Perspectives from Black women: What to Do, Say and Learn during a time of Civil Unrest and Racial Divide.

posted on: June 11, 2020

I sit here at my laptop, hands trembling as I begin to finally write and share all the things I have learned over the last three weeks since George Floyd was murdered. This black man was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down in the street, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. When George Floyd called out to his mother, mothers everywhere answered.

Today, a black man, right now at this very moment is being arrested and held in handcuffs across the street from my home in the police station parking lot. I am watching as several people mill around and video him and the six police. What a day we live in. However, I choose to believe the pain of dealing with everything that is going on in our nation is a good sign. When our thinking is challenged we can grow and see other perspectives.

Push through the pain.

I always wondered what would I do during the time of slavery or the holocaust or the civil rights movement era. Now I know. I am doing it right now. 

Over a week ago, I began asking questions I did not have the answers to and recieved answers I was not prepared for. Things I have been taught all my life were illusions and lies.

I decided to do what comes easiest for me. Curiousity. Ask questions. Ask the hard questions. 

I began to think of the community of people that I have been so privileged to know and meet. I realized I had the right people in my large circles who would not be offended by me asking the hard questions to them. They would be strong enough and brave enough and tolerant enough to teach me. I ask nine women and one man the below questions. A few declined however, what I did not expect was how one black man and six beautiful women would go out of their way to provide education to me that for some reason I feel like I don’t deserve. I am holding a precious gift from this man and these six brave, beautiful women of color to whom I owe a great debt. I am forever grateful to you. Thank you from all of us. 

In the following posts you will read questions I asked and answers from multiple women who opened their hearts to me. One beautiful friend said the following:

Thank you for this opportunity. 
Though I am usually ready to give my perspective, I didn’t think only my perspective would give voice to the many questions you asked. So I got together with 3 other black women so you will find the replies saying ‘we’. All of our feelings are combined. We agreed almost 100% on the majority of things. Honestly it was a learning opportunity for each of us when we differed in our opinions. The black experience is a spectrum and hopefully this provided you with a wider one than me doing it alone would have. 
Much to my chagrin, she went on to say the following:
The comments provided are a compilation of thoughts and feelings of me and 3 other black women. We tried to respond as honestly as we could. Our willingness to engage in these discussions vary, but they were willing to diversify the feedback to you because I asked them to. I am not sure how you plan to use this information but these are feelings we feel safe with releasing.

Even after you read the information below, understand people still have not opened up fully. They have not discussed the hurt closest to their heart. They are angry, afraid, and cautious. There are still unthinkable and unspeakable things that have not been brought to the light. Trauma so terrible, they cannot be uttered. A kind of trauma no white person in America could fathom. 

Black Lives Matter

I don’t know if the following blog post will help anyone else other than myself however, I would like to believe somehow my words and their words of education would live long after I do and ring out through the coming generations to others so our future won’t make the same mistakes we are repeating today. 

  • What do you say Justice is?
    • The question almost implies that black people hold a different definition from others. Our ‘perspective’ on the word Justice is the same, it doesn’t matter because this definition already exists. Yes, it is both a behavior and a treatment. Justice in action looks like (not in any specific order):
      • Being aware of micro aggressions
      • Not letting black people to the all the work/ the only ones fighting
      • Reparations (goes back 400 years)
      • Representation in leadership in government/business etc., so the discussions continue.
      • Education of youth, stop the cycle.
    • Justice is seeking what’s right for a wrong that has been done. When I think of justice, I think of God. He is a just GOD and as men and women of God we should stand up against injustice in the natural but more so in the spirit as well. The word of God tells us to love our neighbor as ourself.
      • So if you were treated unfairly or unjustly, how would you want to be heard? How would you want to be treated?
      • I believe the greatest issue is we first need to love God with all of our mind, soul, heart, and strength. When we do these things, we will love what HE loves and hate what HE hates. Proverbs 28:5 says that evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully. So seek ye first the kingdom of God and all its righteous, so that you may understand what is good and perfect in His sight.
      • He is the judge and He will judge all according to their deeds and actions. But in order to acquire the justice that the bible speaks of, we must submit and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. The word speaks clearly on how God views righteous judgement. Take time and really read:
        Ecclesiastes 3:17, Hebrews 10:30, Hosea 12:6, Job 12:22, Proverbs 21:15, Proverbs 24: 24-25, Matthew 5:38-39Isaiah 30:18-19Isaiah 61:8-9, Isaiah 1:17Psalm 106:3Zachariah 7:9Leviticus 19:15Psalm 33:5Isaiah 51: 4
    • I have two strikes against me. I am black and I am a woman.

 

  • What does BLM stand for? 
    • A human rights movement
    • Black Lives Matter
    • I am not black, I am not white but I am from a minority race. I am against violence and looting but I believe that without this riots there is no change. Riots have come and go thru the years and many involving police brutality but this one stand out because a whole state is coming out of quarantine of a pandemic that was killing black people faster than any other race. A quarantine where so many racial incidents were recorded on video; the insult is in your face.
    • BLM should not have to be a thing if it was understood by everyone that every life matters.
    • BLM is a cry, is a SCREAM to be seen and heard.
    • BLM is to me: people who look like me and who don’t look like me rally together to speak out against white supremacy and build power within the community.
    • It means that my life and the life of other African American’s matter.
  • What does “Black Lives Matter” mean? 
    • It means what every other human rights movement means, “the right to life and liberty…”
    • It means that we matter too.
    • For the most, whites, they still think they are worth more and elite. We are still n******, wetbacks, and such in their eyes regardless how far we come up or contribute. Piss them off and they will call you a racist slur.

 

  • How is BLM different than ALM (All lives matter)?
    • All lives matter was reactionary to a community self-advocating (with allies) and pointing out that black lives were seen as less than.
      We liked this analogy using a Christian lens:
      BLM= “blessed are the poor in spirit”
      ALM= “no Jesus, blessed are all people”
    • Imagine your kid being in a classroom where the teacher says, you all matter. But because your child is different from the rest, they are treated differently. Everyday they come in the class and the teachers say’s you all matter but your kid is being treated as if he/she doesn’t matter. Eventually they will speak up and say, hey I matter too!!! How would that make you feel as a mother? Would you not say my child matters too or would you tell your hurting child that all the kids matter?
    • BLM is different than ALM because it takes the focus off what is truly happening. Everyone is given one life, and to think that your privilege affords you to feel or not feel in a certain way on the lives of black people while we are mistreated. As we die in our homes, the streets, wherever, our tears could mean the difference between life and death.
    • All lives matter is 100% facts! The only thing is we see to some people (unfortunately those also being some in power) show us in a discriminatory way that the statement “all lives matter rings untrue”. So I say yes, all lives should matter, but can not and will not be that a true and valid statement until we see black lives matter. That’s the difference.

 

  • What do white women need to know?
    • Stop tokenizing friendships with POC (i.e. I am not racist because I have a black friend).
      • Educate yourselves, for mothers educate your children.
      • If you have no POC in your immediate community/network/friendships, think about why. And through self-reflection look to see if you are a part of the reason or part of communities of people who are.
      • Outside of legitimate reason such as proximity, read black literature, watch films/documentaries, research, expand your family’s perspectives through education, activities, and build/keep a humble curiosity. And, do all this even without POC around.
    • As a woman in general you should know what it feels like to be discriminated because of your gender. You know what it feels like to not be taken seriously or to go unheard because of your gender. To be treated unfairly or unjustly. Most woman of any race knows what its like to experience this. So just dig deep and see if you remember a time this may have happen to you.
      • How did it make you feel?
      • What did you want to say?
      • Woman matter too, right?
    • A white woman’s tears could shut a city down, charge a innocent man with murder, and have a man hung from a tree. Sadly the things I have listed has been hidden from our history books and told as bedtime nightmares.
    • We seen how powerful our voices are! I witnessed it with the “Me too movement”. Don’t let the difference in skin and injustice silence your voice for your allies. We are sisters. And right now we need to send a united message as we have before.

