Saturday, December 31, 2011

Walking Away

I wrote this a little over a month ago. I wanted people to read it but it felt too intimate at the time to let everyone read so I published it on my Facebook in order to share how I was feeling with friends and family. Yesterday was my last day at OM USA. After a three month transition, leaving  for the last time was kind of anti-climatic. However, in trying to process, this note still describes it best. So I think I'm ready to share with everyone:

"Walking Away"

It occured to me today that every time I've left somewhere I've been escaping.
Leaving my Mom to escape my step-dad,
Leaving my Grandma because she was too sick to take care of me anymore,
Leaving my Aunt to go live with my Dad (in hindsight, that probably wasn't a good move),
Leaving in the middle of the night with my step-mom, brother and sister to escape my dad (that is what is known as a rock and a hard place),
Leaving my step-mom to go back to my mom,
Moving in with the man who would become my husband,
Leaving the man who became my ex-husband,
Leaving Summerville and coming to Newnan for a "new life"

A lot of drama, a lot of running away. These are just a few...

Every job I've ever left has been to get away from something I didn't like or find something better.

I was escaping danger, negativity, conflict, boredom, difficult relationships...I didn't just leave...I To be honest there are probably times I didn't need to run but I did because by that time it was such a habit.

Fight or flight...means run unless there is something grabbing a hold of you. Then fight till it lets go. Then run!

Oh...sometimes I'm amazed at the work God has done in my life! Days like today when I look back, shake my head, and marvel He bothered! I'm overwhelmed.

However, I think I also figured something out.

It's easier to run. The need to escape means there are no second thoughts, no desire to stay, nothing to lose and everything to gain. And in this instance I'm not escaping fact, I really like what I have. My comfortable home, good job, community and friends. This has been stable and safe and wonderful. The people at OM know me and most of them love me. The others like me or put up with me! (lol) I love this place. I love this life.

So why am I leaving? Because God says so. Like He told Abraham to pack up and leave and He was going to show Him the land that would belong to his descendants for generations. Abraham at some point had to have gone "But I've got a good thing going here...why do I need to go there?" And God said "Cuz I said so" God had plans for Abraham. God has plans for me. For Bree. For Trey. And those plans mean we have to leave. We're not running. We're walking away. We're letting go. And it is so hard.

I think this must be what leaving home feels like.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Role @ Wellspring Living that I'm moving into my role at Wellspring Living, we've developed my job description. I thought maybe you guys would like to know more about what I'll be doing.

Volunteer Administration
So no surprise there...this was the main reason I was hired. I am the first point of contact for anyone interested in volunteering-whether long-term, short-term, group projects, etc. I help the store managers and logistic coordinators at both homes fill needed positions and potential volunteers find the right fit. So I spend a lot of time answering emails and talking on the phone. I've also spent a lot of time working on streamlining the process. I've had meetings with the homes and stores discussing a process for recruiting and placing volunteers that works well for them and meets the needs of the potential volunteer. I've created applications on formsite so that it's easier for the volunteer to complete the application, for me to get it to the right person, and-as a benefit-use less paper. I also changed the background check provider we use...getting more for way less! A local company was willing to give us a discount after seeing what Wellspring Living does. So, we now spend $12 for a more thorough oppossed to $35! Currently I'm working on improving the process for follow up (making sure volunteers were placed, etc) and tracking volunteer hours as well as ways to improve the volunteer information on the website and online training. A huge upcoming project will be follow up from Passion 2012. It's really exciting...we are the one of the organization Passion is sponsoring this year in their "Do Something Now" as they focus on trafficking both in the US and overseas.

In-kind Donations
Churches, individuals and other groups often want to help by giving something tangible to the girls or women in the homes. I help coordinate these drives and arrange delivery of the items. This week I worked with a group that made gift baskets for the girls, another church collected gift cards, Spelman college did a school supply drive and will be doing a "Winter drive" in January to collect gloves, scarves, etc. Paper goods and hygiene products are always a big need as well. Both the girls' home and the women's home have wish lists on Amazon as well. I don't handle donations for the stores, just the homes. Each store handles its own donations.

Database Management
As a continuance of my roles with volunteers and in-kind donations, I'll be spending ten hours a week entering donations/donors and volunteers into our database. Those of you who know me recognize that this won't be my favorite part of the job but it is really important/vital part of the job...and I have some great playlists on my iPod...good music will certainly make the job a bit easier.

Immersion Project
I am so excited to be coordinating Immersion Project it is ridiculous! Immersion Projects are short term trips for teams of 3-5 people. This is an awesome way to educate and mobilize people to getting involved in the trafficking issue in Georgia. Participants spend time learning about CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children), get a tour of and a chance to work with the girls and the women, work with one of our partnering organizations on the streets of Atlanta learning to spot CSEC and what to do and spend time praying through areas where trafficking is prevelant. The cost for each participant is $700. This money goes into the girls' home to pay for housing, education, counseling and other needs the girls' have. This is actually a fairly new project so I will be working to really promote it among churches and groups and making the vision a reality. I'll have my first meeting with a church interested in Immersion trips in a couple of weeks!

As part of the Speaker's Bureau, I have the chance to speak to different groups and churches about CSEC and trafficking in Georgia and the ministry of Wellspring Living. I spent two hours with Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta last Wednesday and it was amazing. We talked about the issue, their involvement, how they can partner with Wellspring Living, how they can mobilize their church to get involved...I can't tell you how thrilled I am to not only be a part of fighting trafficking but enabling and motivating others to use their gifts and talents...and their join the fight.

Working With the Girls
Once a week I get to go the the girls' home and spend time with the girls, teaching them a life skill class and building relationships with them. We just finished up a class on job hunting skills where they learned how to do resumes, look for jobs, prepare for interviews, etc. At the end of the class a volunteer helped me to arrange for three women from local businesses to come in and do mock interviews. The cool thing about the interviews and the feedback after was how the girls talked about things I'd said or things they'd learned during the classes, even stories I'd told! The girls really got into the was a great way to wrap up that session. I'm waiting to hear what we'll be doing next! I am loving getting to know the girls...two of them will be graduating the program in the next couple of weeks! I will miss them but I'm so excited for them at the same time!

I am raising support to help supplement my income. My goal is to raise at least 20 hours of my salary. I'm looking for supporters who are willing to give $25, $50 or $100 a month to partner with me in the work I am doing for Wellspring Living. I'm honored and excited by how many people have partnered with me already. I'm about 1/2 to my goal. If you'd like to give monthly or even give a one time gift, you can do it one of two ways:  Online: Go to Be sure to put "Cindy Battles" in the comment section. By Mail: Mail to 140 Howell Rd, Tyrone GA 30290. Again be sure to mention my name on the gift so it can be applied to our account.

Raising support means that more money can go to the ministry of Wellspring Living...

Mothers & Mentors

I'm a HUGE Indiana Jones fan. Except for the last one they made...the one with Shia LeBouf?

Last Saturday we were watching "Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade"...the one with Sean Connery as Indy's dad. Love that one! Always makes me a little sad to watch River Phoenix in the first part...

