Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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7 Basic Facts about Human Trafficking

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human Trafficking.  Those are big, ugly words.

trafficked copy

I hear from friends all the time that they are very interested in this topic, but that they have no idea where to start.

I don’t claim to be an expert, and there is still so much to understand. I’ve spent the past four years ordering curriculum, attending conferences, and reading articles to try and understand the beast of modern-day slavery.

My hope is that this post will give you some foundational truths about human trafficking as a whole. There’s no way to include every important detail here.

For more information on the topic, I suggest checking out Polaris Project, Love146, and Not for Sale. There are great educational resources here to help you better understand what’s happening in brothels, massage parlors, and basements worldwide.

But please stop here {just for a couple of days.}

I want to warn you that as you read such repulsive material, you will feel a nauseating anger in the pit of your stomach.

You will want to call everyone you know and donate your latest paycheck to whatever non-profit’s website you happen to be visiting.

Please be patient.

There is definitely an urgency to act. There is a call to rescue. I want you to do that.

But I want you to internalize this information first. I want you to pray about the ways God can use your generosity to bring real-life girls and boys out of horrifying situations.

On Sunday, I will publish a post about an organization that is doing just that. Your funds can go to the direct search and rescue of victims in Southeast Asia, India, and the United States.

For now, here are seven fast facts to introduce you to the issue of human trafficking.

1.    There are currently 27 million slaves worldwide. This means there are more slaves today than there were during the African Slave Trade {think history books…1800s…Southern plantations…}. More recent figures actually project this number to be closer to 30 million. Also, this number is an estimate. It’s not like pimps walk around volunteering information about how many women and children they are actually exploiting. {via}

2.    Human Trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of victims of exploitation. Traffickers use force, deception, coercion, and abuse of power to enslave prostitutes, forced laborers, or even organ donors. {via}

3.    There are two main types of human trafficking: sex and labor. Sex trafficking often looks like prostitution, whereas labor trafficking is prevalent in textile factories and agricultural work. In the United States, trafficking rings operate under covers like escort services, massage parlors, Craigslist or Backpage personal ads, and truck stops. {via}

4.    Human trafficking is a $32-BILLION-a-year industry. After drug dealing, trafficking of persons and arms {weapon} dealing are tied for the second-largest criminal industries in the world. {via}

5.    A pimp is a person who controls prostitutes and arranges clients for them, taking part of the earnings in return. Pimps are not always men – sometimes they are women who have been prostituted and trafficked themselves. By the way, please stop calling your buddy pimp, stop saying your car is pimped out, and for the love, stop dressing up like a pimp for Halloween. {via}

6.    When a person is trafficked, a pimp will often introduce them to addictive substances quickly. Drug abuse is rampant among victims of human trafficking. Women are often so dependent on substances that they cannot escape from their trafficker who supplies their expensive habit. {via}

7.    Human trafficking does not just affect women. It’s becoming more and more common for young boys and men to be sold to pedophiles and those with homosexual preferences. Perpetrators will pay much higher prices for encounters with young boys. {via}


Now that you are fully discouraged and disgusted, it’s time to sit on it. Read more from the above websites if you desire. Pray about the victims who, at this moment, are living in a modern-day hell.

Share this post with others you know who share your burden. Educate those around you about the nightmares of human trafficking.

Then on Sunday, let’s come together and take action.

We can fight this battle with our minds and our wallets, empowering the men and women on the front lines of abolition to kick down the doors of brothels and place victims into the hands of recovery.

Tom O'NealJanuary 17, 2014 - 1:50 am

Thanks for making people aWARE OF THIS!!!

Lisa EdmondsonJanuary 17, 2014 - 7:11 pm

There is a lady in New Zealand that has set up an organisation that helps girls in Cambodia to get education. Because parents are very poor in the areas that she works they would sell their daughters to traffickers in order to get money and then everything mentioned in this blog were happening to these young girls. This organisation ensures that these families get enough money to live from and can get an education for the girls. Which is helping in these areas

[…] There are many organizations that exist to raise awareness about human trafficking. You can always check out some of the resources I shared in this post. […]

When Krispy Kremes Are Your Anti-Drug

The Keurig isn’t cutting it anymore. I’ve moved past the one-cupper days and I watch as the recycling bin fills with empty Bailey’s creamer bottles.

This is probably because I’m not sleeping.

When 10PM comes along and everybody goes to bed, my gears are just starting to turn and I launch into an all out YES-I-can-finally-get-something-done mode.

10PM to 2AM have become the most productive hours of my day. And now I’m rocking concealer and binging on Route 44 Cokes from Sonic.

In case you haven’t been following our story, we’re moving to Asia in March. That’s 64 days from now.

We confirmed our one-way tickets yesterday and the texting conversation between our team looked like this:

I say we go for it. Purchase the tickets.
I’m pooping my pants.
Me too.
I’m going to go vomit now.

It’s funny. We’ve been planning for this move for eight years. Eight forever, long years. But now it’s time to start saying goodbyes and packing our belongings and it feels like I have no time at all.

{Enter massive amounts of stress here.}

Last week, I had plans to complete a Master’s thesis, design a family photoshoot, finish all our adoption paperwork, and save at least part of the world.

It. Did. Not. Happen.

I started seeing the signs of stress creeping in when I sat down to write and I felt the urge to fix a snack. I grabbed two leftover biscuits, stuck them in the microwave, and squeezed the mess out of my honey bear until my plate was covered in a beautiful sugary glaze.

Not too much later, my husband offered to bring home dinner so that I wouldn’t have to cook. I did what any good overwhelmed girl would do: I requested a classy burger and fries.

