Posts Tagged ‘human trafficking’


by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

True grace is shocking, scandalous. Without Grace there would be no second chances. Grace shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to people and touching them with mercy and hope.

Grace forgives the unfaithful spouse, the racist, the child abuser. It loves today’s AIDS-ridden addict as much as the tax collector of Jesus’ day.

“Amazing Grace” is one of our most beloved hymns, written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton. Containing a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see.

But what is Grace?

Lets take a minute to go on a journey of Grace. Look at stories of grace, touch grace, feel grace and see grace.

Grace is given and never earned. Grace absorbs this world’s hostility and doubt yet responds with patience and forgiveness.

Max De Pree the CEO of Herman Miller Inc., tells a story from his own experience that vividly demonstrates the power of a literal, physical touch of grace.
Soon after De Pree’s married daughter became pregnant, her husband moved out and abandoned her. So she was alone when the baby was born about four months prematurely. “I went to the hospital to see my new grandchild for the first time,” De Pree recalls, “and there in that incubator was a tiny little baby, about the size of my hand, with wires running from his body to a lot of monitors and machines.”
As he was watching his grandchild silently struggle for life, the senior nurse went to him and said, “Mr .De Pree, that baby’s father is not here, so from the next several months, you will have to be the baby’s surrogate father. Here’s what I want you to do. When you visit the baby, go to the incubator, put your hand through the cuffs, and stroke the child. As you touch the child with your hands, talk to the child. It’s very important that he experiences your voice and your touch together.”
Voice and touch – together.
The story of Gods grace is not only told in words. Our voice must be clear and our touch must be real. Our touch cannot tell the story, only our voice can do that.

 The touch of grace makes the story of grace come alive.

Shortly after the Madrid train bombings of March 2004, Bono and French music journalist Michka Assayas had a series of conversations.

I would like you to read to you what transpired in this interview.

This is Bono’s view on Grace.

It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace…You see, at the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics–in physical laws–every action is met by an equal or an opposite one.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic.

Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions.

If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my sin and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

U2 wrote an amazing song on ‘Grace’ – here are  some of the lyrics

What once was hurt
What once was friction What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty

Out of ugly things

Grace
She takes the blame She covers the shame Removes the stain
It could be her name

Everybody needs Grace, Everybody hungers for Grace.

Everybody has a story to tell.    Everybody has a wound to be healed and everybody wants to believe that God is real.

Grace shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to people and touching them with mercy and hope.

Grace forgives the unfaithful spouse, the racist, the child abuser. It loves today’s AIDS-ridden addict as much as the tax collector of Jesus’ day.

True grace is shocking, scandalous.

Without Grace there would be no second chances.

Grace takes the blame covers the shame and removes the stain
Grace truly is still amazing.


Originally posted at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/20/kids-and-divorce-_n_5170182.html

By Tara Kennedy-Kline 

Divorce can really suck. Two people, at one time so in love they committed to spend the rest of their lives together, find themselves communicating through lawyers and dividing assets and possessions so they can start their lives over again — on their own. But for families with children, there’s a whole other layer of complication and planning, and too often kids don’t have a voice in what’s happening. The only measure of control kids may have (at certain ages and in some states/countries) is choosing which parent’s house they would like to live in. But that’s just geography. What about the feelings that accompany a house torn apart, and their unspoken expectations of a life lived with a whole family?

The most vivid and painful memories many kids from divorced families have of early childhood aren’t of playground scuffles, skinned knees or getting in trouble. Instead, they relive scenes from their parents’ divorce. Kids of all ages — some barely aware of their own roles in the world — are acutely aware of events, situations and actions in families divided.

After working with hundreds of families — and observing the behavior of kids as they struggled through the breakdown of their families — here are the top 12 things kids think about divorce, but don’t have the world experience to say directly. If they could find the words or the courage, this is what kids wish they could tell their divorcing parents:

1. You got divorced, not me. I know you hate everything about “your ex”, but your ex is still my other parent, and I still love both of you. Please stop talking badly about each other to me or in front of me; it just makes me disrespect you. Don’t gossip with your friends and family about them when I’m around. It makes me feel like crap and you look like a jerk.

2. I really don’t care which one of you gets the car, the timeshare, or Nana’s ashtray collection, so stop telling me about how pissed you are about it and how you feel it’s “unfair”. When you start putting all your energy into material things, you make me think that’s all you care about. Honestly, you should be more angry about losing our family than you are about losing your gym membership.

3. I trust you to protect me from bullies or people who would hurt me. I may need you to shield me right now from the stupid things other people say to me. I don’t have all the right answers, and my feelings get hurt really easily, so please stand up for me. Also, it’s not ok to let your newest “squeeze” discipline me. They don’t know me well enough to scold or even correct me. They have no idea what I am going through, and I lose trust for you when you let them push me around or hurt me — even if it’s unintentional.

