Friday, August 21, 2009

A Week of Dealing With Loss

Last Sunday morning I had the privilege of teaching the large group lesson to our high school students at church. We are teaching through the book, "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. The chapter we discussed was based on James 4 and how our life is like a vapor. While we boast and brag about our plans and what we will do, James reminds us that we never know what each day will bring. Those verses became more than just a teaching lesson this week. They became my life.

Tuesday morning our office had volunteers at the BGCO helping us stuff 600 packets for our upcoming SWEET Saturday event. (We are thrilled that so many women will be coming for this day of leadership development) In the midst of finding boxes, my assistant received a call from one of our state leadership team members. Another team member who lives in Woodward unexpectedly lost her husband the night before. Our hearts sank as we grieved for Judy. Little did she know that she would say goodbye to Brad that morning and not see him again. We are mourning today with Judy and her sons as they say goodbye to their Godly husband and dad. Yes, our life is like a vapor.

On Wednesday, I experienced another loss. I woke up that morning to turn on my computer and it wasn't starting. After taking it to the local Apple store, I was told that my hard drive had crashed and would need to be replaced. While it can be fixed, my stomach turned when I realized that I have the last three years of family photos on that hard drive that are not backed up. While I did not lose a family member, I feel like I've lost some precious family moments. I'm praying that I won't have to mortgage my home to retrieve some of the data. The verdict is still out on that one.

Thursday, I experienced another loss. Maybe "loss" isn't the right word--but a life transition. My husband and I took our first born to Norman and moved him into the dorm. While I know every mom does make it through this ordeal, I can't help by consider the loss of not having Conner in his bed every night and not seeing him at the dinner table. While he is doing cartwheels at the University of Oklahoma and enjoying his new freedom, there is a twinge of loss we are feeling in our family. I can't imagine what you moms go through that send your children overseas. I'll just take one step at a time!

So, what have I learned this week? First, in the midst of any loss, we must trust God. If we live our lives in fear and worry, then we are basically living in disobedience. I will remember Philippians 4:4,6 daily.

Second, our lives have one focus and that is to bring glory to God. While we are only here on earth for a short time, let's make our lives point to Him.

Finally, we do need to live as if we might meet Jesus today. The reality is that some day all of us will face God and give an account for our life. Do we play it safe and not live fully for God? What have we risked today so that others would hear the Gospel. Are you ready?

James 4:14 "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Issue We Don't Want to Talk About

God's timing has always been an amazing mystery to me. Whether it has been the timing of a job, the gift of finding a husband, or preparing my heart for ministry, I love the way He goes before me and puts things in motion.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I had read the book "Starving Jesus" this summer and wondered how God was going to use that in my life and in my ministry. After today, I think I'm beginning to get a glimpse of where God is taking not only me, but Christian women in Oklahoma and in our nation.

Two weeks ago I sat with Diane Daniels from national WMU and we talked about the national emphasis that will begin in 2010. It's not an easy subject, but it's very real. The subject is human trafficking and human exploitation. Last week I met Debra Epps, the Site Coordinator for a new Christian Women's Job Corp in Muskogee. They will be mentoring women who are struggling for hope in the midst of many issues. Today I was privileged to sit among a group of women who make my ministry look wimpy. It was an FBI task force that is working in conjunction with Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans (OATH). Many of these women work with the justice system, the Salvation Army, United Way and the YWCA. There was one church represented and I was the only representative from a faith based organization.

I don't think it's a coincidence that all three of these conversations happened within two weeks. I believe God is orchestrating something much bigger.

The reality of domestic human trafficking is shocking. Let me share a few statistics with you:

1. Oklahoma is number one in the nation of women per capita who are in prison.
2. Seventy five percent of the women in our prisons have experienced abuse.
3. Oklahoma is number four in the nation of women being murdered by men.
4. Oklahoma is number one in child abuse. This leads to teenage pregnancies, teen prostitution and a myriad of other issues.
5. Currently the FBI has 100 open cases of child abuse in the Oklahoma City area.
6. Eighty (80) percent of human trafficking cases involve teenage girls.
7. It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 children in the United States who are being trafficked. (some estimates put this number at 300,000)
8. The average age for a girl to be involved in teen prostitution is between 12-14 years of age.

