Posts tagged #Fear

a holy violence

If we are engaged with the world around us, we will care about that world. We will be passionate about people's needs, our holiness, and God's glory. We will not be still in prayer. We will cry out for mercy with a holy violence. If we are silent, it will be because in our distress, words have failed us.- Tim Chester, Total Church

When I stepped off that plane ten years ago, I had no idea the impact Haiti would have on my conscience. This country, very much in survival mode, changed me and broke me in ways I still have problems describing. I mean, how can you accurately portray the splitting open of a worldview? How can you sufficiently give words to bloated bellies and tiny fingered vice-grips on your arm? So many times I would just stand there in silence. The red dirt beneath my feet, the sweat dripping down my face, the kids yelling and screaming and playing around me. I would stand there and feel the tearing open - the fissure - and I knew I would never be the same.

I'm faced with the same realization now. Days away from Africa, I already feel the breaking. Watching the rain outside my window, I wait for the words to come. At times, it feels I'm grasping at the air - coming up empty just when I feel the itch to get to the keyboard or my journal. I know this trip will change me. I know because it's already working in me - tearing at my securities and comfort.

But I don't want to forget about the here.

I look out my window and realize this holy violence cutting away the dead pieces inside reacts no differently in Austin than it does in Kibera. It sees the poverty. It sees the negative assumptions. It sees the expectations of failure and hopelessness. And it burns for release - for justice.

I just haven't found the words.

Posted on June 9, 2010 and filed under africa, reagan2kibera.

prone to wander

when i was younger, my family had a pool. it wasn't fancy - one of those above ground barely over four feet deep kinda pools. but some of my sweetest memories of my father are in that pool. every weekend we spent swimming together as a family - my mom perched on a float, her legs dangling over the edge of the pool, her middle swollen with child and her arms blocking the sun from her face. my sister and i swimming laps and racing and jumping and splashing - sometimes we felt more comfortable under water than above.

but my favorite thing - the thing that would make my heart jump and squeal - would be standing on the edge of the fuzzy deck, waiting for my dad to give me the signal. i'd close my eyes, count to ten, and ignoring the rush of butterflies let loose in my stomach, i'd jump.

i'd jump because i know he was there.

but wait. there's something important here. let me see if i can paint this picture accurately for you because i don't want you to miss it. there's me - on the deck - knees knocking together with excitement and quiet giggles escaping my mouth. there's my father - hands stretched out towards me - beckoning me to trust and take the leap. he never once told me he'd catch me, and most times i'd end up touching the bottom of the pool before resurfacing - but i always ended up in his arms. he always reached down and grabbed me from the water, lifting me above his head and pulling me close to his chest. always.

and this was my favorite part.

is it any wonder i have a hard time taking leaps of faith now? is it any wonder, in my own limits of who God is and what he can do through me, i cling to safety and protection and comfort?

i remember the thrill of the leap. i remember the rush of crashing into the water only to have my daddy rescue me - pulling me to safety in his arms. i remember laughing while sputtering and clearing the hair from my eyes, begging for him to do it again. i would anxiously await my turn for another chance to jump in feet first.

i don't know if i can say that about me now. i know i too often look the other way. i know too often i find the stairs and walk in the water that way - slowly, gingerly, preparing my body for the cold in a way that breeds comfort.  sometimes  i just stick my feet in, barely getting them wet, and then move on my way - too distracted and busy to really get deep.

i think He's calling. i can hear Him in the distance - crying out for me to trust Him - reminding me He is always there. even if i don't have floaties to keep my head above water, He will always pull me to safety.

The safety of His arms.


Are you needing to jump in deep with me? May we never be too comfortable to jump to our Father's arms.

Posted on April 12, 2010 .

cheaper than leather shoes

She glances at the man out of the corner of her eye and quickly wipes the stray tear inching down her cheek. Her body aches. With a resigned sigh, she crosses her legs and pulls her jacket closer to her skin. What’s underneath would hardly count for clothing, and she silently hopes she won’t be sent to the streets this evening. The man leaning against the wall taking in his surroundings catches her eye and smiles. Her heart sinks and she braces inwardly for him to come over. “How much for a massage from this one?” he asks, pointing at her with a foreign glint in his eye.

The shop owner glances behind him, following the man’s gaze. Looking the girl up and down, he shrugs. “Twenty. Good price. She’s new here…” catching the man’s eye he whispers just out of earshot, “pretty inexperienced.”

The man’s smile stretches in unnatural ways – barely meeting his eyes. She sees the exchange – his hands shaking as he hands the small wad of bills to the owner. Hiding her grimace, she straightens her back and steels herself against the pounding of her heart. Her friend sitting next to her grabs her hand and gives it a squeeze, tracing her palm with her pinky. Their secret message: hold on. rescue is coming. this nightmare will end. hold on.

Closing her eyes, she breathes deep his scent as he walks up to her. She studies his shoes for awhile. Leather. Expensive. A small scratch on the right foot – almost as if he ran into a twig while running. She refuses the realization he probably paid more for his shoes than he did for a short session with her. His hand wrap around her small arm and she winces at the strength. Her pulse becomes erratic and she lifts up a silent prayer, hoping someone is listening. Please let this be a dream. Please let the pain end.

Someone is listening, right?

