Mali Slave Camps

One of the most devastating stories I have read in a while...

Read the full story from BBC News HERE.
Nigerian girls are being forced to work as prostitutes in Mali "slave camps", say officials in Nigeria.

The girls, many of them under age, have often been promised jobs in Europe but ended up in brothels, said the government's anti-trafficking agency.

The brothels are run by older Nigerian women who prevent them from leaving and take all their earnings.

The agency said it was working with Malian police to free the girls and help them return to Nigeria.

There has been no official comment from the Mali authorities.

Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (Naptip) said officials visited Mali this month to follow up "horrendous reports" from victims, aid workers and clergy in Mali.

They said there were hundreds of brothels, each housing up to 200 girls, run by Nigerian "madams" who force them to work against their will and take their earnings.

"We are talking of thousands and thousands of girls," Simon Egede, Executive Secretary of Naptip, told a news conference in Abuja.

"We are talking of certainly between 20,000 and about 40,000," he said, but did not give details of how the figure had been reached.

In a statement, Mr Egede said girls were "held in bondage for the purposes of forced sexual exploitation and servitude or slavery-like practices".

"The madams control their freedom of movement, where they work, when they work and what they receive," he said.

The trade is centred around the capital Bamako and large cities, but the most notorious brothels are in the mining towns of Kayes and Mopti, where the sex workers live in "near slavery condition", said Naptip.

Many of the brothels there also had abortion clinics where foetuses were removed by traditional healers for use in rituals, said Mr Egede.


Sickness Sucks

A family friend facing devastating odds, diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder.

If you're the praying type, please lift up Todd MacDonell and his family.


Wrestling Demons

A friend posted a status on facebook asking some of us to comment on Mark 5:1-20. I read it...and these were just a few thoughts that stuck out to me.

I think the saddest part of that passage for me is the fact that the whole society had been binding the man up with chains. No one knew what to do with him. I think there are a lot of people in our own society that we just throw in a corner, or a box, or try to put chains around because their problems are too big and overwhelming - they are burdened by a freaking LEGION of tormentors. I mean, we can handle hunger - give them a meal. We can handle financial difficulty - pay someone's rent for a couple of months.

But what happens when we try to care for our drug addicted or alcoholic family member? The one that continually hurts the family and us? The one that drains all of our emotional and financial resources again and again? There are so many compounding factors facing him or her – we just give up. We want to put a chain around them and forget about it. Leave them to cry out to the sky on their own. But Jesus confronts the demons. He does not let the man wrestle alone. He knows that he is powerless to overcome on his own. The crying out to the sky won’t work. The man needs someone to step into his life and HELP HIM.

Maybe that’s not the point – but I think there are a lot more people around us with demons trying to fight them on their own – shouting into the darkness – and they could use a community to fight alongside them.



I have an iPhone.
I am on a family plan with the wonderful and amazing Maines family.
The wonderful and amazing Maines family has moved to Japan.
Due to some difficulties - they have had to suspend their cell phone service.
Thus...I must now become a full grown adult and get my own cell phone plan.

I walk into a local AT&T store to switch my cell phone plan. The guy is really nice at first, asking me for my phone number to pull up my plan.
Once I explain the situation be proceeds to tell me that there are three authorized people on the account that can make changes and I am not one of them (ONE of them, might I add, is not even apart of the family plan and does not have a cell phone that is a part of this plan, I digress....)
BECAUSE I am not an authorized person on the account I can't start my own cell phone plan.
I have a cell phone in my hand.
I am standing there in person.
Because my name is not JEANETTE, I can't start me own plan.
Is anyone else frustrated yet?
I told the man that she lives in Japan and it would be really hard for her to call customer service, but they would not do anything for me.
The only exception they could make would be allowing me to break contact and start my own plan, WITH A NEW PHONE NUMBER. I've had that number since I was 16...I am not about to change it now (although that would really help me out with some of those bad decisions I made when some of those salsa guys asked me for my number.....I digress again)
So now I am waiting. To be authorized. So I can switch to my own plan.

AT&T....why do you make it so hard to like you???



I got a new tattoo...

HOPE is such a powerful word. i feel like it so eloquently summarizes the place i find myself on this life journey - especially when it comes to my relationship with god. i am a CAPTIVE of hope. although god does not look anything the way he used to for me, i still find myself hoping that not all is lost, that i can come around again to this place of belief and a relationship that i once had. but this hope is a double-edged sword. it is a battle between waiting for what lies ahead and falling into despair over the fact that it is not yet here. how long must i wait in this desert of a place completely helpless with no direction of where this journey is headed? some days i think i get it - other days i know i will.

a huge influence in his concept and understanding of hope for me came from my favorite poet ladonna witmer. and especially her work "the secrets of falling" - i really encourage you to check it out.

Wild rice beer cheese soup

I made my famous (it is really not MY recipe, so I don't know why I say my...other than I forget where it comes from and all my friends associate it with me....I digress) wild rice beer cheese soup for my birthday Midwest crockpot party (I know, you're jealous, my friends an I know how to party!).

I was inspired by the beautiful and talented Unexperts to do a post on the food I made. So here it goes.


Here is what you need:
2 cans chicken broth
1 c. chopped carrots
1/2 c. chopped broccoli
3/4 c. chopped celery
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken or turkey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 cans cream of potato soup
beer (12-18 oz)
8 oz. velveeta cheese cubed
3/4 c. uncooked wild rice
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. basil

First, I had to put on one of my grandma's old apron's in order to channel her exceptional cooking skills. I don't think she ever cooked this soup, but if she had, I am sure it would have blown us all away.

* Put chicken broth, carrots, broccoli, celery and chicken (or turkey) in a crockpot at high heat setting

*Saute in a large frying pan extra virgin olive oil and onion. Add mushroom once onion is translucent.

* Add to frying pan potato soup, 1 can water, beer (you can choose a better beer, don't worry, this is just what I had at home :))

*Once frying pan mixture is hot, add: velveeta cheese

*Add frying pan mixture to crockpot once cheese is completely melted. Turn heat setting to low.

*Add to crockpot wild rice, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper (to taste) and basil.

*cook on low heat setting for at least 2 hours.

And then.....dive in!!!

If your life does not change when you eat this soup....then you did something wrong :)



I have changed a lot since moving to California, going through 5 years of seminary, and learning to live on my own. It is expected that when one graduates from college and moves out on their own - into the world - further removed from their parents - they will make changes in their life.

The problem with me is that I've always been timid about these changes. I hate debating. So when it comes to expressing my views on theology, politics and other hot topics, I tend to shut down and simply not share my views and opinions because of my fear of being scrutinized, judged or looked down upon. It is easier to just remain somewhat vague in all those areas because then you don't offend anyone and everyone is happy. I also (surprisingly) really worry what other people think about me and how they perceive I am living my life. But these convictions and decisions I have come to aren't something I've decided on a whim and I need to realize that I am comfortable with where I am at and that's all that matters.

Because existing that way is no way to live. I want to be free to be myself. And in order to fully be myself I need to be free (and willing!) to speak my mind on the things I think and care about. I am just starting to get better at that - it'll take a while becuase my skin is still growing thicker. But I think I have great ideas, good opinions and a valuable voice. I've gotta realize that it's about time I stop hiding it from other people. They might not always like what I say - but the most important thing is that I be true to myself.