Monday, September 28, 2015

airport friends

Flight two of four on our way home from SE Asia had us standing at the gate waiting to board for quite a long time, but also gave us the opportunity to meet an Australian couple who live and work in Taiwan and whose 8 month old Ethiopian baby girl was entertaining a row of Asian grandmas with her high pitched flirtatiousness. They were pros. Clearly not bringing their daughter home for the first time. 

Eventually our chat led them to share about how they couldn't bear to leave her once they had met her and so he went back and forth to keep working while she stayed in country for three months awaiting their court date. Everything they did revolved around bringing her home. Every thought. Every dollar. 

My heart couldn't help but ache a little. I shared about our road toward adoption in the DRC and the heartbreak of corruption and the disappointment of not knowing how our story will end. I wondered to myself about the purpose of that long-lived dream so abruptly dashed and about how long we will have to wait for another chance to fulfill it. 

I didn't have to wait long, though, to have my envy broken up by the sweet whisper of reassurance: It's all the same work. It all flows from the same source. Children in families. Your family. Theirs. Or their own. Not in orphanages. Not in brothels. It's all family preservation work. It's all orphan care. 

Even if our family hasn't yet grown through adoption, we carry the faces and names and stories of the young girls we've met with us. We bear the hope they will one day know the safety of family once again. For some their family is the reason they have been trafficked and going home is no longer an option. For others, the road home is long and full of obstacles and yet worth the collaboration of many organizations to see it through. 

I could hear their daughter's giggles and coos from the cabin section behind ours on the flight. No longer envious, just thankful to have met them and to see them playing their role in revolutionary love.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The #EmptyCup Campaign

I don't sleep too well these days, not since our recent trip to SE Asia to work with The Exodus Road. My mind is constantly spinning, recalling faces I've met and the things I've seen. I've only just begun to process the magnitude of this work, which seems to be eeking out in bits and pieces via my social media feeds as opposed to long blog posts in this space. We are needed on the ground over there and so we are working hard over here to get our family back there.

We still have a ways to go with our fundraising but we have a handful of ways for you to be a part of the solution in getting us fully funded for our rapidly approaching move date of December 1st.

Here is a link to the first:

In case you are wondering... This new PureCharity site will be used for all our upcoming fundraisers while our GoFundMe site stays live for all the donors already standing with us.

This is the perfect way to get involved at minimal cost.

Pause what you're doing and act now by kicking us off with an #emptycup! 

Monday, August 03, 2015

locusts & wild honey

The smallest pieces of our natural world tell our stories right back to us. If we're listening. I want to listen more closely so I'm going dark, or maybe it's really going bright, every Sunday during the month of August by unplugging from social media with the #justbeherewithme intention of practicing greater presence. Just yesterday our pastor spoke about how living in the present ushers in God's presence. Just last week my guy was challenging me not to forget to live in the moment in our right-now lives while looking ahead to the adventure in our near future. And just yesterday my finger twitched a few times as I woke up a little more to my habit of clicking on certain apps while checking the time or hanging up after a call. 

These summer days have the trees buzzing with the vibrations of locusts. Do you notice them where you are? Do you hear the call? As the sun is rising, the moment the sun begins to descend and anytime in between, the massive guardians of the earth, the trees, reaching toward the heavens with sprawling branches and rooted deep over decades of growth, come alive with the cicada. Long wings. Beady eyes. They've emerged from their hiding place underground and have shed their larva shell, the skin that held them as they were busy becoming. Every morning, on every trunk, branch, potted plant stand and wicker patio chair grips a remnant shell with only a slight crack where the locust slipped out into freedom. And then they sing. Stirring each other up in an electric chorus with the voltage of power lines. They call to one another. 

Locusts always point my mind back to John the Baptist all camel hair-clad and wild. Untamed. Unkept. Unruly. An outcast dressed like a rebel, some say. Eating locusts and wild honey.  "Thunder in the desert" making the way for the Word. For the way God would come near to His people and reveal Himself to them. For Jesus. The Voice. 