4. When you’re talking to each other about visitation, please don’t talk about me like a project that needs to be “managed”. If it’s your weekend to spend time with me, consider the fact that I may really be excited to spend time with you before you let me overhear you say things like, “I have a date. Can’t you just keep her and I’ll cover your weekend?” And when it comes to big events, keep in mind that I have family that I love on both sides. So how about instead of letting a judge decide who I get to see on the holidays — ask me what I want.

5. Don’t use your failed marriage and bitterness toward the opposite sex as your reference when you lecture me about my friendships and relationships. I’m too young to bear your wounds. My friends are my escape from all the stress your divorce is creating, so you may want to not talk badly about them right now, that will just make me rebel against you more.

6. When you start dating again, don’t assume that I am going to love every person you bring home. I have my own opinions, and just because you like them doesn’t mean I’m going to automatically hit it off with someone you’re dating. Remember, you have a different set of criteria for this relationship than I do. Your new “friend” is not my friend, so maybe I don’t want to be nice to them. As a matter of fact, I might fight with them on purpose because I want you take sides — my side. If I’m getting upset please remember that I may be a kid, but I still have feelings. It might be time for us to spend some quality time together — just us.

7. Don’t insult or make fun of the gifts and things I receive from my other parent or the experiences I have with them and their family. This isn’t about you. If you’re jealous, then say that. But insulting the things I like, enjoy and am proud of just because they came from my other parent, only makes you look like a huge, petty brat. It also makes me think twice about sharing new things with you.

8. Quit telling me I’m “being dramatic” about what’s happening. Don’t dismiss my emotions. I’m allowed to be sad/angry/disappointed/depressed over the divorce of my parents. The family I knew for the whole of my life is ending, and I am scared to death. And from my perspective, you simply stopped loving someone who made you angry, so how long will it be before I do something to make you stop loving me? And on that note, now that I have realized your love has limits, be prepared for me to test those limits almost daily.

9. I would really appreciate it if the two of you could stop acting like children and come up with a plan that allows you to be in the same space at the same time without being mean to each other. For example: my birthday, sports events, recitals, concerts, and basically any time my other family, friends, coaches or teachers are around. If you could manage to put your own selfish crap aside and be civil with each other every once in a while, that would be great for everyone.

10. Please get on the same page when it comes to values, rules and discipline. When — out of spite for each other — you let me get away with stuff that even I know is wrong, you confuse and frustrate me. You teach me how to manipulate people and pit you against each other to get what I want. It is then that I stop taking either of you seriously. Just because you stopped being married, doesn’t mean you stopped being parents. I need you to teach me how to resolve conflict, not create it.

11. Please recognize that there are some things that my other parent is better at than you … and that’s OK! I won’t think less of you if you let Dad teach me how to catch a ball or Mom show me how to drive. I need to learn from both of you. When you take those experiences away, I can see right through you. I know you want to be able to do this whole parenting thing on your own, but I don’t want you to! I like making both my parents happy. I love seeing you smile when I do something you’ve taught me, and it makes me very happy when you compliment each other by saying things like, “You should ask your (other parent), they’re really good at that.” When you allow me to learn from and value both of my parents, that teaches me to appreciate the gifts in others and to ask for help when I need it.

12. When I do something to make you mad, don’t compare me to the person you divorced. “You’re a slob just like your father!” or “You whine and complain like your mother!” are statements that insult me, not the person you divorced. Remember, you left that person. You removed them from your life because of the very things you are identifying in me. Saying that you see things in me that make you think of the things you despise in them makes me feel unlovable and self-conscious — and it destroys my already damaged self esteem. If you want me to clean up after myself or speak more respectfully, then show me how, or make a rule, or talk about it. Just stop putting in my head that my actions are just as offensive to you as the person you divorced.

Divorce isn’t pretty or upbeat, but it’s also not a time to shut down. When kids are involved, it becomes necessary to open a door for conversation and realization of what your child(ren) are going through — and what they desperately need from both parents. It may be an “adult” situation, but the kids are very aware of what’s going on. Be there for them.


Jeremiah was depressed, as gloomy as a giraffe with a neck ache. Jerusalem was under siege, his nation under duress. His world collapsed like a sand castle in a typhoon. He faulted God for his horrible emotional distress. He also blamed God for his physical ailments. “[God] has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones” (Lam. 3:4 RSV).

His body ached. His heart was sick. His faith was puny … He realized how fast he was sinking, so he shifted his gaze. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him'” (vv. 21–24 RSV).

“But this I call to mind …” Depressed, Jeremiah altered his thoughts, shifted his attention. He turned his eyes away from his stormy world and looked into the wonder of God. He quickly recited a quintet of promises. (I can envision him tapping these out on the five fingers of his hand.)

1. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

2. His mercies never come to an end.

3. They are new every morning.

4. Great is thy faithfulness.

5. The Lord is my portion.

The storm didn’t cease, but his discouragement did.

Today’s devotional is drawn from Max Lucado’s Second Chances.


Romans 6:1-2 –“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

Sometimes we may hear that “freedom in Christ” means we are free from specific ceremonial practices of the Mosaic Law; that is, we don’t have to keep the rituals to be connected to God. However, real Christian freedom is more than just freedom from laws. It is freedom to choose life; freedom from fear, guilt and condemnation when we make a wrong choice; freedom to choose love.

By nature, we are not free. We are slaves to the law of sin and death (see Romans 7:14 – 15; 8:1 – 2). As long as we are under the law, we will fail—as much as we try not to and as good as our intentions may be.

If we trust Christ as our Savior, we are out from under the law of condemnation. When God looks at us, he sees the righteousness of Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Legally, we are not guilty (see Romans 8:1). Through God’s grace, the consequence of sin for the Christian is never condemnation or punishment from God. Yet many of us have a hard time believing that grace is free and complete and we can’t do anything to add to it in any way (see Ephesians 2:8–9). We just cannot believe that God accepts us even in our failures.

Under the Law
In God’s grace, the law is intended to be a standard by which to evaluate ourselves. It helps us to see where we need to change. There are at least five major consequences when we put ourselves under the law:

    1. Wrath. God is angry at offenses against him; it is part of his legal system, the law. That is why we need Jesus, the one who takes his wrath away (see Romans 4:15). But if we put ourselves under the law, we will be angry at God and ourselves.
    2. Condemnation. We feel guilty and condemned if we do not do what we should. Yet we have been cleansed “once for all by [Christ’s] own blood” (Hebrews 9:12).

    3. Separation from love. If we feel unloved when we do not do as we should, we are still under the law. God loved us while we were his “enemies” (Romans 5:10), before we were interested in doing as we should. Nothing we do can separate us from the love of Christ (see Romans 8:35 – 39). If we feel separated from God after trusting Jesus, we have put our­ selves back under the law.
    4. Sin increases. If we feel we should do certain things because punishment awaits us if we don’t, we have not “died to the law” (Romans 7:4)—and the law will have power over us. “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase” (Romans 5:20). In other words, the very method by which we are trying to change will produce failure. The more condemning voices we have inside, the harder it is to change a problem. Ask any addict.
    5. No benefit. Whenever we do something because we feel we should or because we think we have to, it is of no benefit because our motivation is not love (see 1 Corinthians 13:1 – 3; 2 Corinthians 9:7). Only when we are free can we love freely.

A Life of Freedom If we are not condemned for what we do or who we are, why not do whatever we want to do? “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1 – 2).

The Bible’s response to total freedom is a refusal to continue to live in destructive ways (see Romans 6:1 – 4). “By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law” and can now live “in the new way of the Spirit” (Romans 7:6). The Bible teaches that there are two paths — one that works and one that doesn’t. Both are reality: “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

In salvation, we are reconciled to God through Christ (see Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18 – 21). We are free to love and choose healthy ways of living. We do not have to love God or anyone else (see Joshua 24:15). But by looking in the mirror of God’s law, we realize that if we do not choose love, our lives will be empty. We begin to see that a life without fulfilling relationships has little meaning or fulfillment.

In relation to others, when we love them we give them total freedom as God gives us. We accept others, “just as Christ accepted [us]” (Romans 15:7). When they fail to love us or choose not to love us, we do not withdraw our love from them. We may confront them or express our sadness about their choice, but we do not condemn them.

And when we fail, we own our failure. With grace, we do not need to be defensive, for we are not condemned. Guilt says, “I should be different and if I’m not, then I’m bad,” so we get defensive. Grace says, “I see the standard and I’m not measuring up. I need help and love to change so that I can live.” We begin to seek God’s help to change. In a phrase, we “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).

Today’s content is drawn from Beyond Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Copyright 2014 by Zondervan; all rights reserved. Visit BoundariesBooks.com for more information.


A short while ago I watched the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and made a short Deepest, Darkest Secret video.  As I continued to watched the movie various Drax scenes stood out to me.  As I have stated before, now that I’m in recovery the Holy Spirit has allowed me to see movies differently and notice subtle (and sometimes blatant) recovery tones within the movie. 

The plot of this movie has been pasted below courtesy of Wikipedia:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team Guardians of the Galaxy, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the fifteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Guardians travel throughout the cosmos as they help Peter Quill learn more about his mysterious parentage.

