8.28.2013

Oh, how I agape you, Agape!

So. Our trip to Cambodia was documented by my church's resident pastor type filmmaker, the talented Mr. Rippl. (Heh.)

Dan did an amazing job bringing home the story of what God seems to be doing through Agape International Missions. His ability to magically change my sleep-deprived rambling from incoherent babble into strings of words that make sense is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. I'm saying this, here and now: Dan Ripple is an editing genius.

If you watch, you'll catch bits from Don and Bridget Brewster, Alf Evans, Brad Franklin, El Chupacabra, and me. For my part, it's possible that some facts (like which building is called what and which work is done where) are a little off, because delirium. But you'll get the idea.

To Bridget, Don, Alf, Isaac, and all the other friends (both Khmer and Khmerican - Ha! I'm on fire!) we met along the way,

May the Lord Bless you and keep you. 
The Lord make His face to shine upon you, 
and be Gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, 
and give you Peace.  

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

All the X's & O's,
~jamie



Cambodia. Agape International Missions
from Rippl Creative on Vimeo.

Oh. And because the camera man always gets the shaft, here's proof that Dan Rippl was actually there... on a scooter... with another man.

"LOOK AT ME, I'M ON A MOTHERF***ING BIKE!"
(Just kidding. He didn't say that)


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Please check out Agape International Missions at http://agapewebsite.org. They are truly doing redemptive work in a broken world. Feel free to give them your love and encouragement in comments.


8.26.2013

Writers Guide: How to Not Write a Book in 5 Easy Steps


Step One: 
Tell everyone you are definitely for sure going to write a book. 
Don't leave anyone out! Include your friends and your family and your neighbors and the people who work at Starbucks (And maybe Target. But, like, only if it comes up organically, otherwise you sound like a douche). Oh. And don't forget to tell your literary agent. She'll probably want to know. And if some fancy publishers buy you lunch and give you presents? Tell them, too.

Step Two:
Stare at your computer for a while. Like, at least two years.

Step Three:
Make a list of why you should definitely for sure NOT write a book. It doesn't need to be long.

  1. Books are permanent. You cannot delete a book. (i.e. If your book sucks, you're screwed.) 
  2. Book writing is hard. Blogs are easy to write because you just take an idea, pare it down to the bare essentials, and - BOOM! - you've got a nifty little blog post. But blog posts for books are hard to write because they need a lot more words and stuff. Also? I think they're called chapters.
  3. You don't have time. (Ha. I could write fiction!)
  4. The people who promise they'd read your book are all in on the same huge practical joke. But you love jokes! So if you write a book and no one reads it, it'll be hilarious! And sad. 
  5. You're too... Lazy? Scared? Stupid? Bad at writing? ADD? Tired? Chubby? Silly? Unworthy? Choose one or more, or write in your own ____________________________ .
  6. If you're distracted by a book project, who will post pictures of the cat on Instagram?! 

Knives needs his public.

Step Four:
Lie. Tell yourself you never wanted to write a book anyway. Sip your coffee and feel satisfied. I mean, this wasn't even your idea...

Step five: 
Repeat steps One thru Four. Until you die.


It's that easy, friends! I hope you find this guide useful on your journey toward not writing a book. Ever.

Good luck and God bless!

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So. How do you not write a book? Do share.  (I'll be right over here... staring at my computer. *heavy sigh*)


8.21.2013

Accidental Activist


Ooh dang! I almost forgot to tell you about the scariest and most dangerous part of last month's trip.

Probably because I blocked it from my memory. The terror was too great. The fear too unbearable. The murderous rage welling in my gut for the man who put my life at risk was too... too... uneffingchristian.

It was three pastors and me who met at the church that morning to be picked up by an airport shuttle service. Three pastors and me whose trip almost ended before it began, the four of us clinging for dear life to the pleather seats of a long white van being driven by a crazed lunatic. One of those pastors was my husband and we looked lovingly into each others eyes and texted our tender goodbyes, first to our kids, then to each other.... “I love you. I'll be in your heart. ...Sue the shuttle company.”

We shared grave looks with each other as we floated in the air above our seats, launched from a speed bump at 85mph. We were all thinking the same thing, Pshhh. Surely, God wouldn't kill three pastors and a faith blogger all at once. But when our butts slammed back down, our brains rattling from the force of it, we began to suspect that He could easily dispatch one or two of us. Oh man, we recalled, His ways are not our ways.

By some real life miracle, we all lived, but I didn't walk away without a mark.

I think it happened when we screeched around a freeway offramp on two wheels, but it could have been when we flew, Dukes of Hazard style, off a curb. All I know is that when we left, I was wearing a brand new white t-shirt, and when we arrived, I was wearing a brand new white t-shirt with a big brown coffee stain. Right...on...the boob.

I've never wanted to kiss the ground before, but getting out of that guys basement cemetery hostel white van was one of the happiest moments of my life – immediately ruined by the realization that I would now get to travel 30 hours across the globe sporting a boob stain.

You know why? Because my life is all kinds of undignified.

And that's how I began my career as an activist. “We have a responsibility,” I hissed, “to report that mad man to his boss! That guy is a walking death trap. Do you hear me?! A DEATH TRAP! Someone will die if we don't stand up and do something.”

