Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rescue Me

Jeremiah 1:8
"'Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,' delares the Lord."
Jeremiah 1:19
"'They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord."

I asked myself, as I was sitting next to a couple making out on the couch, rescue us from what? It's crazy. God knows that we'll be called to attack. We'll always be under attack. We can so easily look over the rescue part of that scripture. But He says that He'll rescue us which means that we'll need rescuing. Um...what? What do you mean we'll need rescuing? God doesn't call us to safely love Him in the comfort of our own homes! He calls us to danger, places that aren't necessarily "good" places to go. Why? Why would God put us, His precious children, in danger? I think there are a few reasons for that.
One: The places we need to reach aren't pleasant. They're overcome by evil, the darkness of the world. The places we're called to, we're called to for a reason. If they were already healed, we wouldn't need to be there.
Luke 5:31 says "It is not the healthy, but the sick that need a doctor. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance."
Two: I believe that God does everything for His glory to be revealed. He puts us in dangerous situations where we have no where to turn but to Him so that his glory will be shown. Think about it: Everything will come against you, but don't fear, I will RESCUE YOU.

I love this. We're called to be in danger. I'm glad and blessed that there is a God with the power that created an entire universe who cares enough to rescue me from the danger I'm called to encounter.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Looked in The Mirror

I had a very strange feeling day today.
I woke up and had my usual bagel with peanut butter, went to coffee bean to write, and then hung out with another friend at the theater. I hate mirrors. In the theater there's a room covered with them. Actually, now that I think about it, those shiny pieces of glass litter the backstage. Mirrors are truthful...brutally honest and they give me anxiety. All day, I felt a little unsettled with the way I looked. I had a picture in my head of what I looked like and I was unsure of how I felt about it. I've been attacked recently. No, really. I've been attacked hard core at every angle. This unsettled feeling is becoming pretty familiar. Needless to say, I didn't think too much about the mirrors.
This morning I woke up from a terrifying nightmare that left me feeling paralyzed. My friends have been going through fierce trials that have led them to do things not in their nature. I have been having some thoughts I thought would never return. It has been an incredibly difficult time. But why?
Well, as I came to the conclusion just now. Look at what I'm doing. I've given up something I absolutely love in order to benefit another life. I'm stepping outside of myself. I'm leaving my comfortable home to bring news about an entire nation in prison. The attacks are going to be insane! Oh and they have been, trust me, they have. It just makes sense that they would be.
Today, as I sat down to write this, I looked at the Love146 blog. I found victory there. love146.blogspot.com check it out. There is love in the round home. There are fears being conquered. There are smiles returning to these girls' faces. Is it because I've given up sugar to help them? I'd like to think so. Who knows. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Praise God who is powerful and mighty to save His beautiful sons and daughters. It helped to know that what we're doing, all of this heart ached and all of this caring is going somewhere. We're appreciated and all of our struggles are worth it. He is proud of us when we seriously live for Him.

When I got up and looked in the mirror today, I liked what I saw. I was happy with the girl that I saw. I was happy with the activist that stands for freedom and love. I am proud of who I have become...of who God has turned me into. I love my causes...even though they're more than causes. They're reality. I love reality and I love that I'm part of it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

LiNK


Yesterday was an extremely exciting day. Allow me to travel back a few months to tell you why.
A couple months ago I was ecstatic about a tour that I had the chance to apply for with TOMS shoes. TOMS is a shoe company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need every time a pair is bought from their company. Pretty sweet right? Well, they have an internship called TOMS Vagabonds. They travel around the US selling TOMS shoes and running events called "Style Your Sole" which includes buying some plain TOMS and then decorating your heart out. Anyway (!), after slaving over the application, I got an email saying they had to regretfully cancel the tour due to some tiff with the manager.
While I was applying for the TOMS Vagabond tour, a friend of mine got me psyched on invisible children. Three film makers went to Africa to film a documentary. When they got there, they discovered the longest running war in African history. Whats worse is that there were children fighting this war. Joseph Kony kidnaps children and forces them to fight a terrible fight. Invisible Children works to stop that. I found that their Roadies were leaving for London in the fall and I was super stoked!! I applied immediately only to find out that I needed dual citizenship. Now feeling completely rejected, I remembered that we had also looked up a non profit organization called LiNK.
LiNK stands for "Liberty in North Korea". The first reaction I often get is "LAUREN YOU CANT GO TO NORTH KOREA!!" And I know that. Trust me, I know how dangerous it is. I've been researching it up to the wazoo! This fall I will be travelling with LiNK around the US to spread awareness about the human rights crisis in North Korea. There are people across the globe that are enslaved by their own government. They have seen none of the freedoms we so often take for granted here. LiNK stands out to me farther that Invisible Children or TOMS shoes. An entire NATION is imprisoned. That is out of control. And the worst part about it? Most of the world is unaware that it is even going on. I know I had no idea. I want to make a difference. I want to directly see a movement stirred in people's hearts. I want to see someone stand up for something that is unsettling to them. I want to see a revolution begin for people that have no voices. By going on the tour with LiNK, I'm able to put my words into action, to directly see what I've wanted to see for so long. I know its going to be hard sometimes, but its going to change me. Its going to grow me. Its going to challenge me and I'm ready to have the adventure of a lifetime!!

