Saturday, November 20, 2010

Covenant Marriage

Preface: There are a lot of lists in this post. 

A covenant marriage has only been adopted by three states in the United States--Arizona, Louisiana, and Arkansas and 20 other states are considering it. This marriage really emphasizes that marriage is more than just a contract. There are three basic things about a covenant marriage that separates it from original marriage:
  1. Pre-marital counseling is required.
  2. Must meet grounds for divorce. 
    1. Abuse, adultery, addiction, federal imprisonment 
  3. Pre-set waiting period (in AZ it's 1 year to divorce)
    1. Usually both must agree to seek counseling if they are having issues. 
It's becoming a legal deal because the purpose of this type of marriage is to "promote and strengthen marriages, reduce the rate of divorce, lessen the number of children born out of wedlock, discourage cohabitation, and frame marriage as an honorable and desirable institution". 

You're probably looking at this and thinking one of two things:
  1. "That's a stupid idea."
  2. "Isn't that what marriage what--more than a contract, don't just get divorced...?"
If you're thinking that first thought, I'm going to go along with it for a little bit. Only I'm going to substitute the word "stupid" with another "s" word--scary. That's a SCARY idea.
  • Pre-marital counseling, maybe I could deal with. But that means we gotta share all of our junk. Openly. With someone. Together. AUGH! 
  • Meeting grounds for divorce basically equals trapped. ("IT'S A TRAP!" hahaha) Right? This means that I have to stay with my husband pretty much no matter what. Even if he doesn't take out the trash. Even if he didn't make that much money. Even if I stopped loving him. Even if he gets sick. Even if the marriage isn't the top priority for either of us. Even if poor communication occurs. Even if, even if, even if. Oh, crap.
  • Waiting. Well, I can't stand them. Why do I have to be TRAPPED with them for at least another year? Why even try? It's already doomed. The relationship cannot be helped. That year is going to suck. 
If you're thinking the second thought, I respond with this: Yes. 

Yes. Yes, yes,  yes,  yes, yes, YES. This is what marriage is! This is what kind of marriage we're called to be in. This is real marriage. None of this flaky crap that people do. Yeah, I called it crap. It's CRAP that people just divorce on a moment's notice. It's CRAP that people treat marriage like it's nothing, like it's just basically a long-term relationship and nothing more. 

This is kind of what I meant by I no longer see relationships as one long continuum, but rather as separate steps. That once you become engaged, THAT MEANS SOMETHING. That's HUGE. But, engagement is not unity. Engagement is not marriage. Engagement is not synonymous with marriage. Engagement is simply a commitment to unity. That's really it. It's saying,  "Hey. We're committed to the idea of getting married." But, just because you are engaged does not mean that you are married. Nor does it mean that you're just dating. It's a big step. But it's not THE step. It's not marriage. 

Marriage. It's once you've signed that contract. Once you have signed that marriage certificate. It's once you've said "I do". Marriage MEANS SOMETHING. It's even HUGER THAN HUGE. Marriage is a BIG DEAL. It's DIFFERENT than engagement. It's DIFFERENT than just being in a relationship. It's taking that leap, that jump, that step. 
And saying, "I'm in. I'm all in."

I'm not saying it's not scary. Because it is. Getting married says, "I love you. I love you regardless of the crap that happens. I trust you. I fully trust you. I am committed to you."

The Bible has some ideas about marriage--ideas that are scary, ideas that are so worthwhile though.
1 Corinthians 7 (highlights):
  • Have sex. (vs. 3-4)
  • Keep God's commandments. (vs. 19)
  • Be content. (vs. 17)
The Bible also has ideas about wives in Proverbs 31:10-31. A wife...
  • Can be trusted. (vs. 11)
  • Will greatly enrich her husband's life. (vs. 11)
  • Should bring good, not harm. (vs. 12)
  • Cares for her husband. (vs. 13-15)
  • Invests in her husband. (vs. 16)
  • Should be strong, hard worker, energetic (vs. 17)
  • Helps others (vs. 20-21)
  • Is clothed with strength and dignity (vs. 25)
  • Laughs (vs. 25)
  • Is wise (vs. 26)
  • Is kind (vs. 26)
  • Fears the Lord (vs. 30)
The Bible also describes characteristics in husbands in Ephesians 5:23-33. A husband...
  • Is the leader (vs. 23)
  • Loves his wife (vs. 25-29, 33)
  • Unites with his wife (vs. 31)
And my prayer...
  • I want a husband that is so in love with God.
  • A husband who God calls His son.
  • A husband who enjoys spending time with God.
  • I want us to display God's love, agape love, to the world.
  • I want a husband who will lead.
  • A husband who is strong.
  • A husband who is sturdy. 
  • A husband who supports and encourages people. 
  • A man that God is molding and desires for me.
  • I want to united as one with a man, to be naked and not feel shame (Genesis 2:24-25)
  • I want a man who will bring me happiness (Deut. 24:5)
  • I want a husband who will sexually please me (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).
  • Someone who I can sexually satisfy (1 Corin. 7:3-4).
  • A man who will so enjoy having sex with me. 
  • A husband who gets hyped to see me.
  • A man who wants to have sex and cherishes the idea of sex.
  • A husband committed to me. 
  • I want us to love one another in the way that God loves us.
  • I don't want him to throw my mistakes in my face (Ephesians 5:27)
  • A husband who will take my hand and lead me to do God's will.
  • A husband who I can trust with all of me--all of my desires, all of my setbacks and failures, all of my hopes and dreams.
  • A husband who won't ever give up on me.
  • A husband who is consistent.
  • A husband who thinks I'm truly gorgeous. 
  • A husband who thinks I'm the daughter of the King of kings.
  • A man who I see as beautiful.
  • A man who I see as the son of the King of kings.
  • A handsome man so overwhelmingly in love with God.
  • A man who desperately loves me. 
  • A man who is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. 

And with my time right now. I need to be content with where I am at. I need to be okay with where I may be. And that right now, my time is to be spent solely committed to Jesus, my Lord, my God, my King. To be devoted to Him in body and spirit (1 Corinthians 7:34). 

