Keep the innocent, innocent


It’s the middle of the night, but I cannot sleep.

In the past two weeks God has moved me very quickly from a very long, very difficult season of waiting into a field where there is so much work to be done.

I was recently offered a position as the assistant to the President/Founder of Shared Hope International, a Christian nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking. My first day Monday, October 5th. Apart from learning the administrative portion of my job I’ve been given a rather long reading list that includes briefs and reports that have filled my head with dizzying numbers. Then there are the testimonies.

The stories of the girls who have been brutalized beyond anything imaginable.

The stories of the ones who’ve been rescued.

The stories of those who haven’t.

And each of them are right here in my home country. In my community.

A chief focus at Shared Hope International is the 100,000 children here in our nation who are being stolen, coerced, or forced into prostitution every year.

One Hundred Thousand American Children. Right here. In our communities.

And we barely even notice.

I sit here, safe in my own bed, but my lungs feel trapped in epoxy. My heart is weighed down by the tears that can’t seem to work their way to my eyes. A small part of me says the job is impossible. They rest of me says I can’t turn away now.

What’s been seen can never be unseen. The exploitation, the torture, and the cruelty that the commercialized sex market has foisted on the innocent cannot be allowed to continue.

This isn’t about race, color, or religion. This is about the dignity that is forcibly stripped from the children we should be going out of our way to protect.

It has to end. We have to end it.

And that’s exactly what Shared Hope International aims to do.

Through programs such as “Ambassadors of Hope” and “The Defenders,” along with additional online and on-site educational trainings, as well as sharing ways to report suspected trafficking, Shared Hope International is leading a worldwide effort to eradicate sexual slavery.

By training and empowering communities to recognize the signs of domestic sex trafficking of minors here in our own communities, Shared Hope is combating slavery head-on and helping bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

Will you join the fight?

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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in Community, Life


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Who needs CGI when you have a vivid imagination?

trialrunThere have been several movies out this summer that were on my “must see” list, and I have to confess, I haven’t made it to the theater once this season. That’s quite all right because when I haven’t been working, I’ve been kayaking at a nearby lake, taking hikes, and visiting open markets. When it’s too hot for that (and it has been HOT this year), I’ve buried my nose in a pile of books.

One of the books I’ve had the pleasure of reading doesn’t actually release until next week, but if you’re a fan of Techno-Thrillers, you’ll want to take note of Trial Run by Thomas Locke.

The premise: What would you do if you could break the bonds of time and space?

In Trial Run, two rival groups working from the same notes are attempting to do just that. One group is an ultra secret team led by Reese Clawson trafficking in secrets. The other is a group of European scientists seeking to discover where perception ends and reality begins.

Both groups have the same problem: members of their teams are in jeopardy and time is about to run out for everyone involved.

Trent Major is a UCSB graduate student in theoretical physics who has spent his entire life trying to be invisible. Now a series of impossible dreams have led to revolutionary breakthroughs in quantum theories, landing him in a spotlight he is completely unprepared for. Should his work fall into the wrong hands, the cost will be catastrophic.

Trial Run is a fast-paced, mind-twisting adventure that will easily keep fans of techo-thrillers turning pages and clamoring for more. Locke masterfully weaves the complexities of human relationships with our insatiable quest for ever-expanding knowledge, while offering a solid reminder that time isn’t as simple as we’d like to believe.

The story itself is filled with a rich cast of diverse characters from nearly every walk of life and offers mind-bending concepts that had me re-reading the same page on a few occasions. That said, Trial Run is written in such a way that even the most complex elements of the story still seem feasible.

I found it easy to get lost in the pages of this novel. It took me about a 12 hours spaced out over a week to read, during which time I nearly returned late to work from lunch and stayed up long past bedtime. The most difficult part of reading Trial Run was the realization that my copy was an advanced reader, which means I have to wait that much longer for the sequel.

I believe Trial Run will appeal to fans of Asimov and Philip K. Dick, and I have already recommended it to friends who enjoy the works of both. For more information about the Fault Lines series, author Thomas Locke, and for a free digital download of Double Edge — the prequel for Trial Run, visit

Trial Run releases August 4, 2015 in both digital and traditional print versions.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.





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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Creativity, Recommended Reading


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The Impossible Sacrifice

Just yesterday a coworker and I were discussing our childhood during a brief lull at the eye clinic where we work. We both came from families with financial struggles, and yet we both have some incredible memories.

