just a monday like today

It was four weeks ago, but I can still feel unsettlement down in my tummy thinking about that drive.

It was any Monday, almost. A Monday of a new week, a hard day, a beginning day, a day on which to go love people and praise Jesus and try a little more to understand and pass on that marvelous love He keeps giving.

Also a motion-sickness Monday.

We were in India, eleven of us. Kolkata. We took Monday to go out to the village. The week prior we went to children’s’ centers and learned and loved and selfied with them littles (they love seeing their faces all caught up in a screen). This week we’d go see women and jobs and watch them reclaim dignity and claim Christ for the first time. So we bounced along past the underpasses and Victoria Memorial and some cows and a soccer game and fields of Jute. We ended out there in a green place with rocky paths and busted cement and sweet women, all learning to sew.

These women had stories like none I’ve had before. They had stories of terror and running away. Stories of pain and learning that maybe loved ones aren’t loved ones like they first thought. But they were sewing new stories. They were stitching stories of crimson and beauty and letters and chances and grace. They were stitching diligence and joy and education and stitching together their lives, because many weak threads make a stronger rope.

They sat down and we sat down and we admired those stitches, because those stitches represented standing up and healing and drying the tears, and sometimes letting the tears flow. Those stitches represented courage and walking tall and holding hands.

One story there was still unstitched into any fabric. This story was too recent. No soft healing pattern had set in gently, like a thread hugging its linen plane. She smiled softly at us and folded her hands and listened uncomprehending as English words took her story and put it where we could feel it and understand it; put it in our tears.

Tears she could understand, and hugs. We took her precious story and wrapped it in all the love we had to share. I promised her I’d bring it back with me. I promised her the pain and the wrong would be remembered and lifted up in another country a sea away, and she could feel known. I promised her that if she could only feel my arms around her for a few minutes, she could feel my thoughts around her much longer. I cupped her little face as long as I could, but I still keep that little throbbing heart cupped so gently in mine.

I still cry thinking of that sweet one.

Dear little sister, I miss you and I want to hug you again. I want to tell you about love so marvelous and pure it cannot help but heal. I pray for you, and I keep working for you. I work for all the girls like you here; the ones who don’t know how much better it can be, and the ones who smile sadly if they smile at all, and the ones with hearts so busted and piecey they don’t think there’s fixing for them.

Take those stitches, and let them help you. See how much beauty your untrained fingers can thread out, and think of the ties a heart can thread out. Think of that love stitching your pieces as your fingers stitch that crimson on that linen, and know it works. You pull fabric together and He can pull your heart soft and melty into one piece again. Tie that thread up tight and firm, and feel him wrapping and wrapping your heart in a love that can’t be untied.

Let’s hug again, sweet pea, up there when we can be all whole and lovely like He made us.

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we did this stuff

I probably have several dissatisfied friends.

It’s rather like shopping together, and not coming out of the dressing room to model your sweet new finds. One does not simply travel and not tell everybody.

Did I mention all these people are praying for me and helping me go? So they deserve a story. The thing with India is that it doesn’t fit in a blog post. It doesn’t fit in two weeks or a month or a dream or a picture. Even the little, tiny, teeming India I met won’t fit in a blog post and a photo and a gasp. So I’m going to tell it in pieces. This piece, here, is the piece in which I tell all the things. The new things. Stuff. We did stuff. It was amazing.

We flew. There was a lot of flying. I love flying. Never have I ever been soaring over Greenland and wondered over the tippy mountains stacked all tiny below. Never have I traced the outline of Great Britain on an airplane window in my mind while imagining our track across it under the clouds. Never have I settled down into a French airport like a bird cupping its wings and settling.

wpid-wp-1415247639446.jpegHere is a thing about travel. You learn. So when I thought that two euros equalled about a dollar, I discovered that two dollars equals about a euro. I paid eleven dollars for this coffee. I paid eleven dollars for this coffee. It’s a story, I s’pose.

wpid-wp-1415247697724.jpegWe saw monkeys! I should qualify that. The whole monkey-seeing trip involved: carsickness, our first real Indian food, a view of the Indian countryside, and the Taj Mahal. Please, please don’t ask me to explain the Taj. It’s not wordable, really.

wpid-wp-1415247874525.jpegSuffice it to say… No. No sufficing, because it will not suffice to say. Ya’ll, the Taj was just darn amazing. My camera was dead. (Your bewailing will not avail – I’m already as sorry as possible about that misfortune.)

I did get a picture of it from Agra fort. Sorry for the terrible graininess.

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wpid-wp-1415385329649.jpegThis? This is the inlay work identical to what we saw in the Taj. Oh. How. Beautiful.

Hereafter is when the doings got dicey. The hellos were happy and heart-wrecking and the visits were wild and joyous and the names are precious and dangerous. I can’t share everything we did and all the people we saw, because I love them enough not to endanger them.

We saw children’s centers. Such sweet little kiddos! We hugged them and listened to their songs and selfied with them – they are selfie queens, I say – we held them and ate with them and told them stories and sang for them a bit ourselves. Then we prayed for them. We pulled the power of God out in words and silent hopes and we lavished all this love he gave us right back down on them.

