The Ultimate Gift

I hope you and yours enjoy some sweet time with your family as you think about the birth of our Lord and the Ultimate Gift. Enjoy this post from a few years ago, and you’ll hear from me again in the new year. Tomorrow is the last day I’ll be raising money for Exodus Road, and I’d love it if you’d consider giving.

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Colin superman

It was Christmas morning. We sat on the floor surrounded with crumpled paper and presents watching our then one-year-old daughter squeal and clap over her gifts. The tree twinkled on and off while out of the corner of my eye, I saw our then four-year-old son, Colin, climb onto the couch wearing his coveted new gift – a Superman cape.

Before my head could even fully turn to look at him, he lifted his arms and launched his small body up and out through the air. As quick as he jumped, he fell to the floor – flat on his stomach. I gasped and moved, in motherly instinct, to check on him, but he was standing before I could reach him. With hands on his hips and his eyebrows furled, he stared at us in disbelief and said, “This thing doesn’t work.”

We still laugh over the memory of that Christmas morning. Kids and adults alike wake up Christmas morning full of expectation. We hold our breath hoping the gifts we’ve selected are the right ones. Our hearts quicken as we unwrap the ones marked for us, wondering if our loved ones heard our subtle hints for particular items.

But there is a gift that always works. It never needs batteries, and it’s one size fits all. It’s the gift of Christ. He is the ultimate gift for anyone on your list. So, as you prepare for the oohs and ahhs of Christmas morning, add just one more present under your tree. Give Christ away this Christmas.

But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NIV

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Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Carol

Christmas Card Prayers

5 Minutes for Faith - Contributor

It’s the beginning of December when they start making their appearance. First as a slow trickle, but then two by two they march into my mailbox – Christmas cards…

I’m posting about Christmas traditions over at Five Minutes for Faith today. Join me there today to read about one of our family’s traditions. Click HERE to read.

 

Have you considered donating to help Exodus Road conduct a raid to help deliver women and children from slavery? I’ve raised $310 towards the $1,400 raid. Click the donate widget below to give from their secure site. Even $10 goes a long way! There is only one week left to give for this particular mission.

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Carol

Where Do We Go From Here?

My daughter left this morning talking about tomorrow’s party. It is Christmas after all.

She labored over what to wear, wanting to look Christmas-y, but not finding anything to fit the bill. We talked about her earrings, wondering which would be better – reindeer or snowmen. I brushed her long brown hair, careful to avoid the tangles and noticed how it shined.

I helped tie her shoes and reminded her to wear her jacket. We had waffles for breakfast, and I packed a pretzel and cracker mix for her snack. I drive her to the bus stop every morning, mainly so I can go in pajamas.

I put her on the school bus and waved at her sweet face in the window as it pulled away.

In light of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary, each day now is impressed in my memory, every detail etched with care.

I can NOT fathom what the parents there are going through. All I can think of is how 20 mothers zipped up 20 jackets for the very last time on Friday.

Reading the events of the day chill my blood. I am a former teacher. I’ve been in a school on lock down. I’ve closed my curtains, discreetly locked my door, and pulled the kids to a corner of the classroom away from the door and window to read a story. Thankfully for me, there was no shooter, only an unidentified man in the building.

The nation is reeling from the cruelty of it all. People are fighting over guns and slinging mud over issues in total disregard of the broken parents who walked past empty beds all weekend.

So where do we go from here?

We can’t allow something like this to happen and remain unchanged.

How can I change from this, you ask? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Slow down
Don’t get so busy living you forget to enjoy life. Take the time to paint little fingernails. Read stories at bedtime. Play a video game or a round of Chutes and Ladders with your little ones. Kiss your spouse a little longer. Order dessert – first! (Just every once in a while.) Stay up later just to snuggle.

Tell the people in your life how you feel about them. Then take it one step further and show them.

2. Recognize and honor your child’s teachers
I’ve been a teacher and it’s not an easy job. And the pay stinks. Teachers are subjected to every kind of germ possible on any given day. They are expected to learn each of our children’s learning styles and teach to it. We want them to remember all 24 kids afternoon transportation routines and make sure all test scores are in the on-line grading system within hours of test. We expect them to be super-human.

That being said, why would anyone want to be a teacher? Because they love children. They love your children. Wasn’t that obvious when first grade teacher, Victoria Soto, from Sandy Hook Elementary was found over the bodies of her children as she tried to protect them?

So, write your children’s teacher a thank-you note. Buy her a thoughtful Christmas gift. Stop by every once in a while just to ask how she is doing. Send chocolate – lots of chocolate. And next time you feel super frustrated, give her grace.

3. Forgive
It’s easy to want to hate the person responsible for this shooting. While I hate what he did, I must remember I shouldn’t hate the person. Hate only hurts me. I don’t understand the circumstances of this young man’s life to make him do such a thing, but it saddens me. Was he not shown love at home? Did he truly suffer from a mental illness? Only God knows for sure, but we have to forgive him if we ever expect God to forgive us of anything.

There is freedom in forgiveness. Perhaps there is someone else you need to forgive. Today is a great day to do it.

4. Reach out
Offer a hand to the people around you. No matter the reason for this shooting, the shooter was hurting. There are so many people around us every day who are slowly dying on the inside. Take time to notice those people and don’t be afraid to offer aid.