“I look back at my childhood,” my coworker said, “and I think about all the things my mom paid for me to do, and I’m amazed. I have no idea how she did it.”

I can relate. My family grew up in a worn-out mobile home and with classmates who called us the stinky Lindsays because our clothes smelled musty no matter how many times my mom cleaned them for us. To this day I am still amazed how two young people in their 20s managed to raise five children on a salary I couldn’t live off of as a single woman without a roommate.

“We just made it work,” my mom told me once when I asked her about it. “When you love your kids you’re willing to make impossible sacrifices for them.”

As we approach Passover and the end of Holy Week, I find myself reflecting on what that means for me as a Christian. I can’t help but draw parallels between my mom’s words and Christ’s passion. The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Philippians, stated that Christ:

Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

If that isn’t love making an impossible sacrifice, nothing is.

As a father, God was willing to give up everything for his children despite the fact that they cursed him, defied him, and completely rebelled against him. And we’re still doing it to this day.

But it didn’t matter to him. He came anyway. He endured the torture. He faced the grave. And he overcame. All so I wouldn’t have to.

It was the impossible sacrifice. The one I could never make. And he did it all because of love.


Posted by on April 2, 2015 in Life, Spirituality


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Spring Forward (And a Look Back)


Enjoying an early spring day exploring my new home.

If anyone told 13-year-old Jen that she would grow up, go to college, and ten years after graduating with a BA instead of a BS she would take a job in a mall, little Jen would have punched them square in the nose. Thirteen-year-old Jen had BIG dreams. She was going to college, she was becoming a doctor, and she was going overseas to serve in African villages. She and God had it all worked out and nothing was going to change that plan.

If anyone told 23-year-old Jen that she would not be using her English and Writing degree in the publishing field ten years from graduating; but that in less than seven years she’d be careerless, virtually homeless, bouncing from one temporary position to another, but that she would get to visit Africa for a two-week mission trip as a speaker before subbing in elementary schools as an aid and finally taking a job in a medical office, she would have used her drawerful of red pens to turn the messenger into a human pin cushion.

It’s funny how life is rarely what one hopes or expects.

It’s amazing how the moments sprinkled throughout it add up to be so much more.

After three years of waiting, of wrestling with God, and crying into my teacup, this year has been one of drastic change. I’ve moved to a new city. I’ve taken a job working the front desk in an optometrist office inside of a LensCrafters. I spend practically all of the sunlit hours in a windowless world. And I’m lucky if I get a half-hour to write a couple of times a week.

Yet I am at peace and I can say, life is good.

This is not the life I planned or expected. I’m not changing lives through healing or inspiring through the written word, but somehow I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And that is more than enough.

(I do wonder, however, what surprises 43-year-old Jen will look back and see for 33-year-old me. Spoilers, I suppose.)

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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Community, Life


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Vote for “B”!

VoteI recently rejoined the ranks of substitute Elementary Ed. Assistants and I haven’t stopped racing from one class to the next since the second week of school. While I’m busy working with students on their reading, writing, and arithmetic, they’re busy teaching me some incredible things about life.

Two weeks ago while working with 5th graders who were studying the electoral process it was decided they should hold a class election in order to better understand the concept of campaigns and voting. Were they excited!

Then came the first challenge: Creating a platform and crafting a slogan. One student, who occasionally goes by the nickname “B” had a great pitch that immediately hooked me, even though I had no say in the matter.

Then came the second challenge: His opponent, who was also a friend, decided that his slogan would be “Don’t vote for “B” his secret nickname is a bug!” Naturally, “B” didn’t care for that and came over to talk to me about it.

“Well,” I asked after listening to his frustration, “What do you think of when you picture a bee?”

“It’s a hard worker, and it’s got a stinger so it can fight if it needs to!”

“So you see a strong creature?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s fierce. It’ll defend its hive even if it means it’ll die. And bees work together.”

“Kind of like what you want to do,” I said. “Work with your classmates to improve the things that matter to you. So is it a bad thing to be compared to a bee, or can you use that silly slogan to your advantage like William Henry Harrison did with the Cabin and Cider Barrel joke?”

“B’s” eyes lit up. “I’m going to use it! But I’m not going to call my friend names back, because we’re friends. I’m going to focus on the issues instead!”

As “B” left to join the rest of his classmates I couldn’t help but marvel at how wise this young man was and how much we adults could learn from him.

It’s voting season again and my TV and news feeds are filled with one mud-slinging campaign and political rant after another. Too often the focus of an election is on how bad the opponent is rather than addressing ideas on how to resolve the numerous issues affecting our communities and nation.