 

  • How do we need to listen to our friends that are POC (People of Color)?
    • Don’t speak first, don’t just hear, listen, empathize.
    • Don’t generalize, and don’t let your opinions/preconceptions supersede our experiences.
    • If you don’t already understand the POC perspectives, don’t try to fit their experiences into your conceptualizations.
    • You listen the same way you would listen to a white person who is hurting. We are no different we just want to be heard. Being sympathetic to someone else pain and suffering shows you are compassionate and that you care.
    • If you are comfortable, you are not growing. I appreciate you for allowing me to give my thoughts freely.
    • Ask questions, get uncomfortable, put your pride aside, and listen. We have to start somewhere.

 

  • “Black lives are more important than white feelings.” “Black lives take precedence over white tears and fragility.” Do you agree or disagree with these quotes? 
    • YES! When did someone’s hurt feelings matter more than someone having breath in their body, or access to education, or civil liberties?
    • To be frank, we don’t care about white tears or fragility. Black tears built this country and revolutions take place it is because we are tired of crying.
    • If you take the words black and white out then it will read: lives are more important than feelings. Lives take precedence over tears and fragility. A feeling can be fixed and cared for. Tears can be wiped away, and fragile can be made strong again. But a life that has been taken can never be replaced.
    • I’ve dealt with being called a n***** by my teacher, spit on and having to fight. I have been jumped on by 2 teachers and being kicked out for protecting myself while the whole class reported that it wasn’t my fault. I was told by the police not to walk in certain neighborhoods, stay on my side where I belong and more but it comes to a point where walking away or turning a cheek makes your self-worth as a person and your spirit to be broken down or diminished. I’ve never let anyone diminish me but they have tried and weapons were and are formed to try. This applies to all miniorities. We deal with a lot on our jobs.
    • Yes. Its time to admit that white privilege is a real thing and being on the wrong end of the stick of it can be deadly. We have to acknowledge a problem before we can fix it instead of dancing around it.

 

  • How do People of Color let white people in to understand what is going on?
    • This question’s structure is part of the problem. It is phrased in a way that puts the blame on black people. “Let us in” implies that POC have kept white people out of understanding something. At no point were black people not receptive to white understanding our plight. The problem is because white people don’t have to deal with these issues on a daily basis, they have the privilege to ignore what has always been there.
    • To let anyone in they must be trusted. Meaning I’m not going to let you in if you don’t care about my pain. I really don’t understand this question.
    • No one needs to read books or watch a movie or be educated on racism, just treat your neighbor like you would like to be treated. If you see injustice, get involved, report it, don’t stay silence. It’s not right.
    • By opening up and speaking on their realities and experiences. We’re all in the same boat, some just have a better seat or view. Use your voice to bring awareness.

 

  • Where and how do we find a place to listen and to hear People of Color?
    • I don’t believe there is a special place, more of a concern. If you have someone in your life who is of color then talk to them. Stop being afraid. If they were your friend before then there shouldn’t be a problem with sitting down and having a talk if you are truly sincere about what’s going on in their lives. What’s their struggles?
    • You can read some books, a blog, facebook, or watch a movie. You can even listen to a song. Its been out there you just have to open your eyes and ears to hear.
    • “place?” There is no specific place, it is in every moment of life. The conversations don’t need a specific place, they just need to happen with or without POC present all the time. “There is no wrong time to do the right thing.”

 

  • How do white people/women help, grow and change? Do we need to change? Give us direction.
    • I don’t feel like this is a question that needs to be asked, given all the above. But if white people don’t think Justice should prevail, then do nothing. That is why we are quoting “Not being racist is not enough, you have to actively anti-racist.”
    • It all starts with the renewal of the mind. Renewing your mind to the word of God and erasing generational mindsets that have been passed down through your blood line. I believe this is all learned behavior. It starts in the mind but the mind can be changed. We all have mindsets that need to be torn down and then rebuild. So in turn it starts in the home. What you teach and show your children matters. What are you teaching/modeling to your kids about other races? Transform how you think and your actions will follow.
    • Phone a friend, text, or log on to social media, ask and inquire! Reach out and let someone know, “Hey! I’m here and I want to help.”

 

  • Recently, it has been said repeatedly that it is not the People of Color’s responsibility or job to educate white people about the matter of BLM or racism.
    • This question is often infuriating because it seems like people, in general, put in the energy to learn the things they care about. How have others learned that billions of people don’t have access to clean water, or that being poor leads to increased likelihood of negative health outcomes? Curiosity, research, education, and training. All of this is available when it comes to the BLM and fighting against racism.
    • White people can attend seminars, reading books, attend town halls, joining community initiatives, and do the work to understand a problem.
    • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In many of these spaces you may be the only white person sitting in the room. That in its self is a powerful way to increase empathy for the black experience. So at the end of the day educating yourself and being aware is the first step. You don’t need to protest or be at the frontlines to part of the change. There are multiple venues to make impact.
    • If you are aware of the injustices of black lives and you want to help and grow and cause change, then half the work is already done! Now be about it! Practice that in your day to day. Treat those the way you would want to be treated and fight for those as you would want for some one to fight for you. Step in and show up, everyday.

 

  • I don’t want any more families to be hurt. I don’t want any more people to be killed because of the color of their skin. It is scary and sad. What a sad day it is in America. Is it possible for all of us to live in a safe space and not be afraid of offending anyone because of the color of our skin?
    • Offense is different than actively using racism to marginalize and brutalize people. If all the black community felt was offended, we don’t think we would be where we are today. This is past offensive, it is again connected to human rights.
    • Sadly, we don’t think there is one solution and if it will happen in our generation but we do think it can and will be much better in the next coming years.
    • That’s a fantasy. The bible says in Luke 17:1 that it is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. There are evil spirits who are always on the prow seeking who they can use to do what they came to do and that is to steal, kill, and destroy. So it’s up to you if you choose to be a vessel who offends.

 

  • Would reading certain books help us understand racism? Are there any suggestions you would make for blogs and books to read so we can understand? Please list the title and author here.
    • Yes, there are blogs, social media pages, and bookstores that have list of reads. From historical reads to narratives. Use them all to gain knowledge of the spectrum of the black experience in America.
    • Read the Bible. Read about Azusa St. by Frank Bartleman, How to Kill a mocking bird. Harriet Tubman: The Road to freedom. Ask God to lead you to the ones that will best open up your understanding to all of this.
    • If reading is your thing then yes. I personally would recommend Maya Angelo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and The lyrics and poems of Tupac.

 

  • It has been said that “Colorblind” white children grow up to be racially dismissive and violent.” Do you agree or disagree with that opinion? Why?
    • Yes, because the whole concept is teaching them to not acknowledge and respect differences in perspectives, lifestyle, cultures, and religions. The only time color blind should be mentioned is when it is a diagnosis from a physician.
    • Agree, I think “colorblind” is just a nice way of saying “I’ll turn a blind eye if and when a situation or problem comes up related/ associated with your color.”