It may have seemed like I sort of strayed from the idea of covenant marriage. But I didn't. Not in the least bit. Love your husband. Love your wife. Love selflessly and unconditionally. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Purpose of Marriage

Have you ever asked an engaged couple why they are getting married? Or asked someone, "Why do you want to marry him/her?" Chances are some of the most common responses were:

  • "Because I love them."
  • "Because I couldn't live without them."
  • "They give me purpose, my life would have no meaning without this person."
  • "Because I couldn't imagine life without them."
I'm sure there are a dozen other responses, but those are generally the answers I get. Before I continue, let me make it clear that those (for the most part) aren't bad things. And that I definitely do love marriage and agree that your partner needs to be someone you're going to enjoy spending the rest of your life with and that you do need to love them. But let's really look at these. 
  • "Because I love them."
    • How do you love them? 
    • What if things get rocky?
    • What if that feeling of intense emotion diminishes? 
    • What if they get angry at you or you get angry at them?
  • "Because I couldn't live without them."
    • The idea of being needed and needing others is huge. 
    • Ties in with next two points. 
  • "They give me purpose, my life would have no meaning without this person."
    • People are great. Marriage is great. Husbands and wives are great. What marriage can do to and for a person is great. But I think there's more to life than just our spouse. Scary, I know.
  • "Because I couldn't imagine life without them."
    • It would probably suck. But are you finding your complete worth in this person?
In that book Redeeming Love, it made this point: "I won't be enough for you. I don't want to be the center of your life. I want to be part of it. I want to be your husband, not your god. People can't always be there for you, no matter how much they want to be" (p. 316).

I want to focus solely on Christian marriages. Because they are to represent Christ and this is the most applicable...

In this most simplistic way of saying this, I don't that marriage should have anything to do with yourself. I think entering into a relationship with the idea of "I need them. I have no drive without them" is a bad start. I so believe that the purpose of marriage is to further the Kingdom of Christ as a couple. Not for any other reason. Yes, I'll love my husband. Yes, I will want to spend my life with him. But he won't be my source of purpose. Rather, he should remind me of that source--Jesus. Marriage should be a representation of our marriage as a Church to Christ. I really think that we are here on earth for no other reason other than to be ambassadors of the Lord. And that marriage is a gift that you can use to impact the world in a different way. Paul said he was given the gift of singleness. You all who are single--that's okay. It's good! You can do so much. You all who are married--that's good too. You two, as a couple, can do so much as well. 

Let's check out that quote again and really digest it. Particularly the part about being the husband, not a god. I think oftentimes we become so centered on our significant other that they supersede anything and everything. That our significant other becomes the thing we literally worship. That we seek to only please them. That we make our entire lives about that person. That's not okay. And if you are about to get into a relationship or marriage where you're husband/wife disagrees with that quote, that idea, or they promise you that they will always be enough for you and vice versa. Be weary. Because we cannot find our worth in our husbands. Or wives. Or families. Or friends. Or any human being. Our worth needs to be found in God. And He can make you feel so much more worthy than any person. Even your husband. Wife. Family. Best friends. People let you down. You let people down. It sucks. It's not always that they want to. We just do. We fall short. But God doesn't. Read that again. God doesn't fall short. Ever. He is always there for you. Let Him be in every part of your life. 

And let your marriage glorify God. That's how it will thrive. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I have all kinds of thoughts about relationships. Relationships, dating, "going out", courting, "hanging out", whatever you want to call it. Relationships with someone who is your "boyfriend" or "girlfriend". Those kind of relationships. I need to be careful with what I say here for a bazillion reasons, many of which you will understand after reading, no matter how careful I am.

Let's talk about my life a little bit before anything. I'm learning more and more about how important it is to share aspects about oneself. I thought about just typing all of these posts without giving anything up about myself. But because I want you, as a reader, to give yourself up and be for real when reading every post on this blog, it's only fair that I also share about myself. The idea of relationships and how passionate I am about them really came about within the last two years or so I'd say. I've been told that I don't have a valuable opinion since I'm not dating anyone. That comment hurt a little bit, but I think I'm going to disagree with them. And explain here a little bit about me.

I have dated before. I made mistakes. I made good choices. I made bad choices. The relationships I've had have impacted me. That's all you'll really get from me. Someone asked me the other day if my relationships had been "God honoring". I wasn't really sure how to answer the question and I really don't remember how I answered the question at the moment. But I'll answer it here. Not as honorable as what I think relationships should be.

Moving on.

As I think about relationships, I want to say that I'm not so sure that I am going to write here is actually applicable to everyone. Though I do think that the marriage portion of it should be...we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. So if you disagree with this. Don't hate on me. And if you're involved in a long term relationship, don't hate on me or think that I think you're in a bad spot or something is wrong. That's not the case. Read the first sentence of this paragraph. This is one of the reasons why I think I'm treading on thin waters.

In the past, I've always thought that the best way of having a relationship is to date the person for years. And then be engaged for awhile. And then finally get married. Like each are just continuation of each other. And it's like a three or four year process. But now, I'm thinking about it in a completely opposite way almost. That the dating part of it should be fairly short. And the engagement just a few months. And then marriage. All within 1-2 years. And instead, each part is separate from the others, not just a continuation but something more. What. the. crap. I don't know about you, but the really freaks me out. That is quick--half the time of my original thoughts. Good grief.

Dating step: I have never been one to date just to date. I've always liked the idea of long term relationships. That whoever you are dating, there should be potential for marriage. If you aren't going to marry the person, why are you in this relationship? Just for kicks, just to pass time?

Engagement step: In all honesty, I have never understood the purpose of proposing to someone and then planning on getting married like seven years later. I have always looked at this as a time of preparing your hearts for marriage and really, just getting ready for the wedding. As a commitment to unity. And on the other side of the coin, I have never really understood being engaged for less than a month.

Marriage step: SEX! Well, actually true story, about 95% of all American couples have had sex before marriage. I'll talk about sex more later. But for those 5% who wait until marriage. SEX! And for those who have already sex with their "partner". SEX! Okay, so clearly I am excited=) But also, there is so much more to marriage. The actual unity occurs. Marriage is not something that should be taken lightly. You gotta love your spouse. And have sex with your spouse. And with love comes trust. Comes forgiveness. Comes grace. Comes truth.

