Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Remember when the righteous rose from indifference

I didn't know much about human trafficking until 2 years ago.  I had friends who were passionate about fighting it who would post on Facebook, but it took too long until I started paying attention.

In 2014 Remedy Drive released an album of "songs of freedom to shine a light on the trafficking of human souls."  That album is called Commodity.

On Commodity is a song called "Under the Starlight."  The title of this post comes from that song, and so do these lyrics:

What's this I see it's just a race for property
My God no, this is not the way it ought to be
We'll take back, daughters from the heartless
Maybe we can tear a little corner off the darkness

Here is the full song.

I don't post this to judge anyone who is still in a place of indifference like I used to be.  I only post to share that once I started paying attention, I couldn't go back to ignoring the darkness.

There are more slaves today than at any point in human history.  That's more men, women, boys, and girls forced into labor, servitude, and the sex trade than ever before.  More people are without freedom today than when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.  More people are without freedom today than when slavery was still legal in America (and other nations).

This month I'm participating in Dressember to bring awareness to human trafficking and raise funds for two amazing organizations that provide rescue and rehabilitation to survivors, International Justice Mission and A21.  I hope you'll consider joining me by praying, participating, and/or donating here.

But guess what?  If you don't feel drawn to donate to Dressember, that's okay.  There are so many organizations fighting to "tear a little corner off the darkness."  I hope you'll look into some.  Let's all become abolitionists and see an end to the scourge of slavery in our lifetimes.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

May Day!

We have a habit of single-handedly bringing back awesome things to the public sphere in my family.  If you've enjoyed a box of Cap'n Crunch's Christmas Crunch in the past 10 years, you're welcome.  I'm certain our scouring of grocery stores and the interwebs and our hoarding of this sweet seasonal treat has everything to do with the relative ease with which it can now be located during Christmastime.

Fun fact: one year, prior to the resurgence we ushered in, I found Christmas Crunch at the Ralph's near my first apartment in Los Angeles, so I stocked up on it, filled my carry on, and brought it to our family Christmas celebration in Texas.  Just in case you didn't believe me, we are serious about this.

Another thing I'm serious about?  The most whimsical and delightful holiday that most people know nothing about: May Day!  You've maybe heard of May Poles, or if you're a Gilmore Girls fan even a "maybe not pole!"  Thank you, Kirk.  But I'm guessing, unless you grew up in the Midwest or have been initiated by my family, you've never celebrated May Day.  Sad face.  Don't worry, I'm here to help!

Growing up May Day celebrations with my siblings consisted of assembling May Day "baskets" aka styrofoam cups filled with popcorn and jelly beans, dropping them off at the doorsteps of our neighborhood friends, ringing the doorbell, running away, and hiding.  After opening the door and finding these May Day treats our friends would chase after us.  It was so simple and fun.

May Day 2015: We've gotten a little fancier than styrofoam cups, but the popcorn and jelly beans remain.

The exact origins of May Day aren't clear, but it likely evolved from a variety of spring festivals and celebrations.  Singing, dancing, treats, and flowers would have been involved, what's not to like?  May Day baskets traditionally would have been filled with flowers/candies/pastries, and would have been left on the doorstep of the person you liked.  The running and hiding would have ended with a kiss in the event of a successful hunt by the recipient.  It's fun, and sweet, and lovely.  And we're bringing it back.  So head to your favorite grocery store, pick up some cups, some popcorn, and some jelly beans and join us in reviving yet another awesome tradition.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Through a Glass, Darkly

On Sundays, I tend to do my Bible reading before bed.  Sunday mornings prove to come to quickly and too early for me to manage it then.  Tonight as I headed for bed, I saw my Bible sitting there and I didn't want to pick it up.  I just wanted to watch some tv and fall asleep.  I didn't want to read and then pray the same prayer about what God has in store for friends and for me in terms of marriage.  What if no answer is the answer, right?

I picked up my Bible anyway.  Thanks for the nudge, Holy Spirit.  I turned to 1 Corinthians where I've been reading, and found where I left off.  Oh good, a short chapter, I thought with my still bad attitude.  Then I realized what chapter it was, 1 Corinthians 13.  The love chapter.  The chapter that you've probably heard at weddings, "Love is patient, love is kind . . ."

It was like simultaneously Jesus was saying, I see you and I love you, and the Holy Spirit was saying, don't be a brat!  Hallelujah and ouch!  To which the only proper response is a few tears.  I don't necessarily take this to mean that I'll be hearing all the wedding bells I hope to hear in the near future.  If it does, don't judge me if I wear the same dress to multiple weddings, I'm praying for a lot of you.  This could get expensive!

What it does mean is that God knows how to speak to my heart.  He knows my fears, my frustrations, my joy, my hope, and He takes the time to meet me there.  Even and especially when in my human frailty I barely make the effort.  He doesn't give up on me.

I share this story for the sole purpose of God's glory.  Wherever you are tonight, whatever you're feeling, God is there.  Rejoice with Him, cry with Him, laugh with Him.  Just allow Him to meet you where you are.  He has so much more in store even if the answers aren't yet clear.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known."  1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)

Friday, November 07, 2014

loopholey and sock hoppy

I was born in the wrong decade, or maybe even the wrong century.  I am sure of this.  Just as sure as I am that God doesn't make mistakes.  How can both be true?  How am I living in the age of social media when I feel so much more drawn toward the age of sock hops?  Very often in this life we are called to live in the tension between what should be and what is.  The tension between the eternal and the temporal, the holy and the worldly.  This tension allows us and encourages us to approach the world how it is and do what we can to make it a little more like how it should be.