 

  • There have been photos of People of color and police or People of Color and white people hugging to show kindness in the world. Some say this image perpetuates a false narrative and unity looks like focusing on kindness instead of equity. Equity is the quality of being fair and impartial. What do you believe? 
    • We agree, though it seems nice at first glance, it is giving a false narrative. One because this march wasn’t about the ‘good cops’, it is about the culture inside of the profession that has allowed for injustices to occur. The media is almost using those images to distract from the deeply rooted hurt in the black community.
    • I am a woman of God so when I see this, I see God working and moving. I see God’s goodness. But this statement is not dismissing the kindness shown in these pictures. They are saying they want more than just a hug and a pat on the back. They want action as well.
    • It just depends on someone’s intentions and perspective. I happen to like those photos. For me, it helps me visualize a future I want to see for my little brothers’ future, but I do understand how they can be used to make it look as though there isn’t much progress that has to be made or things aren’t that bad to try and glaze things over. Times are crazy and confusing. Just do your part and don’t get distracted by white noise. I stray away from people that just want to argue about anything and everything, and find a group of people that want to cause change instead of just talking about it.

 

  • “Compassion without accountability is manipulation.” Do you agree or disagree?
    • We were not completely sure what this was getting to. However, we will say, feeling sorry for someone eventually fades if you don’t see how it affects your life. The major reason why we see what we see today through riots is because there are a lot of people who are not overtly racist but they said nothing or committed to nothing to make it stop. After a while, the silence of people who see injustice becomes just as hurtful as the people who did the direct harm. If people are not part of the solution in some way (we listed ways that people can be part of the solution above) then they are part of the problem.
    • It all depends on the person’s motive behind it. If a person is only being compassionate so that you shut up and forget about the situation then yes it is. Basically, if your compassion has a hidden agenda then yes it’s manipulation at its core. A man judges the outer appearance but God judges the heart. Just because you see with your eyes that this person is being compassionate doesn’t mean their heart is right. A spirit filled person with discernment will understand this more than anybody else.

 

  • “Racism isn’t cured by ignorance, apathy or kindness.” Do you agree or disagree?
    • Agree. Systemic problems can only be solved by systemic solutions. Racism systemic. Look at the system, see the history of brokenness, and start to see what part you can play to repair and reconcile.
    • I agree. Action must be taken. Faith without works is dead. When has ignorance ever helped any situation? Even the bible says get wisdom and with all of your getting get knowledge and with all of your knowledge get understanding.
      Apathy, if you got wounded and chose to have lack of interest or concern about it the wound, does that make the wound go away? No, it doesn’t as a matter of fact, because you chose to ignore it will now become infected and worse than it was before. So, when I see a white person who never experienced racism be apatheic to racism that shows me that you don’t care and it’s not your problem. You don’t have to deal with that at all, so why care?
      Kindness shows that you are sympathetic but your actions enforces it. What are you willing to do as an individual to see a change in this world? Being kind is not implementing change but it is a start. Never stop being kind but action must be taken with it.

 

Lives are in danger and it is up to us to shed light on that, rather than focus on exceptions to the rule.

 

Pray for the loss of this nation.

Educate your family. 

Listen. Silence can reinforce racism so begin hard conversations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Has this article benefited you in any way? Let me know in the comment section below. Share to spread awareness.

 

May God bless America.

 

When we need the Shepherd to come find us

posted on: March 29, 2020

Since the Pandemic has occurred, we have a bible lesson each Sunday in our home. Below are the notes for our bible lesson in the morning.

 

Luke 15 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 

Then Jesus told them this parable:

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders

and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

There are around 37 to 40 parables in the three first gospel books in the New Testament. The Gospel of Luke contains both the largest number of parables (24) and the most unique parables (18) which are not repeated in the other gospels.

A parable is a short story that illustrates a universal truth. A parable sketches a setting, describes an action and then shows the results. In the parable of the Lost Sheep, the reader learns that each person is precious to God.

Why does the Shepherd put the sheep on his shoulders and go home?

Because that’s what a Good Shepherd does. He carries.

The survival instincts of sheep mirror those of humans. We stick together. We follow each other, even if it’s sometimes not the wisest thing to do. We walk a winding path and watch for predators. If threatened, our need to flee overrides all other survival instincts. In fleeing, sometimes we get lost.

Jesus is hanging with people of dubious character. The Pharisees (such sticklers about rules) do not approve. Through this parable Jesus gently tells them: “Look, we have some highly agitated people here. They had to flee because they were threatened. The rest of you have safety in numbers, so I’m not going to worry about you for a while. I’ll try to get these people back with us so we can celebrate walking the winding path together.”

What has a lost sheep experienced?

Fear

Grief

Anxiety

Sadness

Loneliness

Dread

Jesus says in John 10:10 I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Have life more abundantly. He doesn’t want us to live in fear, or sadness. He wants our life to be full of color and laughter and he wants to us to with each other just like the 99 sheep were together. We weren’t meant to be an island unto ourselves.

No man is an island. No one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others. This saying comes from a sermon by the seventeenth-century English author John Donne. John Donne was an English scholar, poet, soldier and secretary born into a Catholic family, a remnant of the Catholic Revival, who reluctantly became a cleric in the Church of England. He was Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London (1621-1631) 

‘No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 


Olde English Version
No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

MEDITATION XVII
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne 

Jesus came for those who needed him. He came for the sick, for the lost, for those afraid. 

Mark 2:17

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I camenot to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

 

I have always had this idea from a young age that there were two sides in everything. Them against Us. Me against Them. The ‘it’ crowd and the Outsiders. The Greasers against the Socials. Good vs. Evil. Jedi vs. Sith. However the paradox is that this CoronaVirus Pandemic has created this new idea to me. We are all on the same playing field. We are all in this thing called Life together. No man is an island unto himself. WE are all sheep gone astray.

 

Isaiah 53:6 King James Version (KJV)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

There is no discrimination. This virus will go against anyone with no care of 

Race

Creed (a system of Christian or other religious belief; a faith.)

Color

Wealth status

We all are just sheep needing a home. We all at one time or another this year have felt helpless and in need of a Savior, a Shepherd. We have all grieved and cried and felt alone. And in this time of crisis we feel threatened. Now more than ever we need a Great Big God to just reach down and find us. 

I can’t help but turn to King David’s words and try to find solace in his suffering during this scary time.

Psalm 13 may be the very deepest of all the pits of life David endured. In this Psalm David is all alone and momentarily felt that even God had left him. 

In Psalm 13 David asks, “How long will I have sorrow in my heart daily? Hear me, O Lord. I trust in your mercy. My heart rejoices in your Salvation. I will sing unto the Lord.” Psalms 13 may have been the scariest time of his life. David may have felt like he was in the darkest cave of his life. 

Here in this psalm David was in a cave, not unlike Elijah who in I Kings 19:11-13 was also hiding for his life in a cave praying to die. 

 

1 Kings 19 New King James Version (NKJV)

Elijah Escapes from Jezebel
19 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.

9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

God’s Revelation to Elijah
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

This time right now may be the hardest, scariest moment you have ever experienced in your life and like David and Elijah, you too may feel cut off from the rest of the world, all alone. In these moments, choose to be still and listen for a still, small, gentle voice. HIS voice. You are not alone. We together are not alone. Jesus has no rival. No equal. He will be our Savior.

The voice of the Lord that found Elijah was not a booming voice. It was still, small and kind-gentle as the voice of a Shepherd to his sheep would be. Elijah, David and the Lost Sheep did not need and we today do not need a booming voice scaring us further into hiding, rather each one of us needed, needs and will forever need that soft touch of an angel, a Shepherd, Jesus, God in flesh. Softly, tenderly the Master is calling. Allow him to carry you from the cave  you are in back out into the sunshine and back to the fold of sheep where together we are safe.