Okay. It's past 3am. I need to go to bed. I didn't really finish this. There will be a continuation about relationships. Which was a continuation of the Entity of Marriage post. There will be a lot of continuations.

Entity of Marriage

It's been on my "to do" list for quite some time to have a post about marriage, however because there is so dang much to marriage, I have put it off. I have decided instead to do an introduction of sorts and then just write it in parts. We'll see how this "we" I guess I mean "me" because I'm pretty sure I am the only one who actually looks at this blog...but moving on!

So, marriage. In sociology, it's looked at as a social institution. (Mainly family is, but marriage is counted as well.) Currently, it's considered a social problem. Marriage. Not divorce. Marriage is a social problem. But marriage is a social problem because of divorce, but divorce occurs because of marriage (well, not directly from marriage, but you can't have divorce without marriage). It's confusing and fascinating and interesting all at the same time. Speaking of divorce, I do have "good news". As some of you may/may not have known, for the past while the United States divorce rate has been around 50%. 50%. About half of all marriages fail in the United States. But now, the most recent statistics show, from 2009 I think, that the divorce rate is closer to 40% rather than 50%.

There was a little bit about background and some nifty facts.

A fun fact about me is that I love marriage. I love the idea of it, I love the purpose of it, I love what occurs within marriage, I love the picture of marriage, I love marriage. The wedding, I don't really care about. The destination of the honeymoon, whatever. But the entity of marriage and all that it encompasses, I love.

The next few parts will include these about marriage:

  • Preceding steps to marriage
  • The purpose of marriage
  • Marriage vs. Divorce
  • Covenant marriages
  • Sex
  • Difficulties within marriage
Now, I understand that I have never been married. However, I don't necessarily that means that I don't know anything about it. I do agree with the statement that those who are married know and/or understand more about marriage than I do, but I also agree with the idea that those who are not married still have a lot to offer on the subject. Besides, aren't we, as the Church, called the Bride of Christ? So, aren't we in marriage so to speak? 

Anyways. I love marriage. I love relationships. And I am so excited to write and share my thoughts. 

I'm also slightly scared out of my mind. Here we go. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wrapped in Love

The other night, someone came to my door and with an immense amount of excitement told me they were going to go hang out with Jesus and asked if I wanted to come. Heck. Yes. Nothing else mattered, except that I got to hang out with this really cool person and Jesus. Not the previous events of October, not that weekend, not the upcoming week, not the homework load that night. As we sang, I felt relief. I felt protected, rejuvenated.

They gave me this book called "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers. Last night I read the prologue. At 3am, I was brought to my knees. I haven't even really started this book and I've already hit all kinds of emotions. Hurt, anger, upset, love, frustration, fear. The beginning introduced the way a girl entered into the sex trafficking industry. How a little girl was unknowingly sold. How she believed in "God's truth" that said that no one would love her. That she wasn't worth anything. That she was just in the way. That she has no purpose. That this beautiful girl is worthless. After I finished reading all I could do was cry out to God. Not out of anger. But out of joy. What? Joy? Yes.

I know who Jesus is. I know His Truth. My God is a God who provides and reigns. A God who loves me and cares for me. A God who always, always, always looks down on me with love, with compassion, ready to provide me with an abundant amount of joy. He is good. And this same God is reaching out to those who are caught in the industry.

I want those enslaved in the sex trafficking industry free. I want them to know how desperately Jesus loves them, that they are worthy. I want them to feel God's arms wrapped around them, His grace and goodness showering on them. All of the children, girls, boys, women, men who are trapped. Who feel like they have no way out. For He is the blessed Redeemer. I have joy because I know one day it will happen. One day those enslaved will feel free. Will be free. Will feel loved. Joy because I know God.

It may "just be a book". But the sex trafficking industry is real. I've been able to do many research papers, argumentative papers, all kinds of papers on the sex trafficking industry. If you want to read any of them, let me know. Currently, I am doing research in my research methods class about the impact pornography has and what knowledge NAU students have on the sex trafficking industry. [If you attend NAU, please take the survey! However, please do not take the survey if you are not a student (either undergraduate or graduate) at NAU, as that will skew my results.]

I was reminded that there are other people who need to feel this unconditional love. This abundant amount of joy. That need to feel cared for. Not just across the world. But here, in the United States. Here, in Arizona. Here, in Flagstaff. Here, at Northern Arizona University. Here, in my life, right now. Here, in your life, right now. Here. Wherever "here" is for you. Right here, right now.

A little while ago, I wrote about how I was going to try actively love people, not use time as an excuse. I have been seriously trying. And it's been working. Times keep opening up. And I've been able to learn a lot. When we take time to care about people, to be genuine, they respond. They respond openly and there is the beginnings of a transformation within them. People like to be cared for. Like to be encouraged. Like to know that someone is there. And the more they believe that you care, the more they trust. And the more they trust, the more they share. The more they share, the easier it is to openly and unconditionally love. It takes time. It takes genuineness. It really, simply, takes love. Care about people. Care, just as Jesus cares. Love as Jesus loves. Remind people that they have worth. They are valued. And treat them that way. No. Matter. What. Watch the transformation.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Until He Comes...

I"m just going to dive right in, no introduction really. 

I went to South Africa with a team. One of the guys on my team, David, brought us white bracelets that say, "UNTIL HE COMES...2 PETER 3:11-18". I don't wear it too often because it's huge on me and falls off, but I wear it as much as I can because I do like it, and people often ask about it. Like today.

Someone asked me, "What's 2 Peter say?" Then they see the rest of it and say, "Until He comes..." And so I'm like score! I can talk about Jesus. Right here. At the breast cancer walk. And someone else brought it up, so I won't really get into trouble. So I begin by briefly saying that 2 Peter just talks about what we, as Christians, should be doing until Jesus comes. And this is how the person responded: "So you should just be waiting around until He comes?" Knife in heart. I told this person, "No, quite the opposite actually. It says that we should not be waiting around". They said that they had been in a multitude of churches where that's all they do. They wait. That there are many churches that just stand by and don't take action. And that's why this person is so against the Church. Because the church has turned them away the Church. The church has turned this person away from Jesus. JESUS. 

