Enjoying People

Over the last week, it’s been fun to be around LOADS of sexworkers in Bangledesh, nice church folk in America, random & fascinating travel peeps & best of all, my family. And I enjoyed each exchange & interaction. 

Were some people cranky?  Yes

Were some people strange? Yes

Were some people brilliant? Definitely 

Were some people hurting? Absolutely 

Were some people broken? Everyone 

And I’m so grateful that God is teaching & helping me to both enjoy & love people, full stop. Sometimes I do this better than others, to be sure. And it’s immensely helpful just to relax, smile & enjoy people no matter what!

Against the Grain

“We aren’t doing that!”  This morning, I read in Exodus about the Egyptian midwives who didn’t follow Pharoah’s command to kill all baby boys born to Hebrew moms.  They ran against the grain & took a risk when they didn’t comply.  Because they didn’t obey Pharaoh with his command, God blessed these midwives greatly!

I find the behaviors of these midwives to be very interesting:  they aligned themselves with a nation to whom they didn’t belong, they protected the most vulnerable, they were advocates of life and they found a “convenient reason” to explain their non-compliance to Pharaoh.

Sometimes we need to run against the grain of what’s popular around us to live as advocates & examples of genuine love!  🙂

When There’s Opposition

“You can’t do that!”  “That’s ridiculous & never been done before.”  “We aren’t interested in that kind of thing here.”  “NO!!!”

I’m in Bangledesh sitting with our Saving Moses nightcare team, comprised of nannies, administrative support, guards & assistants. This team looks after babies & toddlers every night while their moms work in the adjacent brothel. When I came to this area last year to present my idea for nightcare, I already had many years experience where people told me all the things I listed at the beginning of this blog & even more. Thankfully, the people in Bangledesh weren’t opposed to my idea, although definitely surprised. And today, I’m abundantly fulfilled to sit with this wonderful team – grateful for each of them & believing in nightcare!

So when you face opposition, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:

  • See the goal – this helps to stay focused 
  • Take a step toward the goal, no matter how small
  • Be creative – there’s more than one way to achieve a goal
  • Failure is learning rather than defeat
  • Encourage someone else – it helps to keep your heart joyful

Deeply Rewarding

It’s 5:30pm here in Bangledesh & I’m listening to happy little voices singing & chattering in the room behind me. So everything in me is smiling & deeply fulfilled. 

Last year, I came to Bangledesh four times & we worked really hard to open nightcare for the largest brothel in this country. Tonight, I’m sitting in our nightcare center & enjoying the sights & sounds of our firsts nightcare in this country. Nightcare is one of the things Saving Moses does, where we look after the babies & toddlers of sexworkers while they work. Without our center, 80% of these kids would be on the bed with their mom as she works. 

And this is the nature of nightcare – it’s deeply rewarding & painfully tragic, a roller coaster of rich satisfaction & abysmal horror. 

And tonight I’m celebrating progress & the power of genuine love. 

Daily Living

I’m in Bangledesh with Saving Moses. I love to watch the people here & reflect on their daily living. I see shopkeepers, garment factory workers, kids walking to school, brick makers, farmers, etc. There are lots of differences here in the daily living with what is familiar to us in America. 

As humans, however, there’s lots of commonality that we’d be wise to acknowledge. No matter the differences, let’s remember some helpful things:

  • Respect: being respectful of differences helps us learn & know people
  • Compassion: the road each person travels has unique struggles
  • Learning: new experiences can facilitate some incredible insights

At the core of these three things is an internal perspective that we can cultivate. When we lack these things, then it’s helpful to take an internal inventory to consider why something is missing. Selah 🙂

A Different World

Hello from Dhaka Bangledesh! Clearly, Dhaka is a very different place than my home city, Denver. 

Also, I’m continually astounded by the things I hear & see here in relation to the babies & toddlers of sex workers.  And I’m all the more astounded when I learn about the difficulties that floating sex workers have in particular when they work & looking after their babies & toddlers. 

A floating sex worker in Bangledesh does not have a permanent brothel & has many dangers they navigate daily. Such dangers include having their baby / toddler stolen & sold in a market for a minimum of $50 – an atrocity that unravels even the most hardened sex worker. 

While there are some organizations that help the moms, there is no assistance for their babies / toddlers. And that’s why Saving Moses is here today & we are making some headway to open nightcare for the babies & toddlers of these floating sex workers.  We are very serious about Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 to look after the least of these & I see the least of these, being the babies & toddlers of floating sex workers. 

Show Up

Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid. 

Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:

  • Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
  • Deep breath:  this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
  • Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
  • Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!

Imagine THAT!!!

