“Bring back our girls!”

Suffer the little children. . .
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (NIV)
(Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. KJV)
Matthew 19:14

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
― Margaret Mead
DSCN0263
(Stain-glass window of St Anthony of Padua / located in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist/ Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

I cannot allow one more day to pass without noting the terrible barbarism taking place in Nigeria.
With the abduction of the nearly 300 girls, taken from school–the place they had gone, thinking they would be safe in order to take their end of term final exams—my heart cries out within me.
I cry out as a mother who’s heart shares the anguished grief of so many other mothers in Nigeria.
I cry out as an educator for the safety of those students entrusted to a teacher’s care.
I cry out as a human being who is outraged by the barbaric treatment of children by cold and calculating adults.

Our world grows ever darker.

The sinister shadows of sex trafficking and of a modern day slave trade twist and distort what bright light remains shining in this world. When we allow the marginalization of our children– be it in the latest trauma in Nigeria, the shanty drug dens of Rio de Janeiro, the impoverished isolated communities of southern Appalachia or the myriad of children living in squalor worldwide–the light of our hope grows ever more dim.

Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden”, is the latest group in a long list of terrorist organizations hell bent on jihad against humanity. Abducting then selling children–children which are seen as simply as the spoils of war, is one of the most heinous and reprehensible acts that one human can inflict upon another. It is beyond my soul how terribly detached a human can become, so much so that they regard children as a mere commodity for human depravity.

Helplessness and an unquenchable sorrow now strangles almost 300 Nigerian families.
300 families that we have knowledge of—the question remains. . .
how many more families suffer without the world’s knowledge?
How many more families, in the family of humankind must suffer?
How many more children must be exploited and used for the sick twisted pleasure of disturbed individuals?
How many more people must become less than, before we, the people with the voices, join together to shout a collective “NO MORE!”

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
Matthew 18:10

Renewing a darkened spirit

DSCN0254

“God aims first to renew man’s darkened spirit by imparting life to it, because it is this spirit which God originally designed to receive His life and to commune with Him. God’s intent after that is to work out from the spirit to permeate man’s soul and body.”
Watchman Nee

This is a picture of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, GA. It is obvious upon first glance that the Cathedral is getting a bit of a facelift. If you ever travel much, especially to larger urban cities, particularly in Europe, you will certainly notice those buildings that are in the process of being restored, remodeled, renewed. The scaffolding is usually put up and immediately the entire surface is covered with a type of “drapery” film that usually has an image of the restored building or some sort of advertising. Seems the “powers that be” consider the draped film more attractive for viewers rather than the unsightly scaffolding–as the work is now going on under and behind the scenes.

Personally I think I prefer the scaffolding as I have the opportunity of seeing the actual work taking place. Drapery or scaffolding, either way, the look can be a bit unsettling especially when you walk up to the building expecting to see a historical, lovely and stately piece of architecture, but rather, you are met by a giant blanket or metal contraption.

It’s all about restoration. Whereas we may not be covered in scaffolding and drapery, we too get to the point where we need to be restored—we need some “work”—-and I’m not necessarily talking about the outside physical restoration that many seem to think so necessary such as a literal facelift, tummy tuck, a little augmentation here or there (see the post “These feet were made for Love”–March 27th regarding western culture’s obsession with physical appearance). Outside work has its place I suppose, especially as we may need to tone up and perhaps lose a little added weight, but it is the internal condition that is my focus today.

The restoration I speak of is what is needed on the “inside”–within our very being and soul if you will. I love this quote by Watchman Nee. He reminds us that it is indeed our spirit which is intended to be that which is receiving of God’s Spirit–however, we cannot do this if we are in poor shape. If our soul is dark or dim, if we have allowed ourselves to be swallowed up by our external lives without addressing our internal condition, then we are in no shape to receive, nor may we receive, the light of God. So the work must begin..and that work is not always what we think or believe necessary.

Restoration and renewal is a lifelong process as we are never where we truly need to be– which just means we are constantly having to have “a little work” done—that little analogy of God being the potter and us being the clay—as He gently and constantly works to form and shape us, most often having to always begin again and again.

I think I am glad that I am never where I exactly need to be–because I have yet to find myself to be “perfectly” complete. I may become comfortable and “situated” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m in a “good” place—there’s time for some “work”…a little remodeling.

I am greatly encouraged knowing that God is constantly at work on me, He never seems to throw His hands up in the air in frustration and walk off exclaiming that I am simply impossible to work with—which I know too often is actually the truth….but persevere He does—working, remodeling, repairing, polishing, preparing all that is within me, so that I may not only receive His light but that I may in turn reflect His light to others,

Here is to the remodeling of self and soul— just please excuse the mess as I am a work in progress!!