Here I come world!
Are you ready?

Father God, thank you so much for an amazing opportunity. I pray that amidst the hussle and excitement of going out into the nation, I dont lose sight of you. I pray that I dont lose sight of what you've planned for me to do. God, use me in incredible ways this fall. Help me to grow and to learn and inspire. Help me through all of the struggles and the times that I'll miss home. Help me to get along with my team. Teach me so much this fall! I love you so much and thank you thank you thank you for this amazing time. God I pray for North Korea. I pray for the people enslaved in its borders. God, break the political leaders. Break them and soften their hearts. Be in the borders. Cause a movement. Let us not be silent until we see true freedom in North Korea.
And Father, I pray for girls and boys enslaved in sex slavery. God, I pray for their mental state right now. I pray that their rooms are filled with light today. That they are filled with some supernatural hope that they can't explain. I pray that you break down the walls in their mind and that you bind the enemy from their thoughts. Hold them in your loving arms right now Father.
In Your Precious Name
Amen

Thursday, July 16, 2009

bran and birthdays

I have a thing for cereal. all the time. perhaps it roots back to my Dad giving it to me as a late night before bed time snack to fight hunger pangs as a child. Maybe the convenience of it plays in to my attraction to simple solutions. Whatever the reason, I love to eat cereal, all the time, pretty much anywhere, and definitely in a box...

Sugar is found in pretty much every cereal! I'm amazed and appalled to look at the nutrition side of the many boxes that grace my family's pantry to find that some of the most common culprits are corn-syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, etc. Who ever really thought plain cheerios, corn flakes, and bran cereal had added sugars? The first two weeks of sugar fasting were quite hard in this respect. Waking early, naturally opening the pantry to look for breakfast only to be rudely reminded of the sugar factor in cereal. Finally, one night while doing some family grocery shopping, I searched the boxes of every cereal I thought might be free of sugar and actually found hope! Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my new friend...

Shredded Wheat!



The unfrosted version, thought not sweet in particular, still has that nice satisfying crunch I so adore. To make it sweeter, I just tossed a bowl of the cereal with some agave, added almond milk, and breakfast was definitely served!

Lauren and I were talking the other day about being tempted to eat sugar. Often, it begins with being in a public place where food is available. For example, she was tempted to eat a cupcake someone put in her face, I couldn't stop thinking about candy. Our first reactions have been to believe the item of temptation tastes like something we abhor eating (for Lauren it's watermelon, for me, lima beans) to cause a distaste for the item instead. Not enough? We go a step further: the children Love 146 and in underprivileged countries worldwide don't get to enjoy these things... so why do I need it? And this is just the beginning.

124 days to go.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

feelin leafy

Most of my friends understand that I have a love for tea. I LOVE tea. So much. All varieties. In fact, I believe I have only tasted one tea that I did not like (and I have tasted MANY a cup). Being a sort of foodie, I tend to venture to try new flavors and varieties all the time. Tonight however, I just wanted the simplicity of tea, English style, commonly done with a spot of milk and oodles of sugar cubes. This presents multiple problems of course, one of them being the sugar fast. Replaced easily with Agave, my next obstacle is milk. I developed lactose intolerance less than a year ago and and have been striving ever since to keep my life as normal as possible with any alternatives or replacements (short of the completely unnatural "equivalents") I can get my hands on. Almond milk has been my savior in terms of cereal and milkshakes, so I took almond milk and mixed in some agave, waited for my tea to steep, and added the sweetened milk mixture to my tea. Delightfully and somewhat surprisingly delicious.

Part of me feels like this fast is too easy to be true. I am amazed and bothered at how little I have been praying for Love 146 to my own embarrassment. I'm considering adding more specific restrictions for myself to propel the prayer factor, and yes, lots of prayer and consideration is necessary prior to that.