Some days I imagine that I’m an incredible basketball player. I can see myself stealing the ball, being really agile & shooting the lights out on 3 pointers. But alas, I know full well that such a fantasy could only be realized in heaven.
On this side of heaven, I also like to imagine what it would be like to have babies & toddlers out of harms way at nighttime while their moms work in 3rd world countries, as sex workers. This imagination has led to our expression of genuine love with nightcare. I imagined nightcare around 7 years ago & started exploring this possibility. I found that no one had ever heard off this idea but everyone with whom I talked thought it was a MAGNIFICENT idea!! Seven years later, Saving Moses has 6 nightcare centers with over 100 babies & toddlers out of harms way while their moms work. And we are continuing to expand.
Let’s imagine good things in the world around us & then start taking steps to make our imagination into a reality!!!
Imagine THAT!!!!!

Sent from my iPhone

Proximity Alert

It’s getting colder & the days are getting shorter as we begin to move towards Winter.  In the southern hemisphere, they’re approaching Summer and it’s getting warmer there & the days are longer.  So it depends on your location on our planet, in approximation to the sun, whether you’re getting warmer or colder, more or less light. By default, heat & light also have a direct impact on how much life there is.  Where there is less light & more cold, life is less abundant.

Let’s make the same parallel for Jesus, God’s Son.  When we revolve our lives closely around the Son, we have more light, greater warmth & consequentially, more life.  We can also consider that perhaps there are some areas in our lives that need to be around Jesus more – particularly if we recognize the absence of light, warmth & life.  Jesus says that He’s come to give us life & life more abundantly – so let’s stay close to Jesus in every area of our lives!

Trusting God

How can I get this done? Where will I get the time for that?  How should I use this money or talent that I have?  Have you asked God these questions?  Often, such questions are anchored in the requirement to trust God

And sometimes trusting God can be both challenging & frustrating!  I’m in Cambodia for a super quick trip.  This morning I was trying to figure out all of the moving parts for today, since my flight leaves tonight.  I couldn’t make everything I needed to accomplish today, fit into a schedule. So I decided to trust God when I left the hotel this morning & I’m pleasantly surprised at how well God has put together this day!!

Trusting God can be a daily & even an hourly discipline, based on Proverbs 22:19.  And this trust is an essential ingredient to a closer walk with God!

Changing Times

Presently, I’m in Cambodia & yesterday I was in Dubai.  Tomorrow, I fly back to Denver so I’m changing lots of time zones.  I’m hopeful that I’m not a babbling idiot as I interact with various folk, since my sleep is a little bit whacky.  It’s understandable because Dubai is 10 hours ahead of Denver, Cambodia is 13 hours ahead of Denver & Friday I’ll be back in Denver – so I’m going around the world in 7days.  This means lots of geography changes & navigating time zones.

And times are changing around the world.  In the US, the generational shifts are obvious & sometimes difficult for adjusting. Furthermore, time seems to change as we age – maybe it speeds up?  Here are some ideas that might be helpful for changing times:

  • be present today:  yesterday is over & tomorrow isn’t here; so now is a wonderful place to reside
  • trust that our times are in God’s hands, based on Ps 31:15
  • time is irreplacable so let’s be intentional about how & where we invest our time
  • let genuine love be our top priority regardless of how the times & people are changing!

In the Future

I just finished a few days in Dubai & it’s very impressive what has been accomplished there in a few decades. Before 1970, the area was a small fishing village & the people there worked hard to squeak out a living in place with abundant heat, sun & sand but not much else. A leader in the area, Sheikh Zayed, had vision for the future that would use the discovery of oil to position this region for abundance, modern developments & opportunity. Today, the United Arab Emirates is highly developed & very impressive. 

When we consider what is around us & what the future could be, let’s do some important things:

  1. Trust that God is in control 
  2. See possibilities & not just obstacles
  3. Love well today

Doing Difficult

What is difficult for you to do?  Do you struggle with self control on various things like eating, sleeping, Netflix or something like that?  Is it difficult for you to engage with people or do time alone?  All of us have things that are difficult to do. And sometimes we just flat out don’t do what’s difficult even though we know we should. 

Here’s some help, possibly, to do difficult:

  • Start w what’s most difficult & finish with what’s easiest. This can help you keep going
  • Coach the mental game – recognize that your thoughts play a role in doing what’s difficult
  • Pray for Heavenly Help – Holy Spirit helps us do difficult things
  • Celebrate progress & not just completion 🙂

Here’s to doing difficult stuff!

What is Wisdom?

There’s lots of stuff in the Bible about wisdom, even a whole book, Proverbs, that’s devoted to the topic.  It’s also mentioned in the NT a fair amount, like in James 1, where it says that we should ask for wisdom.  So given the frequency of this topic, perhaps it would be helpful to think about what it is, along with what it is not.

In the “wisdom is not” column, here are some things to remember.  Wisdom is not:

  • merely information;  facts, formulas, information and details
  • advanced degrees, memorization or books read

In the other column that defines wisdom, based on the Bible, here’s what we can say.  Wisdom is:

  • grounded in “fearing God”;  this means that having a healthy and robust respect for God in our lives is the pathway to facilitating wisdom
  • discerning the times and seasons in our lives
  • appreciating what is appropriate and helpful in various situations and events
  • recognizing when to speak and when to listen

Lets always be ready to get more wisdom & let wisdom be active in our daily living!

