Saturday, March 16, 2013

Traffick Jam 2013!!!

If you’ve been following our family for almost any time at all, you know that we had a different life last year.  We lived among the broken. We tried to shine our lights in a place filled with much darkness. We listened as people shared their tragic stories. We hurt with them. We cried with them. We longed for a better future for them.

Yet, in the blackness, we saw hope, too. 

 We were able to give human trafficking a face. Dozens of them. As my kids and I visited Hard Places week after week, the statistics became little eyes full of beauty and wonder and little arms that gave the grandest hugs. Children whose lives had been harder than you or I can fathom, but who smiled when they walked in the doors of Hard Places. They weren’t numbers to me anymore, and I still see their faces when I close my eyes. I see them smiling, happy, full of wonder, and hopeful for a better future.

I miss them like crazy.

Jack with some of the boys, all speaking to him in Khmer, hence the confused face

The staff at Hard Places is amazing. They are Christian men and women living in a Buddhist culture, witnessing the evidence of sexual sin at its worst on a daily basis. They love the children who enter their doors at the boys’ center, and now, a girls’ center, too. These are street children who have known no life but manual work and poverty. CHILDREN. At night, most were sold by their parents, a sibling, or a relative, to predators, where they were exploited and then sent back home in the morning. Once Hard Places opened, though, the kids were able to find a safe place to play, to learn some English, to hear God’s Word, and to find true love through the ministry of these dear people. Now, they have over 70 children at the boys’ center alone! The new girls’ center is up and running, and girls are excited to run to the open doors each day. 

Oh, goodness, did I mention I miss those kids?  I crazy miss those sweet kids!

Boys playing at the center 

And since I can’t go back right now, I wanted to find other ways to help. It’s a small nonprofit organization, so they don’t have access to the big fundraising opportunities some larger orgs do, and they don’t waste money on those things either. Instead, each year they host a nation-wide Traffick Jam Walk-a-Thon.  It’s on April 6 and cities all over the USA join together to walk 10 miles for these kids, each walker earning $10 per mile. I am honored to join in this year! I noticed they haven’t ever had a Texas city before, so I tried to follow God's will, step up to the challenge, and host a walk in Houston!

I was planning a huge event. I was thinking we’d fill up Reliant Stadium with thousands of people, shoot a gun to signal start, and everyone would happily walk (or run, but I said happily...) 10 miles before we had a big party at the end with fireworks going off and cheers and a whole array of Texas BBQ trucks to fill up our hungry bellies.  Not to mention the 16 tv crews that would arrive to hear about this great organization and help the kids!
But I’m new here. I don’t know anyone here. I had trouble getting a big sponsor due to the shorter notice and already planned events.

Um, maybe next year?  Maybe next year we can have fireworks and BBQ and news coverage?  Maybe?

My imagination ran wild but my heart was in the right place. I wanted to raise as much as I could for these precious children and the organization saving their precious little unfair lives.  

So I’m still going to walk.

I’m going to walk 10 miles, and I’m going to be thinking of those sweet faces and little hands I held so many times for the whole walk. My whole family is going to walk with me, too.

Go Traffick Jam 2013!

Will you walk with us?  

You can sign up at for a walk near you, or if you are in Houston, contact me to register and get your fundraising packet!  Each walker raises $10 per mile, plus a $10 registration fee.  Shirts are also available to anyone interested!  Check this other website to order the 2013 shirt in 3 colors.

Better yet, will you give?

We need sponsors for our walk
.  They ask that we earn $10 per mile, totaling $100 per walker (for our family of four).  But I’m a dreamer, remember, and I want the fireworks to go off, even if just in my head, so let's raise even more.  Way more!  Will you sponsor us?

1) handing me cash in an envelope marked Traffick Jam
2) mailing a check (received by Apr 6) written to I.O.M. (International Outreach Ministries) with Traffick Jam Houston in the memo line. Contact me for the mailing address.
3) Or, go to the site and give here by clicking on “donate” on the right side.

You don’t have to tell me you gave, but it would be fun to total up the “Houston Traffick Jam” totals, so we can celebrate together.

I love everyone who reads this, because it means you care about these children, too. 