Anyway, Indiana Jones and his dad have a really interesting relationship. There is one scene where they are arguing. Indy's dad asserts that he was a great father. Indiana strongly asserts "You were a terrible father!"
The father replies "Did I ever tell you to do your homework, brush your teeth or go to bed?"
"No!" replies the son.
Somehow, the father had missed it. He had treated his son like a grown up. Assuming he knew that he knew he needed to brush his teeth, do his homework and when to go to bed. He thought his son would appreciate not being told those things. But the reality was the son needed someone to tell him all of that! He wanted someone to tell him what to do, to be the grown up so he could be the kid.

I mean, I could overthink this scene like I do so many other things but the reality is that it is just a fascinating look into a parent/child relationship and really reveals some things about how differently people can see things. I think the fact that I struggle with the fact my parents weren't able to be the grown ups that I can appreciate this so much.

The girl I met from the Women's Home Wednesday had a similar story. Wednesday was set aside for delivering "thank you" gifts to the donors in the area. We were going to carry candles and fudge the girls and women had helped make to those who had supported Wellspring Living financially. Each staff person would have one of the ladies from the women's home to go with her. In my case, I actually ended up going with one of our development guys and one of the ladies. When I got there Paul (the development guy) was stuck in traffic and running late, so I had some time to meet the girl we'd be riding with...for the sake of not calling her "girl", "lady" or "woman" throughout this, I'll call her "Rachel". Rachel and I hit it off almost immediately. By the time Paul got there we were laughing together like two best friends and it wasn't long after we got in the car she declared us to be long lost sisters. This seemed dad was a truck driver who "got around" and her mom has always had an attraction to men who were bad for her! I'm not going to tell all of her story because a) I don't have her permission and b) it isn't quite relevant to this particular posting.

She and I hit it off almost immediately because we had two very important things in common:
1) We both had parents who for whatever reason couldn't be the parent...we had-in fact-always been more the parent than the child.
2) We'd both been touched by a mentor in our lives.

One of the things Rachel said was "All of those mother/daughter things that I always said I didn't want to do...I've done most of them now." She wasn't just talking about the things like shopping but heart to heart talks and having a "mother figure" tell you something isn't a good idea. She's also talking about having a "Mom" that holds you when you cry. And a place to go for the holidays. She said her mentor offered to get her home for Christmas but she just couldn't handle it. She stammered "I want..." embarrassed to voice her hope and how her mentor finished for her "You know you are always welcome to come to our house and spend Christmas with us." Rachel was grateful...not only for the offer but for not having to ask. And she's really excited to spend Christmas with her mentor and her mentor's family. She's learning to be loved-unconditionally. To be a part of a family...and it doesn't matter it isn't a "biological" family.

I've been blessed with a woman like that in my life as well. Jane McAfee is more than just my supervisor at OM. She is my friend, confidant, mentor and "mother bear". I have grown so much as a person and a Christian knowing her. I have let myself be known-warts and all-and learned not to be afraid that she'd give up on me or just get fed up with me! She's encouraged me, held me accountable, and loved on me. And she gives some of the best hugs I've ever had. So much of who I am now and what I'm able to do, I owe to her. And I think she underestimates the impact and the level of gratitude...

I'm still sort of processing several things in this whole vein of mothers and mentors...and I think that a blog that included all of my recent musings would be too long. I think there are two take-aways I'd like for people to have from this though:

1) Be the parent that offers guidance to your kids. They need it. And I think it's perfectly okay to have a conversation with your kids that lets them know you try, that you don't always get it right, but its okay for them to let you know when or what they need.

2) Consider being a mentor in someone's life. For a kid, this could make a huge difference! If Rachel could have had someone speaking into her life's possible she'd still made some of the same decisions...but statistics say it is far less likely. I know the impact teachers, coaches, etc made in my life. I know the impact the men who are willing to invest in a relationship with Trey make in his life. I'm fortunate enough to have a group of teenagers who come and hang out at my house on Wednesdays. I make sure they get to church and I make sure they get home. It's not a huge chunk of my time but we talk and build relationships during that time. They call me "Mom" and I like to think I've impacted their life for the better. There are new wives, young mothers, new husbands and dads trying to figure it out, new Christians needing discipleship...and of course, the women at the Wellspring Living Women's Home. Be that someone for someone!

Moving & Other Adventures

Wow! So the crazy season is almost over! Thought everyone would love to take a look at the new house! So here is pic of outside...I might posts some pictures of the inside...once the boxes and the mess as a result of the boxes are gone! Actually, now that we finally have our tree decorated and the nutcrackers strategically placed, I'm sure to post a few pictures of the inside.

So...moving. That's been fun. In the midst of working two jobs, etc, etc. Moving week was the same as tech week for Best Christmas Pageant Ever so I moved as many boxes as I could and then three of our awesome, amazing friends came over after rehearsal one night (that would be 10ish...important to know since it shows the love!) and helped us move the furniture. Because there was furniture in the OM house when we moved in, we'd given quite a bit of our stuff away so we were able to use Facebook to its full potential. Thanks to friends and social media we've managed to get dressers, beds, etc for just under $50. We're still looking for a TV stand (smallish), desk, and a couple of comfy living room chairs.

Best Christmas Pageant Ever has been a blast to be in and be stage manager for...I'll admit to some frustrations but somewhere along the line I realized it was more my attitude that needed to be changed. A lot of it came from being tired, some of it came from not having enough grace. Once I adjusted the attitude and made some time for some sleep, I really was able to just enjoy the entire cast and experience. I especially love the kids...there is some serious talent standing on that stage. I also love opportunities to go into convenience stores and ask for the "longest, thickest cigar you have" or burn cakes on purpose at three in the morning...and of course there is the whole playing with fire thing. Working with Jennifer Dorrell was something I'd wanted to do for a while and now I can check that off my theatre bucket list. Interesting fact: the first show that the three of us did was BCPE and Dave Dorrell directed (Bree was Gladys, Trey was David and I was Mrs. McCarthy)...Dave is Jen's husband. One of those interesting "rhythm of life" things. Anyway, Saturday is the last two performances. You should definitely come see one of them. Grab tickets at

I realized today that I only have two weeks to go before I leave OM USA and become full time at Wellspring Living. I'm in this time of "lasts and firsts": last OM Christmas party, last Leadership Forum, tomorrow the HR team is going to take me out to lunch as a "goodbye party". We're going to Olive Garden because I love Italian food...and the carbs are sure to provide some comfort. On the other hand, at Wellspring I got to experience my first time driving around delivering thank you gifts to donors. It was a blast! I was riding with Paul Bowley who is Mary Francis' (founder/president of Wellspring Living) son and a development guy for the ministry and one of the girls from the Women's Home (more about that later). We had the best time! Paul is really smart and knows more random stuff than I do and is highly the three of us got along really well and had lots to talk about. Which is a good thing when you are in the car with someone for five hours...That same day I spent two hours with the "LCR Task Force", a group of people from Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta focused on ending CSEC in Georgia. It was pretty amazing.

