Monday, January 6, 2014

My One Word for 2014 : BLESS

BLESS   blessed   blessing  bless her heart   bless you   bless the LORD

What does it mean to bless? As I've pondered what my focus should be for this new year, this brand new opportunity in my life to make a difference, this unopened package of minutes, hours, days, weeks and months that make up 2014, the word that has resonated through my spirit is ...


    Last year I discovered an initiative to chose just ONE WORD, instead of a list of resolutions, for the new year. There are two websites that I am familiar with that advocate this focus, that give suggestions on how to choose your word, that share words others have chosen and provide a forum to share your word. These are and  
  For 2013 I choose the word, "Aware"...unfortunately, it never really became part of my daily thoughts and actions. In considering a word for this year, I decided that I wanted a word that was more intentional, more demanding of action on my part, a word that would embrace both my relationship with God, my interaction with others, and also daily gratitude for God's gifts to me.  This will be a year long study on the meaning of what it means to bless, to be a blessing, to be blessed, but here are a few of the ideas that I am beginning with as I seek to implement the rich tapestry of all that is included in living out the word BLESS in my life in 2014.

    This year, I will intentionally BLESS THE LORD everyday....that is, I will praise Him, exalt Him, acknowledge His attributes and His activity. I will also bless Him by seeking to live as He desires me to, to love Him more passionately, to bring Him joy.

This year, I will intentionally BLESS OTHERS. I will seek to encourage, to uplift, to praise, , to speak grace, to give a hand up, to share my material blessings with those in need, to use my buying power to help and not hurt those who are producing the goods I consume. I will look for God to lead me in making a difference in the world, in not turning my eyes from problems that seem too big, but engaging in activity that produces change for those that I can affect, and to advocate for other people to also get involved in becoming world changers...for together we can take small steps that lead to big changes for individuals, one person at a time.

    I will intentionally BLESS MY FAMILY by my words, attitudes, and actions, and will seek to be the wife, mother, mother-in-law, daughter and grandmother that will please God and bring blessing into the lives of those most precious to me. I will be intentional to BLESS MY FRIENDS and express to them in tangible ways the appreciation that I have for the blessing they are in my life.     

    And I will continue a practice that I began in November, with 30 days of thanksgiving, to each day deliberately open my spirit and mind and heart to embrace the blessings that God lavishes on me, blessings that are so easily taken for granted, left unnoticed and unvoiced, blessings that are undeserved and unearned but that are graced on my life by a loving and bountiful God. For I can only bless others out of the fullness with which I have been blessed. All is from God, all is for God, all is to His glory...I have no ability to bless apart from what He has poured out into me and into my life. 

    So, by the grace of God, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to the praise of Jesus, my Savior and Friend, I embrace the word BLESS as my word for 2014 and commit to live each day with this question as my focus......


                    I would love to hear from YOU.....what is your understanding of the meaning of BLESS?  How have you put into practice blessing the Lord, blessing others, or being aware of God's blessings to you?
                  How about your ONE WORD?  Have you chosen a word to be your focus this year? I would love to hear what it is and what it means to you. Please leave a comment!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hair Bows and Hope

I sit on the rooftop of the guest house in Haiti,  my coffee mug warm in my hands, the sky becoming a canvas of soft pastel colors as night gives way to  morning. Alone on the roof, I am observer but unobserved, unnoticed and apart from the dailiness of Haitian life that unfolds below me...the gate guard patrolling his post across the driveway, the truck driver maneuvering the potholes on the street below, the teenage boy brushing his teeth as he emerges from his small concrete block home, the gray haired woman bent sideways from the weight of carrying the large, ten-gallon bucket of water for her family's morning needs.  I listen to the sounds of Haiti ...the constant, unremitting crowing of countless roosters and the endless barking of multiple dogs that continues night and day...the impatient cacophony of horns sounded by every tap-tap, car and truck on the road, as they fight for the advantage in the crazy traffic that is Port-au-Prince, alongside the gunning of motorcycle engines that weave in, out and around all.  I am aware of the faint, underlying smell of the gasoline fumes intermingled with the smell of charcoal burning.

But, what captures my attention and tugs at my heart is the sight of little girls in clean, navy school uniforms with crisp white hair bows in their braids, walking below me, walking past piles of rubbish on rough, unpaved roads.  I am moved by the thought of their mama's efforts to get them ready for school that day...most of them without electricity, without running water, probably without food for breakfast, without any assurance that this school term won't be the last they will be able to attend.  Mamas who are all too aware that their daughters are at high risk of rape, of pregnancy before they are out of their teens, of either dying in childbirth or of having to surrender their babies to an orphanage because they can't afford to feed them, of being physically abused by the men in their lives...all because they were born in the dysfunctional, most poverty stricken country in the Western Hemisphere. This beautiful, wounded country where massive amounts of aid money has failed to make any discernible difference in the welfare of the majority of its citizens, its women, its daughters.

