Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Knowing Fear.

To keep up with the theme of fear I've been talking about lately, I subconsciously decided to conduct a field experiment this weekend.

I went surfing.

And now here I sit with six internal and seventeen external stitches in the middle of my thigh that will leave a nasty, frowning scar on my leg. Bummer scenario, kind of a funny story.

Against my non spontaneous husband's judgement, we decided late Friday night to get up early with some friends to go to the beach. With some surfboards. Matt and I have been surfing twice before. We probably couldn't claim expert level quite yet. Our surfer friends hit the water before we could even get our suntan lotion on, but one came back to shore fairly quickly and let me grab his board. It was all downhill from there. I should have used my brain and waited for someone who knew what they were doing to come out with me. Instead I threw on a wetsuit top and went for it. I (kind of) caught a wave immediately but almost lost my bathing suit bottom in the process so went back for some shorts. Best decision of the day. Five minutes later, I found myself thrashing underwater, thinking I was going to drown. I got up, grabbing at my leg that felt like it had just been filleted. But thank the Lord I still had my shorts on.

Turns out there was some serious foreshadowing happening on the beach while I was in the water. Two surfer girls walked by Matt and our friend Jess, saying something to them along the lines of, "She's never going to make it past that break point." Really wish they would have communicated that to me. Another friend was telling her surfer husband how badly it looked like I was getting thrashed. Given another couple minutes, I'm pretty sure he would have helped me. Sadly, all of this foreshadowing happened simultaneously with my leg bursting open like a juicy hotdog (doctor's words, not mine). While I was flipping around under the water, the board fin was slicing through my leg.

I started motioning for help, though no one really seemed to think I needed it. Nate grabbed the surfboard while Jess undid the leash and joked to Matt that he should scoop me up, which he did all Baywatch style. He carried me to the lifeguard station, and I took my hand off my leg revealing the gaping hole. I couldn't look at it, but l did see yellow fat oozing between my fingers. Never a good sign. It was poor lifeguard boy's first day, and he had no idea what to do. His initial gasp was a bit difficult for me to hear, but I think we did a pretty good job talking him through it from there. HA! I told him that he'd be able to use this as an example of what not to do in the future. Big surprise, I say a lot of really stupid things when I'm in shock. Poor Matt curled into the fetal position for a time to keep from passing out while my friend Brooklyn held my foot like a champ until the EMTs arrived. There was just a lot of great teamwork.

Matt and I spent the next five hours on a day-date in the hospital while the friends took care of the kids for the rest of the day. We had various hospital staff visiting us all day long to see my wound while we waited for the doctor. It was just as a hospital by the beach should be. Laid back with surfer dude nurses telling us about their own injuries. They pumped me with a nice IV drip of antibiotics and painkillers that made for a most pleasant experience. Seriously, I think Matt and I made a lifelong friend in our nurse, Dan, who said he enjoyed taking care of people that make positive contributions to society. Thanks, dude! And, we shared many laughs with my doctor as he irrigated and stitched up my leg.

Yes, this sucks, but I can't help but be very, very thankful that it wasn't worse. I could have sliced my head open. Or broken my neck. I was such an idiot for attempting to go out there on my own. Lesson learned. We're not meant to conquer life on our own. We need to depend on others. So here I sit on my couch unable to move for the next several days but accepting the help offered. One of my best friends from Syracuse was in town with her family, and literally spent the weekend taking care of me and hanging out on the couch. Libby and Brian, you guys are great. Thank you to all of you that have cooked for us, cleaned for us, watched our kids, and just have been willing to step in to help. You're very much appreciated. Love you!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

For the Love.

In about a month and a half I head to Southeast Asia.

It's hard for me to believe this is actually happening, which I think is why I'm just posting about it now. Back in October I wrote this post, having no idea what it would lead to. When I said it would only be a week of my life, I should have known better. 

I'll be traveling with a few other people with an organization called Love146. Their vision is the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation. You can read their story here. We will be meeting with prevention staff and partners, seeing firsthand the work they are doing to stop trafficking before it happens and how those that have been exploited are able to find healing and restoration. One of the things I've been most impressed about Love146 is how hard they work at implementing long term solutions that are not just knee-jerk responses to a very difficult issue. They work hard to ensure survivors are treated with dignity and respect and have a strong policy against using manipulative fundraising tactics. They also network with many other respected groups to fight for those who have been exploited. 

When I started this whole process, I was expecting a hop over to Central America to love on some kids, which would have been a great experience, I'm sure. However, this runs so much deeper, as it's the beginning of a relationship with this organization that involves starting up a task force here at home. Our first meeting is next month. The purpose of this group is to connect people that are passionate about fighting this injustice so that we can act in tangible ways. Love146 provides many resources for building a team of people committed to staying informed about what is happening locally and abroad, and for raising money to support prevention programs and aftercare for those that are healing. 

The trafficking of human beings is a 32 billion dollar industry. Two children are sold every minute. In the U.S. alone, over 100,000 kids are forced into prostitution or pornography every year. 

This isn't about numbers though. 
It's about people.
Created in the image of God, being exploited and dehumanized in unspeakable ways. 

It's about hope.
That Jesus truly is Lord over this earth. 

It's subversive.
Not found in the forces and powers the world expects.

God allows us a part in what He is doing in our world.


I've said so many times before, Matt and I are learning what it means to be caught up in the extravagant love of God. It's a never-ending story. We don't want to just be consumers, but as we partake in the love and grace that he pours on us, we share in it with others. We're stumbling through what it means to live differently in our day to day lives. It's in these small steps that the life-changing decisions are cultivated and brought to fruition. I'm so very thankful for family and friends that have shown their love and support throughout this process. Matt and I have been so encouraged. Please pray for us as we start up this task force and as I travel. It's no secret that I struggle with fear. I'm thankful for a God that meets us in our issues and carries us through.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Love vs. Fear

I guess it's been a while since I've blogged. One of these days I'll tackle my inconsistency. The last month has just been filled with enjoying the beautiful Florida sunshine, family, and friends. I love how our spring comes in February. After being away from long winters for a few years now, I don't know if I could handle the gloominess of it again. I need early reminders that there's something new blooming just ahead.

Even with the sunshine, winter felt long in some ways, as I've spent the last several months processing different ideas and trying to figure out what it means to live what I believe, knowing what is worth fighting for and what things I need to let go of. It will be a lifelong battle to engage, but I refuse to lose it to apathy, fear or believing that I'm alone in this struggle.

It can be so gripping.

I've written about it before, but it's visited me lately more than I care to admit. There have been reminders that it doesn't have to paralyze me, from sermons to status updates on facebook. Those things are not what draw me out of it though.

Perfect love casts out all fear.

"Love protects, defends, restores, and empowers."

This is a mantra that has been in front of me lately, and to be honest, I've had some trouble with it. I get the protects, defends, and restores part, but I've had issue with the word empowers. What does that mean? Empowers for what?

To cast out fear.
To not live by it.

Love empowers us to act in ways that we cannot on our own. When I'm stuck in my fear, it's always the love of someone from the Body of Christ that helps break me free from it. So often in recent days I have been shown how loved I am.

I am loved.
It's one thing to hear it, it's quite another to see it.
Because I am loved, I don't have to fear the what ifs that plague me.

Love empowers.
Because with it comes responsibility. When others give you their full support and love, you want to do well by them. You want to live in ways that you didn't realize you were capable of. Not for yourself but for the sake of others. We can love and live beyond fear because we were all loved first.

Thank you, Jesus, for your perfect love that frees us from the bondage of fear.