Things only got better as the night progressed. Our toilet was having troubles, so the man of the house was tending to this. I was rushing around with laundry separating whites from darks and trying to make sense of the madness in our home.

I walked into the bathroom and checked the progress just in time to see the water spilling over the rim of the toilet bowl onto my freshly mopped floor.

I WAS LIVID. Livid is a word I reserve to describe times when I think my eyes might pop out of the front of my head and it feels like my hair is on fire.

I ran downstairs to grab the clean towels that had just come out of the dryer.  Of course, the ironing board fell and smacked me in the side of the face.

The sight in the bathroom upstairs was just too much for me to take in.

My baby girl was laying in her pack-n-play ready to sleep. But since the bathroom is actually her bedroom by night, she was stuck in her bed with the River Nile flowing underneath.

The clean floor and the clean towels were completely ruined.

And my face was still throbbing from the stupid ironing board.

I just stood there and looked at the chaos and completely lost it. Ugly cry number six for the week.

My coping mechanism was to sit on the apartment stairs and flip through Facebook on my phone. My husband walked past me and said flatly, I’m going to the dollar store to buy a plunger now.

I may have been able to muster an, okay, but I kept sitting there nonetheless.

He walked in the door about 15 minutes later with a bag full of Krispy Kremes. He handed them to me with full permission to eat as many as I wanted.

Misery loves company, so I begged him to share them with me. I made some coffee. He made some chai. And we sat on the couch crying and laughing and stuffing our faces while white dust fell into our laps.

It was truly a pitiful sight…two grown people drowning their sorrows in powdered donuts.


So, the whole One Word resolution is going great. Thanks for asking.

I’m totally calm and relaxed. And by that I mean I’m an emotional basket case and completely uptight.

It turns out that selling all you have and moving to the third world is actually stress inducing. Making packing lists and buying clothes for your kid to wear for a year and a half is a little overwhelming.

But today is a good day. My mini-successes include actually applying makeup and resisting Sonic during happy hour.

I woke up this morning begging God to take control of my life again, and He gave me this word:

psalm 5 1-3

I’m watching to see how God makes beautiful things out of this mess that I am.

I’m watching, Lord, to see how You will use my sacrifice.


What are your coping mechanisms during stressful times? Maybe you could give me some constructive ideas. If I keep eating donuts I won’t fit into my seat on the airplane to Asia…

Cindy SidwellJanuary 15, 2014 - 11:21 pm

I believe your mother used to drink a Tab or two. Low on calories and (in my opinion) the taste will take your mind off the stress! Love your posts and will continue to pray for you.

Tina HickmanJanuary 15, 2014 - 11:36 pm

:) I can see all of this happening! Loved it. You are gonna be just fine I know. Love you :)

Sharon A. ShirleyJanuary 15, 2014 - 11:59 pm

As I told you…Coca-Cola and M&Ms can rock my world and a little ice cream at bedtime doesn’t hurt, until now. I’m facing some of the biggest stress issues of my life and all my ‘rock me’ foods sure look good right now. They beg me to be their friend…. Your stressors are truly larger than mine right now and I will keep you in my prayers. Gavin reminds me of Danny except I get M&Ms instead of donuts. See, Lauren, you didn’t run out and buy a box (Yay for Lauren)…Gavin allowed you to soothe your ruffled nerves and shared it with you. I am learning to reach for that person who loves me, pounds and all, and if he wants to buy me M&Ms every now again…it’s okay. That has helped me to lose those monumental 14 pounds since November….God allows U-turns you know, so we can stress and start again! You…will…be…fine! I’m gonna miss you guys and that sweet lil’ sidekick of yours….

April CheathamJanuary 16, 2014 - 12:13 am

I truly love your posts and how real you are in them! I have enjoyed getting to know you since I don’t know you in real life. I’ve had these days but I am not a night owl like yourself. I just try to cram it all in during the day, which works out many times just as your evening did. I am happy to be married to a man like your Gavin except my drug of choice is the large bag of M&Ms. If it was just you and your husband moving off to Asia you might not be as stressed but add in a little person and that just makes it so hard. I am praying for you!!

Gina BurkeJanuary 16, 2014 - 5:15 am

Coping mechanism? I just freak out, eat everything in sight, and cry at the drop of a hat…while denying to myself and anyone who asks that anything is wrong…until it’s all over! Of course I do pray to God during these times that His Spirit will intercede on my behalf since I obviously have no clue what to even ask of Him. If I can get a little control over my emotions, I talk it out to good friends and go for a walk or short run. Love you girl! God will see you through this!

CarlyJanuary 16, 2014 - 2:17 pm

It’s really not good that my coping mechanism is sleep. I’ll be overwhelmed with all I have to get done and to cope I have to take a nap first?!?? Maybe it’s Gods way of slowing me down and reminding me He’s in control. Thanks for your sweet posts :) Love ya friend!!

Kellie Ann MeehanJanuary 17, 2014 - 4:27 am

You have a wonderful sense of humor! FYI- we have Krispy Kreme here in SE Asia:)

Konner Blake DukeJanuary 18, 2014 - 1:22 am

Love love love this!

Ladies: Marry a Man who Prays

I dated a lot in high school. Actually, a lot is an understatement. There was a running joke in my family about how long this one would last. And if I went on more than one date with the same boy, people said, Wow, Lauren, this is getting serious!

Those poor guys. I was nothing but a hot mess.

Everything changed one night in college, though. I went to a campus devotional and heard the most beautiful interchange with the Lord that had ever graced my ears.

The prayer that came from the lips of this man was different. It wasn’t just Thees and Thous. There weren’t formal words that felt forced and stiff. It was a conversation between the Almighty God and His very humble servant.