 

 

Treasures from Home, a day cooking with Dad.

posted on: February 18, 2020

Cowboy Stew Recipe

1 lb. ground beef

1 large onion and 3 mushrooms, chopped

1 large bell pepper, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

3 ribs of celery, chopped

1 or 2 cans of ranch style beans

1 can of whole corn (I use a frozen bag of corn)

2 cans of tomato sauce

3 large gold potatoes, diced small

1 Tbsp. chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

pince of basil and/or oregano

Brown the first six ingredients in a heavy pan. When cooked, add the remaining ingredients and cook over a medium heat until the potatoes are tender.

***Serve over brown rice. Cornbread, crackers, sour cream, shredded cheese and chives are all optional additions. 

One of my absolute worst pet peeves is having to scroll to the end of a blog to actually find the recipe that I was looking for, so I gave it to you right up front. You are welcome to try it, share it out and be sure to let me know how yours turned out. My dad would be so pleased to hear responses of his Cowboy stew. Who wouldn’t want to sit down to a big bowl of cowboy stew? It is the aroma of home for me. My dad, ever the gracious cook, makes comfort foods to fight away anything life throws at us. If we are having a bad day, my dad can fix our heartache and tears with a few cans of this and that…combined with his homemade biscuits…you’ll forget why you were upset in the first place. He really is one of a kind. I will post the biscuit recipe and photos at a different time.

 

The Cowboy who made the stew, and his daughter

Cowboys are gentlemen who treat women with respect and work hard. They use their manners more than any other man would and a true cowboy knows love, pain and shame but never cares about fame.

-Anonymous

Dad teaching me how to make cowboy stew

Now, my dad may not ride horses and herd cattle but he has the heart of a romantic southern gentleman. 

“To make a point of declaring friendship is to cheapen it. For men’s emotions are very rarely put into words successfully. ”
Hunter S. Thompson (The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967)

That is one thing Dad has never had to do, he never has to declare he loves you to the world, though he is capable of that….you just know he loves you and he cooks to prove it. Thankful I got to spend a few minutes in the kitchen with him today. There will definitely be more to come. You can check out our first video below. We had so much fun trying to make a video. I promise they can only get better! 

 

Watch the video here:  Cowboy Stew with Dad 

 

 

 

We had fun! It was so easy. Please let us know if you make this recipe and what you think! 

 

 

Eclectic Enneagram Tests

posted on: February 19, 2019

 

I recently came across Enneagram tests and had never heard of them before. Everyone emerges from childhood with one of the nine types dominating their personality, with inborn temperament and other pre-natal factors being the main determinants of our type

The Enneagram of Personality, or simply the Enneagram (from the Greek words ἐννέα [ennéa, meaning “nine”] and γράμμα [grámma, meaning something “written” or “drawn”]), is a model of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types.

Take the test then head over to http://www.sleepingatlast.com for the 9 SONGS FOR THE 9 ENNEAGRAM TYPES.

It has been amazing to see my type of a mix between Three (3
THE ACHIEVER) and Eight (8 THE CHALLENGER)
The Powerful, Dominating Type:
Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational

yet I am married to a man who is a mix between Two (2 THE HELPER) and Six (6 THE LOYALIST) Reading the lyrics to the song that went with his personality moved me to tears. I understood him just a bit more.

Sleeping at Last is the podcast you have got to check out! The lyrics for each of the songs moved me to tears.

https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/relationship-type-2-with-type-3

Type One is principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.

Type Two is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.

Type Three is adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.

Type Four is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.

Type Five is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.

Type Six is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.

Type Seven is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.

Type Eight is self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.

Type Nine is receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.

Check out a great website for more info on this.

https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/how-the-enneagram-system-works

 

Please take time to do the test and share your results here. I can’t wait to hear from you and know more about each reader.

What do you think? Let me know!!

Astonishingly Honest #WhyIStayed graphics & shocking Domestic Violence statistics

posted on: October 9, 2018

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the focus is on making America aware of this nightmare. Awareness plus Action creates change so I am willing to do my part, however small that might be. Please contact me via lauraaranda@owlofhope.com to come to your school, church, book club and host a workshop concerning human trafficking in America and how it affects our American runaways.

The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. 

A woman is beaten every nine seconds in America.

 

#WhyIStayed

 

10,000,000

That is the number of minor children exposed to domestic violence every single year. Just let that heartbreaking number sink in for a moment. These are your Sunday school kids, your classroom students, your neighborhood kids playing in the streets. We have to do something! 

 

 

Need help?

In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN.

https://hotline.rainn.org/online/

For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website. https://www.nsvrc.org

 

 

Between 55 percent and 98 percent of child sex-trafficking cases involved children who had prior involvement in the child welfare system.

Runaway and homeless youth are at particularly high risk for exploitation
by traffickers: A survey of youth in a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City, Utah, found that 50 percent of homeless youth reported having been solicited for sex by an adult.

Reports have also indicated that one out of every three runaways will be “lured toward” prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we may not know exactly how many young people are being sexually exploited and abused by traffickers in the United States, it is clear that the sex trafficking of children and teenagers is a significant problem that deserves concerted attention. The challenges presented by these cases are not insurmountable, and there is a growing coalition of lawmakers from both parties who are committed to strengthening state and federal laws to better protect young people from this devastating form of abuse. There is also a strong community of anti-trafficking advocates committed to raising awareness about sex trafficking of minors and developing policy proposals and best practices for identifying and apprehending traffickers and providing supportive services to victims.

 

above notes taken from:

Click to access HumanTrafficking-brief.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is one thing you can do to improve all areas of your life at the same time – invest in yourself. The most famous investor of all time, Warren Buffett, says: “The best investment you can make is in yourself.” Go do something, become proud of yourself, get a career, go back to school, pick up a hobby, gain self confidence so you do not have to be subject to the opinions of another partner. 

 

 

🌟 Laura’s Daily Intention🌟

An *accountability partner* is great to have when we’re tackling big goals. Today, think about someone you can have in your corner as your work to get productive.

SETX Homeschool Expo-Author’s Corner

posted on: June 24, 2018

This was the second year, I have been invited to the SETX Homeschool Expo. https://www.facebook.com/events/170275663766999/

Jessica Fant, does an excellent job portraying her vision and creating an incredible experience in such an educational atmosphere. This year was larger and on a grander scale than the last two years. Tucked away in the coziest corner of Ford Park was a coffee station and all of us. The authors. Our genres are all different and we come from very different backgrounds but over the last two days, we warmed up to each other and learned so much.

Armed with new books and new friendships, I came away with gems. Over the next few weeks,  I will be posting new author interviews from my new friends.

One week, you will meet a two time deployed military veteran who is now a school teacher and an author.

One week, you will meet a pastor’s wife who has written the homeschool book of all books that will help you lose every excuse you could possibly think of, not to homeschool.

One week, you will meet a beautiful author of many, many books with some of her books involving a certain cat who is from Louisiana and takes us on a journey through Cajun Creole country.

I am so excited to share my friends with you. Check back and read their interviews coming up and go to their social media links if you want to buy their books or share them with your friends and followers.

Book One of Pushing Back the Darkness series

Thanks, Jessica Fant. I couldn’t have done it without you. I anticipate next year already.

Author’s Corner

The Gift of Fear-An Interview with Safety Sisters Founder, Brittany Moore (with a surprise gift for my readers)

posted on: April 9, 2018

The Gift of Fear. Is that even possible…to view fear as a gift? As a public speaker bringing awareness to human trafficking and how it affects our communities and our teens, I often feel that sensation of fear as I study and prepare to stand before people. A few ideas come to mind from other people and what they have had to say about fear; I want to share those with you. One is from Daniel Koren, author of ‘He Called Her’. Concerning fear  he said (paraphrasing in my words) to let fear run as far as possible in your mind…what is the worst that can happen? Now, open your eyes. You are still here. You are still standing. Fear runs out and you are still standing. 