(I use "church" with lower case c as the building and "Church" with a capital as the body of Christ. And there was a little more to the conversation, but that was the main part that tore me up.)

First, let me just explain why this tore me up so badly.
1. It's because I've been hurt by a church, and thus a Church, before. And it totally sucks. Being hurt by people who are to be following Christ, is incredibly destructible. When I left that church, I was destroyed. My relationship with Christ was pretty shattered and I lost trust and faith in a lot of people and things and with Christ. And it breaks my heart when other people experience that. 

2. Churches, both the body of Christ and places of worship, are to be glorifying God. Are to be moved and driven by Him. Are to be led by Him. Churches should be leading people to Christ, not pushing them away. What happened here. What is going on in these churches? Why are people being hurt by them? Here's my short answer, just a guess: Because they lose focus on Jesus. 

3. I don't think this person has ever been introduced to Jesus. In fact, I'm willing to bet that there are many people who go to church and haven't ever really been introduced to Jesus. And that also breaks my heart. Because Jesus is who can save people, not the church. Jesus is so, so good and people are still saying He's bad? That doesn't make sense to me. Again, here's my guess as to why, in the super short version: People claim to be Christians, but their actions don't line up with their words. 

If you know Jesus, I sure hope this breaks your heart too. 

Here's what 2 Peter 3:11-18 says:
"Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God's righteousness. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, the Lord's patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him--speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction. I am warning you ahead of time, dear friend. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen."

(First time using the cool font looks pretty tight..)

2 Peter says DON'T WAIT. Don't stand still. Don't be complacent. Move. Act. Go. Do. Make every effort. Grow. Look forward, be eager.

Jesus calls us, His followers, to move and go and make disciples (Mark 16:15, Matt. 28:19). He tells us that we are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). 

"So, my dear brothers and sister, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." 1 Corinthians 15:58

"Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love." 1 Corinthians 16:13

Christians, Christ followers, the ambassadors for the Lord--we are a body. One in Christ. We need to be His hands, His feet. We need to uplift people, encourage people, show people the hope there is in Christ.  Our purpose here is to further His Kingdom. 

If people's only introduction to "Jesus" is through waiting Christians, through bored people in church, through a shattered and destroyed church, through people whose actions and words don't line up. Then that's bad news bears. And if you have only encountered those Christians, I desperately pray that you will encounter the real Jesus. The One who is, the great I AM, the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning, the End, the King of kings, Lord of lords. The One who is full of mercy, grace, compassion, love, forgiveness. The One who brings peace and hope. 

And if you are a Christian. Jesus is coming. What are you doing until then?

"Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offend you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3:12-13

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The enemy has been defeated. Death couldn't hold You down. We're going to lift our voice in victory, we're going to make our praises loud.

Sometimes God asks us to do tricky things. Sometimes His timing is really inconvenient. I mean...come on. I have school. I have tests. I have papers. I have meetings. I don't have time to build relationships God. I don't have time to really care about others. Doesn't He get that?

This is how He often responds to me when I tell Him that:
He says, "Ashley. Kid...Honey, Child. What are you doing?"
And then I tell Him, "Welllllllll.........I..I..I....Eep..."
And He smiles. And reminds me that He will take care of me. And that I seriously have got to get my butt in gear and actively love people. And His timing, contrary to my belief, is actually quite on target. He also reminds me that He's gotta be more important than school. That He is the source and provider of joy, peace, passion, purpose, love, excitement.

So, why am I writing this at 3:20am? Because I couldn't sleep. These last few nights, I've been able to have really intentional conversations with people about Christ. And in both of them, He revealed Himself in a powerful way. I saw people break down and run straight into His glory. And people were faced with a decision. Christ or something else. Tonight, I got up so I could listen to some "Jesus Jams" as I like to call them. And I began reading "Starving Jesus". And then apparently...felt the need to write in this blog (what a weird word) but in a very real way.

Also, I'd like to point out that this is like a for real journal type entry. Yeah. Be proud. Bam.

Back to the whole God thing from a few paragraphs earlier. I gotta be semi-careful how I word this, write this, enter this...but here we go. So I have a really cool job. My job is to care about people. And I get paid for it. Pretty legit, yeah? Yeah......... Well. There's actually a lot more to it than just caring about people. A lot more. But I want to focus solely on the whole caring aspect of it. So, I have 43 people that I'm directly "responsible" (I don't really know what the right word is, but that seems to fit okay....) for. 43. On one level, that's not that many, right? It should be easy to care about 43 people. And to that I say, "You're right. It is easy to care about them."

I'm going to clump these 43 women together and say this about them: They are really cool. For real, they are amazing. Sure, they get on my nerves sometimes (in the most loving way, of course), and sure, they do some ridiculous things. But I have got to say. I seriously love them. I adore them. I admire them. All 43 of them. And I care about them. (And what's really nuts to me. Is that God loves them, adores them, cares about them. Way more than I ever could. That's the kind of God I serve.)

But those things...are easy to do. It's the whole actively loving thing that I have issues with. Mainly because I just don't have time. Or they don't have time. Put it together, and we don't have time. We are too busy to build a genuine relationship. And I have continued to use that as an excuse. That I've tried, but it's not going to happen. One of us is always busy. But excuses aren't really a favorite of God's. And He seems pretty adamant about the whole actively loving thing.

Having a genuine relationship with 43 people. And the rest of what my job entails. And being a full time student. And keeping up with other things and people. Is actually quite difficult. So this is where I complain apparently. Yeesh. What I'm getting at is this. 43 people is actually a lot when it comes to actively loving. So that's why I tell God I don't have time. Because if I spent just one hour with each of them. That's 43 hours. But a real relationship is more than one hour. It's continuous. It's many hours. And many hours with 43 people. Is a whole lot of hours. And that's when He tells me. Hey Ash, just trust me. This whole time issue ain't got nothing on me. I got you. You can do school. You can keep up with things. You can actively love. So long as I am in the midst of it all. So long as I. Come. First.