1 cup of loose leaf organic green tea
1 tbsp raw agave
1/3 c almond milk, fresh or store bought (long as it is unsweetened)

heat water for tea and steep tea leaves. while steeping, stir agave into milk.
remove tea leaves from tea. add sweetened milk to taste. feel free to have more than one cup :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

going against design

I don't know if anyone reading this blog (if anyone other than Lauren and myself actually do read this blog) knows me well enough to understand that I have a naturally logically driven, organized, left-brained personality. I tend to be goal oriented. In high-school, I sought to get the best grades so I could get into a good college. I performed as often as I could and got the best lessons in voice so I could audition well for the best Universities. I made certain I performed well in courses, even if they were general ed, so I could receive my Bachelor's degree with high standing and esteem from my fellow students and teachers. That is part of my nature, who I am.

This last year has been tough.

I moved back home from college to live with my parents while I, ya know the drill, reestablished myself financially so I could move out on my own. I thought it would take me a few months to get on my feet. It's been a year and two months since I've graduated, and I'm still living at my parents house, unable to financially support myself independently. I often feel humiliated that I still rely so much on my parents when I for so long was "doing things on my own". What an illusive existence I led, and the disappointment I have been feeling at the sense I have been failing lately has caused me to spiral into behaviors so... well... unlike me. I've been disorganized, not having any plans, and doing things based on how feel while ignoring everything my brain tells me... Who have I become???

After you graduate, there are few requirements placed in front of you, no instructors telling you what grade you need to pass, no student advisers helping you find a job, no "road to success" guide for you to follow to the T. Life after college is an open field, almost abysmal, that had no set goals before you. So what do you do? Well, you can do nothing, remain lazy, get frustrated (all of which I have done by the way) and then you come to an impasse... What are you going to do to get back the goal-minded life you so naturally and beautifully led, and enjoyed?!


This last year has had it's tough knocks, things that are too sentimental and boring to get into, but through it I have vacationed from my natural inclinations to keep order, method, goals alive in myself. I became lazy, listless, lethargic, all under the stamp of "I'm going through a lot" or "I'm so busy" and "The situations around me are causing to be stressed out". These statements, though they have all escaped from my lips and are all truthful statements, they are NOT reasons to stop doing the things that God instilled in me to do. I was created with the tendency to organize, to set goals, to create logical plans for success, and to not utilize these gifts now that I am aware of them is not only a sin against my creator, but against myself. There is a time for everything, including spur of the moment instances, rest, and even procrastination (I'll write another blog on this some time, just take my word for it ;), but God gave us free will to do the things he has called us to do and created us to be. It's time for me to set some goals.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

real friends

Not only are Hannah J and I blogging buddies, but we're real friends...in real life aside from this internet world. Last night we had a heart to heart because we are burdened people carrying around junk.
I'm pretty sure she won't mind me writing what she said...it was extremely encouraging and helped me through my junk last night.

First off, however, I'll tell you that I got a tattoo.
It means so much to me. I promise. I don't recommend getting one unless you have thought about it for about a year. I thought about mine for two. :]
Anyway, let me explain.
It's a cross because Christ loves me enough to die the most painful death a man could imagine. He died for ME. Thats an incredible thought.
It's a purple and white ribbon--purple is the color for eating disorder awareness, white for sex slavery (if you didn't know it, I'm an abolitionist of human trafficking). I chose to put it around the cross as a symbol of giving it up to God who is the only one that can conquer it.
The word is ushindi and possibly the best part of the tattoo. It means victory in swahili--a language i cant get enough of having been to Africa. I have victory over my eating disorder because Christ has died on the cross for me. It is because of His love that I have USHINDI over the struggle that almost claimed my life. Finally, it's on my head because my head is where ED comes from. He's a lie and he is completely in my thoughts. It didn't feel right to have the tattoo somewhere ED was not. My head just seemed right.
So there you have it. :]] I love it.

Back to Hannah J.
I was given the desire to save the world. What an intense desire! Hannah said "You were chosen to do a great thing. You were given the desire to save and that is a God-given desire that is HUGE!"
That hit me. Why wouldn't the enemy want to attack me? Why wouldn't he want to make sure that the world was not able to be saved or that the hero was knocked down? The world is his and he wants to do whatever he pleases with it which in turn takes innocent people for a ride! I want to say NO to that! He cannot take advantage of anyone. I won't stand for it. And it is for this very reason that he finds the inner most vulnerable parts of me to punch and kick and stab.
But God claims victory, God claims ushindi because His love and His will is perfect, far better than anything the enemy can attempt to do.
She said,"The enemy says 'Ah, your daughter Lauren, let's just see how tough she is. I'll test her.' And God says,' okay, because I know she will prevail. Go ahead. I'll show you how strong she is.' and that is why He allows you to go through some intense trials, because He knows you are ready to beat them." With God, I claim ushindi.
Lastly, she told me to use my sword. When Jesus was in the desert being tempted by the devil, He used His scripture. God's word is our weapon. I never really understood that until now. I always took it literally and imagined myself in the midst of a literal battle yelling out random verses. I get it now. There is a spiritual battle that is far greater than any physical battle and we have to use our words. Our swords are our words.