I can’t tell you anything particular he said, but that single prayer changed my life.

The next day, I went to my boyfriend’s apartment and ended yet another relationship. For some reason, he asked, If you weren’t dating me, who would you date?

Funny question.

I would date Gavin Pinkston. The words slipped out of my mouth before I realized how blatantly offensive it was to already have someone else in mind. Much less to tell the person you’re breaking up with the exact name of that person.

I won’t go into the saga of how I strategically manipulated my now husband to have an interest in me. It’s a little more than shameful how I ironically started showing up in all the places I knew he would be.

But once I heard a man pray like I heard him pray, my eyes were opened to the possibility of being married to a man who loved God more than me.

I wanted that.

For the first time, I wasn’t dragging someone along with me in my faith. For the first time, I was being made stronger by a spiritual leader that I could trust.


When we had been dating for about six months, I saw that I was in a relationship I might want to last forever. And then I freaked because I realized that I had only let him see the good things about me.

You know what comes next.

The awful tell him everything I’ve ever done so that he doesn’t fall in love with a fake. And that would include all those sweet little boyfriends from high school.

I’ll never forget the night that I shared my darkest, hidden secrets with the man I respected more than anyone I’d ever known. He listened, held my hand, and tears filled his eyes. I felt like I had crucified Jesus right then and there.

We were spending the weekend with his parents, so we went to our separate rooms and I lay there wondering when the breakup would come.

But when I woke up the next morning and walked down the hall, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I took a few more steps, and saw the man of my dreams – on his knees in prayer – about me.

The image will forever be burned into my mind, and the grace that was extended to me in that moment built a foundation in our relationship that’s unmoving.


The whole submit to your husband thing has never been a huge challenge in my marriage. And I’m the most assertive, opinionated, have-it-my-way person there is.

I honestly attribute the beauty of my marriage to the fact that my husband talks to God. I know that he would never ask anything of me that he hasn’t spoken to the Lord about.

We share the same vision and goals for our family because we talk to God about them. When we can’t find the words to comfort one another, we go to our Maker to provide that peace.

Please don’t hear that we have a perfect marriage…does that exist, really?

I can be ready to explode about some marital dispute, but when I hear my husband bring it before God, it seems so unimportant and silly.

He has had his ups and downs. I’m sure he doesn’t feel like a spiritual giant every day, and there are times he needs me to step in and provide a place of strength and encouragement.

But my husband has never forgotten how to pray. Even after 120-hour work weeks or sleepless nights with an infant, he can always approach the Throne with readiness.

I had no idea that pursuing a man of prayer would be the best thing I could do for my marriage.


As I stood brushing my teeth last night, I overheard my husband talking to my six month old baby girl. Eliza cooed and babbled da-da-da and he talked to her about an Old Testament story.

And when I heard him say, Let’s pray, I closed my eyes from the next room and breathed in the beauty of that moment.

How blessed I am to have a husband who knows my God in such an intimate way. How blessed I am to have a husband who prays.


Peggy Scott PoeJanuary 8, 2014 - 1:13 pm

Lauren, we met (again) at Wal-Mart in Columbia over Christmas. Thankful to have found your blog. I can tell you & your blog are going to be a blessing:) Sharing this one with my own Eliza.

Megan Belill PhelanJanuary 8, 2014 - 5:51 pm


Tina HickmanJanuary 8, 2014 - 5:54 pm

Loved this! But Lauren one day I have to hear the story of how you captured Gavin! Love you :)

Lola-Margaret HallJanuary 8, 2014 - 6:18 pm

I love your honesty. It is the height of your beauty.

Konner Blake DukeJanuary 8, 2014 - 6:38 pm

I love you Lauren and this story!! (:

Cindy SidwellJanuary 8, 2014 - 7:07 pm

How blessed we are to have a Lord and Savior who knows what we need and when we need it. All of those sweet boys that came before may have been preparing us to look in this direction. Some just learn this lesson earlier than others. God bless you Lauren.

Sharon A. ShirleyJanuary 8, 2014 - 7:21 pm

Love it! Eliza is one blessed little girl to have you and Gavin for parents…. By the way, you should publish these.

Gina BurkeJanuary 8, 2014 - 7:22 pm

What a wonderful story! If only all young girl would seek a Godly man!

Deborah Brown WilsonJanuary 8, 2014 - 8:50 pm

WOW!!! Thank you for sharing such honest and convicting thoughts and insights from your heart. It would be so good if our young girls could ‘hear’ your story for their own sakes, as well as for the sakes of all with whom they interact throughout their lives.

Laura Beth LambJanuary 8, 2014 - 9:20 pm

Beautifully written!

Rosemarie DieckhoffJanuary 8, 2014 - 9:57 pm

Wow. What a. Wonderful story. Wish everyone could read this.

Minta RhodesJanuary 9, 2014 - 3:37 am

So glad Mrs. Cromer told me about your blogs. I am so proud of you Lauren. Priceless is all I can say. I will be praying for you on your new found journey. I pray for both my daughters that they find a man that prays. If they find that, then I know All is Well for them.

Kristen SteeleJanuary 9, 2014 - 3:49 am

I’m a single mama looking to date again and this post was amazing. I already was thinking along these lines, but your words truly hit me to my core. Thank you for sharing – I’m praying for a man of prayer… and I hope you’ll join me over at my blog sometime, http://www.graciouslyauthentic.com

Nancy BunchJanuary 9, 2014 - 4:29 am

Beautiful message ! I hope all the single girls read this !

