Great Adventure

Accountable? ME? You can help.

A friend of mine recently recalled a memory of receiving “laughing gas” at the dentist when she was a little girl. She said she remembers wondering how the dentist and his assistant could possibly work on her teeth.

“How can they reach me when I’m way up here at the ceiling?”

If you’ve ever had laughing gas, you can relate.

Today, I was listening to praise music as I exercised. In the middle of a song the thoughts rattling around in my head unexpectedly collided into one glorifying, freeing concept that literally brought me to a halt as I considered it.

“How can Satan reach me when I’m way up here like an eagle?”

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Nothing formed against me will stand.

Satan is the prince of the world and he is seeking to destroy me. He’s seeking to destroy you, too. But, God invites us to wait on Him, renew our strength, and soar like an eagle, high above the world and its troubles. Closer to Him. Not so close to the enemy.

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Life is good when I’m soaring. But, I have a problem with staying there. I get lazy. I get complacent. As crazy as it sounds, I all-too-readily give up living in victory because taking the easy yoke God places on me seems…hard.

That’s where you come in.

I need accountability.

See, God has asked me to write a blog. It’s not easy to write on a regular basis, particularly since graduate school has tied up so much of my time lately. In case you didn’t know, I’ve been taking two classes at a time in order to earn my Master of Science in Criminal Justice. I started classes right about the time that I wrote my last blog in April. Now, I’m down to less than 10 weeks left before I finish the last of my course work in January, plus I’m only taking one class at a time.

Despite my time being freed up somewhat, I still have my little friends Lazy and Complacent begging for attention. They make me want to be more like my cat, who happens to be snoozing in my lap as I type. Did you know that cats usually sleep 15-16 hours a day? I think she needs to wake up now.

Trouble Wake

That’s better. She just needed a little motivation.

Anyway.

I need motivation, too. So can you help motivate me?

It may be dangerous, but I made a deal with God. I told Him that if he brought me a certain number of new subscribers, then I would commit to blogging every Wednesday and Saturday unless He prevents me from doing so. I’m confident that I can get this number of subscribers . . . so much so that I’ve already come up with topics for every blog until the end of February.

If you’re willing to subscribe and help be the wind beneath my wings so that I can soar, there’s a place to submit an email address on the right hand side of the page. Even if you don’t get around to reading every post, or even if you relegate me to your spam filter, I won’t know. I’ll be encouraged to keep on keepin’ on.

Now, if I get this number of subscribers and start to blog twice a week, not every post will be about law enforcement. I mean, most of the time it’s just not that exciting. Plus, it’s not practical to write about specific calls and cases due to privacy issues. I do have a number of things on my topic list that are related to criminal justice, but my life is more than that.

I’m thinking posts will be roughly divided into four basic categories:

My God. God is important to me. I won’t lie about that or try to sugar coat it. This category of posts will share things that God is teaching me or that I want to share with others.

My Life. These posts are going to include some of the crazy antics I get into, along with details about my family and random musings from my mixed-up, ordinary life.

My Journey. These posts are for those who have asked to hear my “whole story.” There won’t be many of them, but I plan to go w-a-a-a-a-y back to when I was little. As in, “once upon a time” days.

My Great Adventure. This is where the law enforcement comes in. It’ll also include updates about my future steps toward fighting human trafficking. That’s the great adventure I never thought I’d be doing.

So who’s with me? Did you read this far?

Thank you in advance for your step towards encouraging me by subscribing to the blog. I hope to encourage you along the way as well. Feel free to leave comments about topics you might want to have me cover in the coming months. You can do that by clicking the little word bubble at the right side of the post, or by commenting below, depending on where you are in the blog. If there’s a problem with the subscription page or comments section, please let me know by some other viable means so I can fix it.

I look forward to many happy blogging deadlines. Let’s do this thing.

Great Adventure

The Next Step

It’s official.

I’m going back to school.

It’s been 24 years since I got out of college, 28 years since I graduated high school.IMG_1890

And now, after much prayer and consideration of my options, I’m going to grad school to get my Master of Science in Criminal Justice. I don’t know yet how God plans to use this in my future, but I’m very curious to see how it will all play out.

You’d think I’d be used to stepping out blindly into my future by now. I’m not. It’s scary.

And I didn’t see this one coming any more than I saw becoming a Reserve Sheriff Deputy. Or developing a passion to fight human trafficking. I think God knows that if I knew all that He had in mind for my future, I’d take off running in the opposite direction!

Bethel

I chose Bethel University for several reasons.

  • They have a College of Public Service that has my desired degree.
  • They are a Christian university.
  • They sent info to the Sheriff Office Training Academy while I was there.
  • They have a completely online program.
  • I can finish by Christmas.
  • They sent me this cool Chromebook.

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Okay, so maybe the Chromebook wasn’t a real reason to pick Bethel. I’m sure I’ll find a use for it, anyway. Such a tiny little thing.

Sooo…I don’t know where it’s going from here, but here I go.