If you are one of those 43 persons. I'm going to let you know right now, that I'm going to be knocking on your door really soon and asking to hang out. And I'm going to be pretty persistent. Because I genuinely want to and because God really wants me to. Because you are worth it. You are worth my time. You are worth having an intentional conversation with.

Okay, okay God. I think I get it. Good grief.

So here's what I'm saying.
1. Don't use lack of time as an excuse to not love on people. Especially if you're a Christ Follower.
2. Actively love people. Be genuine. Build genuine relationships.
3. People are worth it.
4. The 43 girls I've been talking about are fantastic and I can't wait to for real get to know them.

And just so we're clear. I love my job. And I love my girls. And I love my God. And my schoolwork will still get done. And all is good in the hood. I'm not actually as overwhelmed as what it may have sounded, because I am continuously calmed down by the peace of God.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I just found out that there are approximately 150 English words that are both verbs and nouns. (You can see the compiled list here.) 150 words. This includes drink, order, fish, address, sting...and love. Some of you may be thinking, "No duh Ashley, of course 'love' is a verb and a noun. Everyone knows that". To which I say to you...I don't think that's entirely true. I don't think everyone knows that. I think oftentimes, we (people...) see love as just a feeling. Like when people say they marry for love, they're usually speaking in terms of how they feel about one another. Granted, this is all my own opinion, but I'm pretty sure if that's the sounds like an awful reason to get married. Because, really now, what's the probability that you will FEEL the same way about a person for the rest of your life? I can probably promise that my feelings often fluctuate. Feelings are pretty conditional. And besides, the dictionary defines feeling as "an emotional state". Well, what does state mean? It means "at a particular time". (Definitions from Oxford American Dictionary) So what I gather, is that a feeling is what emotion you are at a particular time. And the chances of you being all giddy and excited for the rest of your life, regardless of any circumstance, is pretty slim I'd say. But hey, that's just my rationale. 

But, this argument is missing two things. 
1. The Bible uses it as a noun at a better way than the feeling. 
2. Love isn't just a noun. It's also a verb; an action. 

The Bible uses the word "love" as a noun at times. An adjective describes a noun, yes? And adjectives 
are descriptive words, yes? So the majority of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 uses the word "love" as a noun. 
Check it out: "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not 
demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about 
injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always
hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." Using "love" as a noun isn't bad! It's good! Paul uses 
it as if it were a noun. Love is a noun! Additionally, this describes the noun as something that doesn't
fluctuate based on changes or conditions. This noun is constant. This is a very different noun than what
many people think of it as...hmmmm.

The Bible also uses it as an action. Because love isn't just a noun--it's a verb too. Go out and love. Go out and love 
on the world. Love through actions. Love through words. Love isn't something you feel. It's something you do. It's 
something you show. 

There are four words for "love" in the greek language. Agape, eros, philia, and storge. The basic run down goes like
Agape: true love, sacrificial love
Eros: Passionate love (like significant others)
Philia: Friendship love
Storge: Affectionate love (like parents to children)

God is our father, our Abba. Storge. 
God is our friend. Philia.
We are His bride. Eros.
God loves us fully and wholly. He sacrificed His son for you, for me, for us. Agape. 

God is love. Love is God. God loves us in every way possible and in the best way possible. 

We are called to be Christ like. We are called to love as He does. I want to focus more on the agape love. When He
writes for us to love, it's the word "agape". We are to love unconditionally. Even if someone is a jerk. Even if
someone lies. Even if someone hates. Even if someone "does something bad". Even if someone makes us angry,
mad, sad. Even if (insert something here). No matter what. Love. Agape. Forgive people. Love people. Care for
people. No matter what. It's hard. I know. He knows. But that's not an excuse. Love people. Agape. 

And remember. That you are worth it. That He died for you. And He loves you. And He forgives you. And you.
You don't deserve it. Neither do I. He still loves us. Agape. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Song of the post: "This is the first day of the rest of your life" (Hold Us Together, Matt Maher).

If it's your birthday...
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthdaaaaay dear (or is it to?) YOOOOOOOU!
Happy birthdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy tooooooo yooooooouuuuuu!!!!!

Yaaaaay. Hip hip hurray for birthdays!

A lot of people have been having birthdays recently, so I'm in the birthday mode! (Although I have yet to have any cake or ice cream!!! What the heck?!) But for real...I've been thinking a lot about birthdays. I feel like there has been so many of them recently (seriously like almost 1/4 of my residents have had birthdays within the last 3 weeks) that I can't keep up with them! Which I then feel awful for because I like giving cards to are my favorite things everrr so I just assume other people like them too, just perhaps not to the degree that I do. I've also been thinking about my pals that aren't in Flagstaff...and how I have to miss their birthdays which is rather unfortunate.

And it may seem like I'm big on birthdays...but I'm really not. I more just like to make sure people feel cared for, particularly on the day that they're celebrating their day of birth.

I've also been thinking a lot about my past birthday. On July 17, 2010 I turned 20. I was in South Africa from July 7-July 27. In case you didn't pick it up...I got to spend my 20th birthday in South Africa. And it was pretty tight, not going to lie. I got to go to the lion park and play with a baby tiger and baby lion. I can legitimately say I've been mauled by a tiger and got a rip in my pants by a lion. It was amazing.

At midnight, South Africa time (9 hours ahead of AZ), my cabin mates woke me up and sang to me and gave me a card--it was beautiful! I got to spend the first 10 days of being 20 serving Christ surrounded by people who are wholly committed to Jesus. And thinking back to those first ten days serves as a reminder of how I wan to spend the third decade of my life. I want to spend my twenties simply loving Jesus in the most passionate and powerful ways. Jesus gives me such joy. "Like sunlight burning at midnight, something so beautiful, beautiful" (Beautiful, Beautiful, Francesca Battestelli). Being woken up at midnight with people who have the light of Christ was truly beautiful.

I want this decade to begin and end with Christ. For He is the I AM, Alpha and Omega.

I think that's why I am so excited about birthdays. I want people to experience something cool. That doesn't mean they have to go to South Africa. That doesn't mean they have to go hang out with a tiger or lion. It does mean that I want people to feel joy, feel loved, feel cherished, feel excited. Excited for their life, for the year, for the decade. And that means that those of us who call ourselves Christ followers, have got to step up. And go share the Good News of Christ. Because it's fo' real good news, ain't gonna lie.