Martina K. JuranekJanuary 9, 2014 - 5:45 am

Such a rarity! You are truly blessed! I read on the back of a van-which said “be a real man and get on your knees and pray! Whether man or woman or children. We all need to know our heavenly Father and go to Him daily!

Angie Larue AtkinsJanuary 9, 2014 - 7:30 am

What a beautiful story! If I had married a praying man, I would probably still be married! But neither of us were seeking God, so it was all a big mess! You can be such a wonderful witness to young ladies! I pray God blesses you and your family greatly!!

MandyJanuary 9, 2014 - 7:49 am

I’m 31 and a single mom of a 5 year old girl. It seems impossible. I haven’t dated in 5 1/2 years! It feels like God has forgotten about me (even though I know he hasn’t).

ChristynJanuary 9, 2014 - 9:42 am

This literally made me cry because I have been the girl that you once were. I have recently gotten my act together and have made a dedication to myself and to God that I would only date Him for a year (which I’m sure you can imagine has been very difficult). I still have six months to go and I have grown tremendously thus far. Although I attend a Christian college, majority of the guys seem to be playing the part instead of truly living in the light of Christ. I know that if it is God’s will for my life He will send the right man along when the time is right. In the meantime, I will continue to grow in my walk with God and wait for a man who prays! Thank you SO much for sharing – you may never know the blessing it was to me!

Andy FroilandJanuary 9, 2014 - 11:34 am

Thank you for the reminder of who I am, should be, am called to be! needed to read this today!

embra plunkJanuary 9, 2014 - 11:47 am

I am going to print this and add it to a file for my kids. I pray they both marry the person who will help them and their children go to heaven. Your words give me hope that they will, and encouragement to them to make it their purpose as well. I am so glad you found this Godly man and pray daily for your plans to continue serving Him. Thank you for sharing.

Rhonda Riddle PageJanuary 9, 2014 - 1:29 pm

Beautiful story!!!

Patsy MooreJanuary 9, 2014 - 2:34 pm

I am so proud of you! Love you:)

Haley Lauren MillsJanuary 9, 2014 - 3:52 pm

What a life-changing story! Thank you!!

Jenna HardenJanuary 9, 2014 - 3:56 pm

When Joey and I fell in love almost 26 years ago, I remember him confiding to me that he’d been praying for the Lord to bring him his one special person. It is SO important to marry a man who prays and to pray yourself. It DOES simplify things when you bring your prayers to the Throne of Grace. I feel so petty sometimes when I approach God with my concerns. Usually reduces me to giving some serious thanks instead. :) Thanks!

Ashley creswellJanuary 9, 2014 - 4:47 pm

Awesome! !!

Roberta PledgeJanuary 9, 2014 - 5:19 pm

Thank you, Lauren, for writing to our teenage girls and young women…they need to continually hear stories like this from beautiful women like you! I will definitely share this!! Love you

Angie HancockJanuary 9, 2014 - 5:40 pm

This is a beautifully written article! I pray that all girls who love God will let God lead them to the one He chooses for them–one who loves Him and prays. I chose one who did not and after 31 years of marriage, I am divorced because of his choice not to follow God. Young girls, please choose as God wants you to choose! God wants you to be happy!

Cassie Crabtree YawnJanuary 9, 2014 - 5:50 pm

Beautiful Story!!

Deborwah FaulkJanuary 9, 2014 - 7:08 pm


Jennifer Johnston PriceJanuary 9, 2014 - 7:34 pm

Wow!! This brought tears!! I pray my daughter seeks a man such as your husband!!

Sihle Scarlett NgubeniJanuary 9, 2014 - 7:36 pm

Thank you for sharing.

LoriJanuary 9, 2014 - 7:36 pm

To say this was beautiful is an understatement. I wish every woman had this, including my two girls and hoping my 3 boys could be a man like this. <3
Thank you for sharing.

Nikki WilsonJanuary 9, 2014 - 10:58 pm

Lauren God has given you a powerful talent for words. Praise God!

Jackie PittsJanuary 10, 2014 - 12:17 am

Loved your story. Thank you for sharing. You and Gavin are such wonderful Christian examples. Thank you.

Rachel HarrisJanuary 10, 2014 - 2:31 am

Inspiration that god always had a plan! No matter what you have been through!

Nicole ParkerJanuary 10, 2014 - 2:45 am

This is absolutely beautiful!

Maci GilleonJanuary 10, 2014 - 3:43 am

I love this! Waiting on God’s timing to send me a husband that Prays :)

Debby HornburgJanuary 10, 2014 - 12:43 pm

My husband met me at a time when I was determined never to marry again. He was 8 years divorced, and had been praying to meet a woman. He had three specific requests of God. One day, we had a casual conversation at our worksite. During the course of that brief exchange, he realized that I had the three things that were so important to him. He was so shocked he just turned and walked away. In prayinging later, he became convinced that we were to marry. I am certainly glad that he never told me this, at least not right away. But before it was done, I had my own God-moment. We did marry. It has not always been easy, but it has been 16 years now. He is a good man. No matter what is going on in our lives, we know that facing it together is God’s will for us. We have no desire to argue with God.

Lana CaseyJanuary 10, 2014 - 12:51 pm

As I said before this was awesome. Everyone child should be raised this way. Beautiful message.

Mary GradyJanuary 10, 2014 - 1:12 pm

Maybe your husband should do the same thing for young men that you are doing for young women. Write about his journey and how is faith has gotten him to where he is and who he is with.

Lina M. TamimiJanuary 10, 2014 - 1:28 pm

I absolutely love this!! I believe if a man is so busy yet praying to God is never excluded from his day, that’s a man who knows how to treat God’s gifts right.

