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 sinking...it 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 sleepy...like 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 happening...so 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 battles.cindy@gmail.com)
  • 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 admit...it 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 volunteer@wellspringliving.org 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 Academy...you 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 thoughts...in 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 fitting...so you should check it out...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyPBtExE4W0

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 feeling...it 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.