Before time itself was measured, 
the Voice was speaking. 
The Voice was and is God. 
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator. 
His speech shaped the entire cosmos. 
Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light - 
a light that thrives in the depths of darkness, 
blazes through murky bottoms. 
It cannot be quenched.
{John 1}

How gorgeous is this?

God's most magnificent work was done in utter darkness. 

The locust slips from it's shell, it's former home, under the cover of darkness.

The thunder in the desert making a way the way dark walls of clouds bring monsoon thunder telling us desert folk the rain is coming. Relief from the heat is coming. 

I'm sitting with this picture this morning: 
Dark seasons in our lives boasting God's most creative workmanship. 
Growing up out of sight. 
Leaving behind shells of former selves.
Emerging with long wings capable of great distance into bright light.
Electric songs in chorus with others who have taken flight.
Light thriving in the depths of darkness. 
Light blazing through murky bottoms. 
Through the trenches. 
Through the sewage of inhumanity. 
From before time was measured. 
Making a way. 
Blazing a trail. 
Gaining momentum. 
Striking like lightning.

What are you emerging from? A long season of darkness? Or just a sweet summer vacation? What have you been busy becoming? What are you leaving behind? 

We are shedding one long dark season, friends. If that is where you find yourself, cheers to the knowing that only comes from having walked through the valley. AND. Cheers to the promise that seasons end. The way through the valley is not a wrong turn. The way through the valley is  the way. This way ---> keep going. 

Our wandering path is being illuminated more and more these days and our way is being made for us one step at a time. Prayers long prayed being answered (finally) in their time. The picture coming slowly into focus. This way ---> keep going. We are slipping from shells that have held us, leaving behind what has been for what is becoming, joining an electric chorus fully alive in who we've been created to be. Buzzing. Believing in the Voice, the Light that thrives in the depths of darkness and blazes through the murky bottoms. The dregs we will stand knee deep in. The dead eyes we will stare into. BUT GOD. The same power from before time was measured is there too, hovering over the horror on the backs of prayers and entering in. 

I can hear it when I really listen. 

So every morning after yoga, after the kids leave for school, after my shots are cold enough to pour over ice, I grab my Bible/journal/iPad/keyboard/book/notepad stack and head to my office - the front yard loveseat under the mesquite tree that drops bean pods on my head while mosquitos feast on my skin. Perks. The heat has yet to hit hard and the trees now also host the calls of all the birds. The lawn is freshly mowed and my potted succulents are just now coming back after the trauma of the move. Who needs a corner office with a window when you can set your bare feet on the earth? 

I'm listening close. What amazingness will this week bring? What signposts will show me the way? How will I allow for the wild ways of locusts and honey and thunder? How will you? 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

you are the main character in this story

Don Miller says every story basically goes like this: 
There's a main character 
who has a problem
who meets a guide
who has a plan
who calls the character to action.  
If the character follows the plan, the story ends heroically.
If the character doesn't follow the plan, the story ends tragically. 

I think he might be right. 


Seven years ago we heard about the horrors of sex-trafficking for the first time.

We wanted to help. We wanted to make a difference. 
But we felt overwhelmed. 

How could ordinary people like us really make a difference in the face of such a massive problem?  How could ordinary people like us fight back against such evil?

Then we met The Exodus Road.

The Exodus Road provided a way for us to make a real life difference every month by funding actual investigations and rescues of trafficked victims. We began sponsoring investigations by donating each month even though we were unemployed. We receive real-time updates from The Exodus Road about investigations and rescues and saw exactly how, for the money it costs our family to eat at Chipotle, our monthly donations were being used to save lives. The more we helped the more we learned. The more we learned the more we wanted to help. 

Now, eight years and many small steps after hearing those first stories of slavery, we are preparing to give our time, energy and lives as ordinary people who simply responded to a call to action.

And now you're the main character. 

You have heard the gut-wrenching injustice of sex-trafficking. 
You want to help. You want to make a difference. 
But it's all so overwhelming. 

You wonder how you could ever make a real difference in the face of such a massive problem. You wonder how one ordinary person could push back the darkness. 

This is how. 

Sponsor two years of real investigations and real rescues with The Exodus Road by sponsoring us.

