Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Slow Death

          Dedicated to Joel Rhodes, Ellyn Marie Woodburn and Jenny Delorenzo
and to anyone who has lost a fury family member

          On January 1, 1997 I woke up to sirens at my grandmothers house. What we were to find out later was she was and had suffered a massive stroke. This stroke left her with the inability to speak but not without life. For three months she lingered, unable to talk to us, at times tears streaming down her face, reaching for something at other times. To what she was reaching for, we did not know. Those three months were hell for me. My parents and I had moved in with grandma in 1992 and she was no longer a distant relative. We had a very special relationship I knew would not have existed had I not shared a home with her. That is what made the three months hell. I hated seeing her suffer, to not be able to communicate with her was torture and I imagine it was for her too. I think that is where the occasional tear came from. A slow death is painful when it is someone you love.

Why do I share this after almost two decades?

2 Reasons

          Last week at my conference, Faith Forward, in Nashville, TN the Wednesday morning speaker wanted to teach us how to create sacred space with children and youth. He did this by asking us to recall a sacred moment. My sacred moment was with my grandmother. As I stated above, she lost her ability to speak after her stroke. But the last Sunday in March was different. I was sitting by her bed visiting before I would head back to Greensboro, it was my final semester at UNCG. I started singing hymns I knew that she would know. The last song I sang was "Amazing Grace". When I got to the third verse.......

Through many dangers toils and snares, I have already come.
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home"


There was no denying that God was there in that moment. That God had been there through every speechless conversation, for every fallen tear. My God was greater than any illness that could rob my grandmother of the ability to speak. It WAS a holy moment and one that I will never forget. I am so thankful for that brief 5 minutes last week when I recalled this sacred moment. GOD IS GOOD!

Sophie is the 2nd reason I share this memory. My baby girl is dying. She has a nasal tumor that hemorrhaged on May 17. I actually thought she had died on the way to the animal hospital in Raleigh, NC. The goal is to keep her comfortable and pain free until either she dies peacefully or the pain is to much to bear. Since picking her up on Friday, May 23 we have done some extra outings and they have been fun. Sophie is my traveling buddy so I plan to make the most of what time I have left, which is unknown, with her. I know it won't be easy and there have been plenty of shed tears. But maybe there will be sacred moments during this time with her.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The value of a life

Genesis 1:26 - 31
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.

Here are 11 facts about Human Trafficking

1. Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.
2. Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.
3. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
4. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
5. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70% are female and half are children.
6. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
7. California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas on the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
8. The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
9. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.
10. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.

11. The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men.

Today's post is about Human trafficking and more specifically about the 270+ girls who have been kidnapped from their school in Nigeria and are about to be sold if they have not already been sold. 

Is the life of a woman and girls anywhere in the world worth $90? Is that all we are worth? That is the average cost to buy a slave today, either for labor or sex. Let that sink in. The going rate for a woman or a young girl is $90. That there still is this ideology that women are less than, are subservient, are property and are in need of a man's guidance is why this value exists. It may be 2014 but there still is the patriarchal system that is in every country. Though it may not be as extreme as the Middle East this Patriarchal system is here in the US.  Young girls, American girls are denied an education because a man sees her as a revenue source and sells her daily to men who only see her as a source for getting his needs met. Girls and women are forced to work within home, in salons and spas without pay, again because a man sees them only as a source of revenue.

It is reprehensible that what has happened in Nigeria is allowed to continue. Humanity allows it to continue when inequality between men and women is allowed to continued. I pray that this atrocity that has occurred in Nigeria will wake us up and we will begin to see ALL young girls and women as equals. That the female race will be seen as an image of God just as the male race is. In Genesis 1 we read that God created man (humankind in the Hebrew) in his image. That in God's image he created both male and female. This denotes a state of equality. Both male and female display, exude the image of God. Then towards the end of Genesis 1 we read that God saw all he had created and said that it was good. All of creation is good. That includes females here. If all of creation is good then why do we allow the good that God has created to be demeaned, abused, belittled, ostracized and seen simply as property. To be seen as a means to an end. I cannot, based on Genesis 1, believe that God intended for the world to be this way.

Was in not in the gospels that Jesus first appeared to the women. He entrusted them to proclaim the good news. He entrusted both his male and female disciples to proclaim his resurrection and to go into all the world. When God sees us women as good and Jesus has entrusted us with the good news I will not allow anyone to deny my humanity or that of any woman. As long as Human trafficking exits and the beatings of women occur in the name of God I will not be silent. Please do not be silent. We must work to end the atrocities that befall women all around the world by demanding justice and equality for all. I believe it is possible.  Philippians 4:13

“I believe in the death of injustice, in the life of hope, grace, mercy, and love. I believe in the impossible. I believe there can be healing where there is violence. I believe reconciliation is possible- hearts can be moved, minds can be changed, politics broken. I believe that justice can roll down like a river and we can all taste its sweetness. I believe in the impossible. I believe we can treat people- all people- with dignity; we can recognize their humanity; recognize the divine within. I believe we can do more. Create more jobs. Build more homes. Turn food deserts into promise land harvests. Subvert racial and gender hierarchies. Consider others more important than ourselves. Slay preferences that lead to exclusion. Set captives free. Welcome the stranger. I believe in impossible things. I believe in death because I believe in life. I believe in the death of -isms. I believe in the life of love. I believe humanity can change because I believe in the impossible.”    - Austin Channing Brown with The Impossible

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lenten Reflections

We are already passed the 3rd Sunday in Easter and I am just getting to my thoughts on Lent 2014. It has been some time since my last post and I think my followers for allowing me the time to connect with God, people in the flesh and time to figure out where I was going with this blog.

For lent this year I gave up all social media. No Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.


The lack of stress I felt for 40 days was so liberating and I could not stop smiling. I was happier than...I can't even remember when I was that happy. Really sad that part is.

So what did I learn, what did God reveal to me as I abstained from online connections?

1 - Online connections are NOT connections. They are fake connections.

2 - Online connections give us a false since of connectedness to the greater world outside of the web.

3 - Real connection is talking to people face to face. Having meaningful conversations and really knowing what is going on in peoples lives. It is also talking to people on the phone. Hearing a voice is more of a connection than a message sent through Facebook.

4 - People don't scream when you are talking with them face to face. We all see people scream online. I don't like and I suspect no one else does either

5 - You can foster new relationships and deepen already existing ones when you really connect.

6 - This is what Christianity is all about; making connections and developing relationships. Jesus left us an amazing impression on the world and never used social media. How did he do that? He connected with people, developed relationships.

7 - Online activity leaves you feeling alone.

8 - Real connections leave you filling blessed with the people in your life.

Seeing as we are 3 weeks out from Easter you might be wondering, as I did why I waited so long to write my reflections on lent. Up until last night I wonder the same thing. It never felt right to write until I saw the video below. It is a wonderful affirmation that God is not only working in me but others and teaching us the same thing.

I think, no I know this is important. For life to get better, to become easier and for healing to occur in our country and this world we need to focus on connecting with people. We need to make new friendships and invest in the ones we have already.