Have a very happy birthday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Life's Cool

I have a lot of half (or less than half) finished things. There are a lot of things I want to write about here, but I just haven't been able to sit down and think things out. And some people tell me that it's silly, that this is a blog, a journal type deal, and that I should write (type). And not think, let it flow. I'm not down for that, and am going to continue to think things through and not be totally ridiculous. With that being said, here are the things that I have been wanting to write here, or have started writing:

  • Birthdays. I think it's partially because a lot of people have had birthdays lately...and I've been thinking about my birthday..
  • Love. There's a lot to chat about on that word=) 
  • Along with love...marriage. 
  • I think there is more...but those are the main ones..

Sooo hopefully I will get those nailed out...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Glorious

I haven't yet explained why my blog is called what it is. Why the site is dearworld-ily. Why it says love(ly). And I want to talk about love right now and explain myself here.

I'm American through and through. I love America and just about everything that is American. I love burgers and hotdogs, fireworks, singing, capitalism, individualism, freedom, etc. I love America. And for the longest time, I loved America and only America. I thought that because I loved America so much, I couldn't really love any other place. Quite honestly, I didn't really have a heart for the rest of the world. I was glad other people did, but I didn't really. Throughout my sophomore year of college, I began to be transformed. I began to see that it's great to love America, but was reminded that my God is bigger than just America. That the God I serve is glorious. A glorious and wonderful God who so deeply and earnestly loves the whole Earth. A God who yearns for every tribe and every nation to know Him. A God who holds the world in His hands, a God who continuously says, "Dear World...I love you". And being Christ like, meant loving like Christ. Whole heartedly and compassionately and without limits. I still love America, but I now also love the countries and the people that are outside of America's borders. And yes, it really did take me 19 years to have the heart I now have for the world. An earnest and kind heart, one that mirrors Christ's best it can.

So this blog site is called dearworld-ily because Jesus loves the world and so do I. It's a "written" testimony of how I love on the world. Of how I show the world that I love it and all that it encompasses. It's my letter to the world, inviting all to know about my God. Inviting all to see the agape love that the world and that you are being offered. It's for me to also start saying, "Dear World....I love you".

On top of that, the title is "Love(ly)".  The (ly) is an acronym for "love you". As it is so lovely to love and be loved. It's so lovely that our God loves us. By loving you, love is shown. Love, love, love. Love with compassion, love with empathy, love with forgiveness, love with excitement, love unconditionally. Agape love.

So through the love that Christ has shown me, I want to go love on the world. These are my letters to the world, reminding every tribe and nation and person that they are loved. That I love you. That God loves you. And that is so lovely. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

E-mail Update #8 (August 4, 2010)

Dumela! (Hello in Sesotho)

I apologize for getting this e-mail out so late, as it has been about a full week since I've been back in the states. Ever since I've been back, things have been pretty non-stop and I seem to have come down with a pretty bad head cold. Though it's almost more unfortunate for those around me, as they have to listen to my coughing! But truly, other than the minor illness all has been well and I've loved being back in America. I've been able to enjoy cheeseburgers and steaks and soda with sugar and sugary foods=) (In Africa, they don't use nearly as much sugar in anything, including soda, and I had a minor issue with that...I missed my sugar!) Well, before writing this e-mail, I prepared for it by making a list of what all I wanted to be sure to include, as there is a lot to tell!

As much as I love being home, the trek back was not all that enjoyable. We had another layover in Paris, and on the plane from Paris to DC a flight attendant spilled 7up all over me, my seat, and my stuff. While the amount of napkins was a "comical amount" as my friend and one of my team members, Sara Mae, called it to clean up and that brought many laughs, I would like to point out that the clothes I was wearing would be the same clothes for three days and I still had another 5 hours on that same plane with all the soda. I was a little irked, but the amount of napkins that the flight attendant brought out (it almost didn't fit in my hand there were so many) and his profuse apologies made it all okay and a fun story to tell.

It was once we got to America that things, traveling wise, began to go downhill. Once we landed, it took a long while to go through customs and passport control. Two of the girls on our team were from Canada and had to go through a different line for passports. Because their line was incredibly longer than US residents line, and many of us had to catch another flight, that ended up being the last time we saw them, which was incredibly unfortunate. I rushed to re-check my baggage and literally ran through the DC airport to get to my gate for my next flight, which I arrived at just 5 minutes or so before boarding only to find out that my flight had been delayed for fifteen minutes. Enough time to get an American hamburger meal! Then it was delayed for another five minutes...then another twenty...we finally boarded the completely full flight after an hour of delays. Once we all boarded the plane and had watched the safety video twice, we were delayed for another HOUR. Due to that delay, my connecting flight for Phoenix took off before I even landed in Atlanta. I was moved to the 10pm flight to Phoenix, the time I was supposed to arrive in Tucson. Needless to say, I arrived home at 3:30am on Wednesday instead of 10pm on Tuesday. Looking back on the weeks spent in South Africa, thinking about the relationships made with Americans, Canadians, and the Basothos, I can easily say that the negative delays doesn't even come close in comparison to the amazing time in South Africa.

In South Africa I learned hundreds of things. I learned that African elephants have giant ears, that zebras aren't as ugly in person as some other animals are, and that rhinos really are huge. I learned how to sweep "Basotho style", how to wash clothes without a washing machine, and how to wash dishes without a towel, a sink, or extra water to rinse. I learned how to shake hands in South Africa and a few phrases (very few phrases) in Sesotho. I also learned the importance of knowing the Bible and learned that God moves in all sorts of ways. I learned that God is intentional and that He truly does love unconditionally.

In the Bible, there are a plethora of verses that I don't ever think twice about because they aren't as relevant in America. Verses about talking to the dead, witchcraft, slaughtering animals, etc. However those are the verses we spent a lot of time on when talking with people. I was reminded of how intentional God is. That each thing in His Word is important and that He knows the nations and hearts of the world far better than anyone could come close to.

