Friday, June 27, 2014

For every woman who's ever wanted to be a mother...

You're not alone.  I know I can't be the only woman out there who feels this way:

I want to cry when I see a Disney movie because (a) I secretly wonder where in the world my prince has run off to, and when the hell he's coming my way, and (b) I want so badly to snuggle with a little girl or a little boy that has my hair or eyes and my husband's nose and laugh and tell that little boy or girl the truth about fairy tales.  That Jesus is the ultimate prince.

I love nothing more than playing with other people's children, until I fall asleep at night wiping away tears because there's a hole inside where my unborn children fit... and the hole seems to be getting bigger.

Comments about how great of a mom I'd be are less encouraging than they used to be... now they cause me to grieve.

I swing between resenting men, families and the like, thinking I'm just fine on my own and wanting to go live at an orphanage in Thailand... and reading up on how to be a loving wife and mother, just in case.

A onesie makes me smile, and sadly put a hand to my stomach.

I want to fight fiercely for every mistreated child and slap every hateful or intentionally hurtful parent.

I take notes on other's parenting styles.

I read Isaiah 54 once every few months.

I look up fixer-upper houses for sale and imagine putting it back together again for the family I may, or may not, have someday.

Going on dates is painful because I know there's only two reasons for the date: for men in the world they're hoping to score.  For men in the kingdom they're hoping to have a good time and not make any investments in the process.

Wine has become my finest companion.

I'm more grateful than ever to have a dog (and a best friend) that likes to snuggle for no apparent reason.

I've stopped taking seriously any comments about how great of a "catch" I am.  If it were true, it would have happened.  If it really is true despite my doubts, stop telling me and go tell the man who needs to know.

I've discovered pillows are great for hugging before falling asleep.

I've found my need for Jesus to be greater now than I have ever felt in the past.  He is my prince, my hope, my joy and my salvation.  Those are no longer words, but lifelines I hold onto in my darkest moments of loneliness and doubt.

Tonight was one of those hard ones.  Instead of sleeping I stayed up a little later to let this out and to reach out to every other woman who's ever been in this position.  Any woman who's ever put her career first and resented that decision later, or who's put her heart and trust into a man who completely let her down (been there), or even when dreams get dashed because God let it happen.... and there is no other reason than that.

My heart goes out to all of you.  And from one woman to another... you're not alone.  God loves us both, and even though we don't have the slightest clue as to what he's doing, he knows and he is in complete control.  It hurts most when I don't understand, like tonight, but I can fall asleep knowing that I don't need to understand.  Everything is as it should be, and everything will work out for the good of those who love the Father (Romans 8:28).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why, why, WHY?! (disclaimer... late night soap box).

Ever look at all you have and wonder why you have it?

It's typically late for me - normally I sleep by 11pm and yet I'm wide awake.  Sitting on my very comfortable memory foam mattress.  Typing on my Mac computer.... Looking at all of the THINGS that surround me.  Granted, the majority of my belongings fall under "BOOKS" (and "USED BOOKS" at that), yet I wonder why I hold onto so many things that, ultimately, do not matter.

I had a conversation this evening with my closest friend regarding my future.  I've found a dozen schools that provide the masters program I desire, with all of the resources, extra curricular activities, and programs that allow for global expansion.  I've been asked "WHY?" by half a dozen people regarding my motives for going overseas as a civilian.  In August I'll be going to Malaysia, Jakarta Indonesia, and Bangkok Thailand.  Indonesia and Thailand are my own adventure outside of the organization I'm serving with in Malaysia.

Why go?

Because I want to see for myself what this human trafficking and sex exploitation of women and children is really about.

Again.... WHY?  Who would want to expose themselves to such evil?

For some reason it makes complete sense to me to travel half way across the world to learn about a victim.  Because in a year, or two years, or five years, I'm going to go back to that place and I'm going to do something to help her.  If it's too late to find her, I'll find the next person just like her and help her.  WHY?

Because she, just like every red-blooded American, is a human being.  Because she, just like you, has a basic human right to safety, care and decision-making.

America is full of resources.  Anyone who comes here expects to receive care and justice.  We are, after all, the land of the free and home of the brave.  What about those who can't make it to America?  What about that 11-year-old sold into slavery by her parents who has to grow up believing she's nothing more than a commodity?  What about that 17-year-old who sells herself into slavery because her parents need the money she sends home to eat?  What about the 14-year-old who refuses to testify against her abusers because she and her family can't be guaranteed safety until her trial?  America guarantees justice - however imperfect our system might be.  Over there, and I do mean just about anywhere else, justice is a luxury given only to the rich and powerful.

SO WHAT?