Another public speaker I heard speak of the gift of fear said something that stuck with me and I constantly bring her words back to mind as I feel that rush of butterflies and those twisted, nervous, sweaty palms sensations. What if we are so unfamiliar with the feeling of power that we associate that nervous, scary feeling with fear instead of what it truly is-power. Public speakers have the unique opportunity to plant an idea in the minds of their audience. That is powerful and should be an exciting moment, not a fearful one. 

With that being said, Meet Brittany Moore,  a certified safety and self-defense educator who is going into public speaking as well.

The following interview is with a fellow Damsel in Defense sister. Damsel in Defense’s mission is to equip, empower and educate women to protect themselves and their families. Our Independent Damsel Pros are not only arming others and experiencing financial freedom, but also offering empowerment and healing to those affected by assault #becauseofdamsel. 

One by one, we are changing statistics and giving back to the many amazing partner organizations below that are making a difference in the lives of those who have been assaulted. As we continue to grow, our hearts and eyes are wide open for where God will take us next. But Damsel in Defense is only one part of all our lives. Beyond that, we do so many other fascinating things. For this Damsel sister Brittany Moore, I am excited to share how God is leading her into her newest venture. 

Enjoy!

 

First off, I want to thank Laura so much for taking the time to chat with me. I love what you are doing to help bring your passion to raising awareness for human trafficking. Now a little about me…I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister and the owner of Safety Sister.

My background is in psychology and health education and I am a certified safety and self-defense educator.

 

What do you do?

 

I teach women (teens to senior citizens) how to protect themselves and their families through awareness and prevention. I love every single aspect of what I do and hope to equip as many women as possible with the mental and physical tools to keep themselves safe.

Tell my readers 2-3 specific accomplishments or experiences.

-My mother, my inspiration for what I do, was a victim of rape from a serial killer who was later convicted. Although her experience was not my own experience, I grew up knowing about it and knowing how important it was to learn to protect myself. None of us should ever have to learn about personal safety the way she did, so her experience has inspired me to teach people how to avoid becoming a victim at all costs.

-Started “Safety Sister” in April 2017

-Published a “Personal & Family Safety” e-course in March 2018

What are your greatest professional strengths?

My greatest professional strengths are an unwillingness to give up. If something doesn’t work, I will get creative be sure to find another way to make it work. My second strength is in my desire to continue learning. Both strengths come from my passion for what I do and to share the knowledge with others.

What would you say are your Greatest Weaknesses?

We all have weaknesses and I’m no exception.  But our weaknesses are not what define us, our willingness to work hard enough to overcome them is what does. So, the only true weakness is not having the desire to overcome. I’m definitely not lacking in my desire, therefore I will overcome!

Do you have a nonprofit organization you admire or contribute to?

I know a few people with personal connections to St. Jude Children’s hospital and have heard only amazing things. I try to raise money for them as often as possible. Also, RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network is a great organization that comes out with so much helpful information and resources for women.

What do you think you have had to overcome to be who you are today?

I don’t claim to have had to endure even a fraction of what others have been through and I attribute that, in part, to my mom and the knowledge I was given as a child. My biggest barrier and the biggest thing I continue to overcome is myself, my doubts, and my setbacks. It’s easy to let them get in the way of getting to where you want to go. But if you focus on the goal, and know that, one way or another, you will find a way, you will succeed.

What is the last book that has made you cry?

As a mom, I don’t get much time to read, so I re-listened to “The Gift of Fear” a few weeks ago, which was part of my inspiration in doing what I do. I cry every time I listen to it because it hits so close to home and I hate the thought of people in this world have to endure such evil every day.

*The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence is a nonfiction self-help book (Dell Publishing 1997, republished with new epilogue 1998) written by Gavin de Becker. The book demonstrates how every individual should learn to trust the inherent “gift” of their gut instinct. By learning to recognize various warning signs and precursors to violence, it becomes possible to avoid potential trauma and harm.

The Gift of Fear spent four months on The New York Times Bestseller List, was a #1 National Bestseller, and has been published in 14 languages.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job would be a general manager of a major league baseball team. I grew up playing baseball, yes baseball, with the boys. The history and the sanctity of the game have always held a special place in my heart.

That’s incredible. Wow. So, in your own words what is your definition of success?

My definition of success is being able to do something that I love and feel like I’m really making a difference rather than going to an office job that I don’t like every day.

Doing something you love….so would you say you are successful and in what ways?

Absolutely! I’m successful in the sense that I had an idea and a passion and I turned it into an organization! I had no idea what I was capable of when I first started and I’ve learned a lot about myself.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

Publishing my e-book and e-course that each took about a year to put together.

Do you have long term goals that you can share with the readers?

In the long-term I’d like to extend my reach to high schools and colleges, giving seminars, and teaching women how to be proactive with their own safety and not take it for granted.

If a youth asked for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?

  1. Pay attention.
  2. Educate yourself.
  3. And listen to your instincts. Just about everything you do in life will be helped by those 3 pieces of advice!

That’s great advice for anyone. Let’s change directions for a moment. Have you ever created a vision board?

Not an actual one…although my pinterest boards are all overflowing!

Aren’t ours all overflowing? HA! So, do you have a favorite motto that you live by?

I used to love the quote:

“It’s good for the soul to invest in something you can’t control.”

which comes from the movie Fever Pitch and is in reference to baseball. However, doing what I do now, this has become the opposite of the motto I choose to live by. Now, I prefer to live by the motto and quote which again comes from “The Gift of Fear”:

“Whether it’s learned the easy way or the hard way, the truth remains, safety is yours.”

 


I love it! Thank you so much. They are both great quotes. I am so excited to hear more about your future ventures and where God is going to take you on this journey. I can’t wait to hear and share the stories of the lives you will positively impact. 

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what’s the easiest way(s) to reach you???

Readers can find us at www.safetysister.com, on Facebook at @safetysister or email us at sisterinselfdefense@gmail.com.

Our e-course is directly available at https://safety-sisters.teachable.com/

For all of Laura’s followers, I’d love to offer you a 50% discount on our “Personal & Family Safety” e-course.

Use promo code LAURAARANDA to receive your discount!

promo code:LAURAARANDA

Interview with Tom Schutle, Author of Spiritual Ambitions, Public Speaker & Red Cross Volunteer

posted on: February 20, 2018

SPIRITUAL AMBITIONS

Our ambitions determine the kind of person we become, and the kind of person we become determines what we will do in life. And since what we do in life can have lasting—even eternal—results, it’s no surprise that many of us strive to reach our ambitions. Yet while we can be consumed with pursuing worldly, secular ambitions for career and family, our spiritual ambitions are too often left to chance as we drift through life.

Tom agreed to an interview. Enjoy! Let’s begin. Please tell the readers a little about yourself. 

My name is Tom Schutle. People have told me I am a deep thinker over a wide range of topics, and an observer.

You are an author. When did you publish your first work?  

What is the Title?

Spiritual Ambitions, (How rich Do You Want to be in Eternity) is my first book, published in January of 2018.

 

What do you do? 

 I was the environmental steward for an incinerator. I am currently retired, spending my time volunteering for the Red Cross, working in a jail and prison ministry, and writing.

pexels-photo-98014.jpeg

 

 Start off with the 2-3 specific accomplishments or experiences.