MelissaJanuary 10, 2014 - 1:59 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this! It speaks right to my heart and I will keep it very near and dear ❤️

Courtney FuhrmanJanuary 10, 2014 - 6:28 pm

This is kind of funny because I never dated in high school and my families joke was the complete opposite of yours. My family says “will you ever find anyone?” I am a 19 year old Godly young women and I am waiting patiently for my man who prays. It’s been a long time since I’ve met a Godly man close to my age, who is looking for a long term relationship. I may be young but I’ve never wanted a relationship just for fun, I’ve always been waiting for my prince and I God has him stowed away somewhere just waiting for the perfect time in mine and his life. This blog has given me hope to keep waiting and praying for him. One day I’ll be able to blog our story, but until then thank you for blogging yours

Chantel M. CarusoneJanuary 10, 2014 - 7:27 pm

This is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your story… I lead our young girls’ group at my church & these are the types of things I am always striving to teach them! I will definitely be sharing this with them! :)

Connie LewisJanuary 10, 2014 - 7:46 pm

Aww its so perfect! A reminder of why we should wait for who God has prepared for us is always a good thing and definitely want to marry someone who’s in love with God more than he would ever love me. Someone I can pray with and who will pray for me.

TaraJanuary 10, 2014 - 10:32 pm

LOVE this… beautiful! Sharing with my 18 year old daughter! I pray she will find a praying man of God!! :)

Sophia GarciaJanuary 10, 2014 - 10:41 pm

I love this! I want this kind of husband when I get married! That has such a close realatinship with the lord!!

Soletia OwensJanuary 10, 2014 - 11:33 pm

Unbelievable blessed are you!!! I can only imagine that my future husband loves God and trust him in everything. I love God with all my might and I pray my husband will love him as well. Beautiful story, very touching!!!

Olivia ArchambaultJanuary 11, 2014 - 12:30 am

I knew I would marry my Adam on our first date. It was the first date that offered thanks before our meal…

Jessica FoltzJanuary 11, 2014 - 4:50 am

Marriage is about equality. The very next verse says “likewise husbands submit to your wives.” I will never understand why women subject themselves to something so absurd.

Ronda Lane IngramJanuary 11, 2014 - 9:02 am

What a Blessing. I pray men will step up and take this role. Woman will allow God to speak to them.

Nate WebsterJanuary 11, 2014 - 2:32 pm

Amazing! Even as a 34 year old man who has yet to marry, I pray to be half the man that your husband is. This is an amazing story. God Bless.

Judy WarnerJanuary 11, 2014 - 4:42 pm

Kirsten, Papa prayed on our first date. It was a blind date and I knew nothing about him except that he was a Christian and our mutual friends liked him. Hearing him pray settled my mind. We married a year later.

JacquiJanuary 11, 2014 - 6:07 pm

Thank you.

Maria MattaJanuary 11, 2014 - 6:08 pm

The dating a lot in high school situation sounds like mine. It seems almost impossible though to find a man like that as well as unfair. I don’t pray a lot or actually not at all sometimes. It seems unfair that I put the spiritual burden on him, if there is even a him.

Jacque HarmsJanuary 11, 2014 - 8:23 pm

If there is one article to read on Facebook, it is this.

Trudi Ogborn BattJanuary 11, 2014 - 11:46 pm

I know with out a dought that my husband loves The Lord but I always feel I have to lead, I guess I need to pray about that!

Collette MorelandJanuary 12, 2014 - 3:10 am

How beautiful ……it’s what we all should look for.

Barbara HooperJanuary 12, 2014 - 7:39 am


DianaJanuary 12, 2014 - 1:19 pm

Found your blog through my daughter, Lyndsee. I totally agree. I wish every young girl & boy knew their own worth. Too many children are giving up the one thing they can never get back and don’t realize that they are making decisions they will probably regret down the road. I wish every young person (& their parents) put God first and prayed for their child’s future mate. I will be celebrating 25 wonderful years with my husband this year…as he used to tell our daughter ‘I only hope that you will find someone that loves you as much as I love your mother’. Twenty-five years ago I didn’t know a man like that existed, we need to let our daughters know that indeed they do. Now, we are praying for a Christian mate for our son!

Laura MootsJanuary 12, 2014 - 3:11 pm

Love! This story is very similar to my own, and the blessed truth is still evidenced today. Thank you for sharing! Blessings… ~LM

bluecottonmemoryJanuary 13, 2014 - 11:04 am

I am trying to raise all these boys to be men like that – men or prayer – who see it all in the context of God! God opened my eyes to a husband like that:) We are blessed!

Jo Ann. ScottJanuary 14, 2014 - 12:43 am

After I divorced my husband, I felt that there was never going to be a man who would ever touch my heart again. 10 years later, after dating numerous men the previous 5, I knew I found” the one”.Les was not afraid to pray in public, and said grace with friends at dinner. God sent this amazing man to me! After traveling north to meet my Daddy and family, we drove back to New Orleans. Les called my Daddy and asked for my hand in marriage. Such old world charm. I was totally amazed for such old timers as he and I to have a beautiful life with God as our best friend.

Chloe of beyond blessed blogJanuary 14, 2014 - 4:01 pm

Oh my goodness this is beautiful! Just gave me goose bumps. God is so faithful. I have to agree, there is nothing more attractive than watching my husband get on his knees before the Lord and hearing him pray. Melts my heart every time. What a blessing!

Bethany Laventeli NolenJanuary 15, 2014 - 2:37 am

That is a very sweet story, I’m happy you found your special someone. However, I believe that just because a man prays does not make him good and just because a man doesn’t pray does not make him bad. My husband doesn’t pray. We don’t have a religion. And he is the most wonderful man, he is definitely my special someone. So it should be “Ladies marry a good man” no matter if he prays or not.. unless you are into that kind of thing.

