Monthly Archives: September 2013

My Shelter

We closed on our house this week.
It took awhile to talk about it. Or really, to talk at all 🙂
It hit me harder than anticipated. Not so much the selling our house. Probably more the signing a 4-page lease to rent it for another week. That just felt weird. An all-of-a-sudden feeling of being home-less. We’re still living in this house, it’s just not “ours” anymore.
I know, this is all very much a first-world problem.

I guess sometimes it takes awhile for my heart to catch up with what I believe in my head.
I want to rejoice in all the ways the Lord has lavished His kindness upon us. But instead there was a little bit of panic and a whole lot of pity goin’ on. Then, these verses “happened” to appear in my Bible reading:

Whom have I in heaven but You?
I desire You more than anything on earth.
My health may fail and my spirit may grow weak (and we may sell our beloved home),
but God remains the strength of my heart;
He is mine forever…
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things You do.
Psalm 73. 26, 28

Once again, my heart found the strength it needs.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter. We may be house-less, but we certainly are not home-less. Home is wherever I am with You. And, the good news is that He is mine. My shelter.
Here. There. Forever!

Sorry, no pics this time. We’re in crazy stages of sorting, ridding, packing, salsa-making, moving.
One more step in the journey, and we are so blessed to have you joining along.
Enjoy your weekend, friends 🙂

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Bit by Bit

Feliz Dia da Independência!Brazilian-flag-Pigment

Brazil celebrates its Independence Day today.
It would be fun to share some of our favorite Brazilian recipes and traditions. If you would rather that right now, feel free to head on over to a yummy cheese bread recipe. It’s a little taste of Brazil. And a lot less “heavy” than what’s on my heart on a day like today.

There is a disturbing reality that we cannot ignore.
Thousands, possibly millions of children have never tasted a Brazilian Independence Day.
Today is like any other, as they are bound by the chains of prostitution, drug addiction and poverty.  Instead of having freedom to build sandcastles, play futebol or grill churrasco, they answer to the demands of perverse, often brutal strangers to satisfy their fantasies.

Part of me envies my ignorant days. When we could celebrate with our yellow and green, sip on Brazilian limonada and stuff our faces with pão de queijo, unaware. When I thought being a little girl was about playing Strawberry Shortcake and dollhouses. When I checked on my peacefully-sleeping boys and didn’t realize so many moms don’t have this luxury.
But now we know. And we cannot turn our backs.

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. 
Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1.17

What in the world is going on?
Unicef estimates 250,000 children in Brazil have been forced into prostitution.
Some estimate the number could be up to 2 million child prostitutes in Brazil.[1]
Children. 
As in, 17 and younger (many of them 10-13 years old). Children. As in, they should be at school learning to read or at home playing Legos. Children. As in, they need a parent who would shelter them from the oppression that preys on them. Children. As in, they are so valuable and vulnerable that Jesus says it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. (Luke 17.2)

BBC World reports Thailand has been the world leader up until now, but “Brazil is overtaking Thailand as the world’s most popular sex-tourist destination. Brazil at the moment is on a high trend of child sex tourism and is all geared to take up the first spot beating out Thailand.”

With the 2014 World Cup and Olympics in Brazil, this problem continues to spiral out of control. More tourism=More child exploitation.
This video shares the shocking reality:
“It’s very easy to buy a girl in Brazil. It’s like buying chocolate.”

How in the world did this happen?
Child sex tourism is tourism for the purpose of engaging in the prostitution of children, that is commercially facilitated child sexual abuse. The children who perform as prostitutes in the child sex tourism trade often have been lured or abducted into sexual slavery.”[2]

“Pimps get children high on crack, then offer the children’s tiny bodies to the men for a few dollars.”[3]

One BBC World reporter wrote: Taxi drivers work with the girls who are too young to get into the bars. One offers me two for the price of one and a lift to a local motel. “They are underage, so much cheaper than the older ones,” he explains as he introduces me to Sara and Maria. One clings to a bright pink Barbie bag, and they hold each other’s hands looking terrified at the possibility of potential customer.”[4]

This breaks my heart and makes my stomach churn.
How did a fingerprint of God end up becoming a bartering object?
How do we even wrap our minds around this issue?
And how can we ever begin to make a difference?