I am absolutely not athletic, but  rode in the BP MS-150 bicycle ride, and successfully rode from Houston to Austin (172 miles).

I also won the District 68 toastmaster evaluation contest in 2016

 What are your greatest professional strengths?

I bring a creative focus to every problem, looking to the basis to resolve them. I am also very eclectic, being well read in my field, and able to bring greatly different subjects to solve seemingly unrelated problems. I also have a high level of integrity, which has put me in interesting situations.

 

Greatest Weaknesses?

I get so focused on what I am working on that I tend to come across as aloof and intimidating.

 

Do you have a nonprofit organization you admire or contribute to?

The organization I support the most is the Gideons International, because their mission is to put the Word of God in as many places as possible where people are hungry.

 

What do you think you have had to overcome to be who you are today?

Tough question. I grew up in a place where I had to work fields all day. As a result, I have trouble socializing at most levels.

 

What is the last book that has made you cry? 

If a fictional book is such that I would cry, I generally put it down. I am touched by true stories of people who gain success in spite of terrible circumstances and the huge cost they incur.

I just finished “Hope for the Caregiver” by Peter Rosenberger, published by Worthy Inspired. I recommend it for those that are either a primary caregiver, or soon will be.

I’m working through a book by Donald Frazier, “Greek Nuggets” published by Tate publishing.

 

What’s your dream job? 

Since I am retired, I can choose my job without worrying about hours or pay. I am getting close to living my dream job, with my efforts in prisons, and writing.

 

What is your definition of success?  

After I die, hearing Jesus say “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 pexels-photo-250609.jpeg

Would you say, while on earth now, you are successful and if so, in what ways? 

 I can never say I am 100% aligned with my definition of success. But, I am more so today than yesterday, and plan on being less today than tomorrow.

 

What are a few of your greatest professional achievements?

I have a bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve, and a Masters in Engineering from the University of Louisville. More important than my degrees is the life-long attitude of continually learning. I have completed the creative writing specialization – Wesleyan University, through Coursera. As an engineer, I was once the president of an associated trade association. My writing will far eclipse that, and hopefully, will be more impactful.

 

Thank you for that! Do you have long-term goals that you can share with the readers?

Spiritual ambitions really are goals that are moving targets. No matter how close you come, the target is always just out of reach and still a viable goal. 

In many ways, Spiritual Ambitions describe my overarching life goals. I believe that our spirituality determines almost the rest of our life. Because of this, concentrating on my relationship with Jesus will positively impact the lessor parts of my life.

In a more specific sense, A second book, The Last Leaf, will be released in two months.

I have four more projects scheduled for 2018, which are:

  • “The fire in my belly,” about the journey of an immigrant family told from the perspective of his furnace, which is in polish edit
  • “Is the Holy Spirit a Liar,” discussing why we don’t see more changed lives after salvation and what we should, individually, do about it, is about half-finished
  • “Examples of Sin,” This tentative title addresses examples of sin from scripture, with the objective of putting a mirror to ourselves, is about a quarter finished
  • “Why doesn’t God hear me?” This tentative tile addresses, scriptural, reasons why God doesn’t answer prayer, is in outline form

In 2019, I’m planning another book, “The Lazy Man’s Way to a Successful Marriage,” which is at the conceptual stage.

I work best by working on the first one, then, when stuck, switching to the second, and so forth.

I have other goals (the typical lose weight, exercise, blah blah), along with reading the Bible through, participate in two exhaustive Bible studies.

 

 That’s very good! So, if a youth walked up to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?

 God has created you for a purpose that only you can accomplish. If you don’t, that purpose won’t get done. No one else can take your place. Your challenge is to discover that purpose, which starts with a practical relationship with Jesus. After that, He will guide in that purpose.  I have observed many situations where people have a good concept, but somewhere, fall down in the execution. If it really is a good goal then one should research that goal, asking for advice from those that have done the same thing or similar. 

Typically, people don’t seem to reach their goals because they haven’t “counted the cost” or in other  words, have not determined the resources (time, skills, and money) to accomplish the goal.

Using my book as an example, I soon found out I don’t have a lot of the needed skills to bring it to market. I could have learned the skill, settled for a lessor goal, or hire the work. I don’t want to learn the skill nor settle for an inferior product, so I chose the third option. My belief is these decisions will give me the best chance for my goal to be successful.

It is very hard to create. I am unable to do more than about two hours of creative thinking at one time. Much of the writing effort is “grunt” type work, such as reviewing for grammar, sentence flow, etc.

I am currently frustrated by how the seasons flow in “the Fire in my Belly.” It is important that certain things happen when there is snow, and others in summer, yet the way people age makes this extremely difficult to get correct. The difference is minor to the reader, most might not notice the issue, but I am striving to do the best I can and I know when it isn’t my best.

Finally, be very careful whom you admire. You begin to become like those you admire.

How do you go about reaching goals?

We make time for those things important to us. The key is to monitor progress and make adjustments as needed. I personally like the acronym SMART when setting Goals

S – Specific

M- Measureable

A – Attainable

R- Reasonable

T- Time goal will be accomplished.

It sounds like I am very organized, but I am not. Reaching goals is a major struggle for me, which was one of the reasons behind developing “Spiritual Ambitions.”

I want to point out that I have written a detailed, twelve-page plan for “Spiritual Ambitions.” As I move through the process and learn more, I continually revise this plan.

A quote I like is “Plans are worthless, planning is invaluable.”

It is important to write goals down, and then look at them. Goals that you don’t keep and set before you to see are monuments for good thinking, not practical living.

Monuments belong in cemeteries. 

I have learned one major fact from my writing effort. The amount of resources – my time, energy, cost, and the time to bring the book to market – is far, far more than I anticipated.

 

Have you ever created a vision board? 

No. However, I use other  tools which accomplish similar objectives, such as mind maps, etc.

old-retro-antique-vintage-163182.jpeg

 

I love quotes! Do you have a favorite motto that you live by?

I have two

1)      Seek first the kingdom of God

2)      If everyone agrees with you, you are probably wrong.

By the way, the kingdom of God is His complete governing rule in my life.

 pexels-photo-267549.jpeg

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what’s the easiest way(s) to reach you???

 

The book’s web site is www.ThomasVictorSchutle.com

Through email –daydreamsfromthelastpew@gmail.com

Human Trafficking Awareness Interview with Michigan State Police Trooper Steven Kramer of Flint Post

posted on: January 29, 2018

Interview with Flint, Michigan State Trooper, Steven Kramer

Steven A. Kramer, age 44 is a community Service Trooper of Michigan State Police-Flint Post. For over the last four years, Trooper Kramer has pledged to do something to change the dynamics of the way human trafficking is viewed and dealt with in Flint, Michigan. Flint is well-known as the city drowning in so many other problems and fighting so many difficult obstacles. Studying online recorded the racial make-up of Flint consists of 57% black; 37% white while 42% of Flint residents live below the poverty line. The average household income is only $39,000.

Flint has ranked as one of America’s most dangerous cities for several years based on FBI crime statistics of violent crimes per capita.

Human Trafficking is just one more nightmare this city is trying to combat.
Human trafficking is both sex and labor trafficking.  It is a form of modern-day slavery that occurs around the world and in the United States.  It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving a person through the use of FORCE, FRAUD, or COERCION.  ANYONE can be a victim of human trafficking and ANYONE can be a trafficker. Flint and Michigan State Police are hoping to bridge the gap with Flint neighborhoods.

Below is an interview with one of the heroes on Flint, Michigan streets.

