January 23, 2014

What were you doing between the ages of 14 and 21?

Me? I was starting high school and then in college. My life was fairly care free, and I didn't have to think about much aside from the next assignment or what my parents wanted me to do. But then that, what my parents wanted, was always for my best and always easy. Such is not the case for many women in Asia. Shiluli is such a woman whose life is so far from ours, but that doesn't mean we can't reach out and help her.

Nepalese Woman Finds Hope Amidst Great Loss



Amidst the 700,000 people living in Kathmandu, Shiuli was entirely alone. At 21 years old, the young woman had been taken away from her friends and family and had lost her husband, leaving her to fend for her three daughters all on her own. And the next tragedy was just around the corner.

Hardship began when Shiuli was only 14 years old after her parents arranged her marriage to Tarun. She had grown up in a quiet mountain village of central Nepal with her family and friends nearby. But after the couple got married, Tarun decided they would move to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
There he found a job in the carpet industry. The young bride later began working there as well. In the years following, the couple had three daughters. At one point, Tarun got sick—and never got better.
After seven years of marriage, he died, leaving Shiuli a young widow with three daughters to care for in a city where she had no one to help her out. Things only got worse.

Because of her desperate poverty, the widow didn’t have enough money to provide for her children.
She watched her youngest daughter starve and die of malnutrition.

Woman in Anguish Seeks Answers in Many Religious Centers

With all the calamities that had struck her family, there was nothing and no one the young mother could depend on. She worried she would die, leaving her two remaining daughters completely helpless to defend themselves against abuse.

There are as many as 300,000 Nepali girls who have been sold into the sex trade in India alone.
Shiuli desperately needed answers—so she went searching for them.

Shiuli had seen little difference between the religion she had grown up in and the two other major religions she knew of, so she figured she would solicit all three of them.

She went to many religious centers and offered the little money she had, along with other sacrifices, to the gods, hoping for a response. She also sought the help of different religious figures.

For all her searching, she couldn’t find any peace—until one day when visitors interrupted her at work.

Visitors to Carpet Industry Bring Answers

The women who walked in told Shiuli they were followers of Jesus. They explained about Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. As Shiuli listened to their kind words, she felt like she had finally found someone to turn to.

She confided in them, pouring out her whole, sad story to the women. They shared God’s love and told her He could free her from all her burdens.

These women were missionaries, sharing the hope of the true God with people like Shiuli who desperately needed Him.

Women missionaries like this one are able to bring hope and peace to women whom male missionaries cannot talk to because of cultural restrictions.



Shiuli realized they were telling her the answers she had been seeking from the other gods. The words they spoke gave her the peace she needed, and she knew she could take refuge in Christ.

The missionaries connected her with a church, and as she continued to learn more about the Lord, she chose to take Him up on His offer of peace!

Now Shiuli is part of a Gospel for Asia-supported church, and she is growing in the Lord with the help of the pastor and other GFA-supported women missionaries. She has found the answers and the peace she was looking for and the One she can turn to as her refuge from calamities.

“The Lord has blessed me in such a wonderful way that He has provided shelter, food, special care and attention through His people,” Shiuli says.

“The most important thing is I am receiving fellowship,” she adds.

I was really deprived of love and affection, but here, everybody loves and takes care of me. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ and His people.

Give Answers to Someone Else in Anguish

Millions of other women in South Asia need someone to turn to who will tell them of the God they can take refuge in. But many of these women cannot or will not talk to a male missionary because of the cultural restrictions against male-female relationships. They can only be reached by other women.

Touch the life of someone like Shiuli by sponsoring a woman missionary.






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January 22, 2014

can you see it?

In my story101 class we needed to write something out of our comfort zone. This was a very hard assignment for me. I have played around with a variety of forms and styles of writing, except maybe haiku, but with a door open so wide I didn't know where to begin or what to do with it. I'll be sending this off to my partner in crime in the class, but I thought I would share it here. Not because it's particularly amazing, but because this too is outside my comfort zone.

see

To be seen
is to be heard
is to be acknowledged
is to be loved.

To be seen
is to know
is to trust
is to believe.

Do you see me?
I wonder often.
Why do you compare?
Why can’t we work together?

Do I see you?
The walls make it hard.
Why do I compete?
Why can’t I share?

To be seen
we all long for it
we all wonder why not
we all wish it were done.

We look and see
those who don’t
and forget to see
those who do.

To be seen
for who I am
talents and failures
all not some.

Do I see
the way I want to be seen?
unconditional and true
With space to be real.


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January 20, 2014

Where do they find their worth?