Brenda Clark KelloggJanuary 15, 2014 - 1:52 pm

What an a inspirational story for all young females to read

Amanda Lynn DeLatteJanuary 15, 2014 - 2:16 pm

Amazing that I saw this! This is exactly what I’ve been praying for.

Julia Ann JamesJanuary 15, 2014 - 4:59 pm

This is exactly the kind of man I married

Linda SmithJanuary 16, 2014 - 3:53 am

I married a man like that, and we had 53 years together. He is now with the Lord. I praise the Lord for blessing me with a praying husband and praying father for our children and grandchildren.

StephanieMaria De Maria SoozJanuary 17, 2014 - 2:06 am

Wish everyone could read to this story… wow! itz a wonderful story…

Bobbi Lynne StarrJanuary 17, 2014 - 12:51 pm

Cissy Sanders this one made me think of you and me. :)

JulieFebruary 6, 2014 - 7:25 pm

Wow Lauren! This is beautiful, and so true. Thanks for sharing.

[…] I can feel when the Spirit is working through me, and I haven’t felt him for a while now. Ironically, I felt him leave after I posted a story about my husband praying. […]

Felicia AdkinsMarch 2, 2014 - 2:45 am

This beautiful post brought tears to my eyes. God is good.

One Word: A New Year’s Resolution I Can Handle

It’s January 5 and I’ve made no resolutions.

I sat around and thought that a good blogger would have some inspirational thoughts to share about the New Year and ways to live with purpose in 2014.

But I had no words.

Yeah, I know. Go ahead and take a picture because you won’t see that statement from me very often.  

My to-do list right now looks like booking flights, buying a new weather-resistant wardrobe, packing up boxes, selling other belongings, completing adoption training, writing grad papers, and making final trips to visit family.

Not to mention washing diapers and making baby food and hanging out with my husband just for fun {welcome back, Downton Abbey!}.

Honestly, the thought of adding another weight loss plan or Bible study check box to my day seems incredibly overwhelming. I can’t fathom adding another task to my list. It’s maxed out.

Stick a fork in me. I’m done.

But then I read this blog about resolutions and it seemed totally doable. No tasks, no lists, and a much lower probability to fail.

One Word 365 is “more than a new way to approach resolutions. It’s a global tribe committed to journeying together and living intentionally.”

All you have to do is choose a word. One. Single. Word.

A word that you want to be your mantra for 2014. Hey, I could handle that.

I read about the project and, of course, my mind was already producing the word that I needed to choose to be my own.

But it was short and tiny and boring. That’s not how I roll.

I pretended like that wasn’t the word I was thinking of. I tried to think of a more eloquent and Christian-y word to write about. I even typed it into Microsoft Word and looked for synonyms that were more than four letters.

Then I went to sleep and tried to think of something more creative. I asked God to give me a bigger word that more people would like to read about and that would make me sound smarter.

No dice.

So…drumroll, please. Here’s my word for 2014:


I’m staring at my calendar, and this year has so much to offer. A new home in a new Southeast Asian country. A new job, new language, new food, and new transportation. My little girl’s first birthday. My 5th wedding anniversary. And if all the stars align, possibly even a trip through southern Africa to bring home my second child.

It goes without saying that there will be enough stressors in my life to send me straight to a bottle of Xanax.

Shoot, maybe one bottle wouldn’t even be enough.

I can imagine myself struggling through the rickety gate of my future home with a screaming baby strapped to my chest and eight overflowing bags of groceries…all during monsoon season.

I can imagine the highs and lows of an adoption referral and a waiting period.

I can imagine the frustration of accidentally cussing someone out in tonal language when all I really wanted was to ask for six chicken eggs and a cold bottle of water.

Maybe I’m psyching myself up for nothing. Maybe it won’t be that bad.

But I do know one thing. Chaos is looming.

It’s a ticking time bomb ready to set off an explosion on every stressor in my life as soon as I lose my cool.

Calm. Peace. Serenity. Quiet.

Composure. It’s just not something that comes naturally to me. I’m all over the place, eager to blurt out my feelings, and ready to move on to the next big thing.

Not this year. I’ve got enough excitement to keep me occupied.

I’m committing to respecting stillness. To spending time alone. To dating my husband. To soaking up memories. To teaching my daughter. To developing relationships.

It’s one word to keep me focused, not a resolution to be broken. Yep, I think I can handle that.


What one word would you choose to get you through 2014? If you want, you can sign up here, blog about it, and join an online community that shares your same word. Nobody’s in my tribe yet, hint hint.

WillJanuary 5, 2014 - 7:23 pm

Lauren, I wasn’t aware that this was a thing other people were doing together. I became familiar with the one word resolution from Ann Voskamp. My 2013 word was “quietness” and my word for 2014 is “growth.” I pray that you find calm in the chaos of your year and find time to continue to write on this blog. I enjoy your thoughts!

Kathryn C.January 5, 2014 - 8:57 pm

Oh, sweet sister, how I GET THIS. From one extreme-extrovert craving introversion to another, let it be us this year! May we find some calm and slow and peaceful. I’m going to be brainstorming my word, but until then… This blog just made me oooooh-sah. 😉

Becky Boone VassarJanuary 6, 2014 - 2:08 pm

I had the same problem as you….. My word was so short, and I didn’t like it…. But it seems to be my word, the first one that came to mind, and the only one that kept coming back when I try to think of another. My word….. DO. I won’t lie……it makes me a little nervous, because for such a little word, it’s an awfully big word!