You can set captives free. Or you can pay for Chipotle. 

Choose freedom! 
Sponsor us here

Thursday, July 23, 2015

leverage your influence!

My bestest Christin told me a story yesterday and I just have to share. 

Ok, scene one: Christin and her hubs are driving near their home recently when he notices police officers outside a massage parlor in a strip mall. You know the ones. Blacked out windows. Curtains drawn. Neon light flashing OPEN and the name of the business reads MASSAGE. So shady. 

(**Just in case you are not aware, there is almost always more on the secret menu than just a neck and shoulder treatment. Massage parlors are major players in the sex-trafficking industry harboring women and girls who are forced to service customers at all hours of the day and night as we get a Subway sandwich two doors down or drive right on by in our cars.)

So they notice what appears to be a raid taking place at this massage parlor and, even though they know enough about trafficking to know it happens in everywhere, they are still shocked to see a bust in progress so close to their home. Not long after, she sees the story breaking on the news and their assumptions are confirmed. Their local police department is committed to shutting down businesses found to be complicit in human trafficking. Yes! 

There's more. 

Scene two: Backstory. Leading up to this, she tells me, she has to frequent City Hall as a part of her Inspired Inland Market business - a local-vibe outdoor market atmosphere where creative makers sell handmade product as way to contribute their art to the community. Christin submits vendor information to the Business Licensure department on a regular basis so she has become familiar with Minerva. Minerva IS the Business Licensure department. Minerva sits at the desk. Minerva enforces the rules. Minerva does not make exceptions. Minerva's a hard ass.    

Scene three: Serendipity. Christin is in line at her local Starbucks when she notices Minerva happens to be in line ahead of her shuffling through her purse as if she cannot find her wallet. Christin quietly asks the barista to put the drink on her card. When the barista assures Minerva her drink has been paid for she looks up at Christin, recognizing her from City Hall, and awkwardly stutters about how unnecessary it is and how she shouldn't have. Christin just smiles like olive branches because it truly is her pleasure to buy the drink. 

Scene four: The twist. Christin is in line at a local sandwich shop that just opened and who does she see? Minerva! She asks Minerva if it is her first time at the shop and she remarks that she is there meeting with the group of gentlemen in the corner. Christin looks over to see a group of police officers in uniform. She asks Minerva about working with the police department and learns that Minerva's husband is an officer and she has started helping them revoke the business licenses of people who are found to be operating unlawful businesses. Christin pauses and then asks if her work has anything to do with the massage parlor raid she saw first hand and then reported on the news. Well, yes in fact, it does. 

Turns out hard ass Minerva is helping her local police department crack down on sex-trafficking as she goes. She's using her normal life, her position, her expertise, her strengths, her sphere of influence IN HER CURRENT SPACE and she is leveraging it to fight slavery from her little desk at City Hall. 

Minerva's not just a hard ass. Minerva's a bad ass. 

Justice is in the hands of the ordinary, friends! We are everyday abolitionists! 

I love this example of everyday ways we can leverage what we already have for the freedom of other human beings. We don't all have to move to foreign countries, but we do all have to play a part if we ever want to see this torture tide change. 

Do you know you have influence? Do you know you are powerful beyond measure? You have been given position, expertise, strengths, giftings and passions that can be actioned for so much beauty and so much good! 

Ask yourself, what do I already have?  

Maybe you have a network. 
Maybe you have an online platform. 
Maybe you have a staff. 
Maybe you have a stage. 
Maybe you have a church group.
Maybe you have students.
Maybe you have children. 
Maybe you have a product.
Maybe you have a service. 
Maybe you have art. 
Maybe you have time. 

Maybe you have a little desk in a building somewhere that wields more power than you ever realized. 

Use it! 

Let's leverage our collective influence for those held captive behind blacked out strip mall storefronts, for those in high-rise "staycation" hotel suites AND for those in back alley brothels in red-light districts half a world away because abolition work there directly benefits abolition work here. 