She was last seen getting into a car late last night. She is 16 years old, wearing jeans, a blue shirt, and red tennis shoes. And there is now an amber alert out for her and the car.

alert

Does it make you wonder what was going on? Do you question if she knew the person, was she running away, was she getting a ride home? What do you feel when the latest amber alert for a teen girl scrolls across the bottom of your television, or comes across your radio with the attention getting buzz before and after?

Can I tell you what happens in my world? My heart breaks.

You see, it doesn't matter the details before hand. The only thing that matters now is getting her to a safe place. That may be home, and that may be somewhere else, but she is out there somewhere, and she needs help. She is waiting for someone who has seen the alert to see her as well.

What gets us to this point? Because make no mistake, there are few of us who haven't been in the same place this girl has been. Many of us may never have been taken, either eluding the situation or listening to the warning of our heart, but so often our mental state has allowed us to be in a dangerous place physically.

We could be raised in a loving home, and still search for love from someone else. We could have been raised in a home with security, but are still looking for acceptance from another. We may simply be trusting the wrong person, because they have only shown us what we wanted to see. I see it still through the facebook stati of many young girls on the web. They are searching for approval, love, acceptance... and willing to do anything to get it. They think they need it.

It doesn't make sense, does it? As adults we can realize the irony of changing to be approved, but we all do it. Sometimes it puts us in danger, and sometimes it simply builds a false relationship with another. How are we truly accepted if we have to become something else first?

I'll be honest, I think the solution is different for each situation. I know that the only place we can get true assurance from is God, but each person has a story which makes everything a little complicated sometimes, but always unique. But somewhere, somehow, in some way we have got to start teaching all girls their value. Not so that they will lord it over another and walk around with their nose in the air (this isn't true confidence, but making yourself feel good by putting others down) but rather so that they simply know. So they don't doubt. So they don't search from another what they can only find within. So they don't climb into a car late at night and turn up missing a few hours later.

remember

We all need to know how valuable we are. We need to know that value comes from the One who created us. And trying to fill ourselves with value based on anything else is empty and dangerous.

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January 13, 2014

It's time to listen.

There is a clock in my living room. We bought it when my oldest was days old. This may be why it will never be replaced, but I can still remember that day vividly. The new Menards opened up, and with any new store the lines to check out were ten people deep. We were okay with settling in line. I held my newborn and we people watched as we waited, but one of the managers saw us and opened up a new line for us. I still smile at her sweetness and utter disbelief that we were there in those crazy crowds with one so little. We took him everywhere.

The clock chimes each hour, but I don't hear it. When I am alert enough to listen for it all the memories of that day come flooding back to my mind, but I rarely hear it. I actually thought Captain had turned the chime off recently, but he assured me it still made sound. One morning after that as I was laying in bed I was astonished as I heard the music come from the other room.

listen

There's a little voice inside our heart that is similar to the chimes on my clock. Sometimes as we go through life we simply don't pay attention to it. There are days it tells us to step outside of our comfort zone to reach out to someone else. There are days it tells us which direction we should be heading. There are days it warns us of danger. Maybe they are separate voices? I am not sure. What I know, just like I know the clock is in my living room, God made us with this sense, but sometimes we don't listen to it.

God created your mind with the ability to figure things out faster than you can consciously decide something. When this happens there is a gut check we get about a circumstance or situation. We don't even realize we are processing the information, but we know something. This is why there are so many times we say to ourselves, "Oh if I had only listened." Or "I just knew." All too often, however, we simply don't listen to that voice, feeling, thought, idea. All too often we brush it aside and ignore it, if we hear it at all.

I know you have heard and ignored that voice before. There may be a time when the results of doing so were catastrophic. Or maybe they were regrettable. And sometimes we get in this circle of, "I didn't listen then, so how can I start listening now?" But please know, the question needs to change. Ask yourself this, "I didn't listen then, so how can I do anything but start listening now?"

It takes effort to start listening to that voice. When you feel it start pressing on your heart you need to pay attention and act. As you practice hearing it, you will hear it more often as well.

God created you with this amazing sense to help you out when you or someone else is in need. Don't become as deaf to it as I am my clock. I don't get to smile and remember fond memories when I don't hear the clock. What will happen when you don't heed the push?


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January 10, 2014

You can absolutely learn safety from a snake.

There is a question as to whether Christians are allowed to defend themselves. I've heard many say they don't have that right, and it slays me every time. I know you would do what is necessary to protect another person. I know you would not stop a police officer from protecting you. So, why would anyone feel it's not okay to protect yourself?