 
How long have you worked in this field?
I have been with the Michigan State Police for twenty years.  I have been in my current role as a Community Service Trooper /Recruiter for almost five years.   I have been involved with Human Trafficking awareness for about the last four years.  My partner, Trooper Amy Belanger  also works in this field and is heavily involved with human trafficking.  We have been partners for about three and a half years.
 
What are you passionate about?
I would say I’m very passionate about my job, especially  the work I am currently doing with the community. One message I want the world to understand is there is no such thing as a juvenile prostitute! If they are under age, it is trafficking!

What does Human Trafficking look like and how does it affect American Youth?
This is a tough question to answer, because it can look like so many different things.
Human trafficking is a crime that affects victims of any age, gender, race, or immigration status. Human trafficking occurs in all parts of this country – from cities, to suburbs, to rural areas.

Traffickers/Pimps are constantly coming up with new ways to lure our youth into this lifestyle.  They prey on desperation, curiosity, and naivety. 

Pimps/Traffickers can be girls, women, boys, young men, and older men.  Many kids are runaways at the time of recruitment.  Between 100,000 and 200,000 of United States Children are taken into trafficking each year.  The desired starting age is twelve to thirteen for girls and twelve years old for boys.

What motivated you to become a state trooper and more importantly what inspired you to get involved with bringing awareness to human trafficking?
My main motivation to become a State Trooper was my father.  My father worked for and retired from the Detroit Police Department as a Detective Sgt.   For as long as I can remember, being a police officer is all I ever wanted to be.  I look up to my father and have much respect for him.  I guess I wanted to follow in his footsteps.  It was his suggestion to join the Michigan State Police if I really wanted to be a police officer.
I would say the more I learned about human trafficking and how it happens everywhere, I became interested in seeing what I could do to help.
I joined the Genesee County Human Trafficking task force and began to learn more about it.   I also attended presentations from victims speaking about their experiences.   I see how it happens and how it affects our communities.  I felt that helping to educate the community was a great way to help.

Tell us a few statistics concerning human trafficking in Flint, Michigan and the surrounding areas.
It happens in Flint, Michigan the same way it happens everywhere in the United States.
Some interesting statistics:

  • 62% of victims are tricked into trafficking by someone they know and trust (boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, ect.).
  • 35% of victims are sold into human trafficking by their own family.
    Only 3% of victims are kidnapped.
  • Every year, 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Every minute, two children become victims of sexual exploitation.
    A trafficker/pimp will know within seconds of contacting their victim if they “got them”.
  • It takes as little as 8 minutes for a trafficker to win over his/her target.
  • 90% of all the children trafficked for sexual purposes are American children.
  • There are as many as 2.8 million runaway children each year in the U.S.
  • Within 48 hours of a child being on the street, 1 in 3 will be approached by a sex trafficker.
  • The most common approach is the “lover boy” approach.
  • This is where the trafficker will appear interested in a romantic relationship while gradually coercing the victim into prostitution.

If any readers might think a loved one is in harm’s way what would be a few actions you would suggest so they can get the help they need?
Be aware of and look for the warning signs.
Some warning signs of a victim include:

  • unexplained absences from school,
  • inability to attend school,
  • runs away from home,
  • makes references to frequent travel,
  • sudden changes in behavior or material possessions,
  • makes reference to sexual situations that are beyond ages specific norms,
  • drug addiction,
  • signs of physical abuse,
  • Avoids eye contact,
  • fearful of authority figures.

There is a lot of valuable information online at sources like the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Polaris project, and many more.

The National Human Trafficking hotline number is 888-373-7888
 

What steps did you take to begin bringing awareness and getting involved?

I am a member of the Genesee County and Shiawassee County Human Trafficking task forces.  I give presentations on human trafficking awareness at:
churches,
schools,
community action groups,
neighborhood associations,
Law enforcement,
Fire stations,
EMS,
Medical professionals,
and anyone who requests one.

What advice would you give to parents of youth?
Monitor your children’s activity!!!  I can’t stress that enough.  Kids today have cell phones, tablets, computers with basically unlimited access to the Internet.  Parents are too trusting of their kids.  We should be keeping tabs on what our kids are doing!
There is no such thing as violating your kids privacy when they are under 18!! 
You should know what your kids are doing online including:

  • Who they’re talking to,
  • Apps on their phones,
  • Online places visited.

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what would be the easiest way to reach you?
The best way to contact me is via Email: KramerS1@michigan.gov
Storytelling is never going to go away. I am honored to have the opportunity to be an outlet of sorts to bring honor to

Michigan State Police Trooper
Steven A. Kramer
Flint Post
Community Service Trooper/Recruiter

Men like Steven need to be recognized for all they do to help open eyes and bring awareness to the crisis of human trafficking in Flint, Michigan and around our country. Together as a community and as a country we can make small steps to help bring awareness and support to those affected by human trafficking.

One person that has been personally impacted by his actions is Rebecca Huey. I’ve spoke with her many times. She’s a phenomenal person.
She had the privilege to meet Michigan State Police Officer Trooper Kramer, Flint Post when she was a special guest speaker as a Christian Actress for a Human Trafficking event held by the Genessee County Medical Society Alliance in 2015.

Now as an Entrepreneur, Actress and Motivational Speaker, Rebecca Huey’s life has been changed for the positive by being able to share her story with Trooper Kramer which gave her the opportunity to begin to heal. Over time, she was able to share with Trooper Kramer her story and journey and how she is overcoming and excelling today.
Rebecca is an American actress known for her award-winning role Store Clerk “Best Cast” in redemptive romance feature film Providence that came to theaters in February of 2016. She was nominated and chosen Top 10 and Top 3 in 2015 and Top 1 in 2016-2017 by fans from across the world and Faith Flix Films, Tennessee for her press release interview.
Faith Flix Films released her interview in 2015 and it has traveled around the world bringing many others hope – the only hope that can be found in Jesus Christ.


Rebecca is also a female business entrepreneur that holds a business degree from a private college and is the owner of Education Creation LLC with Trademark Cursive Kidz™.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8830953/

So in her words concerning Trooper Kramer:

He is a voice for me and so many others that don’t have the strength to speak right away. He has gone above and beyond his job. He deserves to be honored and recognized for his sacrificial hard work, tireless effort to help others, superior dedication to combat human trafficking and for being a loyal trusted voice for those that don’t have the strength to speak. 
He is doing so much to help so many others in human trafficking in Michigan. He has helped me more than he will ever know and he deserves to be recognized for all he is doing. -Rebecca M. Huey 

America tips her hat to you, sir. Thank you. Keep up the good fight. We stand with you.

Written by Author Laura Aranda who published her first novel titled, Pushing Back the Darkness in April 2017. This novel brings awareness to human trafficking in America. You can find the book on Amazon or at her blog: Www.authorlauraaranda.com

For speaking engagements email: lauraaranda@owlofhope.com

❤️🌎Exclusive Interview: Creating World Change Through Your Career with me & Alice Hoekstra, Founder of Career Networking for Romantics

posted on: January 18, 2018

I hope the Audio attachment works.

Here is the :

Facebook Live  

Link–I hope that works so you can watch!!

We had a fabulous interview today concerning our business and how to deal with trailblazing without cheerleaders. We also talked about human trafficking and bringing awareness to those all around us. How to be safe. January is not only National Human Trafficking awareness month but also National Stalker Awareness month–so we provided tips on how to stay safe and keep those you love safe.

 

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Interview with Ruth Maetala, Solomon Islands’ Survivor and Advocate of young women’s rights

posted on: January 15, 2018

This incredible lady is one you need to meet and know about.

Advocate.

Mentor.

Mother.

Grandmother.