It's hard not to love Africa, especially when you're there. It's a place where it was so evident that God's love overflows, that He has unending mercy and grace. That He yearns to have a personal relationship with those living in South Africa. He loves Africa and is the God of Africa, just as He loves America and is our God.

I also was reminded of how intricate He works. Our team, 14 people from all over North America (Canada, California, Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida, Colorado), sat together in a remote village in South Africa. He molded us for that trip and once we were there we meshed ridiculously well together and built off one another. Back home, we are still being transformed but with the impressions of our team members. The intricate details that were revealed during our time in South Africa. The team was strengthened and detailed and despite the distance, we continue to uplift one another.

There is much more to say, however this is getting rather lengthy and I'm falling asleep over the keyboard. There are pictures uploaded on Facebook that you can view ( Soon I will post on my blog more specific stories about South Africa and the people there (

I will be sure to keep you updated as I update the blog and will share more stories and more things I learned and am learning.

Thank you all,


E-mail Update #7 (July 19, 2010)


I'm finally getting some basic Sesotho phrases down! So much so that sometimes the Basothos think I'm fluent, which becomes a problem..=) Anyhoo, this weekend we went to the lion park where I got to hang out with a baby tiger and baby lion. I can legitimately say I've been bitten by a tiger and got a slight rip on my pants by a lion=) On Sunday I went to church in Qwa Qwa where the service was 2 1/2 hours long. One we got back to base I climbed Mt. Everest and my legs are definitely feeling it today. (It's South Africa's version of Mt. Everest, but for the record it really is called Mt. Everest and it's a real's just not the actual for real Mt. Everest.)

Today was our first day ministering in Intabazwe. I got a Sesotho name because one of the women didn't like our English names=) (They were a bit difficult to pronounce for her.) Mine is...Matahbo I think, which means happiness. We washed a lot of dishes and sang and danced with her. At another house we went to we washed more dishes and I swept and mopped the floor and then went outside and played games with the kids. We tried playing zebra zebra lion (South Africa's version of duck duck goose) but they weren't down for that so we played stop/go (red light/green light) and Simon Says for a long time.

The weather is finally warming up, which is excellent. I could finally take my sweatshirt off today and have short sleeves on, compared to last week where I had about six layers on and a jacket, sweatshirt, and a big coat! While the weather is getting warmer, more and more dust is flying in the air. One of the team members, Hayley, is having severe allergies and her face is starting to really irritate her. Ami has also been dealing with a lot of sickness and is really getting down today and Morgan felt so under the weather that she had to stay back for the second half of ministering today. Please pray for Hayley, Ami, and Morgan who are really getting pretty sick as we start our second week. As for the rest of the team, many of us are starting to feel more and more weary and somewhat sick at the stomach, pray that we can continue to stay healthy.

We really started building relationships with the two families we visited today in Intabazwe and tomorrow we're going to start our conversations about our faith. Pray for those conversations, that they are intentional and loving.

With only a week left and the fear that we may never see each other again, this week is going to be a difficult week in other ways that last week wasn't. Continue to pray for our team, to have strengthened relationships throughout the week.

Thank you all for everything!


E-mail Update #6 (July 16, 2010)

Hey ya'll!

I apologize for not sending out many updates this past week or really updating the blog. Today we finished up our week in the village of Qwa Qwa doing relationship evangelism and yesterday afternoon my group did children's ministry and this afternoon we went to the hospital and prayed for patients. Tomorrow I get to celebrate my 20th birthday in South Africa and go to a lion park and possibly hold a baby tiger! Sunday we are going to church in Qwa Qwa and next week we will be doing the same thing but in the village of Intabazwe.

Some of my friends here are waiting for me to finish so we can chat, so I'm going to make this short! It's really cold here, so my hands aren't typing so well either!

-Pray for Abram. He is part of a church here that practices basically worshipping their ancestors and Jesus is fighting hard.
-A lot of those who live here practice "honoring" their ancestors, basically they use them instead of Jesus to get to God. We've had a lot of conversations with people about that..
-Practicing true Christianity here is very difficult as it goes against a lot of aspects of their culture. Pray for strength for those who have submitted their life to Christ.
-Today we went to the hospital and it was one of the better hosptials in south Africa and that is was pretty broken kind of sort of dirty and the beds were old and rickety and metal. and they didnt really have their own rooms, its all in one room without curtains.

Okay chatting with friends now, gotta run.

E-mail Update #5 (July 8, 2010)

Hey all!

I made it to DC Wwithout a hitch and found my team no problem. We did
have one team member who had their flight cancelled due to rain
however she was able to catcha nother flight and will make it to dc a
little over an hour from when we take off for paris. Once in Paris we
have about a 12 hour layover, however we will have to stay in the

Right now we are in line, checking baggage to South Africa and getting
our boarding passes for our next two flights.

I, along with two others, have been made tag leaders..basically just
helping our team leader make sure everyone is all together and keep
track of everyone.

I am able to send this from my phone so hopefully it makes to yall

I love my team and am convinced that I'm goimg to come back with a
strong southern accent! We are from all over--Colorado, alabama,
tennessee, canada, califronia, oklahoma, etc.

Continue to pray for our safety and that we can keep trackl of our
passports..we have already had a few scares with our ids!

thank you all,


E-mail Update #4 (July 10, 2010)

I have arrived safely in South Africa!

My hands are cold and we're getting ready to head for bed so I'm going to make this short!

Prayer Requests and Praises
-Pray for Angela--she is on my team and is already pretty sick
-We made it!!
-Continue to build relationships within the team
-Tomorrow we begin training, pray that we all are able to pay attention and really understand the culture and all that we are about to embraced in.
-We can keep warm--it's cold!

That's about all I have for now,


E-mail Update #3 (July 7, 2010)


I apologize for getting this out so late, as this will probably be my last update while in America! I'm getting ready to leave for Phoenix in a few hours and will be heading to Phoenix airport at 4am!

I didn't end up purchasing an electrical convertor, so I'm not sure how often I will be able to send updates as I will have no way to charge my laptop but I will try my best! I have also created a blog, which can be accessed at: But again, I'm not sure how often I will be able to update it while there. Please leave comments, as that will be easier for me to access than my e-mail and we can (hopefully) communicate that way.