That’s what being a Christian is really about. It’s not about following a set of rules or wearing witness tees. It’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Leave an uplifting note on the mirror in a public bathroom. Pay for the person behind you in line at the drive-thru. Smile at someone who is having a bad day. Drop off food at your local food bank and ask if they need help. Donate to help free women and children from slavery. Buy some chickens for family in poverty.

You see, friends, satan wants to use these events to tear us down and tell us there is no hope. But we have hope in Jesus. And although horrific, events like this can make us stronger. But only if we let them.

Will you?

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:11 NIV

*Photo credit

 

Carol

When You Forget the Words

We were in the middle of the prayer when she cried out. My husband paused, and we squeezed open our eyes a little to see what the problem was.

“I wanted to do Thank You Father.” My three-year-old pouted. We asked our eight-year-old if she wanted to pray, but forgot to offer the opportunity to the littlest member of our family. By this time our youngest child, Grace, was in tears…

Join me at the Cafe today. Grab a cup of coffee and click HERE to read the rest of my devotion.

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Have you considered helping women and children escape a life of slavery? I would love for Sheep to the Right readers to fund an entire raid. One raid is $1,400 and we’ve got a good start! Click the widget below to donate. Donate in someone’s name for a unique and meaningful Christmas gift!

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*Forgive me if I’ve been posting infrequently. Our family has all been sick and now we are knee deep in preparing for Christmas. In light of what happened on Friday in Newtown, CT, I’m spending more time taking in every moment with my family. Please don’t forget to pray for the families in mourning.

Carol

Let My People Go – An End to Modern Day Slavery

 

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Exodus 20:2 NIV

God has a plan for everything.

Let me repeat that because I want that to sink in with you.

God has a plan for everything.

When the Israelites were in captivity for hundreds of years in Egypt, God had a plan for their deliverance. He used Moses, with the help of Aaron, as a mouthpiece for freedom.

“Let my people go.”

Moses delivered God’s message again and again until the miraculous release of His chosen people.

While this story is ancient, the practice of buying and selling individuals into slavery is as modern as you and me. There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today, and every 60 seconds a child is sold into slavery.

I think I’ve mentioned before when people start talking statistics about human trafficking and children being sold for prostitution, I’d like to close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and sing, “La-la-la-la…”

But as much as it hurts, it’s time to open my eyes and ears. But even more so, it’s time to open my mouth. I am excited (and scared to death) to tell you I’ve joined with an incredible non-profit organization called Exodus Road.

Like Moses, I will be the mouthpiece and deliver God’s message, “Let my people go.”

The guys at Exodus Road are on the front lines of fighting human trafficking.

They work to collect evidence on where children are being sold into prostitution and they work with authorities to conduct raids to rescue these young people and prosecute those responsible. As of now, their work is mainly in SE Asia.

My job is to share the stories.

Meet Sarah.

Laura Leigh Parker, the Director of Communications for Exodus Road, tells Sarah’s story.

“We met Sarah in a brothel in Cambodia.”

There was a line of prostitutes behind a glass wall, a fishbowl they call it. They were sitting on high bar stools, with heavy make-up and short skirts, numbers pinned to their shoulders, displayed for the customers on the other side of the glass.

And then, they brought in Sarah. She was “fresh,” the pimp had told our lead investigator over the phone. Sarah was dressed in street clothes, head down, hands fiddling nervously with a napkin. She was 15 and had been sold by her mother in a neighboring country several days before to work off a debt which her mother owed. Sarah’s virginity had been sold three days prior for $600 USD.

Sarah could not speak the local language, was kept under close watch daily, and had no access to a cell phone or any communication from the outside world. She had been slipped illegally across borders by a system of traffickers that has become a global highway of modern day slaves.

With covert cameras, our investigators were able to record the sale of Sarah for the night, capturing valuable evidence that could be passed on to the trusted authorities in hopes of the pimp’s prosecution. Later, behind a closed door, our operative was able to call a social worker who spoke Sarah’s language. He explained that he was there to help her, not to hurt her, and that he could aid her escape if she wanted.

Unfortunately, Sarah was too scared to run, too scared to trust a stranger, understandably.

The following day, our investigator returned to visit Sarah in the brothel, just blocks away from a crowded local market. She scribbled a note, “Please Rescue Me,” on a bill and slipped it to him.

She wanted out, but didn’t know the way.

Immediately, our investigator gave his testimony and video evidence to the authorities and asked the government to conduct a raid on Sarah’s behalf. It was believed that 10 or more girls were also being held against their wills at the same brothel where we found Sarah.

And so she waits. And suffers.

But what Sarah doesn’t know is that rescue is coming.”


Here’s the thing I love about Exodus Road. You can literally fund a raid, and they will share with you who you have helped escape slavery. One raid is $1,400. Sounds like a lot, right? But can you put a price on freedom?

So here’s what I’d like to do. What if Sheep to the Right readers funded a raid? And I could tell you the story of our raid? It’s mind boggling to think of.

Exodus Road is actually having a little contest between those on the blogging team. For two people who either raise the most money or have the most people donate, those bloggers will travel to SE Asia this January to see what’s going on first hand. Would you like to see me go to SE Asia and blog from there?

Will you help me free children from slavery? Every donation counts. $10, $15, $50… you name it. Please give, and share this post with anyone else you think has a heart for helping others.

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Together we can make a difference.

Connect with Exodus Road on Twitter and Facebook.

Carol