In a world where courting has devolved into "talking" or "hanging out" or "hooking up," those of us who are old fashioned can try to help pull things back from that ledge.  I'd rather be single and steadfast in my values than get caught up in a world where guys are afraid to say the word date let alone actually ask a girl to go on one.  Hopefully by expecting to be treated how I might have been in decades or centuries long since past, it will encourage others that there is a better way.

We don't have to accept friend requests instead of flowers.  We don't have to let technology trump tradition.  We don't have to settle for txt msgs over handwritten letters.  We don't have to date frogs wishing they were princes.  We don't have to hear "cloud" and feel silly because we thought of a fluffy white thing in the sky instead of nebulous storage.  We don't have to accept the world how it is.  Those who do are powerless to change it.  I am here, and so are you, in the world today for such a time as this.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

in oceans deep my faith will stand

I take comfort in knowing that if God has marriage in mind for me it will be better than my daydreams.*  If He doesn't, that will be better too.  It's been a long road to get to a place where I trust God enough with my future and my heart that I can write this, believe it, and not delete it out of fear it may actually come true.

God knows my desire to marry and raise a family.  If you've been around here much, you know it too.  But I know that God can shape and refine the desires of my heart for my good and the good of His kingdom.

I'm realizing that it's no mistake that we often talk about comfort in terms of "finding" or "taking" it.  Comfort isn't something that accidentally appears in your life.  Comfort requires action.  Sometimes that action is on the part of others through prayer, hugs, shoulders to cry on, or ears to hear.

I wrote that first part over a year ago.  As it turns out, I could write it, but not quite post it yet.  What I'm writing next, today, is why I have the courage to post this now.

This week that action was on the part of a friend who took me to lunch and made me cry.  Ha!  I know that doesn't sound very comforting, but a friend who knows and cares enough to ask questions about what's going on in your life and let's you cry over tacos because sometimes that's how truth pours out is a comfort and a blessing indeed.  A friend who knows exactly how you feel because she feels it too (even if you wish she didn't) makes you feel seen and less alone.

And let me be clear, I am happy.  I have a great life.  I enjoy my 7 (yes, seven) jobs.  I love Texas.  I am blessed beyond measure to live with family.  Sometimes, though, unmet expectations shout a little louder and the desire for a teammate aches a little stronger.  But when I look around I know that I am blessed with a team I can count on.  We all have each others' backs and so does God.  I take comfort in that.

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

*This is not a statement born out of fairytale naivete, but rather out of faith.  I am under as few illusions about marriage as someone who isn't married probably can be, but I also know I serve a God whose imagination is bigger and better than my own, so whatever His plan, it is beautiful, and good, and for His glory.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Azina vs. The Insect Kingdom

Me about 11:50pm this evening: Lalala, I'm just going to go take the sheets out of the dryer and dry the next load.

*Open dryer.  See cockroach inside.*


Being nearly midnight at the time, my "Ahhhh!" was whispered.  I ran back to my room to regroup, leaving the dryer open and only briefly considering how much worse it would be if the cockroach relocated.

Several minutes later I put on some shoes, regrouped, and went back to face my foe.  The nasty creature was still in the same place.  I won't go into details, but I was victorious.  It helped rather significantly that the cockroach was already dead.  Dry roasted, as it were.  Perhaps a delicacy to some.  *Heebie jeebies.*

Is tilting at cockroaches character building?  I think it might be.  Though, I wouldn't be sad if I had a husband around who wouldn't be mad that I woke him up at midnight to vanquish a bug.  Do men like that exist?

I'm kidding.


Prior to this incident, I was feeling pretty good about the ongoing saga of me vs. the insect world today too.  You see, I recently learned that heat denatures the protein in mosquito venom that causes the itchiness.  Seemed plausible, but how could I possibly be 32, a constant victim of mosquito bites, and not know such a simple remedy?  I mean mosquitoes and I are sworn enemies.  And by that I mean they love me and I hate them.  I don't even have to go outside to get bitten.  If one of those pests sneaks indoors, they seek me out & wreak their itchy, puffy, swollen, welty havoc.

As it turns out it totally works!  What I had originally read was to take a hot bath, which I haven't done but I did run very hot water over one mosquito bite for as long as I could stand it and on another I held a hot rice bag on the bite until the itchiness & swelling were gone.  I'm pleased to report that the rice bag method was more effective, and obviously easier than a bath or running the bite under hot water.  I can't even explain how excited I am, but you can ask my sister and my friends to whom I showed my non-itchy, non-puffy, non-swollen, non-welty arm.  :)

Now I'm off to finish the laundry.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes

This morning I had the opportunity to attend a church service that was also the church's 25th anniversary celebration.  Such a joyous celebration of God's glory, faithfulness, and provision seemed so fitting for Palm Sunday.  Maybe it's just me, but it seems Palm Sunday is so easily overlooked.  I remember celebrating Palm Sunday as a child with palm leaves in church and shouts of "Hosanna!"  People celebrated Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem.  And even though things would take quite a turn over the course of the week to follow, I think it is important to remember all of the parts of Holy Week.

This is a week that starts with joy, moves toward fear & sorrow, and ends with hope.  Because of Jesus' crucifixion, death, and resurrection, we can have hope.  We have the hope of salvation.  This can be a heavy week as we reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made to save us from our sins, but it's also a week of joy and hope.  I love this week because God so loved us.

I put together a playlist for this week that I wanted to share with you.  I feel the presence of God so strongly through these songs.  I hope they are a blessing to you as you reflect on and celebrate God's good and perfect plan of salvation this week.

If you don't know how you feel about God or where you stand with Him, know that He loves you.  I hope you will explore the life that God wants to bless you with.