Prayer requests as I get ready to fly overseas:
1. I have a totaling amount of about 20 hours in the air--please pray for smooth flights. That's a lot of time spent thousands of feet in the air!
2. As most of you know, I have an awful sense of direction=) When I get to the Atlanta airport I have less than an hour to find my connecting flight and navigate that airport and once I land in DC I'll have to find the correct terminal and meet my team. Pray that I don't get too lost and that I'll be at peace when battling my lack of skill when it comes to directions and navigating!
3. That our team will have an instant bond and will grow strong throughout these next few weeks. Each of us are stepping out in faith and are going to unknown country with people we don't know anything about.
4. I'm slightly afraid to ask for prayer about this=) But pray that I will be "wrecked", as my friend Casey words it, these next couple of weeks.

Thank you all for all of your support!


E-mail Update #2 (June 12, 2010)

Hello All!

I will be taking off in about one month for South Africa! I have been able to purchase my domestic airfare and since I will be gone for the next week and a half, I have also sent in my final payment to Thrive! What God has been showing me through the financial support is truly astounding. I have now paid in full for everything. While my domestic airfare and a little over $100 for Thrive were not met through fundraising, I was thankfully provided with enough funds through working to cover for those things. Once I fax my immunization records to Thrive, I will have all of the logistics done for the trip!

My flight plans are as follows: I will be driving up to Phoenix on July 7 to make my flight out of Phoenix, AZ at 6am on July 8 and will meet with my team in Washington DC and on the same day, we will take off for Johannesburg, with a layover in Paris. I fly back to the United States on July 27 (from Johannesburg to DC to Phoenix) and arrive in the Phoenix airport around 8pm (AZ time).

I have recently discovered this song and would like to share it with you all: "Power of Your Name" (Lincoln Brewster, Darlene Zschech) [[]] (It doesn't start until about 1:03)
I love the images in this video and the lyrics in the song and is a reminder of who Jesus is and how much this world needs our God and what we need to be living for. This world can be changed, radically changed because of the power of His name. "I will live to carry Your compassion, to love a world that is broken, to be your hands and feet. And I will give with a life that I've been given and go beyond religion to see the world be changed by the power of your name."

Why am I going to South Africa? Because Jesus said so. Because I'm called to be compassionate, to change the world, to be His hands and feet. If you are a follower of Jesus, boldly ask Him where He wants to take you. He may say to stay where you are. And that's okay. He may say go next door. Hey may say go to a remote location, He may say hold on, He may say something you want to hear, He may say something you don't want to hear. Wherever He sends you and for however long He sends you, is good. I never actually wanted to go anywhere. I was content in the United States. I always joked about going to Africa, but I never really wanted to go. Once He made it clear it was no longer a joke, I doubted I was ever actually going to go. I doubted I'd raise enough. I doubted I could do it, I doubted I was strong enough. Until yesterday, when I sent in the last payment of $1,650 totaling $3,850. It's starting to settle in now. It's real. I'm going. I'm going to a place I know little about with people I've never met and using a passport for the first time to witness to people I've never really learned about. I'm going to South Africa simply because God wants me to go there. And more and more, I'm starting to want to go there myself.

The 2010 World Cup has started! McDonald's has cups, coke cans are covered with the logo, and many commercials are focused on the World Cup. I hit on the concerns of the impacts of the World Cup in South Africa to the sex industry in my last e-mail. Perhaps you would like further investigation or articles, not just from Time magazine, to really prove that this is an issue. Here's a more recent one on the ESPN website, with a video and article:
Sex trafficking is an issue and the issue is at a heightened risk in South Africa because of the World Cup. Pray for those who have traveled to South Africa to watch the World Cup, those who live in South Africa, and those who are already involved in this industry.

Thank you for all of your support,


E-mail Update #1 (May 31, 2010)

Hello All!

Thank you all for your prayer and financial support and for signing up to receive updates as I prepare for my trip to South Africa. I have been trying to figure out what to write here, what updates I have, etc. Originally I thought that I could only write about the trip and stay solely on that topic. After more thought, I decided that was wrong. Because there are many more things/people that also need prayer and things that impact me, which may also impact the trip. I like lists, so be prepared for the e-mails to be numbered=)

1. As I prepare to go overseas to South Africa, many of my friends are already overseas obeying God's call and ministering to the world. Please pray for Casey Richard, who is Thailand for three months; "China Team", from NAU's InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group who left for China last week for six weeks; Ally Liem and Jon Watson and their team who left for Mozambique; and Anita Doerfler is also getting ready to go to a camp in Alaska. These people are incredible followers of Christ and some very dear friends of mine from Northern Arizona University. Pray for their safety as well as the countries/areas they are in.

2. I have been able to meet my May deadline, where I was able to submit $2000 thanks to you all and the support you provided. As I prepare to send in another $1650, due by June 22, I am excited to share that I need to raise about $400 more dollars to have the trip paid in full to Thrive Africa.

3. As some of you may have heard, my grandmother, my mom's mother, passed away earlier this week. This death brought heartbreak to the family and has weighed heavily on us. My parents drove to Kansas earlier this week and my brother, TJ, and I flew to Kansas on Friday to meet the rest of the family. On Saturday we attended her memorial service and Sunday and Monday (today) we all drove back to Arizona, approximately a 22 hour drive. I share this with you all for a couple of reasons.
  • Please pray for my family, particularly my mom and her brother and sister, as well as my grandpa--who was married to my grandma for 53 years, as we are all grieving.
  • That money that we spent on the plane tickets as well as car trip had originally been set aside by my parents to help financially support me for my domestic airfare and other various expenses for South Africa. Due to the unexpected use of this money, I must raise nearly an extra $500 that I had not planned for.
4. The world cup is coming up! The 2010 world cup will be in South Africa this year and begins June 11. I include this with an urgent prayer request. There is a very valid fear that the sex trafficking industry will boom in South Africa due to the world cup. Keep South Africa and the sex industry in your prayers, particularly during the world cup (June 11-July 11). Here is the link for Time Magazine's article covering the story:,9171,1952335,00.html

Thank you again for your support!