Mark Elam, the Director for OATH, shared a national video with all of us that gave us a short picture of what is happening. Can I tell you how my heart sank when the first image was shot at a truck stop right here in Oklahoma City? That's right--Oklahoma City! Because of our interstate crossroads of I-40 and I-35, our metro area is ripe for human trafficking and teen prostitution.

While this is a difficult subject and it is so complex, I have to tell you that I literally felt ill at my stomach during this meeting. What I heard was that there are no easy answers and there is little education. People just don't know what is happening.

So what are we supposed to do? What am I supposed to do? How do I encourage women to embrace and echo God's heart for the world and challenge them to get their feet dirty?

First, we need to educate women in our state about this issue. You can bet that you are going to hear much more from me on this subject and enlightening women to what is happening in our state. I plan to invite Mark to our next state leadership team and begin the process of helping women understand this issue. We must not be silent any more!

Second, as women of faith, we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we must look for practical ways to meet the needs. Whether it's housing for victims, Celebrate Recovery programs, life skills education or even self defense classes, women in the church must pray about how they can be the hands and feet of Christ.

Third, I'm grateful for what is already happening in our state. Dayspring Villa in Tulsa, House of Healing in Oklahoma City, Christian Women's Job Corps, Free at Last ministries, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Hope Pregnancy Centers and many others are already in the fight. Will you support them with your prayers? Will you financially support these ministries? Will you be a volunteer? If you need help connecting, contact our office. There's opportunities for you and your women's group to get involved.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

I get to spend quite a bit of time traveling Oklahoma highways and turnpikes. It's all part of the job and I actually enjoy meeting new people and seeing how churches are impacting their communities for the Kingdom of God. Today I got to see two very different examples.

I left Oklahoma City among thunder and rain around 8 a.m. and headed towards Tulsa with Paula Adams. Paula is on my state leadership team and just happens to be the wife of my team leader. While most of my trips are made Lone Ranger, Paula got to be Tonto today and I was grateful!

First stop--Old Time Pottery in Broken Arrow. I know that doesn't sound like a place for ministry, but it was a necessary stop to purchase 220 ceramic plates for our upcoming Ministry Wives Weekend October 2-3. All of the participants are going to have time to make a special plate for their family during the weekend. Paula and I just looked a little crazy with four shopping carts of white plates!

After making our purchase, we headed towards FBC, Broken Arrow, to meet other women's ministry leaders who are partners in bringing the You and Your Girl event to the Tulsa area on Saturday, September 12. LifeWay Christian Resources sponsors the event which features author and speaker Vicki Courtney. If you are the mom of a tween or teen, this is a great opportunity for you to spend a quality day with your daughter and have solid teaching spoken to you and to her. I was especially encouraged to watch a music video by the worship leaders for this event. The duo is called Sonflowers and I really like their song "Legacy" (not the one you are probably familiar with) Congrats to Kelly Boudreau who is also on my leadership team for organizing the luncheon and being the city coordinator for this event.

Following the luncheon, Paula and I made our way to Muskogee where we meet Debra, the site coordinator for Oklahoma's first Christian Women's Job Corps site. They have spent two years in preparation and are about to "take off" and receive participants in this program. CWJC sites help women in mentoring situations that offer hope and a future through Biblical instruction and practical job preparation. They are going to meet at Central Baptist, an older church who has graciously opened their doors and given them space to meet and office. I can't tell you how pumped I am about this new missional opportunity for women. Please pray for them and find out how you can volunteer or support their work.

Two cities. Two churches. Two very different methods. One crucial mission. While looking at each from the outside, you would think they are night and day. But each has a heart for reaching women with the Gospel of Christ and providing eternal hope. It was a good day on the road.