Lyndsee BurlesonJanuary 6, 2014 - 6:02 pm

I did it!! I signed up. I even blogged about it, and I haven’t blogged in far too long because I was embarrassed to be posting anything at the weight I’m at. (i’m a fashion blogger). but you know what? to heck with that. My word is FOCUS. Feeling strong about that one 😀

Lola-Margaret HallJanuary 7, 2014 - 3:26 pm

Wow, that was a challenge, but it didn’t require as much from me as I thought it would. That was because you affirmed that its okay. I am learning some stuff about myself (at 72, what is that about?) that I would never have believed, nor would anyone who knows me. With this knowledge, I know what I need. DIRECTION! From God, of course, but it would really be nice to be supported by loved ones in whatever that DIRECTION He reveals to me. Love to get to talk to you.

Lola-Margaret HallJanuary 7, 2014 - 3:28 pm

Direction. Would love the chance to get to talk to you. Not trying to add to your load.

Lola-Margaret HallJanuary 7, 2014 - 9:29 pm

Direction Would love to get a chance for a short visit with you. Not trying to add to your load!

Pamela ChristopherJanuary 11, 2014 - 9:01 pm

My word for 2014-SEEK

[…] the whole One Word resolution is going great. Thanks for […]

The Arrogant Global Migrant: An Apology

Something very rare happened this morning: I got out of bed before my husband or daughter, made a cup of coffee, and read a book.

The amount of grad work that’s piling up has forced me to be pretty intentional with my time this month.

I’m working on a paper about Third Culture Kids (TCKs), so I was reading about growing up among worlds. It’s fascinating to learn about all of the personality traits kids possess when they are raised in a culture that is different from their parent’s host culture.

I underlined and starred and highlighted sentences that stuck out to me. I read about adaptability and cultural identity, cross-cultural enrichment and world view.

And then I got to a section about ARROGANCE. And the words on the page were no longer talking about my children, but about me.


Here’s what I read that socked me in the stomach:

It seems the very awareness that helps [global migrants] view a situation from multiple perspectives can also make [global migrants] impatient or arrogant with others who only see things from their own perspective – particularly people from their home culture.

A cross-cultural lifestyle is so normal to them that [global migrants] themselves don’t always understand how much it has shaped their view of the world. They easily forget it’s their life experiences that have been different from others’, not their brain cells, and do consider themselves much more cosmopolitan and just plain smarter, or at least more globally aware, than others.

Third Culture Kids, David C. Pollack and Ruth E. Van Reken, pg. 109

I may not have lived overseas for long periods of time, but I have had the unique opportunity to travel through five continents before the age of 25.

Aruba. Haiti. Peru. Cozumel. New York City. Mexico. Italy. Greece. Kenya. Thailand. Cambodia. Vietnam. Laos. England. Singapore. Malaysia. California. Texas.


When I watch the news, the faces are real to me. I don’t feel like I’m watching a flat screen with floating pictures. I see people. I smell the burning trash. I taste the local fruits.

But when I become so verbally passionate about global issues, I struggle to find others to converse with. So, in an effort to blend in with those around me, I find myself shutting up.

I wasn’t always like this.

On my first trip home from Haiti, I was ready to yell at everybody with designer handbags and tell them where I thought they could go.


But not everyone has seen what I have seen. Not everyone has been blessed with the opportunity to hold the hands of a dirty, half-naked child. Not everyone has traveled to a remote village and shared chai with the chief. Not everyone has tasted the meaty, potent flavor of durian.

These experiences flood my mind constantly. And in many ways, they have rooted out the typical American girl’s memories of playing with Barbies and visiting with neighbors.

I grew up in Small Town Tennessee, but when I left for college, I had no intention of returning. My brother-in-law has even made the comment that it seems like I didn’t even grow up there.

I come home to visit, but I can’t keep up with conversation because I can’t remember who lives there and who’s related to who and who works where.


I remember running an errand to Wal-Mart once in my hometown, and it felt so strange. It was so much smaller than I remembered. Compared to the stores where I shopped in Memphis, the ethnic food section was almost non-existent. There was only one entrance, and the people inside all looked the same.

I came home and tried to debrief what I felt was a cultural experience with my mother. I’m so embarrassed by the words that came out of my mouth.

How did I ever make it out of this town??

I can still see her hurt face.

Do you even appreciate the raising that you had? Is there anything from your childhood that you look back on with good memories?

Sitting on the porch of my childhood home that day was a major turning point for me. It had been my mission to teach everyone that Africa was NOT a country and that everyone in Asia did not speak Chinese and wear straw, woven cone hats.

And suddenly I realized that, as much as my identity had transformed because of my travel, I was still a small-town girl from the South. There were people in that town who loved me, taught me, and cultivated me into the woman that I am now.

I am ever so appreciative of where I come from.


I still feel sometimes like I don’t belong anywhere. My roots aren’t tied to Connie Smith Road anymore, but they’re not really tied to any road for that matter.

There is so much in the world I still want to see. I love learning about different cultures and global issues.

I was sitting with some ladies from my hometown this week, and the subject of travel came up. Oh me, give me the floor and ask me questions about orphan exploitation and government corruption and I can’t stop.

I talked about ethical tourism and human trafficking and paying off security guards…and then looked up at the big eyes around the table and saw it was time to stop.

So I joked and said Well Happy New Year Everyone! and went to refill my coffee cup.

Sometimes I’m bursting at the seams to share what seems like my normal. But then I realize that talking about riding a dirt bike up a mountain in Kenya beside a warthog doesn’t really translate very well.