The man with the scuffed leather shoes walks heavily into a side room and shoves her into the corner. She stumbles, struggling for footing before collapsing on the makeshift bed. His breathing grows ragged and the slow whoosh of a belt slaps against the straps as it comes undone. She focuses on his shoes, strewn carelessly across the room. The pain comes and she fights for breath under his weight, but she’s in another place. There’s mud on his shoes but something catches her eye. There. In the middle of mud – almost buried by grime – a small flower radiates with color.

Life in the middle of death. Beauty in the middle of devastation. Hope in the middle of despair.

A tiny tear slips unnoticed and she feels a sharp pain as the man slaps her – his ring digging into her cheek.

“Stop crying you whore. You want something to cry about? I’ll show you.”

Her heart threatens the protection of her ribcage – with a cry she begins to fight. Kicking. Screaming. Biting. As long as she’s breathing she will hold on to her humanity. Her innocence. She will not let go. The pain inches its way to every part of who she is but every space of life battles for survival. Her tiny fingers wrap themselves in his hair, pulling the strands from his scalp in small clusters. Her little feet beat rhythms against his legs, creating bruises he’ll have to explain away. For a split second, she thinks she may have won. His weight shifts and she watches as he gets up and turns away, rummaging through his pockets. Her eyes widen and her head starts shaking vehemently, pleading for mercy. He grabs her ankles and wrists, tying them with a rope. The fibers cut into her skin and all hope, all life, all beauty shrinks away. She is no match for his brute force, his laughter reveals this is just a game to him.

She loses strength and collapses against the sheets, pulling herself as far away from him as possible. She will smell his scent forever. She will wake from nightmares with his face inches from hers. She will never get away from his taste. She will never hide from his force.

She is his captive. She lays there. Lifeless. Forgotten. Invisible.

Finally, the man finishes, grunting with satisfaction. Broken again by a man she doesn’t know. she fights the rage, lacking the energy to act out on her impulses. She reacts the only way she knows how. She waits and hopes.

He puts on his leather shoes, the weight of his steps now matching his physical force. Walking over to where she still lay motionless, his eyebrows sink in confusion. She’s hidden her face against the pillow, her shoulders still quivering from the sobs she held back during the session. He places a timid hand on her arm and she turns to look him square in the eyes. It’s the first time she’s forced him to look at her – truly see her. She waits.

One second. He sees life and hopes and dreams. Two seconds. He sees despair and pain and hopelessness. Three seconds. He sees peace and acceptance and waiting. Four seconds. He sees beauty out of ashes and restoration out of destruction.

His destruction.

The man jumps back, his breath skipping a beat before turning and running out of the room. She follows him with her gaze, and only when his steps become distant does she allow herself the dignity of mourning.

Every 60 seconds, 2 children are trafficked into commercial sex exploitation. Over 100,000 US children are forced into pornography or prostitution each year. You can help. Check out She Dances or Love146 for more information on how you can make experiences like this history. Also: Check out Anne Jackson's blog as she exposes this darkness in Moldova and Russia. Her stories will haunt you.

the power of fear

Fear will suffocate you.

I said this to Devonte and Nijalon the other day at our first meeting. Of course, I was speaking in terms of writing - fear of rejection, fear of going blank, fear of not being good enough. But it rolls deep, this fear.

We talked about how fear can paralyze you so completely, you don't ever achieve your dreams. The little whisper you hear telling you to make the jump or take a step is overrun by the blindingly familiar shout of fear. And as I spoke this, as I looked in their eyes and encouraged them to take the sheet of paper stating what was keeping them from their dreams as writers and storytellers and destroy it, I silently prayed the truth would sink into their hearts.

Because I know what it's like to buy into the lies.

It's been three months since I've pulled out my novel to write. At first, it was to allow myself some space. Writing about human trafficking is tough - and thanks to some incredible friends and an amazing husband - I knew when to back off and take a breath. Weeping at the keyboard usually doesn't equal emotional stability, you know?

But, it's been three months.

As I sat and listened to the dreams of these two high school kids, slowly mine began to resurface. Words began to dance around in my head and scenes began to form themselves.  There's no way I'm going to let 65,000 words go to waste.

So, I'm going to start writing again. Along with a few other things I've let fall to the wayside, I'm restructuring my priorities and editing my goals.

Might as well start now...

oh - and the dreams of these kids? inspiring. devonte wants to write novels using his background as the foundation for his stories. he also wants to develop a mentoring program for inner-city kids to get them to open up through writing. um...yes. beautiful.

Posted on March 18, 2010 and filed under story.

being joshua and caleb in a no name world

let me introduce you to some friends of mine. i met some of the most incredible teenagers tonight. and it's not because of their attendance or their grades or their achievements in sports. it's because of their faith.

in the fall, these kids were introduced to Kibera, Kenya through a video created by their teacher during her trip last summer. they fell in love with their peers thousands of miles away and mentioned the idea of actually answering the call and going to help.

an idea turned into action because of these kids' faith.

these kids truly are Joshuas and Calebs in a no-name world. in a world where people will most likely look at them like they're crazy, they are standing tall. in a world where most kids their age save money for a new car or prom tickets or the latest fashions, these kids are brainstorming ways to get to Africa - because they want to help others.

they know love conquers all, and they are taking a risk. a risk so many adults would hesitate to take.

but, no one tells your story better than you - so i'll let you see (and hear) for yourself.


Posted on March 8, 2010 and filed under africa, story.