Where in the world do we go from here?
Awareness is a start. We must begin to unwind the binds that our silence has held on these precious souls. More than simply talking to each other, we must bring these concerns before our Almighty Creator, the Author of Life. The One who sees and knows and hears.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
love and faithfulness go before You.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You,
who walk in the light of Your presence. 
(Psalm 89.14-15)

Nothing is beyond the Lord’s reach, not even the long arm of oppression. I believe when we want to take part in the very thing that is central to His character: righteousness and justice, He hears. And He will reveal how we are to be involved.

International Justice Mission and Destiny Rescue are among the organizations that are making a huge impact in the lives of the enslaved. They work to rescue the captured and prosecute the offenders. We admire and applaud their work around the world. However, neither of them are currently in Brazil.

Compassion International is in the fight against child sex trafficking for the long haul. They are reaching into the poor communities in Brazil, providing a place for the children to come to avoid the streets. Sponsoring a child provides holistic education in hopes of breaking the vicious cycle poverty creates.

The need seems overwhelming. Seems easier to go back to passing around the pão de queijo, unaware or unaffected. But if it were our child, could we rest until they were found and freed?

Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it. 
The spell must be unwound, bit by bit.
C.S. Lewis

Whatever we feel led to do may seem insignificant. But, it is something!!
I picture it like a Lite Brite. Remember poking those plastic pegs into that brand new sheet of black paper for the light to shine through? The more we poke into the canvas of darkness, the more light we allow to escape.

Bit by bit, we can each do our part in loosening the binds of oppression on these children.
Let’s join together in asking God how we may help make a difference in someone’s tomorrow. That next year, more may have the chance to taste a Brazilian Independence Day!

Love in Focus (August)

Oh, August. You never disappoint. It’s been real. It’s been beautiful.
And we have found plenty to love along the way.

Lost is all the time that you don’t spend in love.
Torquato Tasso

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August has been lovely. We continue to soak in as much time as possible with family and friends and favorite places. Our tanks are full. A satisfied, happy, thankful-full. But I’m not going to pretend that this is easy.
There are parts of these months that are really exhausting. For one, I don’t know that we can conceive of the heartache it will be to leave these dear people. The depths of loneliness we will feel being away from them. We have felt the effects of many people praying for us. We continue to weather the adjustments of now and anxieties of future. But, sometimes it’s all just overwhelming. Mentally, emotionally, physically draining.

So, I adopted 2 mantras to help us carry on. It may be silly they’re from 1 Peter and Dr. Seuss. But hey, it’s what comes to mind. When the what-ifs and sadness start to overwhelm…
1. No need to carry those cares. Cast!
Cast your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you! – 1 Peter 5.7

2. Smile with gratitude in my soul.
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. – Dr. Seuss

We just have to remember this.
To welcome in another day and all that it may hold. To open wide our arms to love…
Because there is always something (and someone) we can find to love along the way.

Ice Cream Datewiches

Imagine with me…
An August evening with the sun setting. Warm sun. Cool breeze. Table and chairs in an open field with trees surrounding. Tall glass of iced green tea in hand. And these.
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Ice Cream Datewiches
{Because they’re made from dates. But you could totally make a date with these.}
1 3/4 cup raw almonds
5 ounces date rolls (make sure they are pitted dates…believe me.)
3/4 cup raw cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor. Pulse until it is a crumbly consistency. Add a little water (start with a teaspoon) and blend until the mixture sticks together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface (I use gluten-free tapioca starch). Make sure both sides are covered in flour. Roll the dough until it is 1/4″ thick. Pat some flour onto the rolling pin as well if it starts to stick. I used a plastic cup to cut into circles. Place the circles on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Stick in the freezer until frozen.  When you are ready for your datewiches, scoop ice cream onto a cookie. Top with a second cookie. Savor. And Enjoy.

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It may not be August anymore. But you can take these babies on a date year-round.
A taste of summer, Gluten-free, packed with protein and fiber…What’s not to love?!

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So, there you have it.
A healthy dessert. Another addition to the lonely “Cuisine” category on here.
AND proof that there is more going on in our lives than preparing our move to Brazil. 🙂