A really critical need for both Embree and Trey is schooling. We've had to come to the pretty heartbreaking decision that we can't afford to send Embree to the Campus anymore. She's struggling with it and really going to miss her friends, but she understands. It's really hard to make the payments and Trey is not doing well at public school either. Which means I need to come up with a solution for both of them...preferably an affordable one. The way it looks right now, we're going to try Faith Academy online this coming semester and then a combination of Faith Academy and Elluminatus (a homeschool group for highschoolers) starting in the Fall. I can do that for both of them cheaper than I can send Bree to the Campus. They are both such amazing kids...I hate to see them struggle like this! Prayers are appreciated!

Thanks for your prayers during this transition! I will admit that some days I faced it like Abraham...and other days, more like Lot's wife. So many of you have helped us through it!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Let's be real...we hate Mondays right? Not sure why...guess because it's the first day you have to get back to work after a couple of days of "down time". But everything that can go wrong, for some reason, seems to go wrong on Mondays. Or maybe we just notice it more...not sure...whatever the reason. I'm not a big fan.

For this Monday, I'm willing to make an exception.

You wouldn't think any morning I have to get up at 5:30 AM would be a day I'd call "good" but I'd been looking forward to the A Future Not A Past breakfast since Kelly told me we'd be going. It started at 7:30 so I knew I needed to leave early to beat Atlanta traffic. The breakfast was really informative and interesting. It was great to learn that though Atlanta still has one of the highest rates of trafficking in the nation, Shared Hope International's newest study ranked Georgia #6 in the nation for dealing with the issue. To see Georgia's  (or other states) "report card", check out this link. You'll get an idea of what we've done well as well as recommendations on things we still need to do. The good news is, a difference is definitely being made!

After the breakfast, I went to the office and answered emails. I'm ecstatic that for the first time since I started at Wellspring Living my inbox was actually under 20! This was a short lived success but I enjoyed it while it lasted! (lol)

Around one, I headed toward the girls' home. In my Rav, I'd loaded gift baskets for the girls made by a local church, folders and other office supplies our Logistics Coordinator had requested, and a "stack" of gift cards a local church in Fayetteville had collected. Wellspring Living's ministry depends so much on volunteers and donations like these! And both those things fall under my job description!

This Monday was one of my favorites at the home. We'd spent the last six weeks talking about finding a job...resume writing, looking for jobs, preparing for job interviews, the do's and don'ts of job interviews, etc. Thanks to an awesome volunteer, we were able to wrap up the class by having mock interviews! Kem called some people she knows and we had three ladies-Debbie from Moe's, Patti from Dogwood Church, and Peggy from an affiliate of Delta-come in and interview the girls and give them feedback. The girls knew they were coming and most were really excited about it. They really engaged in the interviews and appreciated the feedback. My heart broke when several of them were open about the fact they struggled with what to reveal and what not to reveal during the interview. They are afraid of being judged...and don't want to be pitied. All of them agreed it was a good exercise and a great way to wrap up this class. And the three women had a good time as well.

That's that for job hunting! I'm waiting to see what my next "assignment" for the girls will be.

After that, I went back to the office for a bit, made some calls and answered some more emails. Then it was home for dinner and relaxation with the kids. And it was the first time in a long time I was actually in bed before midnight. I blame the 5:30 alarm for that one!

Thanks for a great day Monday...maybe I'll cut you some slack when you roll around next week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Jonathan B. Tucker: Pimpin' from Park Triangle Productions on Vimeo.

Let's be real. Pimps are among the most cruel, brutal, manipulative people on the face of the planet. Their motive and mindset very similair to terrorists...control by fear. They are the modern day slave traders. And yet, somehow, we allow this word in our culture to mean "cool" Musicians make money and win awards with songs that glorify the pimp lifestyle. There are even books sold on Amazon and in book stores that detail how to become a pimp. We have "pimp and ho" parties, shows called "Pimp My Ride" and pimp costumes sold at various costume stores for Halloween.

It's interesting...I've never heard someone say "Oh man, that is so holocaust!" Arriving to a party dressed in a Nazi soldier costume is not okay (as a member of England's royal family found several years ago). And I've never seen a show called "Genocide My Vehicle"

So how is "pimp" an acceptable part of our culture?

Check out Jonathan B Tucker's amazing and thought provoking spoken word on the misnomer "pimp"
And for more insight read Rachel Lloyd's book "Girls Like Us"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The State of Things...

You know how sometimes you are walking past someone and they say "How ya' doing?" but they really don't want to know how you are doing? You know this because they don't stop walking. They expect you to say "Fine, how are you?" as you both continue to walk. The other person says "Fine" too.

It's small talk.

So, if you don't really want to know...if you want to hear "fine"...then now is time to stop reading. And I can't promise this isn't going to come across as whining though I'll try really hard to stop short of that...and I promise not to sink into self-pity.

So I'm six weeks into this transition period. Which makes me happy. Halfway there.
Then I get to thinking if the next six weeks is like the first six weeks, I'm in trouble.
And I remember we are moving in a little over a week.

If I'm not careful, I start to panic.

The other day I was reading my devotional and it talked about Jesus walking with us and living in us. I was so tired I almost skimmed that without it really hitting me. I went back and re-read. And pondered. Jesus in us and walking along side us. Strengthening us, guiding us.

When I focus on that, I'm good. Kind of like Peter, walking on water. The Bible says he saw the wind. He didn't just hear it. He saw it. He lost his focus. Despite what people think, I don't think he ever lost his faith in Jesus. He lost his faith in himself. He suddenly didn't feel like he could do what Jesus had called him to do. As soon as he started to sink, he cried out to Jesus to save him. And Jesus did. If he'd lost his faith in Jesus he would have tried to swim rather than reaching out and taking Jesus' hand.

There's been a few times I have felt myself has nothing to do with the calling. I know I've been called to leave OM and go to Wellspring. And it is a good thing. But sometimes I lose focus. Trying to work two jobs, go to school and be a Mom to two kids takes a lot of hours and energy. And I don't have enough of either.

I've figured out there is different stages of tired. There's normal. Then there is silly sleepy...where you feel kind of drunk and everything is funny. Then there is snarly sleepy...this is ugly. My kids have seen this too many times the past few weeks. My supervisor (Jane) at OM saw it the other day and held me accountable. After snarly comes sleepy giddy...this is different than silly sleepy because you are just totally out of it and feeling light headed. Your brain can't stop racing but you have no energy to do anything.

Being tired does not help the emotions either! This is a looonnnggg transition. I think it would have been a bit easier emotionally if it had been shorter. Instead I'm on this emotional roller coaster that keeps going and going. You know how roller coasters are...there is a reason the ride is short. Short ride means thrills and squeals, your belly flopping and your adrenaline rushing. You get off wishing it had lasted longer but the truth is, longer and the thrill would have turned to nausea and a headache. I'm sort of vacillitating between being thrilled and excited to be working at Wellspring and mourning the loss of everything we have at OM USA. It's hard to focus on one or the other because they are both my emotions do the up and down thing-a lot.

