Saturday, April 30, 2016

Surprise!!!
















Had a super fun time this past week with my girlfriend, Heather and her hubby
from Oregon.  Heather and I  met in middle school and have been friends ever since.  We were in each others weddings, were room-mates for a bit during our college years but she left rooming with me to marry her sweetheart, now married for 21 years.   We have one of those relationships where we do not see each other for ages and when we do, we pick up right where we left off.

Tim (her husband) got a hold of me about a month+ ago and said he wanted to SURPRISE Heather and bring her to see me.  So, we schemed a visit and he pulled it off.  He called it "Operation Arizona".    I'm not exactly sure how he did it, but he has clients here in Arizona and made it look like a business trip that she was invited on.  She fell asleep as they were driving and woke up about 20 minutes from my house.  All at once she looks at Tim and exclaimed - "Doesn't Nita live somewhere in Arizona??"   All at once my phone starts to light up with texts - ding, ding!  "Nita, where do you live in Arizona?"  Oh no!  She is only minutes from my house after an entire
flight from Oregon and she wants to know where I live!  I ignore the text.  Tim gave me strict orders not to be on facebook posting or texting her before their arrival. :-)

 Meanwhile, Heather is captivated by a cactus in the middle of  a dirt road and wants a picture  - her husband pulls over and it just so happens to conveniently be the road we live on. He uses the excuse that he is going to turn around in these people's driveway, Heather is recognizing our house from photos she has seen and halfway down our driveway she exclaims, "This is Nita's House!"  She jumps out of the car and starts pounding on my door.  "LET ME IN!"  I instantly realized the secret Operation Arizona had been compromised. :-)  

That afternoon, as I was waiting for her,  I was like a nervous little school girl.  Destiny, my daughter, was laughing at me.  I would watch the road and then run inside the house to hide if a car approached (we live on a dirt road out in the middle of nowhere).  At one point a car approached slowly and our neighbor, on his golf cart, stopped to visit with the occupants - oh no!  I figured he would surely tell her that John and Nita lived "over there" but thankfully it was not her.   Finally we saw a car pull into our long driveway and I had Destiny grab the camera.  Next thing I know Heather is pounding on the door like Tarzan . . . I knew that she had cracked the code. :-)
We had such a wonderful weekend together.  We swam, laid in the sun and talked and caught up.  We BBQ'ed almost every meal, sat on the roof under blankets and the stars and just had a lovely time together.  I had not had any down time for awhile, so in the middle of this busy season it was a nice reprieve.  My kids love Heather because she loves to play and is super fun and athletic, so they enjoyed her attention.  I have some hilarious videos of Simeon trying to water ski in the swimming pool on his boogie board and Heath pulling it out from under his big jump.  I was laughing so hard I could hardly hold the camera.


I treasure those Forever Friends who, you know, will withstand the tests of time and seasons of life.  I often go over my Forever Friend list with my husband and ponder how wealthy I truly am. :-)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Poring Over Trafficking Presentation

The last few days I have been heads down in presentation writing.  I took on a project to teach a sex trafficking curriculum in our kid's school district.  After I started reviewing the materials that I had been trained in years prior, I decided that I wanted to update my 100 page power point and for the last three + days have been spending hour upon hour poring over topics such as sex trafficking, pimps, pornography, cyber-bullying, sexting, healthy boundaries, runaways, etc.  I have watched hours of teen videos trying to edit and pick out materials suitable for a middle school audience and without any major faith-based message.  This is nothing short of a miracle for me to do, because for me,
everything begins and ends with Jesus.  He is the author and the finisher . . . and the only true answer to freedom.  But, my goal in the public school system is to educate kids on dangers of sexual predators and how they are working tirelessly in our nation and nations of the world.  I fall into bed exhausted at night and thankful that I am able to sleep.  For those who have followed the horrors of sex trafficking, you know the stories are tragic they can keep you up at night.  Some stay in my memory for years.  But thankfully, I have had grace to sleep and I will not be telling the deep underbelly of trafficking to these kids, just opening their eyes and making them aware and hopefully safe.

            Music Video:   "You are Near"  Ryan & Cindy

As I review my materials and video clips, one of the super sad things to me, pertaining to children in the United Sates, is the stories of kids who have been trafficked since they were little by family members and are still going to school.  One acquaintance/friend I know, was trafficked from the age of 6-20.  She finally escaped at the age of 20.  But until then, she would go to school during the day and be trafficked and raped repeatedly at night and on weekends. She would try to tell teachers and people in her life but no one believed or intervened.  Another story that breaks my heart is a girl trafficked from 8-20 who went to her church and they rallied around her for her first
disclosure, but as she began to disclose more and the horrors of her life they pulled away unable to believe this was truly happening, leaving her alone for year after year in the hell she was in.   I find that this subject is just "too much" for people (understandably so) or advocating for a victim makes life too messy (I get it).  I have been knocking down doors in my geographical area to find a non-profit or organization that will provide counseling, intervention and mentoring to at-
risk-youth who share things after my classes.  Unfortunately, everyone refers you to Social Services and currently teens who are put in foster care are being trafficked.  It is reported that over 60% of kids trafficked are from foster care homes.  This is heartbreaking to me.  Our system is so flawed that sometimes I feel like I have my hands tied presenting options for the kids.

