Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Senior Lock-In

Schools were out for a fall holiday this past Monday so Big Guy and his senior friends thought it would be a great time to do something fun.   They planned a Lock-In and convinced our awesome worship pastor to let them stay overnight at their house.   They all promised to come to the three hour Christmas rehearsal if he would let them so I think it turned out to be a good trade off.  *smile*

All crashed in the living room watching movies.

Waffle House

A great group of Senior friends!

When everyone else left church for the evening the kids played "capture the flag" and "sardines" in the church.   So much fun.  I know my youth group had the best time playing "sardines" in our church and it was tiny compared to our church.  

They all piled up in their cars and went to the late showing of "Mazerunner".  When that let out they were hungry so they went to one of the only places open after midnight... Waffle House.   From what I heard they put away a TON of food!

After that they went over to the pastor's house to crash in their living room where they would talk and laugh all night.    Another great senior memory made for sure!

Molding and Shaping

A deep voice is coming from the dining room.  It is familiar, but also so unfamiliar.  Something so new to me. 

It is my oldest son.   Talking with his study group about an assignment they are trying to complete for his Apologetics class.    My son is very quiet, reserved and introverted.  However, I have quickly come to realize that the entire group has given him the leadership reigns.   I know he did not volunteer for this because this is not his nature.   However, I am listening to him confidently facilitate this discussion.   

I would like to point out that I am not eavesdropping on him.  We are in our normal routine.  Since he works in the dining room whatever he does is pretty open.  

Still, it is unique to see this new side of him.   One of the members of their group has answered the question wrong.   He is the only one.   It would be easy to say, "You need to correct yours." but  I hear my son say, "I would like to hear more about what you are saying.  Clearly your opinion is different which means we all clearly have something to think about before we make our final submission."   In the end they guide this one around to realizing where he misunderstood.   However, it would have been so easy to dismiss him as wrong and go on.

Senior year have had so many moments where I have wanted to cry.  Today has been one of those days when I have seen how God is molding and shaping him in the man He wants to be.    Today was such a surprise.  I can't wait to see what else God uncovers in this amazing young man He has blessed me with. 

Days Like This Remind Me

Sipping my coffee watching the sweet family of deer nibble their morning feast.

All the windows are open to let in the crisp refreshing air that we are experiencing today.

The smell of freshly cooked sausage and biscuits are wafting through the house hopefully tempting my breakfast hesitant boys to eat.

It is quiet. 

We have no outside appointments on our agenda today.  

Church is tonight, but that is such a natural part of our life that it is not considered a check on our list, but as natural as breathing. 

We will study, talk, laugh, read, have lunch together, study some more and enjoy the day with no interruptions.   If we decide at some point to hop in the car to go to the library to research or get ice cream, we can.  With no guilt or worry.

Days like today are why I love the beauty of homeschooling.  

Thank you, Lord, for giving me days like today in the midst of our busy schedule to remind me of why I love this so much.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Operation Mighty Men

I woke up this morning excited about football.  I wandered into the kitchen to grab my coffee and and flipped on Game Day.  As I was waiting for my brain to catch up to the caffeine I was reading a few emails and Twitter.  

All of a sudden I was awake.  I saw a message from Cliff.   Here is what it said:

"The largest child sex trafficking bust in law enforcement history is about to begin.  Prayers are appreciated."

Wait?  What?  What did I miss?

I began reading through Cliff's other messages and found what I had missed in his other messages.   Cliff had put together a group of men to execute what would be the largest sex trafficking bust in law enforcement history.   They nicknamed their group after David's warriors from the Bible. 

For months they not only had prepared physically and mentally, but they had prepared spiritually for this mission.  A mission to rescue kids as young as 10 and as old as 14.  Ten year olds.  They are worth more Cliff says because they are virgins.   Which makes me sick to my stomach because it insinuates that the 14 year olds are not.   Oh the horrors they have already seen.  

They arranged take downs in three cities simultaneously.   They arranged with these evil men to have these children brought in for "parties" as the men posed as clients.   Once there they would rescue them.  

Not long after the sting began Cliff messaged that they had been introduced to an 11 year old boy that they were willing to sell for sex.   After that introduction, the team loaded up with five trafficking chiefs to the sting house.    Those of us being kept informed were praying and waiting for updates.  My stomach ached for Cliff and his team, but especially for those children.   Over 100 children who were within minutes of freedom.   They had no idea.  They were literally about to be set free.   Please, Lord, allow it to all go smoothly and flawlessly.

