Stand in the Gap for Vulnerable Children

We know more than ever about how to help children who have suffered abuse and trauma.

(Reposted guest blog post for M.J Murdock’s Thoughts From The Road)

The headline stuck in my head. “Malnourished 5-year old girl found locked in closet under stairs.” It was like a second round of mortar piercing my heart following a news story I happened to read a few weeks earlier: “Thousands of child sex abuse photos found on Wilsonville man’s phone.”

These are not stories I seek out. Honestly, I’d prefer to not know of such horrors. But for the past 25 years my career and calling has brought me face to face with the harsh realities many children face. I’ve seen the impact of abuse and neglect firsthand in countless children served through a variety of programs. I’ve stood beside a loved one coming to grips with years of hidden abuse. I’ve seen the crippling effects of trauma on children’s self-esteem, motivation to live, and ability to thrive.

Along the way we’ve learned a lot about the way abuse and neglect affect children. One significant finding came from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. This groundbreaking public health study Continue reading

Survivor Sunday Reflections

Gun violence is the 3rd leading cause of death for children in America, and 30,000 lives are lost each year to gun violence.

Today, I’m sharing a reflection and prayer that I was asked to write for Survivor Sunday. You can also find information online on the Facebook page. Survivor Sunday is an invitation for churches and individuals to join together in prayer for those affected by gun violence.

Survivor Sunday reminds us to not only rejoice with those who rejoice but also to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). It is a time for us to be in solidarity with gun violence survivors, their loved ones, witnesses, and communities. It is also a time to share hope in the midst of darkness. Jesus told His disciples that some things can only be driven out through prayer. (Mark 9:29) Survivor Sunday reminds us of the power of prayer to change us and the world around us. We have an opportunity to begin a prayer journey. Prayer is fueled by faith (Matthew 21:22), delivers (Psalm 107:28), calms storms (Psalm 107:29-30), opens doors (Matthew 7:7), and calls forth needed resources for the work (Mark 11:24, John 14:13-14). Gun violence leaves a wake of trauma and tragedy in its aftermath. Survivor Sunday reminds us that “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your (His) faithfulness.” May we use Survivor Sunday to be a light in the darkness, to provide hope in the face of fear, and to seek our transformation and the transformation of others. Let us cry out to the Lord for the healing of our land with full confidence that we will not be consumed!

Let us pray: Lord we come to you in our grief and distress, casting every care upon you. We seek healing for ourselves, our community, and our country from the impact of violence and loss. We offer our mustard seed of faith to you, trusting that You are faithful. We repent of our own indifference, lack of knowledge, or lack of action and offer ourselves to you to be used for positive change. May all those affected by gun violence experience the beauty that only You can reveal in the midst of pain, trauma, and tragedy; we pray this for survivors, loved ones, witnesses, and communities. We stand against principalities, powers, and the forces of darkness in the powerful and precious name of Jesus. We call upon you, Holy Spirit, to comfort, protect, defend, and equip Your people. May we live into our true identity as the beloved children of God and our true vocation as people called to good works, pleasing the Father in all that we say and do in these challenging times.

Start today! Do what you can with what you have right now. If you need to learn more, learn. If you need to say more, speak out. If you need to do more, take action. Prayer is powerful, and it must also be combined with positive deeds that reshape and change our world.

The Rise of Hope: The Challenge of Fear

“The arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I have found myself in a number of discussions about the two narratives in our current political debate. Some have described it as the difference between a narrative of hope and a narrative of fear. I’ve had to think long and hard about these narratives in the past few weeks.   Continue reading

The dark side of foster care

imageOn any given day, there are approximately 415,000 children in foster care in the United States. While meeting with two friends a few weeks ago, one of them mentioned a young woman with whom they had recently reconnected after a long break. This girl, Sandra (name changed), had been one of those 415,000 children. As my friend Kenzie shared more, the story quickly touched my heart. Sandra had been in the foster care system in Oregon. Now she was couch surfing, a term used for going from one friend’s home to another, sleeping on the couch, as a way to maintain housing. The story went from complex to almost impossible to miraculous. Continue reading

What’s in a name?

MNII had the most unusual experience a summer or so ago at a camp where I met a young girl who told me she didn’t like her last name. Now, I’m not so naïve that I’ve never heard someone say such a thing. But until this point, I had never met someone who seemed to have such sorrow over their name. It was an internal sorrow, not connected to the way her name was perceived by others, but by a deep sense of being oppressed by her name. Continue reading