If you have any type of influence you feel led to leverage on behalf of our work with The Exodus Road in SE Asia we would love to hear from you! Email us directly at with any ideas! We'd love to collaborate in any way possible to continue raising awareness!  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

difference maker

We're poolside again today. Working hard at this California housesitting gig, I tell ya. Swam all morning and we've been lounging in the breezy shade all afternoon. The biggest decisions I have to make today are when to reapply sunscreen and how much extra pico I want on my Wahoo's fish taco. We'll be wrapping up our time here in our old 'hood at our dear friend's shabby chic bungalow and heading back down to the beach to hold down the fort at another friend's beach house for the rest of the week. Much needed rest and so much fun with so many friends we may not get to see again before the big move. 

This breezy cabana-esque patio is the perfect place to tuck my feet up and pull out a keyboard to tell you about this morning's story. 

Eric goes on a Peet's coffee run this morning  (apparently our fellow coffee snob friends have ditched their espresso maker and are exclusively French press now). Anyway, he's rockin' the @shopshedoesjustice DIFFERENCE MAKER tee we gave him for Father's Day and the girl at the counter says sarcastically, "So, you're a difference maker, huh?" To which he replies, "I like to think so." Laced with condescension she tilts her head to the side in apathy and drones, "And just how is it that YOU make a difference?" To which he replies, "I help rescue girls from sex slavery." (holding eye contact...) The rude sneer drains from her face and her eyes light up, "Oh, you really are a difference maker! I feel like I should offer to buy your drinks or something!" 

Justice is in the hands of the ordinary. Our hands. Your hands. 

We are looking for 25 Difference Makers. Ordinary people - close friends, distant friends, old friends, new friends - who want to use 25 of their dollars every month to join us in pushing back the darkness of slavery. 

25 Difference Makers at $25/month for 2 years will cover Carsyn and Garrett's school fees and tuition for the first year we are overseas. 

We are so fortunate to have amazing schools here at home that are free. It is a true luxury to have so many good choices when it comes to our kids' education. 

While we are in SE Asia, however, our children will attend a specific private school in the neighborhood where we will live in order to maximize security. The nature of our work is such that we will be living in an area geographically separate from the investigations for safety's sake. We have to be smart and strategic from the very beginning and cannot afford to underestimate these details. Thankfully our leadership has done the hard work in going before us and so we already know our kids will attend the private Christian school in the gated neighborhood we will live in so that their safety is never in question. 

A huge answered prayer came in last week as the school we've been applying to informed us that they have made an exception for our family and have guaranteed both Carsyn and Garrett an early placement for January 2016!  This is super exciting because early placements are usually reserved for missionary families, which we are not. 

Tuition and school fees make up a surprising chunk of our two year budget. Fees have to be paid early so this is the piece we need to fund first. 

Will you be one of our 

A good friend contacted Eric out of the blue last week. He and his wife and kids are missionaries in a scary country and they are no strangers to long-term fundraising. He's one of those guys that really gets my guy. He shoots straight, speaks blunt, and loves fierce. He's a truth teller and one helluva prayer warrior. Never an ounce of bullshit. So when He calls to encourage Eric out of the blue it's obviously God's provision. How's the fundraising going, he asks. He calls to remind us that big donors are super helpful, but it's the ordinary donors, the $10/$15/$20 a month donors who are going to have our backs in prayer. It's those who are thinking of us every month, every time they skip that Starbucks drink so they can give, they are the ones who will be charging the doors of the brothels with us night after night in spirit. The ordinary donors are the ones who get you to your goal, he says. Put the rest back on God, he says. This is His work, let Him provide the money, he says. 

Justice is in the hands of the ordinary, we say. 

We need 25 Difference Makers to commit to $25/month for 2 years so that Carsyn and Garrett can start school in January. Will you be one of them? 

Each of the 25 Difference Makers will be automatically entered in our first giveaway
 ---> a DIFFERENCE MAKER t-shirt from She Does Justice! These t's are such amazing conversation starters and simple ways to remind others (and ourselves) that every day is another chance for ordinary people to change the world. 

Make your first donation through our campaign and let us know you want to be one of the 25for25 Difference Makers helping Carsyn and Garrett go to school in SE Asia and we will automatically enter you in the DIFFERENCE MAKER giveaway! 