What I saw in this movie was a humorous example of what to do when confronted with “another woman” in recovery.  This movie, although not therapy-accurate, brings humor to a very stressful and intense time in a man’s life.  Hopefully, men who are in recovery can see the humor in this movie as much as I do.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for purposes such as criticism, comment, teaching, & education, etc. This constitutes a ’fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED! All trademarks and copyrights remain the property of their owners.


One of the many joys in life is seeing how the Lord shows up in our lives, such as through our friends and family but especially through the hearts and acts of strangers.

A little over a month ago, pre-Harvey, a gentlemen from Tennessee contacted the Castimonia ministry after listening to one of our Sexual Purity Podcasts.    He is on the road to recovery and found the podcast useful and a blessing to him.  Then Harvey hit!

As many individuals in the ministry were recovering from Harvey, one Castimonia member in particular let me know that his house completely flooded and unfortunately he did not have flood insurance.  He and his family had to move out and live with his wife’s family until the water went down (which took almost a week) and the first floor of their home was rebuilt.  It is then that I asked the Lord for help.  I wanted to help out this Castimonia member and his family just like I was helped out so many times in my recovery.

The first thing the Lord answered with was to encourage a group of men to go to his house and help him and his wife “Muck Out” his house, removing several feet high of sheet rock, insulation, furniture, and other items.  This all day event turned into such a blessing for the men who were able to perform this work.

Then, the Lord prompted the individual from Tennessee about helping out post-Harvey.  He gathered people from his church for prayer and also sent a package of gift cards donated by him and his church family to our brother in Katy whose home was flooded!  How truly amazing it was to see a stranger multiple states away send a sign of hope to a family in Katy who he has never met.  And what a blessing for a church in Tennessee to gather around their brother in Christ whom they have never seen to bring some joy to this family in Katy.  I am amazed at God’s love and so blessed to have witnessed these acts of kindness.


by Bevill and Associates

Does it seem like the same thing keeps happening to you in all your relationships? Does your heart get repeatedly broken? When you are a love addict, your relationship is almost always the most important thing in your life. When it’s good, it feels really good. But frequently your relationships are unfulfilling, disappointing and maybe even painful.

You might think of yourself as the unluckiest person on the planet. Somehow you keep being attracted to people who appear to be everything you’re looking for at first, but in the end you never seem to get back as much as you give. This isn’t really because of bad luck. You have patterns in your relationships that continually repeat themselves. It’s important for you to recognize your part in these patterns.

Falling in Love Too Fast

Here’s an example. You have recently ended a relationship and are heartbroken. In a very short amount of time, you meet someone else. The encounter may be a random meeting, or it may be that you sought out a new partner through online dating sites or other means. Without allowing yourself time to heal from a breakup, you are immediately looking for a new partner.

Once you meet someone new, you fall head over heels in love. This is your soul mate, you are sure of it. Family and friends urge you not to rush in so fast, but you repeatedly fall deeply in love with people you haven’t known very long, and you get completely carried away with each new relationship.

Missing the Signs of an Inappropriate Partner

There are a lot of reasons why someone you meet may not be right for you. Some are more serious reasons than others. Inappropriate partners usually give off signs that you should pay attention to early on in a dating relationship. He or she may let you know that drinking is the most important thing in life or that he or she has been unable to hold a job for longer than a few months. Your new partner may need someone to lie for him or her or to be bailed out of trouble. Because you are so desperate to be connected, you disregard red flags that should stop you in your tracks.

Your pattern is to miss the subtle hints that your date isn’t mentally healthy or is unavailable to have a committed relationship. The signs are there, and you will recognize them as long as your head is in charge rather than your needy, vulnerable side.

Giving More Than You Get

Your partners are typically self-centered and emotionally unavailable. They may have a problem with alcohol or drugs. They may be married. But you try to win them over anyway.

Your pattern is to give a lot more than you get. You call more often. You may contribute more than your partner on a financial level. You’re quick to be available when your loved one needs you, but you find that when you need someone to be there for you, he or she may not always come  through. You wonder why you can’t seem to get back all the love you are giving.

Hanging On When It’s Not Working

When love causes more pain than joy, most people recognize that it’s time to end the relationship. The pattern of a love addict is to keep hanging on long after others would have given up. You keep hoping that the other person will change and that he or she will be all that you’re looking for. You look for reasons to blame yourself for whatever has gone wrong and you are continually trying different strategies to make the other person love you as much as you love him or her. This is a sign that you probably have a very deep-rooted fear of abandonment. To you, love is like a drug that you can’t live without.

Do you recognize your recurring patterns in your relationships? Once you realize that there are patterns and that you are participating in this self-destructive dance, there is hope that you can heal. You can learn to get past patterns of love addiction by working with a counselor or attending meetings of Co-Dependents Anonymous. Recovery starts with recognition of your patterns.