Monday, January 27, 2014

hidden bobby pins.

This may not make sense at first, but I promise there's a good point if you stick with me....

Ive been growing my hair out. It's very difficult to go from short & spikey to long. You basically have to put up with mullets of varying degrees for 9-12 months. Let's just say I own more bobby pins, headbands, and hats than anyone I know. 

Today as I was braiding my hair, I was marveling anew at the fact that with a pack of bobby pins, a good hairspray, and some clever manipulation, you can make hair do almost anything you want. As a cosmetologist, my truest passion with hair is up-dos and styling.  I hate cutting. I'm not crazy about coloring. Perming is torture. But up-dos!........ I drool over someone with long hair and the possibilities that begin floating through my mind when I look at it. I love doing hair for weddings, proms, quinces, photo shoots. I'm always noticing and critiquing hair in movies and on models. In cosmo school I learned all the secrets to the trade. How to weave in anything from extentions to feathers to string to material. And I love knowing how to hide all the tools within the hair as I create a style.  

This morning I was thinking about the way one does that. The careful work that goes into it. Even today-my hair is braided and you wouldn't know that there are bobby pins woven throughout to hide the stray layers of hair still short and growing. I often get told by people that they love the wrap or headband that I have around my braids. That they wish they could do cute things like that but they'd have a thousand bobby pins keeping it on and how in the world do I do it without any? The answer? I don't!! I have a ton of bobby pins too. I just know how to hide them so that they're not visible.  That's all. 

As I styled my hair today, I was thinking about the industry.  All it is is a bunch of people "hiding their bobby pins" so to speak. Creating models, pictures, movies that are nothing but cleverly hidden secrets of the trade. And while that's not always a bad thing (Who doesn't love looking at that braid on Catniss, a stunning and glowing bride, or the feathers and color woven into a crazy modern photoshoot?), I wonder how much it's trickled down into everyday life. I wonder if because of all our social media, we sometimes see it so much that we begin thinking everyday life needs to look this perfect. So we pick up tricks. We watch. We learn how to hide OUR bobby pins. And we begin to present our lives to others as something it really isn't short of a lot of clever manipulation, "hair spray", clever lighting, and instagram filtering. 

The funny thing? Regardless of the number of followers I have or what we may see of each other, I often feel like I don't have good solid relationships with anyone. Like something has changed in the last years in how we do things. Like maybe we need to get more diligent about our interactions with one another. I wonder what would happen if we all ripped out our hidden bobby pins and let things fly. Let them be a bit more honest and messy. Showing how we really are. It's hard. It goes against all of the current "normal".  But I believe people used to be much better connected and I want to get back to that. I want to write letters in the mail. Just between me and that person. Talk about real things and not just a picture I took of Downtown Houston or even the kid I was playing with in Kenya. I want to discuss this world and the beautiful and ugly parts of it. Have adventures with people. Make memories that don't involve stopping to post a picture every 5 minutes. And dream. Big. Out loud. With Kindred Spirits. About Jesus. Changing this world. And being more than our society tells us we can be.  

Here's to ripping out some of those hidden pieces and finding the beauty in the mess that shows up. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

What a few days can do.

This past week was a big one around these parts. We had a small group of college girls come to spend a week learning about human trafficking. The unique and beautiful part of this particular week was that Carly (my fellow Houston CSM apprentice) and I didn't just host the group.  We were a part of it. We were to "experience" the week with them.  And experience we did!

I won't go into every detail, but the week included everything from eating lunch with men who happen to work as prostitutes to walking and praying at 1am on Friday night in the area of town where most of this takes place. Don't worry- we did all of this with local ministries who have a presence and respect with the people we were reaching out to. It was very safe!

And then there was the van tour. Oh, the van tour. I had heard a lot about Elijah Rising. They are somewhat of a local celebrity around Houston. An incredibly powerful ministry with an amazing story. I had been eager for months to spend the day with them and glean the knowledge and wisdom they so happily offer. I had anticipated seeing a large number of brothels and cantinas and strip clubs as well as learning many details of what all goes on behind the scenes and how it all happens.  And we did see and learn all of that.  It was hard and sad and heartbreaking and angering all at once. At one point we even witnessed several girls going to work in a club and precisely one minute later, 3 Johns pulled up in their BMWs. Businessmen. With nice suits and wedding rings. (Yes-I could see the rings.) They pulled right into the customer parking, stared right at us in the van, and walked inside. A reality check if I ever needed one.  This is not something that gross scummy people are involved in.  This is our typical suburban husband and father.