I'm hardly the first person or the only person to go through this and I know that. I have perspective...most of the time. But right now, its what I'm gong through. Today (Saturday) I woke up and I absolutely could do nothing. I slept late, vegged in my pajamas, read...finally I took a bath, got dressed and took the kids for their rewards for being so awesome last weekend, helping both with the gala and the dinner we'd had for friends. I've written some blogs, and cooked, started to clean up...but I'm back on the couch and might not move for a bit. I really need to pack some, clean some, do some laundry. And I might, in a little bit.

Prayer requests:
  • For the kids as they go through this transition and put up with me during it all.
  • For me, that I focus on Jesus and how He empowers me. For times of rest and for energy to get things done.
  • Finances, moving expenses (mainly deposits for utilities) and Bree's tution specifically.
  • Support raising, going really well but still need some willing to financially partner for one year. (For more info, email me at
  • The move...which is same week as tech week for the show we are working. Praise that we found washer, dryer and fridge for $100. I'm going to have to find two beds and dressers as well.
  • Finishing well at OM and getting started at Wellspring Living. I already have ideas for the volunteer program to streamline and organize so that hopefully I'm more effective.
Thanks for praying. And thanks to everyone who has lent a hand, made me laugh, gave me hugs...or a kick in the pants when I needed it! I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! And, of course, a little help from my friends.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I sort of hesitate to write this...
Most people, when you are in ministry, want to hear the good stories. They want to hear the positive changes, large numbers of people coming to Christ, happy smiling faces all around. But in so many areas, the ground is hard. I know missionaries working in countries where they've been for several years and can count on one hand the number of people who have come to Christ. It's because cultures, attitudes, beliefs and personalities are so embedded that first that has to change, to almost be removed, to make room for new things. It's true of the girls' home as well.

You gotta would be difficult to live in a house with a dozen teenage girls who had no "baggage"
Human tendencies and teenage hormones would mean discord at times...
Now think about that many teenage girls with baggage.
It's tough for them. Everything they knew or they thought they knew is changing. They are working incredibly hard to deal with what has happened to them. To rebuild their lives. To get along. And they are teenagers. They can't be expected to always act mature.

It's been a tough couple of weeks at the girls' home. I knew last Monday that there was a tension in the air. I had talked to the Logistics Coordinator on Thursday about some things and she mentioned that there had been a fight. It's funny because she also mentioned that while the girls tried to be on their best behavior when there were new people around (my Grandma would call this your "company manners") the longer a volunteer came around the more comfortable the girls were about "acting up". I guess I thought I was still safe as a "newbie"

I was wrong.

This Monday I knew the situation was "rough" because Debbie mentioned that she'd heard from one of the teachers that they'd thought about cancelling classes but decided against it because they felt the girls having at least a semblance of schedule was important. I started praying right away and had the staff at the admin office praying too. When Debbie, Merridth and I walked in, all the girls were quietly sitting watching a movie. I was quite pleased at the effectiveness of my prayers, feeling pretty sure it was through my efforts the Holy Spirit had brought peace to the house. The 'smug' didn't last long.

One of the teachers brought us into the classroom...normally we have class in the common area but we needed computers. This ended up sheltering the three of us from a lot of what happened but not all...

I'm not going to go into details but suffice to say there wasn't a lot of work accomplished that day. The atmosphere was too heavy and too stressed. The girls who weren't involved too busy trying to keep it together to concentrate. Or too busy trying to figure out what was going on..

There was screaming, fights, and busted pumpkins. There were tears from the girls and staff alike. Despite the fact I hadn't been touched, I felt bruised. I later somewhat jokingly likened it to feeling like "a bouncer on the Jerry Springer show" Oddly enough, I never felt "in over my head" or like I needed to escape. Before you think that the "smug" had returned, I was aware the entire time it was through the Holy Spirit that I was able to deal with what was going on. My background tends throw me into panic mode whenever there is this much conflict and violence. God has done so much work in me but the "flight or fight" is somewhat instinctual that I have to sort of slam the door in it's face before it can take over and logic and calm are my second reaction. I am so thrilled that because of the path He has walked me through, my second reaction now occurs almost at the same time as my first. I'm still praying that it becomes my first reaction!

We worked with the girls who wanted to work but really gave up on trying to teach the class. We actually left an hour early because we were asked to by one of the teachers. It was just easier for them to get things calmed back down if we were gone. Before we left, the three of us spent several minutes praying for peace, for strength, and for healing...for the girls and the staff. I spent the rest of the day praying for them as well. I can't even begin to tell you the admiration and reinforced respect I have for the staff that works with the girls on a daily basis. The ones who love the girls even though they've been cussed at and have bruises from seperating them as they fight. The ones who work through all those emotions with them, encourage them, walk the path of recovery with them...sometimes pulling the girl along when she can't or doesn't seem to want to walk on.

I guess my hesitation in writing this is because I don't want to depress people with the negativity of it. But anyone who has been through any kind of recovery program knows it is messy and it is hard. It's difficult for these girls to be friends...they don't trust. And many of them have lived in situations where the trafficker deliberately sows seeds of jealousy and mistrust amongst them. Because if they are fighting each other, they aren't coming together to go after him (or-the reality is-her...because while it is unusual for a pimp to be female, it does happen). Emotions are always high. They are constantly dealing with what they've been through and the fact it is a long road to healing. They are angry at what has been done to them. Sometimes they are angry they are there. Unlike the women's program where the women have voluntarily entered, the girls in the program are often placed their by the courts or their parents. Not all of them have come to the point that they think this program is good for them. And on days like Monday, the girls who do think so don't want to be there because of the drama.

My decision to write this is because I want you to know. To be aware. To see how brave and determined the girls can be. To see how brave and determined the staff can be. So you understand how important prayer is in helping the girls build relationships and new lives. To find new truths! Please, please take time every day to pray for these girls, for the girls in other programs, for the ones in jail...and please, please pray for the girls who are still out there! Who haven't been rescued.

If you are committed to praying for the girls and women in the program, as well as for Wellspring Living's ministry, please email and we will gladly add you to our prayer team! You'll receive emails with specific prayer requests and the chance to meet with others to pray!

Thanks so much!

Goodbyes Already?

This is the fabulous Christine Owings...I mean "the fabulous Christine Becker". She just got married a few weeks ago (that woud be her husband standing next to her).  Christine was instrumental in bringing me on staff at Wellspring Living. She has also been a huge prayer partner through this transition. In a short time I've come to love and care for her as a friend. I thought we'd have lots of time working together to build the relationship. God had other plans...

Christine really spent time in prayer and had others praying with her but what she was hearing from God became really clear. I think all of us have asked several times just to make sure we all heard correctly. Christine has been working really hard trying to build the outreach and mentoring programs of Wellspring Living, working with volunteers, getting her doctorate and now being a wife. It's time for her to enter into a season of rest. Become accustomed to living with this really great guy He has given her to be her husband. Finish school. And rejuvenate for whatever comes next.

I'm really kind of sad and disappointed but-as always-trusting God. This is a huge transition for Christine so please be praying for her during this time! Pray for rest, for peace. Pray she doesn't rush to fill up the time she suddenly has on her hands. Pray for great times and adventures with her husband. And that she is constantly refreshed and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Pray for whatever good works God has planned for her after this season. I have no doubt that with Him working through her, she will most certainly accomplish any and everything He has planned. She is just that awesome!