How much different might things look if our discussion was about what we could do to improve the things that matter instead of arguing about who is going to just make things worse instead?

photo credit: <a href=””>League of Women Voters of California</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Community, Life


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Rediscovering the proper place for praise

I began keeping a journal of my Bible time when I started college as a way for me to process what I was reading. From time to time I find myself looking back on those entries. I recently began reading through a journal I started in 2010 while working through a change in a ministry I was part of. I had no idea then that the things God was speaking into my heart would end up being precisely the words I would need to hear four years later after my entire world crumbled. I’ve chosen to share some of those reflections here in hopes that they may somehow encourage someone else who is going through their own time of heartbreak or upheaval.


The apostle Paul begins his letter to the church at Ephesus by showing us the direction of genuine praise: at the Lord’s feet, and why we can place it there. Unlike any time from the garden to the Crucifixion, we have direct access to the Father through His Son Jesus Christ, and through Christ we have received every spiritual (eternal) blessing that can be bestowed, meaning we have a gift that cannot be taken from us regardless of what the circumstances in our lives may seem to indicate. And yet how often is my focus limited to the struggle of the here and now? I’ve been so frustrated by fighting to gain and hold onto things that continually slip through my grip, and I get angry when I don’t see the fruit from my efforts. It’s becoming clear that it’s time to redirect my gaze. It’s been too self-centered and I’m tired of feeling empty regardless of the things people say about me.


It’s hard for me to see the full picture, to comprehend what it is You have in store for my life. I know that Your only desire for me is to seek You and know You. To find my happiness in You, not in the things I think will please You. This is what You designed me for and I continually forget that in the midst of the busyness that is my life.

I’ve been worn out for a while now, but You are offering me a rest that I’ve been ignoring. Help me today to find my security in Your gifts, not in my efforts; to rest knowing You have a plan that You will continue to reveal as the time is right.


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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Life, Spirituality


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God honors fear-stained faith

Fear-Stained Faith

This was the main point my sister’s pastor was trying to make last Sunday and it’s been rattling around in my head ever since. Not only that, it’s served as a healing balm for a very weary soul.

I’ve often wondered how much my fear negates my faith. While I’m sure it limits its power and how clearly I see God—and I have no doubt it’s a direct result of my earthly nature—I haven’t been sure one way or another if it counts me out of the running for certain tasks or opportunities. It’s an issue that has greatly concerned me of late and I’ve been desperately searching for answers.

Jesus wasn’t making up a pithy saying when he said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt 7:7-8) He was speaking an incredible truth, and God has used the last several days to prove it to me.

In his message, Pastor Hanke focused on the story of Gideon (Judges 6-8) to illustrate that God will in fact use someone who is completely tangled in the chains of fear, and that He will in fact do great things through someone who has never stood up to a member of his family let alone an entire army, in order to show just how much He cares for his people. God never brushes aside someone who is genuinely seeking to know Him and His will. No matter what their emotional state.

The trouble with fear, I’ve discovered, is that it clouds everything. It’s like trying to drive down a familiar road in a thick winter fog.

I know the road is there, I know there are twists and curves ahead, and I know following that little bit of visible asphalt will eventually bring me to my destination. What I don’t know is if the dark spot off to the side of the road is a mailbox or a large animal about to dart in front of me. As all the possible scenarios of mishap and havoc play out in my mind, my hands grip the wheel more tightly and, as a result, I’m more likely to overreact at the slightest hint of trouble and end up in the very predicament I fear.

But then — O glorious moment! — I come to an incline and the gray is filled with a fiery orange that grows brighter and brighter until I burst through the fog and into blinding sun and clear blue skies.

I may only be on top of that hill for a brief span before the road takes me back down into the obscured valley, but for those few seconds my entire being relaxes in the warmth coming through the glass, and even as the fog begins to envelope me again, the fresh awareness of sun and sky above the darkness is more than enough to combat the melancholy of the mist below.

I’ve come to realize during the past few days just how much time I spend in that spiritual fog, especially of late. Fortunately, this week has been one of sunlight and rest. I didn’t realize just how much I needed it until now.

It’s easy to think that because my life has not gone according to plan that I’m doing everything all wrong. But Pastor Mark reminded me of something I am doing right: Fearful or not I have not stopped seeking the Lord, and that labor itself has not and will not be overlooked by my God.


Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Life, Spirituality


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