Pastor’s wife at Landmark United Pentecostal Church in Honiara, Solomon Islands

Minister- National ladies president for United Pentecostal Church of Solomon Islands

Author.

She has been to New York presenting the Solomon Islands Status of Women Report in 2010.

She has stood Representing women at regional meetings speaking to ministers of twenty four governments in September 2017.

Some of the most influential people are the ones we never hear about because they are so busy doing their life’s calling. This strong lady helps work on submissions to the United Nations to improve laws on protection for women, children and families. I wanted to highlight this lady, a native to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific region. Read her story and show her some love. God bless you all. 

Where are you located? I live in Solomon Islands, a small nation in the South Pacific region.

How long have you been here? Since birth in 1970

What is your occupation? I am a development consultant

Who do you work with mainly? I ran a small professional consultant business called “Solomon Islands Support Services & Technical Assistance (SISSTA)” I mainly work with and for women, aid donors and government ministries working for women in Solomon Islands and the South Pacific.

We had armed conflict in 1998-2000 in that period two ethnic tribes used illegal arms in combat. I was part of the women for peace campaign. Our WFP group prayed every Monday and brought food to militants at the bunkers.

That period increased trafficking of young girls to logging camps. The economy was affected badly. So parents and relatives sold young girls as young as thirteen to Asian business men.

There was no protection for women during that time, poverty was at its highest. There was a breakdown of law and order.

What words do you use to describe the violence you have experienced (“rape,” “sexual assault”)?  

Inhumane. Rape & any form of sexual assault takes away a person’s dignity. It makes one feel worthless and has no value.


Concerning this trauma, what do you think is important for people to know?
It is important to know that rape traumatizes women and small children when this happens. It is important to know when the victim is ready to confront the issue and even support the victim when she/he does not want to face one’s offender.


How has this experience impacted you?It impacted me in ways I did not foresee. I did not know how to love a person. I became cold and not loving even if I had a big smile all the time.


What services/resources/people helped you in your healing?I did a course on human rights and learnt that as a human being I have some rights that God has given me which no one can take away and one of the rights include the dignity of persons.

How do you, now help others heal? 

I speak for others – I speak for women victims of rape and domestic violence.

Rape victims in the Solomon Islands do not come out, many choose to continue with life and forget their experiences.

I do speak out in conferences and work on submissions to the United Nations to improve our laws on protection for women, children and families. Women campaign for peace and human rights. I was leading the national council of women and we spoke against abuse and prostitution and child trafficking.

Helping others to heal – I take their case to Jesus in prayer. I became a prayer warrior because of this. We do not have institutions and services to provide professional counseling so we have a lot of opportunities to provide a safe prayer space for women.

Currently, I am working on a project called Mona and the Peace child. It’s a short piece but I am working on expanding it. It’s a Christian novel based on true history of how some tribes came to know Jesus through missionary work set in the year 1800.


What were the barriers to you coming forward?My barriers were culture and religion. Culture shames women if they experience any form of sexual violence and domestic violence. Religion often looks down on one who openly talks about violence and abuse because it promotes the righteousness of Christ. For example, when I first came into the church I fear everyone and everything because I was looking for love which I did not experience as a teenager and as a young married woman. But I did not find it in church either because when I started to talk about myself to an elderly saint, I was told not to say anything to shame the church. I held back my story till now.

How did salvation and religion play a part in your life? I was brought to the truth in 1995 through the missionary work of Rev. Roscoe and Mary Seay. I was already teaching Sunday school at an evangelical church but wanted more. Sister Seat was my neighbour and build a friendship I didn’t have with anyone else…her love for God and people drew me towards Jesus and the Oneness doctrine. In October I accepted the baptism in Jesus name. In the same month, I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost while praying over Sunday school material with Sister Seay and Sister Sarah Prince. It was the beginning of my healing journey. I was also influenced by Sister La Joyce Martin’s books and Sister Nona Friedman’s writings which built my faith in this God.


What suggestions do you have to make it safer for survivors to come forward?  Survivors need to know someone loves them genuinely, and safe space is available to talk about themselves, they need to know how to deal with themselves first and how to communicate with other people around them especially a husband who is an immediate neighbor.

Is there a certain scripture or quote you live by ? Yes – Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”. This is my strength to my long years of struggling to be free from the truth of living with the guilt of sexual violence for more than twenty years. This word gives me worth. It frees my mind and validates my dignity.

 My book is out of print.

If there was anything you could tell someone today that might be in a difficult situation, what would you say? Learn about yourself, what reminds you of the situation, confront it head on with confidence in Jesus. For years I have a spare room at home where abused women can be sheltered for a night or two. I tell them to find what makes them fear, pray for boldness to confront and also love to bear it as it comes. It sounds easy but it is very hard but in my experience counselors can do so much for a hurting person but only that person can want healing so bad to get it.

Thank you so much!

Will you remember me?

posted on: November 7, 2017

There is a song by Sarah McLachlan whose lyrics came to mind today as I was studying.

I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
I’m so afraid to love you
But more afraid to lose
Clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose
Once there was a darkness
Deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me life
I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
It is fascinating when you realize that the mind makes up only 2% of the human body yet controls so much of our lives. It is responsible for all body functions as well as personalities, memories and how we react to the world all around us. This link is the page I studied today if anyone is interested in reading the entirety. 
Memories are not stored in our brains like books on a shelf. They must be actively reconstructed from elements scattered throughout the various areas of the brain. Memories cannot be deliberately deleted at your will. If we experience any traumatic events, I have learned through studies that memories are imprinted even stronger in our minds due to emotional content. Young children, with their lack of verbal and conceptual systems, are more likely to have real eidetic (extraordinarily accurate) memories than adults.
I spent this time explaining all of this because I want to combat the ideas and myths and lies like:
  • Pornography affects no one but myself.
    This is a lie. I submit to you Readers, what you place in your mind and what you allow your thoughts to dwell on feeds an industry that is perpetually pumping out this garbage to a world whose appetites are getting darker and darker.
  • What I do in my alone time hurts no one else.

What you deem normal and ‘OK’ will affect the way you view relationships. Girls that are in this industry are demoralized and abused and mistreated. When the veil on that world can be torn down and viewers see how those girls are treated and manipulated and bribed, would viewers still find ‘pleasure’ if they knew about the tears and nightmares behind the scenes as well?

Covenant Eyes says the following:Today, we have a multi-billion dollar worldwide porn industry. Pornography production and distribution is done by businesses that run like Fortune 500 companies. Pornography isn’t just a haphazard collection of images that kids find through scrambled cable channels and websites run by perverts living in their parents’ basements. No. Pornography is a business, and a pretty successful one at that. About 20 large U.S. companies are responsible for at least 70% of the hundreds of millions of pornography images online.

And why is this a problem? Up until recently those more likely to be predisposed to sexual addiction were those who had subconscious motives to act out sexually, such as victims of physical or sexual abuse. Now the Internet has changed that statistic greatly. Thirty years ago, when Patrick Carnes studied the neurochemistry of sex addiction, he was testing in a pre-Internet world.

 

There are now people struggling with sexual compulsivity who never would have been if not for the Internet.”

We must take our heads out of the sand. Cavemen may have used cave walls as their pornographic canvas, but there are no limits to the canvas of the Internet.

 

We have to keep our children safe. Insist on Internet safety. What is in the mind cannot be deliberately deleted. Guard your mind. I could use so many scriptures that talk about the mind. WE know the mind is a battlefield. The Devil’s playground. Don’t give room for him to work. Don’t place images in your mind that you cannot get rid of. Will you cry over the memories you allowed yourself to experience? Guard your mind. Guard your eyes. Guard your heart. Guard your memories.

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