I'll probably write more on this later. My thoughts are still a little jumbled.
Have a wonderful fourth of july today. Stay safe.
Self control is a great virtue. :]

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

hope never dies


I write you tonight with a little more sobriety than before. These last few days have been tough. Not just giving up sugar. Life had been crashing down hard. Lauren has her set of struggles and battles, and me my own, but we can honestly say we are feeling the pressure hard core. We know God is allowing this. It is a testing of our faith and an opportunity for us to glorify the Lord in our weakness, but that doesn't mean it isn't hard. It's ok when the battle is tough to say "hey, it's tough". But we don't give up. We hold, cling, cleave dependently to the God who moves and creates mountains. The King who reigns over the power of death. The Lord who knows the desires and pains of our hearts. He has not only plans to sustain us through hardship, but "plans to prosper us, to give us a future and a hope." Jer 29:11

Last night, my friend Luke shared out of this exact reference. The context of that verse is not exactly hunky-dory. This verse is amidst the prophet Jeremiah telling Israel the nation that she is condemned to judgment and exile for blatant sins, including idolatry. Think about it. This nation that was completely living sinfully. Still loved and cherished by God, despite the impending judgment, He still had plans to PROSPER her! He the same for us as his people under the new covenant! "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31

As we continue to seek God in this fast, to vigilantly pray for LOVE146, and to seek His will in our lives that he may be glorified, we can look forward to the knowledge that He has plans to prosper us! So, we must fight even as the battle continues to rage, and "press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" Phil 3:12

Never Give up. We have a hope. Let us fight this battle with all we have left, that we may bring that hope to those who are dying without it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

and the hits keep coming...

Chains be broken
Lives be healed
Eyes be opened
Christ is revealed

It is day five...
And, to be totally and brutally honest, I feel awful.
Here is my reality:
I am dealing with an eating disorder. You might be thinking at this point "and youre doing sugar fast?"...yes, yes i am. friends, God can work miracles and He totally does. im not doing the sugar fast to lose weight, i promise you that. but anyway.
today, as i turned away from the sugary latte i wanted to buy, i found myself surrounded by people that were desperately crying out, broken, upset and down right destroyed. i kept thinking, where am i? how am i? whats going on for me, as my therapist would put it? the tears kept rolling down my face in church today because i am so desperately broken. still! i have been in recovery for two years now...two whole years since june 14th (praise God), but i am still incredibly broken and torn apart from it all.
when the pastor invited people to stand and receive prayer, there was no doubt in my mind that i needed it. i needed to stand and be vulnerable even though, right now, i cannot stand vulnerability. it terrifies me. but its exactly what God is working in me.
you see...last month, i relapsed...hard. it was awful. i was right back into my fears and stuck in my thoughts that would lead me to death. i wanted to be perfect, to be in control, to feel that i had done something. death by perfection?
i guess that when i relapsed, i shut off and i wasnt strong. i didnt want to tell anyone what i had overcome, i didnt want to tell anyone that i was struggling. that power that i had when i graduated from the hospital program had suddenly left me. i hate that it did. i worked so incredibly hard to get it in the first place. where did it go and how do i get it back?!
ive come to the conclusion that i have to stand up for it again. i need to tell everyone. i need to share with people the terrible nightmare that i have survived. im a survivor. i have survived ED. friends, ED is trying to get back in. he is trying so hard to jump back into my life and its taking everything within me to keep him out. it is HARD. believe me when i say that i am practically shaking right now typing this. it is so incredibly HARD to fight ED. but i have to.

i have to fight for me.
i have to be healthy for God to use me.
i have to stand strong.
heres what gets me.
i have to fight for those that dont.

if they see me get through it, they will believe that they can too.
this is what ive learned today.

vulnerability is terrifying, but i want that power and that strength that i once possessed. i hate that ive lost it. the only way to find it is to lay down all fears and just GO.

here i go.

