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Righteous Anger

I’ve been caught up in the world of marketing my book, because that is a never-ending process, but looking back over my recent posts, I realize that I’ve lost sight here of a big part of who I am, or who I want to be anyway.

One reason I left teaching, aside from wanting more time to write and promote my book, was to be a better person and to reach out to the broken in various ways.  I was so closed off.  I do not have much of a resource of money to give, but I can give of myself, which I feel is more rewarding anyway.  Instead of writing a check or donating online for a cause, I like to actually meet the people I am helping, or at least to feel like I am physically doing something.  I did this recently on a mission trip to Guatemala and while I worked at a local food pantry.  I enjoy this sort of activity because I feel like I am doing good with my time.  Of course I know I am not going to change the world alone, but I like being a part of the bigger picture.

Human trafficking, modern day slavery, is the specific area where I wish to help make a difference.  With numbers like 27 million people worldwide being enslaved, it seems like a hopeless fight.  But we must have hope.  And if enough people have hope, we can work together, for the bigger picture, and bring this evil to an end.

Because I live in a small town, I do not really see the effects of human trafficking close to me in my daily life, so I try to keep this injustice in front of me.  I follow various organizations that work to fight it and I research it, keeping it in the front of my mind and weighing heavily on my heart.  I try to imagine myself or people I love living through these atrocities, because that makes me angry.  I know it’s not good to go through life angry, but sometimes anger is a good thing.  Righteous anger keeps us focused on what we need to change.  When that anger brings us to action, we see hope and change, even if only in small ways.  It brings me joy in the middle of the sadness, because a difference can be made, even if just one life at a time.

Again, one reason I left teaching was to pursue a way to make more of a difference in this area.  I recently found this quote:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

– Frederick Buechner

To me, this is hopeful.  I love being able to reach out and make a difference.  I find gladness in that.  I also find gladness in writing.  Perhaps my writing is one small way I can incite and inspire action and change in the world’s deep hunger of healing for the people currently struggling with enslavement.  More to come on this.


All Men were Created Equal… All

I’m reposting last year’s Independence Day edition, partly because I didn’t have time for a new one, and partly because I figured a year later I might get a different group reading it.

caverns of my mind

The Declaration of Independence was written specifically to dissolve the relationship “the Colonies” had with Great Britain due to the tyrannical acts of George III, and the result was the birth of this great free nation we now call the United Stated of America.  We all know, or should know that from history class.  However, freedom and independence, for which many sacrificed and died to secure for us, should not be ideas only we can enjoy, but should be the general consideration of human beings to each other, everywhere.

No, the irony that Thomas Jefferson, the writer of this great document which gives us this day to celebrate our freedom, owned slaves is not lost on me.  He was a complex man, and though he owned several slaves, he actually was against slavery and wanted it to be abolished.  I remember learning something once about his attacking Great Britain for…

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Stop it BEFORE it Happens

This is the time of year I really kick up my running training for a crazy 200 mile relay race called Ragnar, which has me reminiscing on the past few years:

In November of 2010, my team of twelve ran from Tampa to Daytona Beach and we raised, united with another team of twelve, $2040 for Love 146, an amazing organization that fights human trafficking.

Half my team (6 travel together by van)

January of this year, my team of twelve (some repeats and some newbies) ran from Miami to Key West for the same cause and raised $1020.

Team This is STILL My AWESOME Back

No worries.  I’m not fundraising.  My point here is that now I’m in training mode for my third Ragnar (Miami to Key West again), and it’s weird NOT to be fundraising.  We decided that this time we just wanted to run for fun because the fundraising for a cause  can get stressful, and we just wanted to be ridiculous without worrying about who we are representing this time.  After all, this year our team name is Ragnarrhea, and we are each assuming poop related names for the fun of it (I’m Exrecia).  Classy, I know.

Terrinator after the completion of my last run

The point I’m attempting to make, though I have now beaten around the bush so many times all the branches have been demolished, is that though I am not running for the cause this year, I do not want to forget to remind others of the importance of the cause.

I’ve always been one who cares about justice, and I’ve gotten in trouble on a few occasions for speaking up in a moment of passion, but until a few years ago I really didn’t have a particular cause I believed in, but now I do.  I’ve mentioned it here before, so you may have read about this already and are now yawning.  That’s fine, but I may have some newcomers, and I cannot chance missing the opportunity to create awareness whenever possible.  After all, I am “The Terrinator.”

In June, I wrote what turned out to be my most read blog post, “Human Beings are NOT Commodities.”   For further information on human trafficking, please give it a read.  The long story short is that human trafficking is modern day slavery.

I’ve been reading about and watching videos posted  indicating that our government is recognizing the issue and taking steps to combat this horrible act of inhumanity, which makes me happy.  But the true and basic concept of this is that it is already unconstitutional because of Amendment XIII, and it has been unconstitutional since that amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865!  Slavery is not new, it just wears a new face.