I am overwhelmed at the force of will and courage it must take for those women to get up every day and somehow manage to keep those little girls in clean uniforms, in crisp white hair bows. I wonder how they do it. I think of my years of motherhood, getting my little girl ready to go to school, and how hard it sometimes seemed....the morning rush, forgotten homework and library books and clothes that didn't get washed, issues with teachers or friends, arguments over lunches. All "problems" of  having been blessed to be a First World dweller, of belonging to the 3% of the world's population that has abundantly more than the basic necessities of life, so much more that we can't even conceive of  how mothers and daughters in the Third World face life, of what a huge battle against poverty and deprivation and oppression and danger it is everyday for those little girls to go out the door in their white hair bows, to go to school.
What a triumph of hope over circumstances is represented in those white bows. 
It is as a purveyor of hope that I am in Haiti, here with other representatives of Trades of Hope, a company started to provide opportunities for women like these, for girls like these. We aren't just selling necklaces and earrings and scarves, we are selling hope for a better life for our artisans and their children and their communities. I sip my coffee and follow the progress of the little girls walking to school below, deeply thankful for the privilege I have been given to spread hope.

Weeks later, I see a film, Girl Rising ( a powerful, stirring look at the importance of educating girls, and the disturbing statistics about how dangerous and difficult it is to be a girl in most of the world. And I remember the school girls of Haiti, the mamas who face impossible odds to give their daughters a future that is bright, that is filled with hope and opportunity.
I remember why I started this blog, to encourage women to dream a new dream for their lives....
to hear God's heart for each of us to change the world for one person...
to make choices that deliberately do good and do not contribute to doing harm...
to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves..
to become involved for the rights of the oppressed.
I feel the passion to make women understand that we are blessed to be a blessing.

One of the most powerful ways to change the world for one is through child sponsorship---enabling a girl to attend school impacts not only the girl's life now, but her future health and wealth, the lives of her future children and even her entire community! 
For about $1.00 a day you can be a world changer for one little to change a world!    
                      Your choice of

          "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act."
                                                              Proverbs 3:26-27

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Call me Scarlett

Not that I've ever made clothing from draperies or uttered "fiddle de dee" in my life. And, if you must know, not only does my waist measure more than Scarlett's 18 inches, so does my thigh.  To fully disclose, I've also never had handsome red haired twins enthralled with my beauty or a dashing blockade runner pay a fortune to dance with me.

    So what, you may be asking, do I have in common with Scarlett O'Hara?

            Well, we both have some Irish ancestry ,
                                                              green eyes,
               a tendency to think about hard things "tomorrow"                          
                                                and slaves.

Yes, you read that correctly. I have slaves working for me. At least 50 .

                                  You may have even more. 
I took the quiz at and based on what I eat, wear, buy and how I live, it translated to 50 slaves supporting my lifestyle.

January is Stop Slavery and Human Trafficking Month. Shockingly, in this year of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, there are more slaves than at any other time in history!  The estimates are between 12-27 million.
 Over half are children.

Unlike in Scarlett's day, it's so easy in our world to ignore our complicity. Our slaves are not visibly woven into the fabric or our everyday lives,
          their faces are unseen,
                        their voices are unheard,
                                  their existence is unperceived
as we shop and choose and do all of our normal everyday activities. But as God has been opening my eyes, I now realize that I am both an active and passive participant in modern day slavery. I am complicit.

I am complicit when I buy products without awareness that I am supporting slavery.           
 I am complicit when I close my eyes to the women and children who are being trafficked for sex right here in my own country, my own state, and yes, even my own town.

Sadly, our evangelical churches have, for the most part, been complicit, too. We who name the name of our God and preach (some of) His word, have been strangely quiet on the issue of social justice.
This, despite the clear evidence that God is not quiet on this issue. God's word has more than 300 verses concerning the poor, needy and social justiceYou can read some of them here: 
But we have abdicated the cause to the secular humanists, to the "liberal, tree-huggers",to those who do not follow our Lord---- when it is clearly God's heart that His people be in the business of justice and liberty and righteousness and freedom.

