While on our trip out west this summer, we stopped by the Devil's Wash Basin in Idaho. Fenceless chasms with lava black rocks were a surprising phenomena compared to the flat wind driven terrain surrounding it. On this expedition, my Kansas boy and his Idaho friend decided to venture to the edge of a EVERYTHING! Whereas I was terrified, a daring spirit compelled them to take risks. I have been thinking about what it is going to take for me to take risks and engage this year. 

Photo Credit: Fordtograph-E
At the start of each year, I have made it a habit of considering one word to focus on for the next twelve months.

For Christmas, my brother in law gave me a watch. In the aftermath of the holiday season, as I sat with pen in hand at a coffee shop, I thought through some of the gifts that I had received and what message was handed to me through them.

That's it. The invitation for 2017 is this: 

Watch and Engage.  

I want 2017 to make a difference. I want to see more lives set free from exploitation.  

Unanswered questions from 2016 sit like a paperweight on my heart. I am desperate. Desperate to know that this life is making a difference. Desperate to hear from Heaven that it matters, that we have not gone astray. 

Disappointment. We have all tasted it. Resolutions for the new year often end up in the dust of daily demands. It is not a resolution unless it provides some kind of solution for our life. And this solution needs to be rooted in our soul, becoming a part of who we are not just an item we check off. What motivates true change comes from our resolve within. 

If we are going to see change not only in our lives but in the world around us 
we must be in tune with what our heart is passionate about. 

Have you ever felt small and insignificant? Recently recollections came of a time in my life when I had just moved out of my parent's house, was renting a bedroom at a friend's, and working at an after school program 3 hours a day. With a car that didn't pass smog check, I spent a lot of time at home. It was a season where I felt insignificant to the world. During that time a friend gave me a beautiful map for my bedroom wall. While looking at it one day, I heard the question, "Where do you want to go..." I had every reason to think up a place near where I lived. But it pressed again, "Where do you want to GO?" 

I want to go to Thailand. 

That was the dream, my passion - to live and love overseas. In Thailand, this Cali girl met a Kansas boy, an artist, a dreamer, an entrepreneur, someone crazy enough to follow a dream. When he left after that first two weeks of volunteering, I walked away after giving him a hug and felt like I was going to cry. What was the matter with me?? At that time, I didn't even know that he liked me! It was a year later that we drafted this...some of the dreams we hold for our world. Our passion is to see the people set free and restored through the power of God. 

To be completely honest, we don't know what we are doing, but it's happening. How? Through risk. Do you remember the story of Peter walking on water? He watched Jesus do something impossible and He stepped out to follow Him. It happened in a moment of panic and loneliness. They were striving to reach land while the waves and wind were against them. I have heard people talk about 2017 being a year of breakthrough. In order to break through something, there needs to be an obstacle. The thing is with Peter, he didn't see the wind and the waves as an obstacle, He just saw his close friend do something impossible, and He wanted to follow. Our downfall comes when we look at the impossibilities, and let them dictate what we can or can not do.

In this new year, we need to surround ourselves with people who will push past the odds with us. My Kansas boy and I are incredibly blessed to have a pastor and his wife who are big dreamers, and also big doers. They do with crazy faith. I want you to know that even if you feel small and insignificant, even if your dreams seem out of reach, that you were made to take risks. 

Photo Credit: Fordtograph-E
Have you ever considered why you were born in this generation? 

For me, it is to engage in the anti-human trafficking movement. This is a generation that speaks out against injustice and inequality. In the last few years huge strides have been made in trauma informed care. Sure we have had revolutionaries who fought against slavery, this is no different, but the way our culture values not only freedom but true inner emotional, mental, and spiritual freedom is unique.

Survivors of human trafficking are my heroes. They are overcomers. Did you know that it is common for a victim to return 7 times before they can truly break away for good from their exploiter? But does it have to be this way? Is anyone pushing to see this change? This is the kind of breakthrough that I am talking about. I love talking with survivors. They inspire me. Every survivor is also a leader. Their triumph in overcoming insurmountable odds shows me that it is possible, that someone can not only survive but thrive.

Peter had to step out of the boat. We have to get out there in order to see impossible things happen. Maybe I am crazy to say that I want to see a victim leave once and leave for good. I believe it is possible. Why? Because Mary Magdalene did it. Did you know that Jesus cast 7 demons out of her? Seven. She never went back, she was never harassed again. And what did she do? She followed Jesus around, she watched Him, she gave to Him and served Him. (See Luke 8:2-3.)

Victims of trafficking have demons they fight, demons that speak to them, that yell at them, that push and pull them back and forth, beating them from inside just as their tormentors, their pimps have done outside their skin. These are the demons of terror, manipulation, control, unworthiness, self-loathing, that exploit from within. Are we fighting with them against these demons? Are we speaking life? Mary Magdalene's life was transformed when those demons were cast out and I have a thought that it was in walking with Jesus, in learning of new way of being loved, that she was healed. This is why I believe in restorative relationships.

Friends, it has already been done, and it can happen again.

When you look into the eyes of someone and wonder if they are ever going to come out, if there is ever going to be a change, remember Mary of Magdalene. She was set free and met wholeness in the eyes of the Holy One.

My life intersected with three women this past week in exploitative situations. In each encounter, I had a decision to either step out or stay in. You get what I am talking about? Am I going to give her a hug, or am I going to walk by? Am I going to buy her drink, or am I going to dismiss that thought and carry on about my day?

It really only takes a moment. As the seconds of a watch tick by, we are given moments to watch and move on or watch and engage. 

The world is crying out for us to engage. We are not bystanders, we participate because frankly, the time of breakthrough, of healing and freedom has come. What risk will you take?

Photo Credit: Fordtograph-E