The most incredible thing to me with this experience, though, wasn't in seeing everything. It wasn't in witnessing acts on the street or in the windows of the clubs at 1:30 in the morning that I shouldn't ever have to see. It wasn't in seeing all the flourishing brothels and knowing the owner's names. It was Cat.
Cat is the founder of Elijah Rising. She gave us the van tour this week. And what that did for me was unexpected and awesome.

As you probably know, I have been learning about and becoming passionate about trafficking for about 6 months now. Christine Caine and her campaign began something that goes down to my bones. And a few months ago I began speaking about it constantly. I just wanted others to know. To be aware. To see the need for us to be the voices of the trapped and oppressed. And the response I received was, well, heartbreaking for me.  Disappointing. non-existent. And I became angry and fiery about that. I didn't understand how people could sit back and do nothing. To me there was just no excuse. I understand passivity and annoyance over things political and even *gasp* religious. But I was talking about basics: those innocently trapped in one of the most evil industries imaginable. All of humanity stripped from them as they literally have their lives, voices, and all hope taken away. This is something that should matter to any person walking the earth: because there is no way of saying it couldn't happen to you, your daughter, sister, niece. When I went home for Christmas, I had a few friends bring it up. Tell me they appreciate that something has touched me but that maybe I should take it down a notch. Not talk about it so often. Be more quiet. Understand that people have lives and other priorities. And that having any anger over this isn't good.
All I could think was "REALLY?! Respect that people have lives and other priorities?! The problem I'm talking about is innocent people having THEIR lives, priorities and HUMANITY completely torn from them in one instant. Over 100,000 of those sold into slavery each year are American youth-so I don't understand how we can refrain from doing something."

I suddenly began feeling so completely defeated.
I just assumed my friends must be right. And I decided to shut up.

So I was taken by surprise this week when I met Cat. Cat is a crazy, vocal, extroverted, bold, audacious and undaunted woman.  And she's not just spouting off. She's quite intelligent. ( She was formerly a Sociology professor.) And her passion to end the injustice of human trafficking is fiery and gorgeous. She isn't in your face and she isn't pushy.  She just stands bold and unmovable. It's contagious. She understands the power of prayer as the sharpest weapon available to us, and therefore insists that the organization be founded on it. They go as far as to have music-lead prayer intercessory meetings. Is this charismatic? Yes. Does it make people uncomfortable? Maybe. But when you see and hear-that consistently-the places Elijah Rising has prayed over have fallen and been shut down-often within days or weeks- it's hard to argue with any of it.  As Cat educated us and showed us ways in which we really can do something, I thought back over the last few months.  And I thought about what she was saying. And some deep truth became clear to me.

Cat has made a gigantic difference in Houston. And it's only begun. Christine Caine has paved the way for rescues, stings, and safehouses all over the globe. And they're continuing to expand. The thing I notice about these women is this: They ask the Lord what works. They find it. They do it. They are bold. They do not shut up or stop. Ever. Their passion drives an unrelenting energy. They do things that may seem uncomfortable or crazy. They know how to take spiritual authority over things or situations. They go to extremes to make sure their own lives maintain a sort of "extra" innocence, integrity, and covering of the Spirit. Hold themselves to a stricter and higher standard. And they don't try to hide it or apologize for any of it. And they're changing history.

This week has taught me that I need to be bolder.  But not in the ways I thought: speaking out, making sure I'm heard, etc....No, I need to be bolder about being a woman of truth and integrity, guarding myself even if it means I need to refrain from things that could be deemed "harmless" at the expense of being misunderstood. Because being THAT kind of woman rather than just spouting off all the time is what will truly make things happen. I need to be willing to do things that are uncomfortable. For me and for others. I want to grasp authoritative and intercessory prayer. I don't fully understand or flourish in that. I don't have a charismatic background. But I want to be powerful enough and have faith bold enough to watch something crumble or watch someone heal at the words that leave my mouth. And I am tired of being scared of that. I am tired of the smallness of my faith and prayer just because I am afraid of the different. Of the more intense. And of what I'll look like to others. (Heaven forbid I should let go of my funny Child-like Disney identity for the sake of literally being the hands and feet of Jesus.) I want a passion that produces contagious and unrelenting energy. To be so in love with my Jesus that it inevitably bubbles over and lingers in every place I walk like a fine and rich perfume. I want to walk passed the line of where my comfort zone ends. Because that, I believe, is the key. That is where life really begins. And where those people who do the most powerful things for the kingdom live.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's Time.