I signed all the paperwork, and turned in all the forms.

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I paid for my first two online classes.

It’s time for the next step in my Great Adventure. Here I go on wobbly feet and shaky knees, very thankful for my ROCK of a foundation.

Classes begin April 13.

Great Adventure

Fear

DSC_0043What do you do with irrational fear?

I know, I know. Not every fear is irrational.

But some of them are.

Ask anyone who has sung in the church choir for a number of years, and they will tell you. I used to have an irrational fear of heights. If I ended up on anything but the bottom row of the choir, I totally felt like I was going to topple right out of the choir loft and into the orchestra pit! I had women who would scramble to find a place for me on that front row, giving up their own seat for me if it came to that.

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Once, on a Sunday morning, I wound up just one row shy of being at the very top. I had a panic attack and couldn’t sing. I couldn’t move to run away. I mostly froze. I think I ended up moving my mouth somewhat so that it wasn’t evident except to those near me what was happening. I sure was thankful when we finally got to sit down!

And that was my life.

I didn’t like ladders, hated balconies, avoided looking down on stairwells.

Then one day, I told God that it was an irrational fear, and asked Him to take it away.

He did.

Completely.

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I had proof of that over Spring Break last week when my family went to Gatlinburg. For the first time ever, I actually completed a zip line course AND a tree-top ropes course. There was no way I was going to let my family have fun without me!DSC_0132

So here’s my question. Do you have any irrational fears?

I dare you to ask God to take them away.

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Freedom and Justice, Great Adventure

Slave No Longer

Here’s a sneak preview of my latest novel about slavery. It follows the stories of three modern-day slaves: Malaya, Javin and Santino.

I’ll have an announcement about the book tomorrow. Let me know if you’d like to read more.

Slave

Chapter 1

Malaya

Rural Countryside, The Philippines

 

“No! Mama, no! Don’t let the man take me!”

Malaya’s shrieks of panic pierced the quiet morning air and reverberated off the tin roofs of the surrounding shanties. “I don’t want to go with him! I want to stay with you! I want to stay with you and my brothers!” Her wails intensified as the man gripped her arm more tightly, pulling her upwards so that only the tips of her toes brushed the dirt path.

“Malaya, you must go with him.” Mama held her head high as quiet tears streamed down her gaunt cheeks. “It is best.”

“No, Mama, it can’t be best. Being with you is best.” Malaya choked on her tears. “I will work harder, I promise! I will spend all day in the cane fields, and I won’t complain. Please let me stay, Mama!”

“The man says that he will find work for you in Manila. You can work to make money. He says there is much money to be made for hard working little girls in Manila.” Mama reached for Malaya, grasping at her hand as the man turned to open the door to the dusty compact sedan that blocked the narrow street. “He promises that he will send us the money you make. Then we can buy food. Your brothers would no longer be hungry. Don’t you want that, Malaya? Don’t you want to do whatever you can so that they don’t go hungry?”

“Yes, Mama.” Malaya hung her head and sniffed loudly. “I want to make money for food. I will go with the man.” She raised her head to search her mother’s eyes imploringly. “Will you come see me in Manila? Will I get to visit you?”

“The man said he would send me your address as soon as you started work. We will do our best to visit you when your father returns home.” Mama released her hand and took a step back. “You go now. You work hard. Be a good girl.”

“It’s time to go.” The man, who had remained silent during the exchange, spoke abruptly as he shoved Malaya into the back seat of the car where two other girls already waited. Without another word, he closed the door on Malaya, climbed into the front seat, and drove away. Malaya twisted on the rough fabric seat to get one last look at her mother, who had already turned and was heading back into their tiny home, counting the dollars given to her in exchange for her small daughter. Malaya wondered if she would ever see her mother again. She began to sob.

“Don’t cry.” The girl beside her whispered close to her ear. “It won’t do any good. It will only make the man angry at you. You do not want the man angry at you.”

“It is true.” The other girl’s whisper held a sense of urgency that checked Malaya’s cries. “You do not want to make him angry. This will be the result if you do.” She leaned forward, revealing a swollen lip and bruised cheek.

Malaya swallowed her tears and clamped her hand over her mouth as she studied the older girl’s misshapen features, her eyes wide in sudden fear.

“He did that to her when she tried to run this morning.” The first girl supplied the information in a hushed voice, her lips again close to Malaya’s ear. “We went with the man yesterday when he came to our village. Over the night, he…did things. To both of us. Things that made us want to run. I was scared and did not resist, but Diwata tried to run. He caught her, and then he hit her. He did more things to her. Then we left and came to your village.”

“What kind of things?” Malaya whispered into the other girl’s ear. “What did the man do?”

“Bad things. You will find out tonight, I am sure.” Diwata looked out the window at the passing countryside, avoiding Malaya’s stare. “For now, we must be still and try to sleep. Nights do not mean much sleep. Perhaps the man will be nice to you, because you are young. But I do not think that he will. You will see.”