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Recreate Her Future"

Friday November 11th was Wellspring Living's annual charity event and my first "big" event in my new role. Getting ready for the project was an "all hands on deck" kind of experience! We even had a group of high school students come in and do some work to help us prepare (Eagles Landing Christian rock!) The focus this year was on the educational opportunities Wellspring Living offers the girls going through the Victory Program. We don't want to just help them heal. We want to give them the tools they need to lead a successful life. Education is a key part of that...thus the "Recreate Her Future" theme.

One of the features of the event was a "Walk Thru Experience" where guests saw an illustration of a girl's journey into trafficking and into recovery. It was simple, but powerful. I was told that more than one man walked away crying as well as several women.

The journey follows "Amanda", a 12 year old girl...first you see her bedroom.

There are "bubbles" depicting statistics regarding children at risk, Amanda's words and her her room we see she is a Bieber fan, worries Clearasil won't work on her pimples, and that she is being molested by her uncle. She believes talking to her parents is fruitless because her Mom won't believe her and her Dad is too busy working to care about her at all.

Next is the bus stop...

Amanda is heading to a friends house but she is targeted by a trafficker. He tells her how beautiful she is, how much he cares about her already...telling her everything she wants and needs to hear. Note the book bag. The book bag follows Amanda through her journey.

The third scene in the journey is the "brothel area"
Small note...Bree & Trey actually staged this scene.

In the brothel area there are no thought bubbles, no words...Amanda no longer has a voice. And there are no words to describe what has happened to her. Christine (the creator of the walk thru) felt the absence of words would make more of an impact and she was right. The book bag is now torn, dirty, ragged.

Lastly, Amanda has been rescued and in recovery. This scene is in the classroom of the Victory Program.

Statistics include information on how the education program at Wellspring Living's home for girls works. Thought bubbles show girls dreaming of the future (with Amanda dreaming of becoming a nurse), Spoken one show the teacher encouraging them and praising their efforts. Amanda's book bag is brand new, clean and full of possibilities.

Of course "Amanda" isn't a real girl but her story is similair to many of the girls who come into the program. During the course of the evening, the guests get the chance to watch a video of a young woman who was rescued from trafficking, went through the program, went to college and is now working with Wellspring.

The table settings carried the theme of education with apples, text books, large pencils and programs that look like composition books.

A jazz band played during the evening and through dinner.

Mary Francis shares a bit about Wellspring Living, the Girls' Program, and some of the visons for the future.

The teachers from the Wellspring Program answer questions and share stories.

During the program, local visual artist Aubrey Vinke, created a work that represented the freedom the program gives to the women and girls.

One of the highlights (and one of my favorite moments of the evening), poet and "spoken word" artist Amena Brown shared about her work teaching writing and poetry to the girls and shared a poem she had written, inspired by her work with them.

The program ended with Matt Snyder and Debra Black singing Gungor's "Beautiful Things"

If you've never heard this song, you have no idea why it's so you should check it out...

Of course I need to give a HUGE shout out to the volunteers! Because it is no exaggeration to say that this event wouldn't have happened without them! We had college students from Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Shorter College and a few others. Highschool students (including my amazing children Embree & Trey!) and volunteers from the Wellspring League as well as so many others who helped set up, greet, register, serve, and clean up before, during and after the event!
Just two of over 100 volunteers who made the gala possible!

After the event came the clean up...and while it is a lot of fun to dress up in pretty dresses and heels...nothing beats a pair of tennis shoes! Right Dana?

A couple of special moments during the gala...
The bartender who had never heard of Wellspring Living, who was asked to work the event last minute, who was incredibly touched by all that she heard during the program. After the event, while people were leaving, I encouraged her to check out the walk thru before we took it down. She came back to me afterward. "That first room, her bedroom, when it talks about her uncle...that's my story." she told me. We talked for a bit. About how she found healing, about how she felt it was no accident God had made sure she was there, and how He can use her story to help others.

Megan, a volunteer and student at Shorter, had on a necklace that I really liked. It was simple...a leather string with knots and something resembling a coin in the center. I remarked on it and I could tell the way she touched it that it was special. It belonged to her brother. He is in the Marine Corps. He gave it to her before leaving for boot camp and she hasn't taken it off in the four years he has served in the military (including two tours in Afganistan). He comes home in March. I asked her if she'd take it off when he came home and she said she didn't know..."it's a part of me now" she said. She appreciated the fact that we took time during the gala and it's theme to appreciate veterans.

After the gala, we had quite a bit of leftover food...even after we shared with staff and volunteers. So I called Atlanta Union Mission (which was only two miles from The Foundry, where we had the event) and we drove over. Despite the fact it had been a fourteen hour day and I knew they were exhausted (Bree had even been sick for several days) both of them had an awesome attitude about the "detour" on the way home. There was a volunteer there to help us unload the food (including six boxes of apples!). After getting back in the car, Trey had a grin on his face. I smiled back at him and he remarked "Yeah, that warm fuzzy isn't the heater." I am so blessed to have two such amazing kids who give so willingly...not because their mom makes them but because it is a part of who they are.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Now I Have Seen You With My Eye...

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You."
Job 42: 5

Somehow, for a good portion of my Christian adolesence, I thought Job was like, three chapters long.

Chapter 1: God & Satan have conversation. Everything Job owns and cares about is destroyed. Chapter 2: Job's wife (how much did he care about her since she is still alive? And really, can you blame him?) tells him "curse God and die" but Job refuses. Chapter 3: God pats Job on back and returns his wealth times two.

Then I read's a lot longer and reading it makes me really wonder about the phrase "patience of Job" since the entire book is either him whining about how the situation isn't fair and he wants to make his case before God or his friends giving him really bad advice.

I simplify...I know. The truth is, Job is one of my favorite books of the Bible.

First of all you have a man going through a horrible situation...and the entire book he wants to know why this is happening. He is trying desperately to make sense of it. If he can just figure out what he did to deserve this, if he can just undersand why God is letting this happen...then somehow it will be alright. But he never gets the "why" answered. God shows up and kind of gives him "what for" and reminds him that we might not understand the ways of God but He is always in control and He is always...well, God.

God never explains to Job the "why" of it all. He doesn't tell him "Way to pass the test!" He lets him know that He is aware of what is going on in Job's life and that He is still in control. And Job's response is a new awareness of who God's like before he'd only heard of God but now he'd seen Him. There is a whole new reality, an entirely new perspective, a concrete relationship.

That verse has been running around in my head a lot today but sort of out of context...

You see, I knew the statistics. I had heard the stories. I was aware of the girls. Today I saw them with my eye. Today I know one of them really loves Reeses Cups. I know one of them wants to be a cosmetologist. I know one of them is having a rough day and can't stop crying. I know at least one of them (I hope more) is looking forward to me coming back.

There's a new perspective, a new reality. These girls are more real to me than they have ever been. And because of that my heart cries out even louder and with more desperation to God "WHY???!!!"