“Oh. And also? HE SPILLED COFFEE ON MY BOOB.”

Day 1.  Aaand 2. 

So I got on a plane with three pastors and a boob stain, and I did my best to hide it by covering it with my hair. Which means not only did I travel thirty hours with an embarrassing stain, I also traveled 30 hours with my hair down. (Dudes. This is like a really big deal.) I arrived in Cambodia, a beat down slob with stringy hair and bad breath, that death defying van ride a distant memory, if not for the constant reminder from the dark blobs on my upper right side. “We almost died!”, my boob seemed to cry out.

I know you feel bad for me. You should. A boob stain is no laughing matter.


But I learned something from this experience. (I'm a faith blogger, so that's pretty much what I do.)
I learned that to be an activist, you have to actually... y'know... act.

WHAT?! I know.

It's not enough to be outraged by indignity. It's not enough to feel passionate about injustice. It's not enough to raise awareness. I think it's Bob Goff who says, “Thinking about doing something is not the same as doing something.” And he's right. We can tweet and blog and share stuff on Facebook, but those things don't make us activists, they make us passivists. No, not pacifists - passivists, as in we just pass things along because we find them sad or scary or wrong or however emotional, but we never actually do anything. It's all for nothing if we never give our hands, or our time, or ~God forbid~ our money to the things that we care about. It's worthless if we never act.

I got on a plane enraged about a bad driver and a stupid coffee stain. 
I got off a plane enraged about humans being enslaved and abused the world over.

So I did what I usually do, I ranted and raved and then I passed the info on.

I told the story. I'm a faith blogger... so that's pretty much... what I do. *sigh*

But this time I knew that if I didn't act, my words would have no value. The story I told would be consumed and enjoyed by people who get off on these kinds of things – people like you and me. People who inadvertently participate in the exploitation of children (and women with boob stains) by eating up their stories, passing them along, and never doing a damn thing about it. Good people who mean well, but either don't know how to help, or, if we're being honest, don't want to help because helping usually calls for some kind of icky sacrifice.

So I acted, for once. Then I invited you to act with me.

And your response was so quick and so generous that in just one week (ONE WEEK!!!) we pulled together the resources to fully fund a team of investigators fighting slavery in SE Asia through The Exodus Road. Plus, many more individuals were spurred to get up and act in defiance of trafficking and slavery in their own backyards.

How cool is that?!

A coffee stain showed me that activism matters. And then you guys showed me that activism works.

I may be an accidental activist - but I'm an activist, all the same. 

…. …. ….

Are you an activist? Do you wanna be? Is it time to stop thinking and start doing? 

8.16.2013

This year is gonna be different! And other lies I tell us.


My kids are at school (Glory to God in Heaven) and I find myself sitting down in the morning, reveling in perfect silence (Thank you sweet baby Jesus) and sipping coffee while it's still hot (Praise the Lord).

Back-to-School is a time of big dreams in our house. It's a hope-filled, can-do, take life by the horns time of year. Back-to-school eve is just like New Years eve. But better, because the kids go to bed early and then, the next morning, they leave. We make loud resolutions about doing every last bit of homework and staying organized and putting on clean clothes and an actual truck load of deodorant every single day, no matter what. And we promise not to get distracted by chasing girls or playing video games or watching other people play video games on Youtube. (What the hell. Why is that a thing?!) We claim our victory before the battle has even begun, boldly declaring that we are gonna kick this school year squarely in the nuts. We got this!

And by we? I mean me.

It's mostly just me, shouting to my kids as they head upstairs carrying a Target bag full of socks and underwear and some bright new shoes from the Converse outlet. “THINGS ARE GONNA BE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR!”

Me, gazing across the table at their scruffy teenage faces. “We are not going to walk around with three rotten sandwiches, a half eaten doughnut, and an open bag of Cheese-Its in our backpack this year.”

Me, looking one kid straight in his ever-rolling eyes. “We are not gonna pull that crap we tried in Science last year. Because no. Never again.”

It's all me.

“We're gonna get up early!” 
“We're gonna eat better!”
"We're gonna play board games!" 
"We are going to the gym!”

Oh, the delicious hope of a new school year. I live for that first morning, when everyone is up on time, dressed so cute, teeth really brushed, on a high of nervous excitement. That day, and usually only that day, is when I get to say, “Today, we all have straight A's!” And then the angels sing in a harmony of agreement.

On the first day of school, I can't wait for them to get home. I want to hear all about everything and how it went and who's in their classes and do they like their teachers – spit it out, every detail. But I especially love the first day of school because there's no homework, and that means no fighting or lying or half-assing, and no supervising. Yay!

But this year, on the first day of school, my sophomore did have homework. He had to fill something out, or write something in, or check something off... I don't even know. I couldn't believe he had homework. Appalled, I was like, “What's the deal? We never have homework on the first day of school.”

And he shrugged his shoulders, “I had to bring my classwork home because I forgot to take a pencil.”
To. School

Awesome. 

*sigh* ... We are so screwed. 

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Are you celebrating back-to-school? Or do you mourn for summer?