Father God, I pray for every person battling ED right now. I pray that his voice leaves and that only You are there. ED is destruction, he's disaster, he's a complete lie. God, I want everyone dealing with ED to feel you right now in such a tangible way. God I cry out for them. I know their pain so well and its a hard battle to fight. Its a tiring battle to fight. You fight for us. You fight. Please fight for me now. Please give me that power to share what I have been through so that they may see a light and something other than ED. You can and you will heal all broken lives. I believe it! I dont have to see it to believe it. You are here.
Amen

Saturday, June 27, 2009

music and fasting


Having done this fast before (not nearly as long), I've come to realize that when forced to not spend my time baking delicious treats and then devouring them with all of my might, I am more likely to pick up my guitar or sit down at my piano to write music. In the past couple of days, I have written two songs. One of which I will share with you here...the other...well...sorry, but no. :]

God has been teaching me an incredible amount about time lately. This week has been the biggest and scariest emotional roller coaster I have ever been on. I can't clarify exactly what has happened for confidentiality, but I can say this, I have been praying more than I ever have for life and the most deep rooted love anyone could ever feel. The sugar fast has only helped me in that. Not only am I praying and fasting for the girls and boys of Love146's safehouses and targeted brothels, but some of my dear friends. The power of Christ is strong and when we ask Him to save a life, to heal a life, to conquer a life, He does, and I firmly believe that. It almost frustrates me that it takes a fast to make me realize it, but when I give Him my time, He listens to me. He draws close to me and I feel Him. We are a team and He wants nothing more than that.

That being said...here is a song.

And then I fell asleep, your thoughts composed.
Why did you have to leave me in the cold?
I could have loved you if you let me,
but the world still falls down.
If only you would hear me say:

I don't need much to talk to you.
I don't need blue skies or a big, bright moon.
I don't even need happiness to sit with you.
Just give me your time.

And it's a big, frightening world I'm waiting to change.
There you sit across from me,
Your heart broken and stained.
You hold my head in your hands and cry
listen to me
I only want you to hear me say:

I don't need much to talk with you.
I don't need blue skies or a big, bright moon.
I don't even need happiness to sit with you.
Just give me your time.

Just give me your time.

Friday, June 26, 2009

banana blessing


The second day has finally come to a close, and what a day it has been...
This morning, i woke with not only thirst but an unconquerable craving for something sweet. Obviously the reaction of my first day of sugary deprivation, my body was giving me the cue to gorge on the usual corn syrup - infused dry cereals, maple drenched waffles, or brown sugar topped oatmeal I usually alloted myself without a moments hesitation on any regular day. In restraint, I began to peruse through the other dry cereals hoping to find one I might satiate myself with. Alas, I found I was at a terrible loss, for even the "normal" cereals, like cherrios, corn flakes, crispix, and others I naively assumed would be fasting - friendly are made with corn syrup and cane sugar. Disappointed and somewhat bewildered I searched for other options to satiate my now ravenous hunger. Perhaps raw chocolate shake? Yes! I gathered the agave nectar, the unsweetened cocoa, and almonds, only to find yet another kink in my plan - I had no bananas! Now determined, I grabbed the car keys, threw on some mismatched clothing, and drove to the grocer where I purchased the largest bunch of bananas, three 1/2lb cartons of strawberries, and a new bear full of honey. My shake recipe was complete (you can see it below), loaded with delicious, natural, and completely allowed ingredients!

RAW Chocolate Shake
1 banana, separated into three sections
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
10-15 almonds
agave, to taste
6 oz water
ice

Blend in blender, pour into glass, and serve immediately.


While making the shake, I marveled as I considered how blessed I am to live a life of freedom and luxury, both of which victims of trafficking do not get to enjoy for the duration of their captivity. Sugar... it has always been a simple pleasure I get to experience daily. I seldom appreciate it. Even in giving it up, the ability to search for other options at the store down the road speaks of the freedom I have to choose it and the luxury of getting to make that choice. Imagine a world where all the simple little blessings you have in life are taken from you, or have never existed. That world is the reality for 1.2 million children who are subjected to sex slavery each year, and 2 more every 60 seconds. No freedom, no luxuries. No simple pleasures. Only pain, deprivation, and bondage. What a great task we have in praying for these children, these victims of hateful action, and for the those who are called by God to fight on the front lines of this dangerous and dark battleground. If these next few months stir me to nothing else but prayer alone for these victims of trafficking and for those seeking to abolish it, it is worth letting go of all the simple luxuries I experience, blessing I too often take for granted.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the fast


Hello everyone, and welcome to our new blog! I (Hannah) and Lauren are giving up sugar for 146 days to support the endeavors of LOVE 146 and their fight to abolish sex slavery. This blog will serve as a record of daily reflections and just about anything else that strikes our fancy during this certain to be amazing time. almost 5 full months of sugar deprivation is definitely going to have its difficulties, but with lots of agave and honey, we will prevail!