We went out on our street and this diminutive lady grasped my arm and led me to her part of the sidewalk, where we got ourselves tats – tats drawn on in brown henna dye with tiny hands. You know, this silly little thing was happy, and productive. Our Indian guide has been establishing relationships with these ladies. She got to talk to them, and meet a niece of one, and maybe that niece will be in a children’s center soon. Small smiles and ink were part of the ministry too.wpid-wp-1415385533896.jpegWe went to a place in these little rickshaws! Ah, rickshaws. They’re silly! They sound and smell like weed whackers, and they’re three-wheeled autos. There are bike- and hand-pulled rickshaws also, but we took auto-rickshaws. It was exciting, folks.

wpid-wp-1415385817746.jpegThis haze, here? It was there everywhere. I don’t know what it’s from, but it made a nice airplane picture. I have too many airplane pictures. Many much love for flying, I have.

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So. I have a heart-lesson probably that I could share on each picture here, and I have a happy and sad moment, and hard ones, and laughing ones. But the stories, the heart lessons, they’ll have to follow. I’ll be back.

Use the Dusty Dreams

Well I’m going somewhere soon.

Far.

I’ve never left the country before. Now I am. I’m going to India. It’s a bit wild and crazy, and we’re not just going all touristy and happy to spend money and what. We’re going to learn about human trafficking and heart ache and sad things.

It’ll be hard, and I don’t know how much hurt I’ll come back with. I don’t know how I’ll have to handle that hurt, but I know I want to use it for others. Other people hurt and that’s why we’re going – to learn about their hurts and show them we care and to come back and do things to prevent and rescue and heal their hurts.

Anyway. Helping people’s a bit of a dream. Cheering and encouraging and all? It’s a happy thing. I love when I send a little text (in which I often look a little stupid) and seeing “Pahahaha! Laughed so hard I almost peed!”

It’s like a score. I made a laugh! I made something happy, and it cheered a person! I love that. Hopefully this will be something like that. I know it’s different. It’s tough and hard and old and strong and it breaks people. Trafficking breaks people. But God? He puts people together. I want to be part of that.

Dream, people. Make a goal and dream. Hard dreams are good. Do them hard things. It’s worth it.

Here – this video? It’ll maybe motivate you. Go pick that dream up and dust it off and make a plan for it.

Oh yeah. I meant to say – don’t look here too often in the next two weeks. Won’t be much, darlins. My jet-lagged, learning-busy brain won’t have time for the putting together of many words. But look on Instagram! I’ll be posting stuff there and trying to keep track of all the amazing things happening.

Yeah, There’s an App for That

No.

I want to puke. I wish I could hurl the ugly and abusive practices and realities out of myself and out of this place and run far away. I’d never come back. I’d never let anyone come back. We’d never look at this agin except to recover from it.

I’m speaking of sexual trafficking and prostitution. Learning about this breaks me and you wide open and hurt, but for the sake of those dear ones broken wide open so terribly and often, let us learn a little, please.

Allow me to splat facts at you.

There are 27 million estimated trafficked people in the world.Roughly 80% are women. Roughly 80% of trafficking is sexually related.

There are twenty-one million women being sold for their bodies.

I knew about this. I remember hearing that word – prostitute – as a child when my parents read us some of the Bible stories and interrupting hastily “what is that?” “When you’re older, sweetheart.” Sweetheart. Thankfully, I trusted that God-forsaken knowledge to my parents for many years. Sweetheart.

I don’t want to think of the false endearments these girls hear every night.

Then I learned what it meant. I learned it happened in the past. Somewhere, I learned that it wasn’t just a thing of the past. In my innocent, darling-ed and sweetheart-ed and childlike life, I didn’t connect it to now. I didn’t connect it to here. I didn’t connect it to places I have been, places I have lived, or people I could have been.

I did, though. Last year. I wandered a bit on that world wide web and tangled myself in something crying for justice. I blinked and recoiled and wondered and grew a little angry.

No. Not in this place. Not in this time. Not to these people – to any people. No.

But yes. Yes in truck stops when she stretches her legs. Yes in cafes where her customer service plays to his stalking. Yes in broken homes where Mom’s boyfriend never should. Yes in destroyed families where the paternal one isn’t called Daddy. Yes in times when she just felt lonely and he just pretended to love. Yes when she trusts someone new and he breaks somebody new. Yes when that’s what Mom did, and it seemed like a living. Yes when brothels are legal some places.

Somebody cry with me! I don’t want to write anymore.

That is not all. Achingly not all. See India?

Yes when Mama and Papa groom her for this. Yes when one whose pockets jingle “needs” her. Yes when her sister or mama needs money. Yes when she is promised a job and receives a beating.

Let me show you something.

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I love these beautiful little honeys, these sisters of mine. It’s a lovely thing knowing they’re alive and gorgeous and happy, and just loving them and them loving me – we’re glad together.

And yeah, I have dark nights and weepy days and tests I don’t pass and a temper I don’t want to tell you about, and I struggle to comfort them and we all cry together or take selfies for instagram when we should be laughing (and eating our unfrozen yogurt).

But. We have a beautiful life. We have not been owned, but nourished. We have not been sold, but sold ourselves out to God. We have not been cheaply priced by pricelessly loved.

I cherish our freedom.

Enough?

The pain and anger you read (recoiled from?) at the beginning of this post come from a deep angst over a new app – an app to connect johns with pimps and prostitutes. With the simplicity of tapping a button, they can put in their preferences. Not only can people search for this stuff and find it, but it has been organized and searched out for them. I am horrified. Please take the time to read this article by Eric Metaxas.

Be shocked and angered with me.

I can’t say more now. I will, because I can, and I care. But now now. Please come back and see it. I’m going to India, and I’ve hosted 5k runs, and I love the sweet abused hearts of those girls, and I have stories and hurts and victories to share, and I want you to be educated about this.

We can help, folks. Please begin by praying for these girls.

Grace always,

-GG