I just don't understand. I don't understand why this happens. I don't understand how that much evil can be in this world! I don't understand the traffickers and the brutal cruelty and manipulation they use. I don't understand the "johns" or the buyers if you prefer. You cannot tell me they don't know these girls are underaged! And if they can honestly convince themselves the girls are doing it because it is their choice then God help us because there are too many idiots running around this world for it to survive much longer! It is vile beyond words! I want to scream, I want to shake somebody, I want to hit something! I want to take it all back for them, restore their innocence, their identity, their lost childhood.

I want God to explain it to me. Instead He brings me to the book of Job. He reminds me that He is ultimately in control. That He is God. He reminds me that I have seen Him with my eyes as well. Not necessarily in a whirlwind mind you. More like the mirror. I know that He knows what is happening. He hasn't lost control of the universe or been caught napping or a momentary lapse of reason. He knows. I don't understand why. Won't ever understand it. But I trust Him. I trust that He sees these girls, that He loves them, that He can restore what they have lost.

My heart will never be the same. And I hope not. I hope I never "get used to this". I pray fervently that God use me to change their lives for the good. They've changed mine already.

My 1st Day @ Girls' Home (Be warned...kinda long)

Deep breaths. No stress. Don't freak out.
Don't start wondering what you are going to say.
Don't start wondering "What if they don't like me?"
You are not allowed to over think this.

Has God led you here? Yes. Will He desert you? No.

Don't you love it when I let you into my head?

I still remember the first time I walked into the women's shelter I volunteered with and then worked with for short time. I'd been a bit nervous but felt I had a handle on the situation. After all, I had "been there" so I had some understanding of their mindset. Don't get me wrong, I quickly learned how minimal my experience was next to the women who lived at the shelter but my life story gave me more confidence to walk in the door.

I have nothing in my life that makes me think I have any understand of what these girls have experienced. It is beyond my understanding. It is completely unfamiliar territory...which is not a place I'm comfortable. I like knowing things. I don't mind change or new adventures as long as I have some sort of foothold, some sort of comprehension about where we are going or what is going to happen.

I had none walking into this. As a matter of fact I didn't even know what we were going to teach until this morning. However, when I heard, I was reassured about what I was going to say. Debbie and Meredith were starting a new lesson and the girls had asked to have a class on how to find a job. Job hunting skills...a dry topic to be sure. But one I know a lot about...and one that-for the girls-means hope, a new life, the chance to achieve dreams.

When I worked at the women's shelter we often had volunteers who came in wanting to "help" the women. However, having no understanding of the condition of the women's mental and emotional state, they often walked in expecting tears, hugs and "warm fuzzies". What they usually got was the opposite. So they left feeling disappointed and disillusioned and many of them never came back. I made sure I set what I felt were realistic expectations. I certainly didn't look for any sort of fuzzies. I was extremely glad I was with two women who had been going to the home for a while, who obviously loved the girls, didn't consider me an intruder (one more worry laid to rest), and who "knew the ropes".

The day started with a meeting and prayer (lots of prayer), a quick lunch, then we headed over.

On the drive over...(yep, you are in my head again)
Ummm...Father? (Yes?)
Ummm...not sure how to put this. (It's okay, I know)
At this point I start this a Christmas list but so much more important!
I want them to know I love them even though I've never even met them.

I want them to know You love them.

I know my story isn't like theirs but it is the story of rescue and redemption. I know what You did in my life. I want You to do it in theirs. I want to be a part of You doing it in theirs. Not for me, so I feel good about what I do but for them. I want to see them healed, whole, happy. I want them to know You are there for them and that You are more than able and willing to rescue, restore, redeem.

I want all their best dreams to come true.

(So do I.)

Few minutes later...
Ummm....Father? (Yes?) I...think You know. (I do)
So I turn up the radio, singing praise music loudly, joyfully...badly. So grateful I have a Father who knows me, loves me, and reassures me in the midst of my uncertainty.

Walking up to the door, I hear a sound that is immediately familiar and reassuring. It's like walking up to my house on Wednesday evenings. There is a group of teens that comes over to hang out and get a ride to/from church every Wednesday. The numbers vary but the volume is always the same-loud and high pitched. The sound I'm hearing is teenaged girls laughing, squealing, and trying to talk over one another.

We walk in and I see a number of girls sitting on couches, standing around, talking. Topics of conversation seem to be clothes, jewelry, the "borrowing" of clothes or jewelry. And disappointment...they know it's Halloween but they won't be dressing up or getting candy (well, maybe they will get a little candy thanks to Meredith but they don't know that yet). I'm trying not to stare or appear to be staring and sort of slide over to Meredith as we are standing there waiting that point I'm not sure. I just want to appear like I am suppossed to be here and that I'm useful.

The girls are broken into two groups. The first group sits down. We start talking about resumes. Debbie has a paper with samples of headings and we have them pick their favorite. She has a sample application she wants them to fill out so they have the information when we do their resumes. We talk about how to answer the phone when you don't recognize the number and it could be a potential employer. I explain to them about creating a professional sounding email address. No or We talk about changing voicemails. It's when we get to the sample application that I am really able to help out. I can wordsmith a job application! Never had a "real" job? Ever babysat, mowed grass for $5, cleaned your Grandma's house? Suddenly you have work experience in "childcare", "groundskeeping" and "housekeeping." "Friendly" means "good people skills" and they learn to put the word "negotiable" next to "Expected Salary". Not all the girls are engaged in the lesson but enough of them are that they keep me busy for the duration. One girl wants me to "interview" her and we have to reassure her several times that we are going to do that in an upcoming lesson. She really wants to do it now but is distracted when Meredith breaks out the treat bags. They are so excited and tear into the candy. One girl barters Snickers for Reeses Cups while another quietly takes some of hers and hides it in her jacket. She smiles at me "They aren't going to take my candy." I reassure her that we got permission before giving it to them but I notice she never takes it out of her pocket.

The second group comes in and sits down. They are a little less rowdy than the first and really need less help in areas but I'm able to help in some of the same ways as with the first group. It's the girl that is sitting to the left of me that has my attention for most of the time. I hardly get to say anything to her but I have my hand on her shoulder for quite a while. She tries to participate in filling out the application but gives up and lays her head on the table. She is crying the entire session. There's nothing I can say or do. I don't know her name or why she's crying. I just want her to know that someone notices, that we care. When Meredith passes out the candy, she puts hers in her pocket and asks if we are done. Debbie nods yes and she leaves.

I kind of feel bad, like I monopolized Debbie's lesson, but she is actually grateful. She and Meredith are both encouraging, telling me what a good job I did and how glad they are that I know this stuff. Meredith asks me if I've taught before and when I say yes, she says she could tell. One of the teachers who was observing gives me an enthusiastic "good job" and one of the other staff comes over to ask me some questions about interviewing. But the absolute, without a doubt, best part of my of the girls comes over to make sure I'm coming back. When I tell her I'll be back next week, she smiles at me like this is the answer she was hoping for and walks away.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Your Story

"I didn't like you." The lady standing in front of me said.

She didn't say it with any animosity. Just matter of fact. Sort of like you'd say "Grab an umbrella, it's raining outside." But it really knocked me for a loop...I mean, didn't everyone like me?