My ten year old says there are kids in his class sexually active.  My fourteen year old says most defiantly kids are sexually active in hers. Unfortunately, many, if not most, are active due to sexual abuse and circumstances outside of their control.  Names like "slut" and "ho" are common in my daughter's eighth grade. But in the midst of the super sad stories, one of the things I am so excited about doing
is weaving a message of VALUE into my presentation.   I hope to release a message that un-objectifies women and girls and invites them into significance and hope.  I hope to encourage boys to no longer glamorize a pimpin society but to see it for what it is.  Dark, exploitative, and deeply abusing.  I hope to show that pornography is destructive and what feeds the 27 million human traffic victims being exploited. I find there is so much I want to tell these kids about the greatness and worth inside of them and three classes per grade, I have been given, only skim the surface.

Some reading this blog may be asking, "what do I do if I see someone I think is being trafficked or I think a friend is being trafficked?"    The first thing to do, is to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at:  
1-888-373-7888       This center should be able to put victims in touch with resources in their area or contact a detective to come to the scene.  Recently I was at a
convenience store and a older teen girl, came in with a young man, who I thought was being trafficked.  I did not have an opportunity to speak with her alone and ask her but I followed them to the I-8 corridor that connects us with San Diego and is known for trafficking.  I called the trafficking center and reported a detailed description and I prayed!  I stormed heaven for this girl.  We can all do something.  Just be available. Report anything that is not "right in your gut".   If you are a follower of Christ - allow yourself to be led by Holy Spirit.   I dream of this modern day slavery being abolished in my lifetime.  I am seeking to make a dent in the 27 million human slaves around the globe - one opportunity at a time.

  Music Video:  "27 Million" Video LZ7 & Matt Redman

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Azusa NOW

Join my friends and family and myself online (if you cannot be there in person), in prayer, worship, unity and declaration over our nation and nations of the earth today, April 9th in prayer for a great spiritual awakening . . .

For fifteen years, The Call has gathered hundreds of thousands to the stadiums of America for solemn assemblies and catalytic gatherings in the spirit of Joel 2--a summons to prayer, fasting, repentance and sacrificial worship.
It's a fast, not a festival. The Call does not advertise bands, nor promote speakers. We are not about the exaltation of human personalities. We are about exalting the Lord and Him alone.
Our nation is in desperate need of the mercy of God and another great spiritual awakening, which will only come as the Body of Christ gathers together in prayer. We must drop every barrier that divides us and unite in prayer with the promise that God will pour out His Spirit (Joel 2).
Let's believe that stadiums will be filled with signs and wonders. We are entering into the days of a third Great Awakening and another Jesus People Movement. We are gathering together 100,000 on April 9th, 2016 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Look Who Is Here

 
Look at the Beauties who came to spend some of their spring break with us!  Our foster babes from Washington!  We have so enjoyed a quick visit from Julie on her way to help with Good News Clubs in Douglas Arizona.  We also have treasured some time with Johnny who is with us for a few days during his spring break.  What sweet moments together reconnecting and playing.  Love these guys!  They now live in  Washington and seem to be doing okay.  Julie just made the Cheer Team in middle school and Johnny told me he plays for hours a day with this neighbor friends. :-)
Tradition In-n-Out




Happy Resurrection

Weldon's On the Way To Church
Happy Resurrection Day a little belated! :-)  This last week flew by and I never did get a chance to express my Resurrection blessing!  I hope you celebrated all that Jesus accomplished for you on the cross with joy and thanksgiving.

I wanted to share something that has been on my mind that is congruent with Resurrection Day.  I have been hanging out in Hebrews lately and just finding so many nuggets that are moving me in this book.  But the one that really touched me in this season is Hebrews 5:7 that says, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him."  

In the mornings on our way to school we pass the cattle lots.  These lots are full of rows and rows of cows that are being fattened for slaughter.  I realize these cows are probably clueless what their final destination is, but imagine knowing that you are going to be slaughtered and killed and living day after day with that knowledge.  According to Hebrews 5, Jesus lived with a constant revelation that He was going to be the sacrificial lamb which purchased our salvation.  I would find it hard to get excited about life, or relax with that constantly over my head.  It makes the scripture from Hebrews 12 so profound that, Jesus, "for the joy set before Him endured the cross".  I/we were the JOY set before Jesus.  It was His choice to go to the cross and become our "eternal salvation".

There is so much more in the above scripture to unpack, but I am just settling on the one thought in this Resurrection Remembrance season.  Jesus cried loud, prayed, etc. to the Father regarding His future, but he submitted Himself to the Father's plan and obeyed for our redemption.  I am so thankful.  I am so touched.  How could Jesus love us that much, that He live with a constant awareness of impending death and not run from it but submissively embrace it?

I think of my own children and what it would look like if I placed them on the other end of the cross.  What if in order for them to be saved, I would have to endure something as dark as the crucifixion.  You may not have children that you love in that way, but you may have a close friend, a spouse, a parent . . . Jesus did this for us.  He set our faces, our lives, our eternal salvation before His own and endured such a horrific crucifixion and three days in the grave so we would have eternal life.  This Resurrection season - I am pondering and I am thankful for the full man and full God who walked the road of suffering, realizing it many years prior to His death, just for us.