Many of you need an apology from someone who has rolled her eyes at fancy cars, talked like a snob about Thai curries, and fought hard against racial slurs.

Whether it’s real or perceived arrogance, I speak with passion because of what I’ve seen. And others speak about their local contexts because it’s what they’ve seen.

I’m a work in progress; I need a lot of patience.

If your life experiences have led you to global contexts, watch what you say and how you say it. Sometimes in an effort to scream I’m different from you!, others are actually hearing You are all insensitive, unaware idiots who need to learn about the world!

This is my apology. If I’ve ever made you feel this way, it’s time you heard I’m sorry.


Mollie PrinceJanuary 3, 2014 - 1:06 pm

Lauren you are so filled with God’s grace. Every time I read something you have written I just stop and thank God for you. From one small town girl to another those Connie Smith road moments made you who you are. However, unlike most of us you have said yes to God’s call. You have traveled to places that we can only dream about and pray for. Those sweet people need Jesus and you are His hands and feet. Now go and send us pictures and blogs and adopt more babies and never ever stop praising God for redeeming all of us.

Lola-Margaret HallJanuary 3, 2014 - 5:41 pm

So understand, have done it and it doesn’t even deserve a T-shirt. I think I owe the world I have encountered an apology, as well.

Deborah Brown WilsonJanuary 3, 2014 - 6:10 pm

Thank you so very much, Lauren, for exposing our various positions of arrogance. I can so relate to what you’ve shared here. Blessings

Tom O'NealJanuary 3, 2014 - 6:43 pm

I’m Tom’s wife-I completely understand Lauren! My Mom was a missionary in China for 10 years! Before her death she and my Dad were called to the Chinese mission in NO , La. and I grew up among the Chinese people there! I can remember English and citizenship classa that were held after it became a supporting church. Sometimes when I was young I felt like I was Chinese. I htae slurs made against Chinesenor any other culture! I love your passion! You and your family are an inspiration to me! I have been praying for you many years!! May God continue to bless your ministry. Isaiah 52:7!!!!

Gina BurkeJanuary 3, 2014 - 9:23 pm

Apology accepted but not necessary my sweet friend!! You are truly a gift from God to our church and His kingdom worldwide! I talked we several ladies at the day of prayer…we feel truly blessed by your presence in our midst. Your passion and love for God and His people has rubbed off on us and couldn’t have come at a better time! Love you always!!

Lyndsey mcfallJanuary 3, 2014 - 10:27 pm

I think many people who have been in your position and have had the privilidge of reaching so many people and seeing so much of this world struggle with this. I know that I haven’t been able to experience as much of this huge world as I dreamed that I would have and sometimes it makes me feel less of a person. I just try to remind myself that maybe those opportunities haven’t opened up to me because not everyone is meant to be an example to this whole big world maybe some people are just supposed to be an example to someone right here in little ole Selmer, TN.

Chantel Ervin RojasJanuary 4, 2014 - 4:13 am

As someone who has had 5 exchange in her home from various spanish speaking countries, been to Haiti, venezuela, Guatemala, annd Panama on various mission trips and extended stays from the time I was 9, and then moved to Mexico on my own with no one to soeak english to for 3 years…I know what you mean. Especially since I married a foreigner. I hate the feeling of so many people being focused on their jobs, buying more stuff, and going on their nextfancy vacation while there are so many people starving…sometimes I want to just scream it from the rooftops…but then again I heard my own child say she was embarrassed to ride in my husbands beat up work car….which brought me back down a notch and realize I’m from here too….and these are my people here too….but there isn’t a day that goes by rhat I don’t long to be in another country even if its just a moment…..

Tom McCormickJanuary 4, 2014 - 8:35 am

Incredible blog! Love your passion for Jesus! Seeing the world the way God does and seeing what He sees all the time is a blessing but will make you different. Makes you love differently too. I too am from Selmer. My wife, Crystal, and I are praying for you guys!!!!

Francis Jordan AhoJanuary 4, 2014 - 10:15 am

Definitely food for thought… It’s true, we live in different world from where we were raised and at times I feel the connection has become distant or not as well understood. Thanks for the post!

SaraJanuary 4, 2014 - 1:39 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Lauren. I’m a TCK, and the arrogance is something I still struggle with regularly. I am trying to learn that I have much to learn from everyone else’s experiences of the world, too, and I need to get over myself and the occasional urge to pity all those “poor monoculturals” and/or educate them as much as possible from the depths of my great knowledge. Ha.
But I do want to appreciate the gift that my TCK experience has been to me, and I want other TCKs to do the same, because sometimes we struggle with unbelonging-ness, too. So I wrote a book for little TCKs a couple years ago, and I’m just going to be shameless and post the link here, if that’s allowed: http://www.adventistbookcenter.com/swirly.html Jesus gets us. And He has a place for us. And He’s ready to work with us on that arrogance problem, and everything else that needs redemption. :-)

Warren BaldwinJanuary 4, 2014 - 10:05 pm

Linked from your husband’s facebook page.

Very interesting article. What you write has implications for evangelism, assimilation of immigrants in this country (or in a church), and for getting along with neighbors (1/2 of my immediate neighbors are immigrants). I bet your paper will be very insightful for all of these areas of relationships.

I know what you mean by grad work and time. I’m in my last class for a program I am in. Just have to keep the end in mind!

Note: I blog at http://www.warrenbaldwin.blogspot.com if you get a chance to visit.


Kristin KijowskiJanuary 14, 2014 - 4:19 am

Thank you for posting this. It’s nice to know of another soul who feels this way. It is also good to be reminded of who we are, where we came from and those that helped shape us.