Robert and I recently decided that since abolitionism is a huge passion of ours we wanted to give regularly to the cause.  (It’s no great amount, but if many people gave even a small portion, a large impact could be made.)  When I went to Love to sign up, I was given the choice for which part of the process we wanted to impact.  My heart really lies with the recovery and rehabilitation of these survivors; however, I instead decided to give regularly to the prevention aspect.  I am both logical and optimistic.  If we can reach out and prevent this from happening, there will be no more need for recovery…eventually.  That’s my goal.

You don’t need to share my passion.  But you should find one of your own then.  It is healthy and human to care, and when you can see even a glimpse of your impact, you will feel fulfilled.  Touching lives is why we exist.

Love 146 is only one of many organizations out there set on extirpating human trafficking.  If you are interested in learning about more, you need do little more than just Google (I love that this is a recognized verb now) human trafficking and research the many organizations on your own.

All Men were Created Equal… All

The Declaration of Independence was written specifically to dissolve the relationship “the Colonies” had with Great Britain due to the tyrannical acts of George III, and the result was the birth of this great free nation we now call the United Stated of America.  We all know, or should know that from history class.  However, freedom and independence, for which many sacrificed and died to secure for us, should not be ideas only we can enjoy, but should be the general consideration of human beings to each other, everywhere.

No, the irony that Thomas Jefferson, the writer of this great document which gives us this day to celebrate our freedom, owned slaves is not lost on me.  He was a complex man, and though he owned several slaves, he actually was against slavery and wanted it to be abolished.  I remember learning something once about his attacking Great Britain for its support of the slave trade in an earlier draft of the Declaration, but it was removed at the request of Georgia and South Carolina, I believe.  It is likely that the reason he was unable to free his slaves was because of personal debt which had to be paid off before he could free them, though many were freed before his death.  Say what you will about this man, after all, his life and character have been hotly debated for a few centuries now, but he did pen these famous and treasured words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men were created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

If you read it again, you will notice the words “all men.”  The Creator endowed these rights, so they really go beyond our governments anyway, right?  Who will declare independence and freedom for those enslaved today all over the world (including in our own “free country”)?  This isn’t something we need to depend solely on our world governments to do, though that would be a huge help; this is something we can all do, even in little acts.

This is not meant to make any Americans feel guilty as we celebrate our freedom today.  By all means, grill hotdogs and hamburgers (tofu burgers if you really want, since it is a free country and all), eat apple pie, and light fireworks or just watch them on display, while you savor the moments with your family and friends.  We have those rights, and we should be proud and thankful for what we have.

I just ask that you take a moment to remember with me, there are about 27 million people around the world, and a surprising number of them hidden right here in our free nation, who are not themselves free, but are enslaved to a tyrannical power which is using them and exploiting them.  Human trafficking is modern day slavery.  Spread the word.  Find an organization to support.  Let’s help declare freedom for those who are enslaved and do not have voices of their own in which to do so.

Happy Birthday to the United States of America!  I am proud to be an American and I will use my free voice to spread the word about those who are not.

#5 Those Crazy Aussie Dog People

I’ve spent a week attempting to entertain with stories about my two delightfully loving, yet headstrong Australian shepherds.  Yet, I’ve only scratched the surface.  I’m sure more dog blog posts will come, but I recommend you go out and get an Aussie or two of your own so you can experience the joy for yourself and you will not need to live vicariously through me…because that’s a scary thought.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the day we brought Dylan home forever changed my world.  It wasn’t instantaneous, but crept over me slowly, like my little ninja MJ tends to do while we’re watching TV or trying to sleep.  These dogs opened my eyes to an unconditional love not often seen in people, unfortunately.  They have inspired me.

The world is a complicated place, unless you’re a dog.  People commit cruel acts towards one another all the time, but not dogs.  People judge one another, even when they don’t know each other.  Dogs tend to be accepting.  We can learn from dogs.

Dylan’s sire is a therapy dog with Delta certification.  He visits the elderly in nursing homes, and helps kids who have difficulty doing so to read.  Their intelligence and their loving and accepting demeanor often make Aussies a good breed for such  endeavors.

We see it in our dogs too. During a trip to Petsmart, a boy with special needs saw our dogs and came, practically running, towards them and plopped himself down on the floor in front of them.  Now if Robert or I sit on the floor by the dogs, they tackle us.  If we run, period, Dylan will attempt to bring us down.  They tend to get excited beyond control.

An attack might look like this…

…or this. (again, ignore the dates from our confused camera)

Not this time.  Both dogs remained calm and let that boy pet them and put his face close to theirs without them licking him or pushing him down.  They knew.  The boy’s father told us his son loves dogs and thanked us for letting him spend some time with them.  It was our pleasure, and the dogs’ pleasure too.  We could tell they were loving it.  They understood their boundaries, but they still got some lovin’ out of the deal.