January 6, 2014

A warning about losing the "pure" and sticking with the "wary"

Would you like to know what has been the most surprising for me as I worked through the wary and pure ways of living life? I can get stuck in one or the other, and balancing the two is quite difficult. It's just as hard to live by "pure as doves" as it is to live by "wary as snakes," but it feels almost impossible to do both at once sometimes.

matthew 10 16

I still joke in my taekwondo class that I am the "scaredy-cat" of the bunch. I know I fight fear, and while it feels as if I do it more than others, I may simply do it louder. I guess it's the way I am, and something I need to work on. But alternately, sometimes I get caught in the "wary" aspect of life.

It's difficult to live pure when my defenses are up, my walls are sound, and my guard is on. When I get like that all I want to do is fight everyone in my path, prove how strong I am, and stand up for myself. *sigh* I know. I know. This is not how to live life abundantly.

So, the hard part is living wary, while still remaining open to people and life. Watching, protecting, and defending are important, but not always done the same way. Sometimes the best defense is love. Sometimes the best guard is generosity. Sometimes it's best to let God defend your reputation and simply keep on doing what you are meant to do.

So, as we head into this new year learning how to protect ourselves and others, let us also not forget that if we lose the "pure as doves" we aren't where we should be. We wont be who we need to be. We will lose who we are meant to be.

"Wary as snakes and pure as doves" need to hold hands and work together. But it takes work. I hope you will work with me.

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January 2, 2014

Oh did I fail... but how shall we move forward

When I entered into 2013 I carried with me some expectations, goals, plans and ideas. I honestly have not gone back to see all that I failed at, but here are just a few which I know by heart:

  • I never did finish memorizing the Psalm. After I posted the one time the habit slipped away and I didn't even review it anymore. (Oh my word that was May.) In fact, I completely forgot about it for the longest time. The little notebook I had been using was misplaced, and I never thought to look for it much less remember its existence.
  • I didn't continue reading children's fiction through the year. Oh, I read some cute books, but I just stopped. Walking through the aisles didn't pull me towards anything and I headed back over to the adult section. Of course, there were months I didn't read a thing, and I honestly can tell you that part of the reason this happened was Candy Crush took over my reading time.
  • I was not consistent with writing the Bible. How long has it taken me to write through Nehemiah? I honestly have no idea, but I do know I have not kept up with it like I had wanted to. I may finish it before next week? I might finish it next week.

There were other things I failed at as well. To be honest, it is nearly impossible not to fail at times. But that doesn't mean we are failures, right? Because I memorized part of the Psalm, and after I review it a few times I can remember it. And I read a lot of great books out of the children's section at the library which I may never have crossed paths with otherwise. And I've picked my pen up again, and should finish Nehemiah soon. Sometime soon.

We don't always keep our plans or goals: sometimes they change, sometimes they fall by the wayside, and sometimes they simply get forgotten along the way. But it gives us direction until the next direction is found and so I'm okay with not always carrying out or following through. I'm okay with failing, because it teaches.

And so, now that you know how I failed last year and my phrase for 2014 , I want to also share ten things that I have learned in 2013 which I want to know by heart at the end of 2014:

remember 2014

Not necessarily resolutions, but principles. I'll probably fail at some of these along the way as well, but again: it's good to have a plan for your direction, and then see what happens next. Do you have any guiding principles for this coming year?


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January 1, 2014

Happy 2014.... one word?

Can I tell you how much I wish I had a word to share. So many other people have a word which they feel help them go through their year, teach them much, and bring surprises. They feel their word is given by God to help them focus and continue. And I wish I had one.

I was inspired to count to 100 by Teresa, though I believe she counts down. For the past (near) 100 days I have had a variety of words {for a day or a week} that have helped me push through these past 100 days. The goal I had at the beginning has been accomplished, and now I'm moving forward into the next 100 days. I'm moving forward into this amazing year, to be honest, but maybe if it is in bite size chunks it will be easier to digest.

This is a huge year for so many I dearly love and support, which vicariously makes it a huge year for me as well. And sometimes, I will be honest, what I want most to do is stop time, or reverse it. But all that does is bring me heartache and pain, and it surely doesn't encourage those who are moving forward. That's not where I want to be, and the only one who can make sure I don't sink into that pit is me.

So, while I have no word for the year as of yet, the word for the next 100 days (the all encompassing one, I'm sure I'll need some daily or weekly ones to encourage me as well) is *forward* because that is the direction I need to be going, with wild abandon, joy, and excitement. I'll leave the trepidation, nervousness, and fear right here. Yes, it is a simple word. I think I'll leave the complexity for the individual days.

forward

My next 100 days actually starts on 1/4/14 and it will end on 4/14/14. Can I tell you how much those numbers made me giggle? Onward, upward, and forward, my friends. Onward, upward, and forward!


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