Archive | February, 2014

The Justice Conference 2014

27 Feb
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Image from changedbythegospel.com

Feb. 27 is a day to bring awareness to the slavery of the 27 million men, women and children trapped in slavery all over the world, including our own country.

Freedom fighters will be displaying a red “X” on their hand to spread the word that slavery is very much still alive today and they won’t stand for it.

The End it Movement is less than a week after The Justice Conference 2014, which took place in Los Angeles. This year marked the fourth year of the conference, which serves to educate, inspire and connect those who share a concern for the vulnerable and oppressed.

The conference involves the gathering of teachers, leaders, artists, pastors and advocates who share what God has placed on their hearts to do in the justice movement.

I have had the good fortune to be a part of this powerful conference in person the last two years, and this year I had the opportunity to hear from the inspiring speakers through a simulcast. I think Lynne Hybels said it best when she closed out the conference stating the conference continues to improve every year. This year was no exception. WOW. The main speakers included a stacked lineup of those who work to bring justice, because it’s what God calls us to do.

Sometimes the messages were heart wrenching, sometimes they were funny, sometimes they made you angry, and always the messages were inspiring. We can make a difference when we give our life away to help others.

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Justin Dillon, CEO of Made in a Free World. Photo by Paul Kim/Kimberly Sink

I wanted to use this post to share what spoke to me last weekend from the two-day conference. Here are some highlights:

Ken Wytsma (conference founder) — justice is not a fad. You have to become less and others have to become more.

Donald Miller (author) — in reference to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll befriending gang members, Carroll doesn’t have the “I can’t change something” mentality. Turn your pain into a beautiful project to try to change the wold; not to succeed, but to find meaning.

Nicole Baker Fulgham — standing up for educational equity with The Expectations Project. Why does education matter? A: it’s a pathway out of poverty. The church is needed to raise awareness, take action in their local community and advocate.

Rick McKinley (pastor) — in a passion for justice you can become arrogant. How will you sustain the passion for people? If you believe you’re God’s beloved, He will let love extend from you to others and that will change the world.

(This was just from the first night!)

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What I’m Reading Wednesday

25 Feb
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Jennifer Robson’s debut novel.

If you’re suffering from a “Downton Abbey” hangover, do I have a book for you. Historical fiction author Erika Robuck even gives the British drama a shout out on the cover quote of “Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War” by writing: “Utterly engaging and richly satisfying … Fans of Downton Abby will devour this novel!”

I’m publishing my weekly “What I’m Reading Wednesday” post a day early for all those who are already counting down to season five of “Downton Abbey.”

If you were a fan of Lady Sybil Crawley and rooted for her when she married chauffeur Tom Branson, you will love this novel by Jennifer Robson.

In her debut novel Robson pulls her readers into an era of stately homes, society and rubbing elbows with royalty. In the midst of the stifling lifestyle is young Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford, or Lilly for short. Bored out of her mind as her mother looks down her nose at every move Lilly makes, and wanting to make a difference with her life while her brother fights on the Western Front, Lilly gives up her title and financial security to become not only independent, but to her part for her country as an ambulance driver for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

Choosing to serve close to the front lines, also puts her close to the man she loves, but Lilly’s resiliency is tested by her war experiences.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, Downton Abbey, or just an utterly romantic love story, I strongly recommend “Somewhere in France.”

What I’m Reading Wednesday

19 Feb
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Girls Like Us.

The Justice Conference is almost here! And while we won’t be in Los Angeles to see it in person, we are traveling to a semi-local simulcast site for the two-day conference.

I had the good fortune to travel to Portland in 2012 and then Philadelphia in 2013 for The Justice Conference. And a thank you goes out to my friend Blaire who introduced me to the conference!

In 2012 one of the conference speakers was Rachel Lloyd, author of “Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not For Sale.” Lloyd established GEMS: Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, to support girls and young women victimized by the commercial sex industry. GEMS is not a rescue organization, but rather an empowerment organization.

At the conference Lloyd shared her own personal testimony and her journey to stand up GEMS. I borrowed Lloyd’s book from Blaire as pre- 2014 conference reading to read more into Lloyd’s story and fight for justice.

As I read “Girls Like Us” I could hear Lloyd’s British accent and powerful deliverance while speaking of a subject she felt called to stand up to. I found my 2012 notebook from The Justice Conference to read the takeaways from Lloyd. They include:

“Be selfless.”

“There are times in our life when we have to step out.”

“I am not defined by the pain I went through. I am defined by the woman I am, the people I love.”