They are real.  Not statistics.  They have sweet faces and big hearts.  They need our help. 

And I miss them like crazy.

Photo courtesy of The Hard Places Community Facebook Page

So, thank you. 
Thank you for reading. 
Thank you for walking. 
Thank you for giving. 
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for being Jesus to the least of these.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Our Cross Country Trip

I just noticed that my last post was about all my BFFs and how grateful I am for them.  Well, actually it was about how we are all God’s favorite (which is pretty awesome, right?) but I did mention that I had a best friend in almost every state. 

And this last week I got to see many (but not enough!) of them!

There’s not much better than spending an evening on the couch of a friend after driving all day with two kids.  Chatting with a loved one, late into the evening like no time has passed, makes my night better and my sleep more peaceful.  And, I’m not really sure I like any kind of coffee better than the kind that comes with a BFF to sit next to and drink it.  Whew.  What a week!

Dressed up for bat mitzvah
The family was going up to New Jersey for a few days for my sweet Jewish niece’s bat-mitzvah.  I can’t believe the little girl who carried flowers in my wedding is now a 13 year old, intelligent, loving, beautiful young woman!  I hope she knows how much I love her!

Anyway, we all drove up for that but then the hubby flew home and it was me as solo parent as we drove home.  For 1782 miles.  Fun.

It actually was fun, but I think that’s only because every stop brought us all new friends and a million memories. Some days we drove two hours, others 12. But all in all, we stopped 6 times. It was supposed to be 7 but a wicked snow storm changed our course. Sorry we missed you, Jamie! You definitely do not have any competition for my best friend in Tennessee and I missed you terribly! 

Oh, it was wonderful. Friends are the best medicine for any of life’s twists and turns. Well, Christian friends who remind you of how great God is, that is. He’s the best physician for anything, but I like it when He gives me time with friends to make me whole!

Here are some silly stats from the looooooong road trip with a 4 and 6 year old:

Question heard most:  “Are we almost to Graham and Evan’s house?” (our almost LAST stop and it started on day 1, hour 1!)

Funniest moment:  Getting stuck on the road in traffic next to a really dead skunk and giggling about who was making that smell.  We laughed so hard we cried!

Best idea:  (mine!)  Letting the kids jump on the hotel beds and mess up the covers and fly across one bed to the other.  Hey, they had to get the wiggles out somehow!

Sweetest brotherly moment:  Parker says he wants to be an underwater archaeologist when he grows up and Jack cries, saying “But when you grow up, I want to be with you, and I don’t want to be that!  Can we be what we want together?  I never want to be away from you!”   Oh, so sweet.

Cutest moment:  Dance floor at the bat mitzvah.  They just couldn’t help but dance and dance!  When a new song would come on, they’d run out and start dancing again.

Full-Circle Moment:  I complained that Parker was missing all the scenery and cool stuff because his nose was in a book.  And then I remembered how my Dad used to do that to me. 

Best Game:  We played that game where someone says a sentence or two of a story and then the next person continues it.  It had potential to be a great story, but every time it got to Jack, he would continue his own story, which had nothing to do with the other one, so we had to keep trying to tie it in to the ‘real’ story.  Hilarious.

Best Friend Game:  The boys spent hours one day outside digging in the dirt with their friends while looking through an old National Geographic type book about archaeology.  This along with the 2 year old friend who lives and breathes Indiana Jones made a very exciting group.  And a theme song stuck in my head.

Favorite food/rest stop:  Ikea.  We ran in, they played for half an hour in the play area, while I read my kindle, and then we all ate for less than $5, because it was kids eat free day.  Fantastic!

Favorite overnight stop:  Haha, like I could choose!

It was a refreshing, rejuvenating, relaxing time, but I’m also happy to be home.

To all the girls who gave us a couch or a bed or a floor to sleep on, and to those who we visited with in between, thanks. We miss you. 

Of course you are all wonderful friends, but you are also all great wives, great moms, great cooks, great decorators, great photographers, and well, just great people.  I love you all so much! I love your family like its mine, your kids like they are mine, and even your dogs like they are my dogs.  You hold a special place in my heart forever.  

And of course... you are welcome here anytime!  As is anyone else who wants to visit!

Thank you Jesus, for friends like these!