When they reached their destination they sat down to eat and broker their deal.  Imagine sitting down to eat and talk about how much you were going to pay for a child's life.   To rescue them like these men were doing I would pay anything.  To do what most people would do with these children.... sick, unbelievable, evil.   My stomach hurt.

Soon they had an entire notepad listing the children and how much they were worth.   Five young ten year old girls wept as they thought they were being sold for $1,000 because of their status as  virgins.   I weep for the thought of all the ten year olds today who aren't being rescued and will be sold.   Oh, God.  How can you stand this evil world?

I felt grounded again as Cliff messaged us their purpose. It came from Psalm 82:4, "Rescue the weak and the needy. Deliver them from the hand of the wicked."  

My coffee is cold and football means nothing to me as I sit here waiting for Cliff's next update.  Waiting to see if that crucial moment when they announce that they are law enforcement has gone well.   I am praying God's light will shine in the midst of all that evil darkness.   That those precious children will see these Warriors for what they are.  A extension of God's saving grace.   Hope.  A future.  

I cannot imagine what it feels like to be that team as each minute that passes seems like an eternity.  One hour passes and I pray that no news means that they have taken the traffickers captive and are comforting those children.   I pray as I wait.

Finally he posts and says, "They are safe!  100 children have been saved."

I weep.  I laugh.  I am so relieved.  

I also know this fight isn't over.  It is so far from over.   These 100 children are only a tiny portion of the sex trafficking problem around the world.  

How did I become aware of this problem?  Through an incredible man named Cliff Graham and an organization, Operation Underground Railroad.

Get involved.  Pray.  Donate.  Tell someone.  But don't pretend this problem doesn't exist.   You know now and you are accountable... to God.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Blue Cards and Forgiveness

I am going to physical therapy three times a week for my feet.   If it isn't one thing it is another, you know? 

Anyway, physical therapy lasts about an hour and while they are working on my feet I usually chat with the people around me or the therapists working.    I have had some great talks.   It amazes me that every moment of every day is a mission field. 

Today, a woman who works in another department, came in.   She needed to talk with my therapist, but stood around to chat.   Someone asked her if she were married.   She responded by saying, "I have done that once, but never again.   I just play around and save up my blue cards for Sunday."   I had no idea what she meant so I asked her.  

"Oh I just write my sins on the blue cards and turn them in."  

I was surprised.   I was also curious.  I asked her what church she went to and she told me.   After a little more discussion I discovered that the "blue" card was pretty much a prayer request card, but apparently one slot said "do you want to be forgiven of your sins?"  

I asked her if she felt turning in her blue card gave her forgiveness of her sins.    She wasn't sure.   In fact, she said right now she was so determined to sin that she was "saving them up" until she was ready to turn them all in at one time.  

I wish I could tell you that we had a great coming to Jesus moment together.   We didn't. However, we did have some great time of discussion.  I tried to just listen to her and tell her that God was such a forgiving God.   He didn't care about blue cards.  He just cared about our heart.  

I had to walk around for another part of my therapy, but when I came back she was waiting.   She told me goodbye and thank you.  

I hope I get to see her again.  I hope I get the chance to talk, but if not I pray God continues to whisper in her ear that He loves her and that He is there to offer forgiveness willingly.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Catalyst 2014

Catalyst has been going on in Atlanta.  I wish I had been there, but I have been following the Catalyst hashtag (#Catalyst14) on Twitter like a stalker.  

Here are some of my favorite quotes from just two of the amazing speakers.

Christine Caine

“The pain of recovery is sometimes worse than the pain of the injury. Allow Jesus Christ to heal your soul.”
“We have a lot of leaders that want to change the world, but don’t want to change themselves!”
“We must refute the lies of the enemy with the truth of God’s Word.”
“If Jesus is not enough for the Church/Christians, how can we claim He is enough for the world?”
“The church isn’t reaching the world because it’s too busy keeping Christians on life support.”
“If we don’t build our Spiritual Core our world is going to collapse.”
“Praying the sinners prayer does not heal you. It saves you…”
“We need to replace the lies of the enemy with the truth of God; to do so we need to know the truth of God.”

Andy Stanley

“The church must capture and keep the minds and hearts of students.”
“If we start to dumb down what has been made clear, where does that stop?”
“The church must stop expecting outsiders to act like insiders, while insiders act like outsiders.”
“The church should be the safest place on the planet to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.”
“Jesus doesn’t take sides; He takes over.”
“Christians need to be known not for what we’re against, but for Who and what we are for.”
“Why create churches for 50-year-olds and let culture have the students?”
“What is this generation of students worth? EVERYTHING!”