arrogant way, but with a healthy and grateful tenor. I no longer feel inadequate, although I will always have moments of feeling inadequate for a task. We all will. I believe THEN is the beautiful moment it becomes clear we need somthing bigger than ourselves to accomplish our destined tasks on this Earth. But I am no longer "not enough"- that lie which defined so much of my existence does not control me anymore. (Can I get an AMEN here anyone?)

Was this all about me and patting myself on the back? I hope it doesn't sound like that. The key component in all of this growth was God churning up the soil of my heart- through risk, challenge, disipline- so He could tell me who I am. Because He made me- he gave me all that is inside of me. Others may have formed my opinions and assigned me worth according to their standards, but it is God who formed all the uniqueness that is me.

When you know who you are, your purpose becomes simple. People can't take it away anymore. And though the future is a big, glorious wide open adventure with danger, pain and joy around every corner, you know the direction to walk in.

I want to encourage you in your journey today. Step out, do the hard thing, and risk your heart for something bigger than yourself. Or if you are smack in the middle of an overwhelming storm, I lift you up to the God who is bigger than the storm. I pray peace.

Thank you for reading.