There Is a Season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Seasons of Life

I’ve been blogging for six years! Can you believe it? And I still struggle with how to share what’s going on in my life. If you haven’t guessed, I’m a private person. Some may even call me a hermit. But when I created this blog, I knew sharing was a necessary part of building friendship.

It’s not that I don’t want to share with my friends. I love my friends, so why shouldn’t I want to share with them?

Truth be told, it’s not about the sharing but the caring. I love my life. It’s not an exciting one, but it’s who I am and what I do. Still, I struggle with why anyone would care about what I do? Do you ever wonder that, or is it just me?

Funny thing, when I notice someone has disappeared on a blog or social media, I immediately wonder if they’re sick. Why don’t they let us know what’s going on? 😊 For the record, I love reading about what ever one else is doing. Lol! Anyway, I’ve been absent lately, and I thought I should share what is going on.

Most of you know my daughter had Covid last month. It took several weeks for the household to bounce back from the no sleep, high-alert, and endless days and nights. Thankfully, everyone is beginning to feel like themselves. What we didn’t realize was the following weeks would bring permanent changes to our lives.

Before we closed the books on August, I lost six people in my life. Three friends and three family members. Two from Covid. Four from various health and age related problems. One was my aunt who was like a mother/sister to me. It’s been an emotional whirlwind for the past seven weeks. And let me tell ya, I’m tired.

For the past three weeks, we’ve sorted through personal documents and belongings, relived memories, and gotten reacquainted. We’ve cried, mourned, and laughed. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us there is a season for everything. And just like the writer mirrors the opposites in the same sentence, this season has been a sad and hopeful one. Sad because of our loss. Hopeful because it’s not the end. It’s not goodbye.

To all the family and friends, we’re praying for you.

Heaven and Earth

Earth whispers, “Farewell.”

Witnessing a departure.

Heaven shouts, “Hello.”

Welcoming an arrival.

Until then,

We wait.

© 2009 Gail Johnson

Announcement

Please join me next week when Stephanie Daniels will be sharing her latest book and talking about Kindle Vella! Y’all, I love this story.

Sagging Middles

Once upon a time...Fairy tales often begin with once upon a time, but the tale doesn’t stop there. It can’t. A story ends well if we find the answer to one question…

And then what happened?

Without that question, we have no plot. And there must be a plot. The plot drives the story forward. Right?

But here’s where our story differs from the fiction we read and write. Our stories have sagging middles. And I don’t mean I-quit-doing-my-sit-ups sagging middles. The sagging I refer to is the endless waiting, circuitous wandering middle.

It’s during these middles we, as doers, feel helpless because the forward movement has stopped. There is no action. Or is there?

We fail to comprehend this new plot twist because we’re not the author of our stories. The Master storyteller holds the pen, and He knows the exact pace needed to accomplish the character arc He desires.

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:3-4 KJV

Truth: Sometimes we need a sagging middle to move us forward.

The Lord alone knows how to structure our story to bring us to a delightful ending.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 KJV

He has made the needed provisions for our salvation, and He’s making the necessary revision in our lives. Hence, the sagging middle. Hang in there. We can and will finish strong if we yield to His hand.

Another fact to rejoice over is our Lord never suffers from writer’s block! He has known the end of our stories from the beginning.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

As writers we understand, only the Author who knows the ending can finish the story. And He alone will finish the story. May we all allow Him to write His story upon our hearts.

Who’s writing your story?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes we need a sagging middle to move us forward.

 

Together, We Can Make A Difference

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6 KJV)

I sat in the booth across from my daughter and unwrapped my sandwich. After taking a bite of the Turkey Italiano sub, I sat back and waited for her to taste her own. Her face was pale and her lips were colorless.

I knew she was upset after hearing about a recent abusive situation. I also knew if I didn’t get her talking, she would worry about it for days and refuse to eat.

“Why are you so angry?” I raised my hand before she could remind me of what I already knew. “I understand you’re upset about the situation, but I want you to think about it a minute. Set your emotions aside. Now, tell me, why are you angry?”

Moments passed while she processed. (Let me tell you, this kid can process for days! J)

Finally, she leaned over the table and whispered. “Because I can’t do anything about it. I feel helpless, and that makes me angry.”

I was proud that she had gotten to the root of her emotions. I smiled at her. In the past, I too would have been unable to eat. But now, I understand the reason for my anger, and I know what to do about it.

“Oh yes, there is something you can do about it. We do it every month. We support IJM and the fight against abuse. We pray. And we can definitely write about it. Want a story? We can write stories of abused characters finding their freedom if that’s what you want. You’re not helpless.  Talk about it. Educate others about it. Use that anger to make a difference. Don’t just fume, take action.”

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“It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name…modern slavery.” President Barack Obama, September 25, 2012

The following definition, profit, and issue quotes are taken from humanrightsfirst.org. You can download your own copy here.

Human Trafficking Defined

Under U.S. law, trafficking in persons is defined as “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age,” or “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, using force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Breakdown of Profits

Human trafficking earns profits of roughly 150 billion a year for traffickers, according to the ILO report from 2014. The following is a breakdown of profits, by sector:

  • $99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation
  • $34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
  • $9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
  • $8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labor.

Global Issue

(Think we have nothing to worry about? Think again.)

  • Asia-Pacific15.4 million
  • Africa 5.7 million
  • Europe and Central Asia 2.2 million
  • North and South America 1.2 million
  • Arab states account for 1 percent of all victims.

Taking Action

  • Pray
  • Get involved with state and local government to make a difference
  • Donate to nonprofit organizations fighting for the rights of humans everywhere
  • Be aware of what’s going on in your neighborhoods, towns, schools, and churches

When searching for a nonprofit organization, I wanted someone I could trust, someone who was making a difference, and someone who practiced financial transparency. I chose International Justice Mission.

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“NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1, 2018. I call upon industry associations, law enforcement, private businesses, faith-based and other organizations of civil society, schools, families, and all Americans to recognize our vital roles in ending all forms of modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities aimed at ending and preventing all forms of human trafficking.”

Together we can make a difference.


TreasuresofHopeFrontFinalIn honor of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, I’m offering a printed copy of Treasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past. Leave a comment to have your name entered in the drawing.