We were able to bring the dogs with us to Christmas at my sister’s the year of my grand nephew’s first Christmas. He was at the age where he was using anything and everything to pull himself up, including Dylan’s long fur, which apparently was easy to grip onto.   As far as we knew, Dylan had never been around a small child like this before, and it was clear he was taken aback by the assault, but he somehow knew this child meant him no harm and he was not to retaliate in any way.  He suffered silently and bravely.

A few months ago I had a horrible day at work.  Honestly, I do not remember the details, but it was one of those emotionally draining days when one thing after another piles on (I’d probably been cussed out by a parent who was mad I gave her kid a zero for work she didn’t turn in or something equally unjustified in her eyes).  This was a day when I left as soon as my time was up for the day (I tend to stick around for at least an hour or so) and I fought back the tears during the drive home.

My homecoming routine is to set down all the work I have to bring home, let the dogs out of their crates, and take the dogs out back to potty.  Their routine is to attack me with love and music (they both sing), which means they jump up and rub on me. On this day, I let them out but denied them each their “welcome home, we love you Mommy” time.  I’d been holding those tears in and wanted to let them out quickly so I wouldn’t have a breakdown in the backyard.  Once back inside, I collapsed in a chair, placed my face into my hands and sobbed- we’re talking audible, body-shaking sobs- like I hadn’t in years.

At first the dogs stood back, tilting their heads as they watched.  MJ even seemed a bit scared at first.  Slowly each dog came to my side and nuzzled me until I looked up at them.  In that moment, MJ did her snarl which means she wants to make sure it’s ok to approach you, and both dogs placed their upper bodies in my lap, all at once.  It was a lot of dog to have in my lap.  They were sneezing their laughter sneezes and nuzzling me, and all the while their eyes expressed concern.  They weren’t sure what was wrong, but they wanted to fix it and let me know they loved me.  They do these actions often anyway, but there was something different about their approach and delicacy in the matter.

I recently read about an organization called the Heartland Alliance which uses therapy dogs to comfort victims in court when they need to testify.  For example, a young girl had to testify against her father who had sexually abused her.  A golden retriever had spent time with her getting her comfortable with what would come and was even able to be in the courtroom as she gave her testimony, apparently nuzzling the little girl when she paused for too long, to give her support.  With that dog’s help, the girl got through it and her father was locked away.  What an amazing story!

My husband and I have felt a pull to DO SOMETHING to help fight human trafficking, or to help the survivors.  One idea that keeps knocking around in my mind is the idea of therapy dogs.  We would love to have land, dogs, and a sort of “retreat” for survivors to come as part of their recovery.  I have no idea how to make that happen, but we’re believing that God does. Also, neither of us are counselors, but we believe if it’s meant to happen, everything and everyone we need will come together.

None of this would even seem an option today had we not adopted Dylan back in March of 2007.  His love, and MJ’s love inspire me.  They have all the qualities these survivors would need.  Acceptance, unconditional love, and hope.  These dogs display hope every moment of the day.


I have been reading a book called Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff.  (Ok, so I was reading it, but then I had to quit for a while because my day job was taking up all my dream job time, and I just picked it back up.)

I know you’re asking yourself why in the world a high school English teacher would want to give up all the amazing perks of her job (sometimes sarcasm is hard to read, so I’m letting you know it’s here); the answer is simple: I am becoming exhausted, and I do not want to burn out or become one of those ineffective, jaded teachers who just go through the motions of the job.  For now, I’ve still got this, but the day is coming when I know I just won’t be able to do it with a passion anymore. It’s better to prepare for that now than to wait for the breakdown to happen.

Aside from teaching, there are only a few career paths I ever considered following: writer, singer, M&M quality tester.  I’m too shy to sing in front of anyone and am probably best in the car…alone; I’m not sure where the nearest Mars candy factory is; but writing has always been a passion of mine.  I also have recently discovered a new passion: doing something in the way of creating awareness of or helping survivors of human trafficking.

So in this book I started reading again about an hour ago, Acuff talks about the “plan myth” (all references to this book in this post come from “Chapter 5: Wait on the Main Stage”).  We all think we need a detailed plan in order to become successful, but in reality, we first need passion and practice, and then a plan will sort of develop itself.  I’m a planner, so I think before I read this I was overwhelmed by the fact that I don’t even know how to develop a plan of success for these two passions of mine.  Apparently that’s ok, which is good, because I was trying to develop a plan just to develop a plan (which I would probably then color code…).