“What’s your role right now? What am I doing in the next three years to make a change?”

“Our role is to plant seeds, treat people with love and respect and dignity.”

You can watch Lloyd’s video from the conference, as well other videos from pastors, advocates and educators on The Justice Conference website.

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The Justice Conference 2013.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

12 Feb
Amor Towles' debut novel.

Amor Towles’ debut novel.

Sometimes a book hooks me in and I can’t put it down. Before I know it I have read the entire day away.

Last weekend I chose a book from my bookshelf that’s been sitting there for some time and it took me about 24 hours to finish it and return it to the shelf.

“Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles is a novel my personal book shopper (Hi Dad!) bought for me because it’s right in my genre wheelhouse. It has the glitz and glamour — and drama — of 20-somethings living in 1930s New York.

The novel opens at a gallery show of photographer Walker Evans in the 1960s. Towles had the fantastic idea to take a well-known (non-fiction) gallery of photos taken on a subway in the 1930s to start his story. Throughout the novel various photos are printed to give you a glimpse into the gallery located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I started to read “Rules of Civility” right after I finished a non-fiction book (more on that next week) and was in the early phases of getting to know the characters and setting. While I thought I had an idea of what this story was going to be about, Towles throws a curve ball at about Page 54 and I couldn’t put it down for the nearly 300 other pages. I spent my entire Sunday afternoon reading the dramatic story of Katey, her friend Eve, and the other impressionable characters.

The story starts on the last day of 1937 and spans an entire year with the ups and many downs, and through it all I found myself cheering for Katey, the heroine of the story who always seems to get the short end of the stick.

Towles didn’t end the story in “Rules of Civility,” but rather continued on with Eve’s story in the novella “Eve in Hollywood,” released last summer.

Party like it’s 1979

6 Feb
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Isn’t she beautiful?

We had the chance to be a part of something big. Something huge. Something historical.

When the Seattle Seahawks brought home their first ever Super Bowl championship, the city threw them a parade and invited every single 12th Man known to man. The Seahawks victory parade yesterday in downtown Seattle celebrated the team’s Super Bowl XLVIII victory, the city’s first championship since the SuperSonics won the NBA championship in 1979.

That’s a long time for a city to wait to celebrate. It was before my time, so when we had the opportunity to party with the Seahawks and the hundreds of thousands of other fans, my husband and a friend of ours drove right into the heart of downtown.

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CenturyLink.

Lucky for me it was a working trip, as I went up to interview the local military service members who were involved in the parade. And being the worst case scenario planner that I am, we laid out a travel and parking plan that deprived us of sleep but saved us time stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with a million other people.

We left our house at 5:15 a.m. and after a Starbucks run, found free parking near Safeco Field. We then hoofed it ALL the way to Seattle Center where the parade was to start. We made it to the Space Needle just as the sun was rising and it made the city that more beautiful to celebrate.

We killed time and enjoyed warmth in a building near the Needle before we waited in the longest McDonald’s line (seriously waited nearly an hour) for a cheap, warm meal.

While I want to the EMP to get my interviews done with the parade participants, my husband Trevor and our pal Nick found a spot along 4th Avenue toward the start of the parade. I thought it was really neat that our neighborhood emptied out into the streets after the Super Bowl win last Sunday, but to be in a city where everyone is in a constant state of euphoria (unless you try to stand on someone’s piece of sidewalk they claimed on the parade route), you couldn’t help but smile along with them.

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Photo by Trevor Hanson

Miraculously I found Trevor and Nick along 4th Ave and squeezed my way into the crowd where we waited and waited in the frigid cold for the champions of the city to drive by.

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Sunrise at the Space Needle.

The party didn’t disappoint. From the LOB to the winning QB, the lovable guys traveled the two-mile route for the 12th Man to celebrate them one more time for their 2013 championship season.

Once the last vehicle passed us we rolled out of the crowd and hustled back to the direction of our car with the hope we could beat the mega crowd near the stadiums. Intersection after intersection were flooded with people and all you could do was stand in awe at the sheer amount of bodies standing in one location. There were people on top of buildings, watching over balconies, straining to catch any glimpse of the world champions.

We made it back to the car and back to the freeway before the parade ended and on the ride home listened to the celebration inside CenturyLink Field on the radio.

We walked miles that day and stood for hours, and even though we couldn’t feel our toes, we knew we were part of something big. We were a part of history.

Go Hawks!

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The LOB and the Vince Lombardi.