It was day two of a three day women's retreat. This retreat isn't your typical women's retreat. It's for women who have incarcerated loved ones. Husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons...serving time in county jails, state or federal prisons, diversion centers for a variety of crimes. You don't know what. It's one of the rules. You don't ask. This is a safe place so if the guest doesn't want to say, she doesn't have to.

Having been a guest on the retreat six months before, I had volunteered to work on the team for this weekend. During team meetings, I had been asked to speak on "anger". I'd been really nervous but totally convinced that the Holy Spirit had been in control while I wrote the talk and when I stood in front of all those women and given it. I was still a bit shakey from the experience though it had gone well (I didn't stutter or trip on the way to or from the podium) and the women had really responded to what I had shared.

And now I had some woman I had only seen briefly over the last two days publicly proclaiming her dislike for me?!

"I'm sorry...what?" I asked.

"I didn't like you." She said. (I had totally gotten that point) "I watched you walking around with this big smile on your face, hugging everyone and laughing like you didn't have a care in the world. I didn't think you had a right to be here. You didn't have a clue what I was going through, what any of us were going through"

She paused for a moment, then continued. "But then, you told your story this afternoon. Halfway through it I realized, if God can do that for you, He can do that for me."

At this point, I'm Niagra Falls crying. "Yes, yes He can...and will."
She starts crying and smiling at the same time, hugs me, and walks off.

I'm overwhelmed with gratitude...that God would take my story and use it to impact this woman in such a way and that He would arrange it so that I would know He had done so.

What does God want to tell through your story?

By the way, if you'd like to know more about this particular ministry, check out the Kairos Outside website:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Now What?

She's the antithesis to the casher at Golden Corral (if you are confused, see previous post on "Spreading Awareness"). She's aware...very aware. She's heard the statistics, the stories, detailed descriptions of the horrible evil that is sex trafficking...she's overwhelmed.

She hears presentations and talks. Attends forums and discussions. Reads the articles. Watches documentaries. But in all of this she feels something is missing.

They never tell her what she should do about it. She's sure she has a role in stopping it from happening, in the restoration of the victims. There is something she can do! She's just not sure what.

At this point, many people become mired. They want so badly to do something but they don't know what and they feel helpless. Some of them continue listening, reading and watching because they care but some of them just shut down.

Not her. She is a college student. She knows about research. So she starts researching on the internet. She makes some phone calls. She finds Wellspring Living. She talks to one of the staff there and they help her work out a plan and empowered she begins to do something.

She forms a project called Sister to Sister and begins recruiting help and asking for donations. They collect toiletry items, journals and ink pens. They decorate boxes and set them up in different areas as drop off points. In the end, there are ten of them filled to the brim with donations. I'm talking big boxes...big, heavy boxes! (Having loaded & unloaded them, I'm familiar with the weight! lol Big, huge thanks to Trey for helping! I'm a lucky Mom to have such an awesome son.)

I got to meet her this week when I drove up to the school to collect the donations. My new role means I get to work with her as she takes the next step and then the next and then...

She talks to me about the drive she wants to do in January to collect some winter items for the girls. She wants to take a team of girls to do a project at one of the stores. She has plans to get some more students together for a Saturday activity at the Girls' Home and she wants to recruit female students to be mentors for the girls. She even intends to write a grant proposal to get the money to cover the cost of the background checks and training the students will need to be mentors.

I am just blown away by this girl. During our conversation she's informed, clear about her goals, and so enthusiastic her eyes light up and her face is glowing. She is empowered. She knew there was something she could do and she found it.

What about you? Maybe this isn't your "issue"...maybe it's extreme poverty, illiteracy, obesity in children. Something that gets under your skin and you think "Someone needs to do something!" That someone is you. Maybe you want to do something but you just don't know what. Start researching, start calling. Most non-profits, even if they can't help you, can send you to a person or organization who can. Maybe you are thinking you don't have time. But you don't need nearly as much time as you think. In most cases, just a few hours a month can make a big difference. But don't just sit there.

I'm reading a book called "Just Courage" by Gary Haugen. It's one of those books I have to read slowly because I read a bit and then I have to think through and process what I've read. I love those type of books, even more so if someone is reading it and processing it with me! (No hint there, really.) Anyway, in chapter two he says Christians tend to feel a sense of discontent and begin to wonder "Now what?" He calls this a "divine restlestness", a "voice of sacred discontent", "the voice of the holy yearning for more"

"This is the moment in which we can see that all the work God has been doing in our lives and in the life of the church is not an end in itself; rather, the work he has been doing in us is a powerful means to a grander purpose beyond ourselves. This is the supernatural moment when the rescued enter into their divine destiny as rescuers. This is the critical transition-when we who have been rescued by Christ come to understand that our rescue has not been simply for ourselves but for an even more exalted purpose. Indeed our own rescue is God's plan for rescuing the world that he loves."

You were rescued not only because Jesus loves you so but because He loves them so and He wants to use you to rescue them. So what are you going to do?

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Fluffy Kind of Blog Post

Today I'm sitting at my desk in the Wellspring Living office, answering emails, returning phone calls, etc. I hear someone say something about a kitten outside the door but I don't pay a lot of attention. Next thing I know, the UPS person has brought in boxes, left the door open (hands were kind of full!) and the kitten has come in to the office! We tried to shoo him (?) out but he just hid behind desks and bookshelves so eventually we left him alone. I got him some milk in a styrofoam saucer but he didn't seem to know what to do with it. For part of the time he hid but eventually he came out and started snooping around the place. He also quickly discovered how much fun it is to sleep on people's feet! One of the staff members, trying to get his attention, started calling him by a variety of differnt names ("Tiger", "Fluffy", "Sebastian"). He liked "Sebastian" and so Sebastian he is. A total cutie pie and a great distraction for a Monday!

P.S. Get it, "fluffy blog post"? I'm sooo funny!

Lessons From Grandma

Those of you who know my story already know I spent quite a bit of my younger years being raised by my Grandma. And those of you who have heard my story and have heard me talk about my Grandma have already heard me talk about her gardens.

Grandma had two gardens. One provided for the family and one provided food for others who needed it neighbors, friends or strangers.

Now I wouldn't call what she did human trafficking but I would describe it as "child labor". She'd been raised on a farm as one of 14 children and during those years or sometime after she had definitely read 2 Thessalonians 3:10 "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat". Actually, I don't recall being given the choice to work or not to eat. There were days I would have gone hungry rather than work in the garden.

To be honest I don't think she worked us as hard or as often as it perspective as a child and my perspective as an adult on those times are quite different. For one, I cherish them much more now. We often cherish people more when they are gone. But she worked me enough that I learned valuable lessons from gardening. I know about planting, weeding, picking vegetables and what to do with them when you pick them. A few years ago I started gardening again not only as a means to feed me and the kids but because I'd suddenly found something very soothing in the process. When Adam and Eve lived in Eden, God told them to tend the garden so there must be something spiritual about planting, watering, weeding and eating the fruits and vegetables of your labor. The more I garden, the more I learn...