Examples: Acuff gave an analogy of a soccer player scoring a goal. He could never predict the exact conditions of the moment of the goal.  Sometimes everything just lines up.  The soccer player had the passion and practice, and the rest worked itself out.  Another analogy was of an extreme skier.  He knew he could only plan about four moves at a time because as he got closer to obstacles/choices, exact predictions would be impossible. To quote Jon Acuff, “The conditions of your dream will change as quickly as that mountain face [reference to the skier analogy]. New opportunities will come into view. Unexpected obstacles will arise.  And while your passion will remain the same, your plan has to be flexible enough to accommodate them.”

I’ve always been a believer in writing down my goals.  I heard or read somewhere that when we write things down, we are more likely to accomplish or achieve whatever it is. So, I guess writing down the final goal and waiting to fill in the details of the journey when we can makes the most sense. Depending on where we write these goals, we may also increase accountability.

This blog is part of my practice for my writing passion.  Not only am I practicing my writing, but I’m also declaring that I will work on getting my adolescent novel published in some form as soon as possible.  I am going on a mission trip to Costa Rica this summer to try to get some practice for my other passion of working with survivors of human trafficking.  My true and ultimate goal is that one day my passions can collide.

One other idea from Acuff’s “Chapter 5: Wait on the Main Stage” is that it’s good to start out invisible while we practice our passions.  It gives us a chance to mess up without pressure.  Now I can continue to practice in this blog and not worry about my small following, which does not even include my own mother, because this is my Nebraska phase (read the book if you want to know what that means).

Let Freedom Ring!

It’s been some time since I have felt compelled to contribute my “voice” to cyberspace, but I’ve been ruminating on much: my future, human trafficking, serving people and God.  How can all of these ideas coexist?  A better question may be, how can these ideas not exist together for me? Many of the thoughts I have been pondering will remain deep in the caverns of my mind for a bit longer, though I will expound on my recent thoughts on the atrocity of human trafficking: the imprisonment of human beings against their will for the purposes of trade and profit.

Last Sunday was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and this Monday many of us get to enjoy a day off from work to celebrate President’s Day. President Lincoln remains one of the favorite presidents among many, even to this day.  Talk about being a president up against hard times!  Yet he was able to reunite our nation (which is a good thing since other countries were waiting and hoping our young republic would fail even then) and end slavery in the United States, neither of which was a small or easy task. Yeah, he’s one of my heroes. The cool hat is just a bonus.  However… I cannot help but imagine Lincoln would feel heartbroken to learn that slavery still exists, not just in other areas of the world, but IN OUR OWN COUNTRY as well.

Then I also think of William Wilberforce, who spent his life working to abolish the African-British slave trade. Just three days before he died, he was informed of the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, and he was able to die with the peace that his life’s work had not been in vain.  Though I cannot help but imagine Wilberforce would feel demoralized if he learned that worldwide slavery still exists.  In fact, there are an estimated  27 million people enslaved today, which is more than double the number of Africans enslaved during the entire Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

People unwittingly believe that slavery no longer exists, or they feel it is happening in remote areas of the world, and so they care little about the matter.  If people are ignorant to this activity it is because those of us who do know need to keep spreading the word and make people aware.  Creating the awareness is the first step to take in order to make a difference.  But for those who do know yet choose to ignore it or to believe whatever is happening in remote parts of the world is of no concern to them, they are just as guilty as those who actually shackle other human beings.

In my efforts to educate people on the matter of human trafficking and modern day slavery, I actually have had people ask me not to tell them about it because it’s awful and they didn’t want to know something that bad exists.  Why not?  Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away! Should we behave like ostriches and stick out heads in the sand?  Facing it head on, spreading the word, and working to abolish slavery in all its evil facets is the ONLY way it will end.  Otherwise we’re just big stupid birds with our butts in the air.  If this makes you angry, good.  Get angry.  Get downright furious… and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”  Albert Einstein

My husband and I watched Taken starring Liam Neeson last night.  I know as a Christian that I am not really supposed to promote violence, but I have to confess that I enjoyed the idea of these evil people involved in forcing unsuspecting young women into prostitution “getting what they deserved.” Sure, the movie is fictional, but there is truth in it too.  This sort of thing truly does exist and it makes me angry.  Most often it is in a similar form to that of what takes place in the movie, but young children are also sold, kidnapped, and forced into it as well.  In fact, up the 1.2 million of these victims are children, some of them as young as six years old!  At this point, angry seems a weak word, but whatever it is, it is a righteous anger.  God wants us to be angry at injustices because we should not accept them; we need to find ways to stop them.  This doesn’t mean we become vigilantes, but we can certainly start by informing others of these injustices and contributing in whatever ways we feel we can to prevent, to rescue, and to rehabilitate.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get JUSTICE.” Proverbs 31:8-9

Here are some of the groups I know of that are fighting against human trafficking. There are more of them out there.   Nefarious: Merchant of Souls trailer

Love 146

FIGHT (Fight Injustice and Global Human Trafficking)

Somaly Mam Foundation

Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

Team This is STILL my AWESOME back