Thursday, July 8, 2010

Plea for Prayers

Meet my cousin Shari Johnson. She is 39 years old. She lives in Orlando (or right outside of), Florida. Maybe it's called Winter Garden...I can't remember...I always just think of it as Orlando. She is married to my cousin Joel. She graduated from Florida State. She has two small children, Gracie and Jacob. Jacob is 6 and Gracie is 8. They only make it to town for holidays once a year but they are family and they are close family. You can tell from even the small amount of interaction with their family that one time a year that their kids mean EVERYTHING to them. They possess a family bond that is easily seen and felt within five minutes of being in their presence. Joel and Jacob have their "thumbs up" sign with each other and Gracie, in all of her shyness, falls in to security the minute she's in the arms of her mom or dad. They love each other. All of them.

Shari has cancer. She has breast cancer. I know that we don't know a ton but what I do know is that it's cancer and cancer is never good. They did a double mastectomy last week. They were first hoping that it wasn't in the lymph nodes, but it is. Today, they had a pathology report on the nodes they removed and it was worse than they thought. They are starting chemotherapy immediately. Shari's mother died at 41 of breast cancer so I can only imagine that that might be contributing fear and anxiety to this whole situation. Joel and Shari are very strong believers and their faith throughout this entire process is inspiring.

I usually don't use this as a place to ask for prayer requests but tonight, I am going to. Please, if you pray, pray for Shari. Please pray for her husband Joel and their two children, Jacob and Gracie. I believe that my God is a God that heals. I believe that He brings peace and comfort to His people. I believe that because He says it to be true. I'm praying that He makes good on that promise with the Johnson family. Please pray, with me, for that.

Heavenly Father,

I pray for Shari tonight. I pray, Lord, that you will give Joel and Shari a peace that passes all understanding. I pray that you bring comfort that only you can. I pray that you answer questions and give guidance. I ask that you remove confusion in the minds of Jacob and Gracie and that somehow, you can instill in them the confidence, even at their young age, that you are in control and work all things for good. I ask you Lord, most of all, to please heal Shari. I beg you. In the meantime, please wrap your arms around her and comfort her. Let her feel your presence more than she ever has so that if nothing else, this will be a sweet time of communion with you.

Thank you Lord for Shari and what she brings to this family.

We love you and trust you.

Slave Hunter

I am reading this man's book right now, called Slave Hunter. I can usually read a book in a day or two. With this book, it's taking me forever. I think mostly because it's heavy. It's heavy to read about things going on around the world that we all really just don't have a clue about. And if we have heard about them or do have somewhat of a clue, it sure is easy to kick back in our nice, comfortable homes with food on the table and healthy kids and not enough hangers for our clothes, and pretend we don't.

It's not that I think that we are really terrible people here in America who just don't give a rip. I'm sure there are people like that, but I'm not insinuating that's how we are as a whole. I just think that it becomes so overwhelming to care. To think that there are young girls, not much older than my Ava and definitely younger than my Jess, being sold into slavery for $20 and being shot up with drugs and raped and beaten many times a day, is unthinkable. But, it's happening. And, it's not JUST happening in other's happening in OUR country. Read this article, which gives quite a few statistics about Sex Trafficking in the United States. It reports that between 18,000 and 20,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year with close to 10,000 of those being victims of the Sex Trafficking Industry. It also talks about the Sex Industry (prostitution, the sale of women and children through sex trafficking, the sale of child pornography, etc) and how it brings in annual revenues between $7billion and $57billion EACH YEAR!!!!

I don't know what the solution is. I don't even like to think about it. It's not fun. It's depressing and heavy and solemn. But, I love that Aaron Cohen is making a difference. Maybe it's in small ways but, he's doing something. He didn't just read about it and feel sad for a moment...he's making a freaking difference. He's walking into Cambodian brothels, risking his own life, to help save these girl's lives. I'm in awe of people like this. They give up the luxuries we wouldn't DARE consider giving up other people. It blows my mind.

Thank you, Aaron Cohen, for being the kind of person some of us wish we could be but don't have the guts to be. the very least...please go to Abolish Slavery and donate or sponsor a victim that's rehabilitating.

Friday, July 2, 2010

We've Seen a Side of Love Most People Never Get to See

Sometimes I am ashamed of my testimony. Sometimes, I don't want to tell my story. Sometimes I think of my story as sad and ugly. I think about the different tiers of my rebellious youth, my pregnancy out of wedlock, my years of hard partying and then my marriage and the lows we have had in that.

The other night, Nate and I got a chance to sneak out of the house for a couple of hours because my dad was staying the night. We went to Apothecary in our neighborhood and sat at a table by the windows and just talked. It was a couple of hours of pretty intense conversation. Talk about our families, the lows in our marriage, our kids...there were even a few tears shed (seriously not that many)...just a few:) When we got in the car, Nate said to me "man, this is the real deal. When you can sit and talk for hours about painful stuff...differences, family dysfunction, lows in your marriage...and you walk out still completely in love with the person...that's the real stuff. We're strong. We've seen a side of love most people never get to see."

That last sentence stuck with me. Like glue. I have thought about it every day since. I mean, all of it stuck with me but that one sentence "we've seen a side of love most people never get to see", really made an impression on me. I think mainly because to me, it sounded like he was saying we've had the privilege of experiencing a love that people would want but don't get to experience. It made me view "my story" differently. It made me realize again that it's a beautiful story. It's a true story of love and redemption and restoration.

How cool is it that our God can take such broken people, broken marriages and broken dreams and give them new life? A beautiful life.

I am thankful for that. Are you?