Sometimes the arrogant audacity of American's shames me.  We live in a culture where if it isn't within the realm of our smart-phone, we don't particularly care.  We throw a fit if our power goes out because, God forbid, Avista makes a mistake.  Just tonight, 7,000 other residents and I were without power.  My roommate and I lit a few candles and read by candle light until it came back on.  Because you know what?  In this country, we know it will only be a few hours before it does come back on.  Most other countries, the power will go out for days.  Imagine the strike's in our streets if that happened in the land of the red, white and blue?  Consider how other's deal with it.  But no, of course not.  God forbid we consider a little girl, or a little boy, or a widow in Nepal who's primary focus for the day is gathering enough fire wood to cook what little flour and oil she has to feed her children for the day.  Power?  What power but that which lies within?

I've heard, many times, the retaliation that there's nothing we can do about those people.  They need to "help themselves" or "figure it out."  I despise such sheer ignorance and arrogance.  That same person doesn't realize they get their morning coffee from that widow who picked the beans just yesterday.  That same person doesn't understand that the shirt they're wearing was made by the hands of the six-year-old who picked the cotton that morning.  And that gorgeous Indian rug that wealthy woman just bought at an auction was made by a woman who sits on concrete for 20 hours a day weaving just to make that one rug she'll leave her muddy boots on every day.

It grieves my heart, on a level I often don't understand, to know there is such suffering and pain in the world.  I'm genuinely sad when I see a table of adults staring at their phones rather than talking to one another.  Don't you know that every moment is a gift from God, and that the next second could bring a murderer into the restaurant to take one of you from this earth too soon?  I want to smack the mother who smack's her child and tell her that she only gets a few short years with her child before he is gone... make those few short years ones that he'll remember with joy and respect, not shame and pain.

Perhaps I have too big of a heart.  I didn't believe there was such a thing, but I could certainly be wrong.  The idea of a single person feeling unloved by everyone in her life, literally brings tears to my eyes.  I want to cradle her face in my hands and tell her, "don't you know you're beloved by God?  Don't you know how incredibly precious and treasured you are?  You are exquisite, a delight, a joy, a blessing that surpasses all blessings.  You are you, and that's exactly what you're supposed to be.  You are loved, more deeply than you will ever begin to grasp."

Why do I want to go overseas?

Because I believe I'm more likely to find people who have never been told this good news, than I am if I were to stay in the states.  I want to go to those who've never been told the truth.

They're loved.  Deeply.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mastering Life (or maybe just a degree)

Here's my most recent lesson: "People need to live their lives.  That includes you."

The first time I heard this message I was struck with such a profound sense of awe I didn't know how to respond.  I'm a mother hen, and I don't even have any children!  I look after those who mean the most to me.  My family, my friends, and I try to make sure they're making it through life okay.  It not only gives me a sense of relief to know I'll be there to help them if they slip, but (if I'm being honest) I like feeling needed.  Primarily, it relieves me of any sense of responsibility for my own life.  I can't go out and "live" my life... I'm busy looking out for others...

As I've mediated on this the previous few days, such a thought now brings me shame rather than justification.

He said, you're a blue-collar woman, no doubt about it.  You work hard, are tough, can handle any situation as it comes at you.  But you've also got a brain.  A good brain.  You'd be doing a disservice to yourself if you only developed one and not the other.

Talk about convicting.  I love to learn.  I love expanding my mind and seeking to understand ideas and concepts from various angles.  I have a library with books that, yes, I've actually read.  I don't just listen to music or watch movies, I get to know the artists and the creators.  I don't just watch television, I watch what will help me understand things better.  I'm inquisitive, interested, curious, mischievous and, sometimes, a little reckless.

So, after much prayer and deliberation, I'm going to pursue the development of my mind and seek out higher education.  I complete my bachelor's degree in less than one year.  My goal is to attend a university to get my graduate degree in the fall of 2015.  I'm looking at getting my MSW (Masters in Social Work) with a potential dual degree in JD (Juris Doctorate) or even PIA (Public and International Affairs).  I want to help victims around the world, whether on a clinical (one-on-one) level, or an administrative (organization-based) level.

I spent several hours researching, and I found three particular universities that stood out to me above all the rest.  These stood out because of the concentration of the degree was right on point for what I'm looking for, as well as the resources at their disposal for working with people from all over the world.  New York University, Boston College, and the University of Pittsburgh.

 They're across the country.  I can't say this makes me excited.  I plan to do more research for colleges/universities on the west coast, but the closest I've yet to find is in Chicago.  The truth is, the west side isn't as up-to-speed on international relations as the east side.  I've talked to a handful of people on both coasts who can attest to this.

My goal for attending any university is that 90% - if not all - of the costs are paid for through Veteran's Affairs, scholarships and grants.  It can be done - I know those personally who have pulled it off at a private university.  I ask for prayers for wisdom, discernment and clarity regarding the next steps to take.

I need to trust God.  I need to trust him to take care of me no matter where I go, or what I do.  I need to trust that he'll reward my efforts to develop myself, my mind as well as my body and spirit.  I need to let go of the things that prevent me from growing, and grab hold of the gift of life that He's given me...

Then actually go and live it.