What’s Enough?

I go through seasons in my life where everything seems manageable.  This means that I have a balance with my workload, time, responsibilities, family stuff, travel, etc.  And then I go through seasons that seem very unbalanced:  too much work, not enough time, overwhelming responsibilities, unresolved family challenges and maybe a host of other hotspots.  So in these seasons, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m drowning and I can’t manage everything – there’s not enough of me to adequately match everything that’s being demanded or required.

In these seasons, it helps me to focus on what’s immediately in front of me and taking one day at a time.  Indeed, I don’t have the resources, wisdom, energy or wherewithall to get very far into the future and it can overwhelm  me when I try.  Maybe this is why God did the manna thing for Israel, giving adequate supply of bread for each day.  This forced the Israelites to trust God on a daily basis and this is a helpful mindset that we can also choose for today.  Let’s thank God for giving us daily provisions, adequate for each day 🙂

Broken Stuff

My phone is broken so it’s difficult to type the letters “c” & “r”.  So whenever I text or post something with these letters, it can be a spelling disaster & I look like I’m illiterate. And it’s abundantly frustrating!!  I’ve done the updates & tried to troubleshoot & fix this but to no avail. I think something is broken inside my phone. 

And when stuff is broken inside, it’s obvious on the outside. This also holds true for our human existence. When people act whacky, let’s be aware that this often reflects something broken on the inside. Compassion, truth, genuine love & grace are helpful salve to heal & redeem what’s broken inside others as well as ourselves 🙂

Do The Work :)

Welcome to Monday, the start of a work week for some of us, or the start of a school week for those who are students.  Wherever you find yourself on this day, there are things in front of you and me that we need to do.  Maybe you need to work on a school assignment, write a paper or study for a test.  Maybe you need to write some emails, craft a proposal, flip a hamburger, wash a toilet, load the dishwasher, drive to a soccer practice, grade some papers, manage a project, crunch some numbers, etc.  No matter what, all of us have stuff we need to do today – do the work.

And this is part of God’s design for each of us.  You and I are uniquely designed to participate in and accomplish things.  How we do such work is the real issue, even more than what we do.  So here are some helpful ideas about how we do our work:

  • work as unto the Lord and not to man – Colossians 3:23
  • keep a grateful heart – 1Thessalonians 5:18
  • stayed focused and eliminate distractions – Proverbs 4:25
  • maintain genuine love – 1Corinthians 16:14

Shock Value

There are many things that can be shocking, such as a precipitous drop in the stock market, unexpected news from a relative and sometimes, God does stuff that’s shocking.  It seems to me that most of us don’t like stuff that’s shocking, such that we stay away from this kind of thing or we insulate ourselves, to minimize the exposure.

And yet, sometimes, things that are shocking can help us to get out of a rut.  For example, I think Jesus was very shocking to the religious establishment in His day.  Indeed, He challenged not only their assumptions and traditions, but also their practices and daily interactions:

  • He ate with sinners.
  • He associated with tax collectors.
  • He kept company with the irresuptable.

All of these actions of Jesus were very shocking to various upstanding citizens.  And yet what is more importance than the shock value, is the reality that Jesus did all of these “crazy things”, from the premise and core motivation of genuine love.  Sometimes, genuine love is the essence of shock value 🙂

Have a happy weekend!

Hair Dye

I’m writing this post, sitting outside of my hair salon with foils in my hair, looking semi-chic 🙂

And of course, I get some odd looks, people thinking I’m the reincarnated character from “My Favorite Martian”.  But alas, it’s just the normal hair dye appointment, where the grey gets covered over & I maintain the look that says I’m at least 10 years than my birthdate would confirm.

And whatever we may look like on the outside isn’t as important as the decisions we make on the inside.  Our internal thoughts, emotions, values, decisions and perspective are loads more important than the external image.  It’s in my thinking processes where I:

  • make decisions to be generous,
  • decide to act from various insecurities,
  • consider how another may be affected by my words / actions
  • choose to be afraid or choose to be constructive

So no matter how we look on the outside, let’s be certain we make internal decisions to be generous & loving people.  What’s on the inside is what will often regulate what happens on the outside 🙂

Those Yucky People

“Why is He eating & drinking with sinners and tax collectors?”  This is what the scribes of the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples in Mark 2:16, when Jesus got all cozy with these less than upright scum.  The tax collectors and sinners were considered “yucky people” by the religious leaders and zealots of Jesus’ day.  So no wonder they questioned Jesus’ decision to not only associate, but also get cozy with such reprobates.

And I’m so thankful for His reply in Mark 2:17, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick;  I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Thankfully, Jesus has never required us to get everything clean and pristine in our lives before He would hang out with us.  Not only does He accept us as we are, but He makes us better because of His genuine love for us.  In the same way, let’s be certain that no one in our lives gets the “yucky” treatment, being ostracized, belittled or shamed.  Indeed, Jesus loves us and wants to love through us!