This post may surprise you.

I'm not going to be funny, wordy, clever, or sarcastic. (Which I usually delight in.)
I'm not going to describe every detail of every adventure I had in 2013. (And there were a lot!)
I'm not going to make pic collages of all the favorite moments. (There are about 5,000 pictures.)
I'm not going to spiritually and deeply reminisce over the depth of what the Lord's doing. (Obviously that'd be easy to do. I ended up in several states for Living Proof Live, went to Kenya, and moved to Texas. You'd better believe there's a whole lot that goes into all that!)

But I AM going to say something that's very important to me. I AM going to ask a few things of you. And I'm NOT going to be shy about it or beat around the bush. Because I care and I love you too much to do that anymore.......

This is a new year.  Today.  Right now.  A new beginning. For all of us. Let's grab the beauty and freshness that a new year ushers in. Let's set aside the shallow resolutions and be something so much more than that. We are called to be mighty and deep warriors. We are called to change this planet we've been put on. To literally free those enslaved in bondage. Heal disease. Bring hope with us, lingering in each place we walk long after we've left the building like the richest and finest of perfumes. 
How many people do you know who fit that description? Come on-Let's become that.
This life is not a game. It's not a free-for-all and it's no choose-your-own-adventure. And it's so much more and better than what every magazine, T.V. show, movie, and even book says it is. Don't get jaded. Don't get lost in the things that don't matter. Don't fall for the lies that are so many it sometimes seems we must be wrong because we're in such a minority. Don't you dare believe it, you hear me?!

 If you're in bondage, if you're overwhelmed, wrapped up in some form of brokenness, heaviness or addiction-unable to even take a step-that's understandable. I get you. No, really. I get you. I promise I've been there. No, REALLY. So when I say what's next, know I'm coming from where you are: 
It's time. Look up. Do NOT give up and lay down over the thing. Defy your emotions about it. Do not EVER tell me that this is probably what it'll look like for the rest of your life. Scream and holler for help.  Seek it with every fiber of your being. Accept the help. Be willing to do the hard work Jesus will ask of you. But trust and know He desperately wants to and will redeem you. If you only let Him.
(And if you're angry and wondering why He'd allow you to be here in the first place, my answer is that absolutely nothing is wasted and He means it to be your very ministry someday soon. It will be the very thing you flourish and work in. Just you hold onto that for now!)

If you're free and healthy, good! If you've studied and know the scriptures back and forth, that's wonderful. We need that. But don't stay there. It's time. Time to be different. Time to be drastic. Time to get the nose out of the books and into action. There is NO reason to have a "normal" life. Not one. Whatever your reasoning, God can blow it out of the water and is absolutely desperate to show you just how powerful He has designed you to be. Don't you dare live your life refusing to experience that just because you're afraid. Afraid to go, give up things, be in danger, be laughed at, or become misunderstood. Listen to me now:
Your WAISTLINE is just not worthy of that much obsession.
Right now-Stop defining yourself by it!
Your CAREER is not the most important thing.
Your INCOME isn't worth that much worry and contemplation. 
Your RETIREMENT isn't as secure as you imagine it is.

God has promised you in His very Word that if you seek His Kingdom and the active spreading of it (bringing hope and healing to all you encounter as your daily mission), He will take care of your needs. He's got this. So why then are we so often living as if WE'VE got this? Why is life all about having it taken care of and lined up?! Isn't there something in you that deep down wants to bubble over? Something that is silently screaming in your own ears that you were made for more than this?! 
That's because you WERE! 

Let's take this day to begin something beautiful. Let's each do whatever is needed-TODAY-to begin the journey of rising up to be something different. Something unique and brilliant. The blazing hope and answer for those who need it. The powerful-and quite literal- royal sons and daughters of a very real and living King. Sons and Daughters who've been given the incredible authority to do unbelievably powerful things. No more excuses. No more waiting for someone else around us to do it first or even join us. Let's just go. Let's rebel against that around us. Let's be the difference. 

It starts where we are. Being open and willing. 
The most amazing part? 
Choosing this way of life ends up being a much more wild ride than anything we could dream up ourselves, anyway. It's truly a win-win.

2014......let the adventures begin!