And now for another swim...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

the change of

In mathematics there is the concept of "change" represented by a triangle, the Greek letter delta. The change in... describes the incremental variance between two points. Small changes in the slope of a curved line on a graph, for instance. I've always loved this concept of small changes along a line. It's the fancy version of "next steps".  Coordinates marking the travel from point A to point B. All of the in between spaces creating a path. A design.

Math has always been like a language to me with rhythm and cadence and order and process, perhaps because language comes much easier to me than math ever has. I am always in awe of how a language of numbers and values can describe the vastness of our universe. Sometimes I think math might even be poetry for all its pattern and repetition. I once heard a massively brilliant astrophysicist describe how he sees God through his mathematical study of the universe as "elegant". Like Italian, and the symphony, and couture. God's creation flows elegant.

What if change is elegant? The slight variances along the path between two points. The slope of a curve as opposed to a straight line. This is math, and math simply describes reality. My reality as of late.

We moved. A little move before the big move. An unexpected change in plans. Change. What we thought was going to be a straight line between this season and our move overseas has shaped up to be much more of a curved line with a combination of variables: circumstances, wisdom, relationships and preparation in between.

Up until this point, as perpetual renters we've loved the freedom to move whenever and wherever without the baggage of homeownership. Our gypsy hearts looking ahead. We have always invested in the houses we've lived in and left them in better condition than when we moved in as a way to bless the property owners, and yet we've been hoping for a relocation for quite some time and so have never fully put down roots. However, a change in ownership, a significant rent hike and the requirement of another year lease (none of which we were interested in) reminded us of the shadow side of not owning your home. 

At the same time we were making unexpected decisions about where we wanted to live in preparation for our move to SE Asia, Eric's mom had a heart attack. His dad's health has already been struggling. The future is uncertain. Isn't it always.

And so God made a little space in our hearts. 
And then He kindled a little light in that space. 
And then He blew a breeze turning our heads in that direction. 

We know those breezes well. Those invitations to consider, to enter in. No guilt. No force. Just the Holy Spirit expanding our ideas of the slope of our particular curved line and how we might travel between two points on our path. All of a sudden it seemed silly to rush out and dig up some six-month rental house in some random neighborhood where we would set up shop temporarily just to put most of our stuff in a storage unit for two years overseas. Sure we could do it. Or, we could do something different. We could enter in. The change in our curve could allow us to enter into the change in another's curve. 

Honor the space between no longer and not yet.  

And so, we have taken over the three empty rooms in Eric's parent's house on a quiet street lined with horse properties in NE Mesa, so that we can mow their acreage, cook meals, open the blinds and let light in, tell stories of old times and stories of today's minutiae, bring laughter, bring the energy of children. 

We've done this before. This entering-in. We lived with my parents for a year after my brother's death. We didn't have to. We were able to. He had lived with them during his cancer and the void was thick. Our kids were little and their smiles and laughter brought light and love. We brought conversation and company. Simple proximity of presence on a daily basis and cooking well for them allowed grief to be metabolized and gradually brought life back into their space. The relationships our kids enjoy with their grandparents is such a treasure because of that year. 

That year wasn't a have-to. It was a get-to. As is this. We've always known the gift of having good relationships with our own and each other's parents and so we get to take these months to invest. We get to invest relationally in his parents. We get to invest financially into our own fundraising efforts. We get to invest in ourselves during this micro-burst of rest. A slower and longer transition just might be for our best. 

We weren't planning on this space. This in between. We were planning on going straight from right now to a new right now. One day we would close the door and turn the key on this season and the next we would unlock a new adventure in a new time zone. 

But plans change. 

We have been given this space. Space I have a feeling we might need. Space our kids might need. Time spent we will never regret. Turns out, transitioning from a long season here in the desert to the wild ride of moving overseas could possibly require a little more than just a killer going away party and a ride to the airport. Just maybe. In the meantime, we are honoring the space between no longer and not yet by pressing in instead of pulling away, digging up the elegant in the unconventional.

Everywhere an adventure.