“But what will I see?” Malaya persisted, louder than she intended. The man turned to glare at her over the seat. She lowered her voice. “What does the man do? I thought he was to find us work to feed our families. Good work in Manila.”

Diwata laughed bitterly, a harsh sound muffled by her hand over her swollen mouth. “There is nothing good about this man. He will not find good work for us. Now be quiet.”

“What is your name?” Malaya tried another tactic, leaning close to the ear of the girl beside her.

“Lailani.” The girl eyed the man in the front seat warily. “Diwata is right. We should rest now. Be quiet. We can talk later.”

Malaya put her head back against the seat and tried to close her eyes, but the fear gripping her throat threatened to rob her of any air she could grasp in the stuffy car. Sweat broke out in tiny beads on her forehead, yet a chill rolled down her spine in spite of the heat. She popped her thumb in her mouth, a move that had comforted her since she was a baby.  Just as she was beginning to think she could no longer stand the silence, the fear, the unknown, she felt Lailani’s hand slip into her own. The gesture reassured her that no matter what was to come, at least she would not have to face it alone. She sighed deeply, and settled back to endure the bumpy ride.

Great Adventure

Passion 2013

Passion 2013 was a conference aimed at college students. It filled the Georgia dome with over 60,000 students and leaders. Led by leaders such as Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin, the conference highlighted the atrocity of modern-day slavery and inspired the “Jesus Generation” to unite in a concerted effort to END IT. Passion I thought I knew what to expect from the conference. Daniel had attended Passion 2012 that had a similar focus. He had told me about it, and I was curious. I decided to go with our church’s group as a “chaperone,” like college students really needed those. Sarah tagged along because the conference organizers opened it up to high school seniors. Daniel also attended. His fiancé, Iva, was there with their church from Oxford. I was ready for a fun four days.

I had no idea that this event would touch me in such a powerful way. First, Here’s a few things totally random, yet entertaining, things I learned at the conference.

  • My rain jacket was only water resistant. It also had a design flaw that streamed water down the back of my neck. Notice I refer to it in past tense.
  • Starving college students are resourceful enough to try making Easy Mac in the hotel room coffee maker.
  • Hotel gift shops occasionally sell fabulous things like Ramen Noodles that totally hit the spot when you are as hungry as a college student.
  • It’s nearly impossible for 60,000+ people to manage to eat dinner near the Georgia Dome and still get to the sessions on time.
  • It is possible to feed lunch to those same 60,000+ people inside the Georgia Dome – all in roughly 20 minutes. It involves pallets and pallets of boxed sandwich lunches, numerous volunteers, cooperation from the masses, and precise organization. Oh, and a stopwatch to time it all. Yeah. They timed it.

So there you go. The random. The fact that most of them are related to food is purely coincidental. Now for the serious things that I learned.

  • Slavery still exists. Estimates are that there are roughly 27 million men, women, boys and girls entrapped in slavery today. 27 million. That’s larger than the population of the entire state of Texas.
  • Many of the items we take for granted – things like chocolate, clothes, jewelry, and smart phones – could very easily have been handled by slaves.
  • In particular, sex slavery is rampant. Even in the United States. It’s in more than just our major cities, too. It’s hit small town America.
  • College students are capable of raising phenomenal amounts of money. Over $3 million was raised at the conference that year, all to shine a light on modern day slavery. The money went to organizations who are committed to END IT.

END IT? Yes, END IT. The “End It Movement” was born as a follow-up to the Passion Conferences. It’s how they coordinate raising the funds and distributing them to the partner organizations. End It Supporters were asked on a certain day to put a red “x” on their hand to raise awareness. Here’s my attempt. hand But it was a video that they showed that got to me. That’s what rocked my world. I thought the video interesting from the moment it started, but I have to admit, I was a little tired and was only half watching. But then it had my full attention.

I found the video on YouTube and watched it again tonight. You can watch the video for yourself here.

It was at the 1:39 mark that I froze, standing inside the Georgia Dome, suddenly alone with God in a stadium packed with energetic students. That’s when I realized that the video I was watching was the vision that had been in my head the night I pouted over Speckles. The pictures were the same. The only difference was that there had been no words that night lying in my bed.

Sounds crazy, I know. But it happened. I stood there, unable to move, long after the video ended and the screen went dark. Those around me continued on with the worship service filled with stirring music. I simply stood. Once again speechless before a mighty and powerful God. The words rang in my head, pealing repeatedly:

“What are you going to do about it?”

What was I going to do about it?

I now knew where God was ultimately leading me, but I still had no idea how to get there. It would still take a few months for me to figure out even where I was supposed to begin.

We were given a visual reminder to take with us, cutouts of individuals representing modern-day slaves. I still have mine and stare into her eyes on occasion. She now stands as an additional motivation to continue to seek God’s will in my journey to fight slavery. Her name is Anya. DSCN6876 DSCN6877 That’s enough for now. More to come later.