But there is a movement. There are Christian voices speaking for those who have no voice. This week at Passion 2013 over 60,000 students heard the call for action and took to the streets seeking freedom for the enslaved. Everywhere across our country and across the world, Christian organizations, ministries, and individual Jesus followers are rising up to say, no more slaves in our day! These modern day abolitionists are doing the work to make all of us aware, to cry for justice, to activate our apathy into action for the oppressed.
      Let's join in . Let's make 2013 the year to make a change, to reduce the slaves who work for us. Let's do God's work in our world.

Where to start?  Do one easy thing. Then do another. Then something harder. 

Start here. Easy. Be intentional. Shop to make a difference.

Change your makeupRadiant Cosmetics has a campaign this month to
Kiss Slavery Good-bye !  Radiant's mission is to help garner awareness of human trafficking by raising funds through cosmetics to provide resources for those fighting it and those involved in it. Their company is "beauty with a purpose" and with every purchase they donate time, money and effort to this fight. This month for every lipstick purchased they will also donate one to a victim of trafficking. Easy, right?  

Change your accessories: Trades of Hope is a missional company lifting women out of poverty, sweatshops and the sex trade by creating a market for their  fair trade,hand crafted, artisan items. By giving women an opportunity to support themselves with dignity ,they and their children are not at risk for slavery.  Shop

Change your groceries:  Look for fair trade labels at your grocery store (google fair trade label for some images to look for) to be sure that your coffee, chocolate, and tea is not being made by slave labor. These are the easiest products to find fair trade choices. For even more options, shop at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or other stores that carry a large number of Fair Trade groceries.

Change your facebook. "Like" these pages to spread the word about the issue, share pictures and calls for action.  Stop theTraffick, End slavery now, International Justice Mission, the Exodus Road, Not for get the idea!

A little harder:

Shop for even more fair trade groceries, home goods and clothing by going online.
Begin at  .For more options, see and
You can research brands you already use at and     You'll learn that it's better to shop at Express than American Eagle, buy Hanes, not Fruit of the Loom and wear Adidas, not Sketchers.
Download to your smart phone some apps to use at the store:  the Better World Shopper($1.99) or the Free2Work app (free) .
Spend some time educating yourself about the scope of modern day slavery. There is a lot of information out there. Become an advocate. Share on facebook. Share this blog. Speak up.  Write your congressman. Join a group. Donate to stop slavery and trafficking.
                             Be a modern day abolitionist!  Begin now!

"Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers.  Speak out for justice!   Stand up for the poor and destitute!" 
Proverbs 31:8-9 (the Message)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do You See What I See?

   We anticipate, we celebrate, we rejoice...the promise fulfilled, the long awaited Savior come, God in flesh appearing ....even as we remember that the first Advent is not the entire story. The best is yet to come...the One born a helpless babe in a stable will someday return in clouds of glory! And it is this someday that causes us to live, even in the midst of the advent season, in a tension between the "now" and the "not yet," between the first and the second Advent.

     Because even as we sing, "Peace on earth" we see that earth is not even close to being at peace. Even as we carol, "Let earth receive her King" we see that only a few of the multitudes on earth acknowledge their king, while most remain oblivious to the reason for the season.  We read that this baby was born to "proclaim liberty to the captive, recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the downtrodden and to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19), but we see the "not yet" of this announcement....
      we see the captives and downtrodden are not yet free---
          we see little boys stolen away to work as slaves in cocoa plantations
               we see little girls with delicate hands working in third world factories, assembling tiny parts
                     we see desperate women chained to their sewing tables in sweatshops. forced to work
                             seven days a week for long hours in inhumane conditions for less than living wages
                                  we see hopeless men deep in the diamond mines straining in darkness,
                                            in danger, risking their lives and sanity for less than the cost of a meal...

the unseen workers who produce the very gifts we buy to celebrate the birth of the One who proclaimed liberty to the captive.
      And in this season of celebration of the first Advent, are we, who bear His name, who gather in our churches to watch Nativity plays and sing carols, are we not the ones who are blind? 
Are we not the ones who are blind to the heart of God toward those treated unjustly?
Toward God's multiple commands throughout His word to speak up for the poor and oppressed?
To our responibility to bring about the reality of liberty for the captive and freedom for the downtrodden?

As we live in the "not yet" between Advent's, is it not our responsibilty to speak up for fair trade, for a living wage for the workers whose goods we consume, for decent working conditions , for no more slavery in the marketplace? 
        Is our discipleship divorced from justice?
        Does righteousness not demand that we be responsible for where we spend our money?
        Does "keeping Christ in Christmas"not mean loving our neighbor as ourselves....
                    even if our neighbor is a third world worker whose face we will never see?