And this weekend got to put that knowledge to more use. A bunch of us from OM USA went to Clarkston, GA. At some point, the federal government picked certain areas to patriate refugees. Apparently they looked for areas with plenty of apartments and public transportation (or those were two of the qualifications from what I was told) and Clarkston was a grand location...and now one of the largest refugee populations in the country. There are approximately 60,000 refugees from around 150 different ethnic groups in the area. Our team from OM USA split into groups and worked with several different projects. Some of us visited homes, some walked around the area and met people (praying, having conversations and praying with people when appropriate), we had backyard Bible groups (face painting, singing, story-telling), a pottery class, a dance class, a landscaping team at the elementary school (working with the 4-H club) and a team that went to the community gardens to help out.

Guess what team I was on?

The community garden is a project run by Friends of Refugees and about 40 families have a small garden plot plus they have a community area where some things have been planted and everyone can share. We helped clear some land so that 40 more families can have a plot. We also weeded, mulched and helped put up a fence to try and deter thieves. I helped clean out and clean up the small green house they had built as well. Because many of the refugees are new to the area they don't know the land that well and often experiment to see what will grow. Many of them of course want vegetables, herbs, etc from their homeland so they do their best to make them grow. I was able to talk to Adam from FoR and the garden keeper (whose name I sadly can't remember but whose story of his home in Bosnia I will never forget) about some of the things that grow well, some of the ones that won't, times of year to plant, etc. I was also able to do some things to help that others on the team didn't know how to do because they didn't grow up with my Grandma.

I don't believe in the idea that people in Heaven can look down on us. But I do know God is a loving God and I know that my Grandma fought hard to beat her cancer because she was so worried about me, about what would happen to me when she was gone, if I would be "okay". I a whimsical fashion of course...if He gave her a glimpse into this day, with me working in this garden, to let her know that though the lessons she taught me would take a while to sink in, I would not forget them...and more than that, would put them to good use.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spreading Awareness

"So what 'injustice' were you trying to stop?"

"Huh?" I look at the young guy behind the cash register at Golden Corral trying to figure out what he's talking about. Takes me a second to realize it's my shirt. I was wearing my shirt from Wellspring Living's "Stop Injustice" 5K.

"Oh," I say realizing. "Sex trafficking in Georgia"

"Wait...what...that happens here?" Now it is his turn to look dumbfounded.

"Yea, some estimates say an average of 400 girls every month" I explain.

"What do they do, like bring them from other countries?" He's still trying to figure this out.

"Well, yeah...but the majority of them are girls born here in America, in Georgia. Many of them running away from bad home situations, some of them trafficked by their own families"

The people in line behind us are impatient. I sort of motion to them and apologize for holding the line up.

The guy responds "Well, at least you spread some awareness." His face still hasn't been able to resume a normal expression as we walk away.

You'd think I'd feel elated that I'd accomplished something...but I didn't. Instead I pondered it a bit...what was that like for my kids as they stood there during that conversation. What did it do to the guy at the cash register? Would it spur him to action? Or-in the midst of a busy Friday night-would he forget it? And part of me was sad that he was no longer "innocent" of the situation. It's not that I want him to be innocent...I want to live in a world where I don't have to ruin that innocence because there is nothing there to tell. But I don't. I guess part of what I was shocked at was the fact he really didn't know! I live within this informed group of people that are really aware of issues going on here and internationally so even though I hear about how people don't know I don't think I've ever actually talked to someone who was completely ignorant of the situation. And I think that I thought-perhaps even judgementally-that if people didn't know they were choosing to be ignorant of it because they didn't want to know. But this conversation really made me aware that there are people who are just honestly unaware simply because they've never heard...because they've never imagined it could happen "here".

So...if you are one of those people or know one of those are a few suggestions on how to learn more:

Wellspring Living I'm kind of partial to this particular organization. (And for those of you who don't get the joke...this is my new job) They also have the "Wellspring League" and you can go to You Tube and type in "Wellspring Living" and find some really good, informative videos.

A Future Not A Past has a website specific to Georgia or you can visit their National website.

The Not For Sale campaign focuses on all different areas of human trafficking.

And if you are wondering how you can get involved, Street Grace has lots of volunteer opportunites.

Watch the documentary "Very Young Girls"

There's a couple of really good blogs I'd suggest as well:
Matthew Snyder "Writing And Ideas That Are Changing The World" 
9 to 20: A Survivor's Journey Out Of Trafficking

Making someone aware might ruin their day, shake their world, hurt their innocence but until more people are aware...and more than that...involved...this will keep happening. And I'm just not okay with that.

Are you?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This weekend I had the chance to "run away" for a few days with a four other women from OM. It was interesting because it was four women that I knew but not well...but enough to know this was going to be a great weekend. To be honest, I almost backed out because I had "so much to do" but I think because I have so much to do, this was the perfect time to step back and just relax for a few days, rest, talk, soak in a beautiful atmosphere and in His presence.

This was the house we stayed in...and if that isn't enough to make you jealous...

Check out the view from the deck...I should have coffee and a view like this every morning!

The four women I was incredibly blessed to be with all weekend...

Sheila (first lady on the left) works in Women's Ministry and spends her time encouraging women all over the world. She facilitated the weekend. We focused on "Who God Is..." discussing His attributes, His character, the work He had done and was doing in our lives. It was a restful weekend with time together as a group and time to spend alone. The atmosphere was sweet and close...we prayed a lot, cried quite a bit, and basically reveled in His presence.

I knew I needed this but I didn't know how much until I got there and experienced it. I started school not realizing I would be working two jobs. I'm really struggling to keep up with assignments, work, and be the  Mom I need to be-and Trey and Embree need me to be. I've been feeling overwhelmed and bit "on the edge". Everything going on in our lives-specifically mine-is good but it is a lot...and at one time. I'm not whining...just trying to be transparent. I'm walking this journey one step at a time and God is strengthening me step by step but there are days I'm not sure how I'm going to get to the end of it and accomplish all that I need to accomplish. The past few days were a great time of refreshment and strengthening so that rather than feeling desperate, I'm much more confident when I look at the week. I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. And I am more aware than ever of the amazing people that God has placed in our lives. These four women and I have a new bond, a new awareness of each other, and a renewed sense of who we are in Christ.

I hope everyone has an amazing and truly blessed week!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 was about seven years ago when Embree, Trey, and I did our first show with Newnan Community Theatre. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is the tale of what happens when the worst kids in town take over the local church Christmas program. It's one of the most fun-and a personal fave of mine-Christmas tales ever. Once upon a time, it was a made for TV movie starring Loretta Swift. I'm not sure why it isn't one of those classics that get played repeatedly in a 24 hour time slot during the Christmas holiday. 

The first time around Embree played Gladys (Shazaam!!!), Trey was David, and I was Mrs. McCarthy. This time around Embree is Beverly and Assistant Stage Manager, Trey is Tech (Lights/Sound), and I am Mrs. Clausing and Stage Manager.

Our reprisal of this show has me reminiscing about the first one and how much time has passed, all that we have done, how big my kids have grown, how much NCTC has grown!

For more info on the show go to If you live in the local area, you should definitely come see it! Performances December 3rd, 10th, & 17th at 11 AM and 2 PM.