       I have come late to this conviction.  For years I just didn't know...I didn't think...I was blind.  I ate my Hershey bars without thinking about who harvested my chocolate. I bought my clothes without considering the women who sewed them. I drank my coffee completely clueless as to the conditions of those who grew them. I spent my money without any consideration  of the impact of my choices on the people affected by my purchases.

       But then, my eyes were opened. The one who came to "proclaim sight to the blind" showed me the truth about sweatshops, and slavery and oppression, and the need for fair trade. He opened my eyes to the need to "do justly and to love mercy" and to "speak up for the rights of the poor and oppressed", and I couldn't pretend that I didn't know.

      And so I take stumbling, baby steps toward being responsible, toward acting justly, toward making hard choices in my spending. I leave the Hershey bar on the shelf, I change my brand of coffee, I research companies on the web, I sell Trades of Hope to give women a living wage, I try to increase my purchases of fair trade items in exchange for  what I used to buy. My efforts are small, my understanding is limited, my awareness is still in its infancy, but I am haltingly trying to pursue righteousness in this area of my life. Because if how I spend my money isn't part of being a disciple, then what is?  And because now I can see, I must speak as well as act.
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend that we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."  Proverbs 24:12

 And now you know, also.

So what do you think?  I would love to hear your response. To encourage you, I will give away a beautiful Fair Trade item from Trades of Hope to one person who comments and/or shares this post on facebook.  If you both comment and share, I will enter your name twice!  Contest closes a week from today (Dec. 20)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Little is Much

     It can seem overwhelming....too big to even think about, much less attempt to change...

        147 million orphans, lacking even basic food and shelter
           young girls being trafficked into the sex trade...
              little boys sold into slavery to work on cocoa farms for our chocolate...
                women abandoned and abused by the men who should protect them,...
                    families trying to survive on less than $2.00 a day...
                        mothers dying in childbirth for lack of maternity care...
                             30,000 children dying today from preventable diseases

outside of our safe, comfortable American Dream lives are hurting faces, crying voices, hopeless hearts. It isn't that we don't isn't that we lack isn't that we are too busy or too selfish to act.  It's more of a paralysis of not knowing what to do...of feeling helpless to make a difference...confused as to how one person can change anything so huge.  But the good news is that one person matters
            One person can make a difference!
                  One person who cares enough
                                              to take just one step
                                                                 can impact someone else's world!

      Catherine Booth, the cofounder with her husband of the Salvation Army, is said to have told her children every night when she tucked them in bed,
                              "You were born to change the world." 

                               And so were we, each and every one of us.
God has put us here at this time and place to impact a hurting world and He takes our small, puny efforts and makes them count!  A line from an old hymn goes,
                                          "Little is much when God is in it." 

What little will you do to allow God to make much of?  Will you join an anti-trafficking organization?  Will you sponsor a child?  Will you buy Fair Trade products so people are not exploited to produce the goods you use?  Will you become an advocate for children in poverty? Will you speak up for the rights of the oppressed?  
 Not sure where to begin?  
Check out the links to the right on my blog, as well as these:   Fighting sex trafficking    Fighting all human trafficking/slavery     Ethical shopping

Please comment if this has impacted your thinking, or better yet, if you are taking a new step to change the world for one.  Let me know what "little" you are giving for God to make much.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Come Dream With Me...

Several months ago I began to hear a call to "dream a new dream" for my re-imagine how I was spending my time and question my assumptions about my walk with the Lord....a dawning awareness that I have lived out a Christian version of the American dream instead of taking seriously the global purpose of God to use my blessings for His heart was stirred to obey God's command to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute...speak up and defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9).

The call to do something new came from many directions....from a Beth Moore Bible study on James, from several books I was reading, such as Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis and  Radical by David Platt, and sermons, songs, and conversations all added to the sense that God was at work to do something more in me than life as usual. Through a blog posting I discovered an opportunity to become an advocate for women in poverty, and through prayer and seeking and the support of my husband, God has opened other doors to impact the lives of children in poverty around the world.

 One quote that was especially motivating for me was from Katie, "I know that I cannot change the world, but I can change the world for one person."  That is my dream, my call....and I advocate for other women to hear and respond to that call.

This blog is part of that continued journey, as I hear the word, "advocate" resounding within me more and more. Yes, to advocate for children in need, for women in desperate situations, but also to  advocate for other women to join with question their lives, to dare to ask God to show them a new dream, to be willing to follow a new path, to be "just one" who will change the world for someone else!   I invite you to come with me.