Wednesday, December 12, 2012

King Jesus vs. Yertle the Turtle

"Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor"

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor,
all for love’s sake becamest poor;
thrones for a manger didst surrender,
sapphire paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor, 
all for love’s sake becamest poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
all for love’s sake becamest man;
stooping so low, but sinners raising,
heav’nward by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
all for love’s sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, we worship thee.

Frank Houghton, 1894 - 1972

One of my favorite Christmas (and any time of the year hymns), about Jesus, who stooped so low - "thrones for a manger didst surrender" - out of such great compassion for us.  He didn't demand power, but instead relinquished it for a while so that he could be Emmanuel, "God With Us."

Contrast that to so many who want to lord it over others.  Like Dr. Seuss's Yertle the Turtle.

(If you can't see the video, click here: Yertle the Turtle)

On the far-away island of Sala-ma-Sond,
Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.
A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat.
The water was warm. There was plenty to eat.
The turtles had everything turtles might need.
And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed.

They were… until Yertle, the king of them all,
Decided the kingdom he ruled was too small.
“I’m ruler”, said Yertle, “of all that I see.
But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.
With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond
But I cannot look down on the places beyond.

This throne that I sit on is too, too low down.
It ought to be higher!” he said with a frown.
“If I could sit high, how much greater I’d be!
What a king! I’d be ruler of all that I see!”
So Yertle the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And Yertle, the Turtle King, gave a command.

He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one’s back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.
And then Yertle climbed up. He sat down on the pile.
What a wonderful view! He could see ‘most a mile!

“All mine!” Yertle cried. “Oh, the things I now rule!
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And, what’s more, beyond that
I’m the king of a blueberry bush and a cat!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

And all through the morning, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”
Until ‘long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
“What’s that?” snapped the king,and he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, “Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I’ve pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?”

“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.
“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack.”
“You stay in your place while I sit here and rule.
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And a bush! And a cat!
But that isn’t all. I’ll do better than that!
My throne shall be higher!” his royal voice thundered,
“So pile up more turtles! I want ’bout two hundred!”

“Turtles! More turtles!” he bellowed and brayed.
And the turtles ‘way down in the pond were afraid.
They trembled. They shook. But they came. They obeyed.
From all over the pond, they came swimming by dozens.
Whole families of turtles, with uncles and cousins.
And all of them stepped on the head of poor Mack.
One after another, they climbed up the stack.

Then Yertle the Turtle was perched up so high,
He could see forty miles from his throne in the sky!
“Hooray!” shouted Yertle. “I’m the king of the trees!
I’m king of the birds! And I’m king of the bees!
I’m king of the butterflies! King of the air!
Ah, me! What a throne! What a wonderful chair!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

Then again, from below, in the great heavy stack,
Came a groan from that plain little turtle named Mack.
“Your Majesty, please… I don’t like to complain,
But down here below, we are feeling great pain.
I know, up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.
We turtles can’t stand it. Our shells will all crack!
Besides, we need food. We are starving!” groaned Mack.

“You hush up your mouth!” howled the mighty King Yertle.
“You’ve no right to talk to the world’s highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There’s nothing, no, NOTHING, that’s higher than me!”
But, while he was shouting, he saw with surprise
That the moon of the evening was starting to rise
Up over his head in the darkening skies.
“What’s THAT?” snorted Yertle. “Say, what IS that thing
That dares to be higher than Yertle the King?
I shall not allow it! I’ll go higher still!
I’ll build my throne higher! I can and I will!
I’ll call some more turtles. I’ll stack ‘em to heaven!
I need ’bout five thousand, six hundred and seven!”

But, as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And started to order and give the command,
That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack,
Decided he’d taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a bit mad.
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!

And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees,
The king of the air and the birds and the bees,
The king of a house and a cow and a mule…
Well, that was the end of the Turtle King’s rule!
For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell off his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!
And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

by Dr. Seuss

Many of us know too many people like Yertle the Turtle and not enough like Jesus.

I'll take Jesus over Yertle the Turtle any day!

How about you?

Virginia Knowles

P.S. Thanks to Jessica Ivey, 4th-6th grade history teacher at the Providence Home Educators co-op, for mentioning Yertle in her discussion about true greatness in leadership.   As her classroom assistant, I was able to Google the story on my iPod and read it aloud to the class.  Perfect.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What You Can Do to Make the Holiday Season a Little Merrier for Others (Advocating for the Vulnerable #8)

Dear friends,

I've been thinking lately, as so many of you have, about how many people are in survival mode at Christmastime.  And I'm not talking about how they have just crammed their schedules too busy or they are running around trying to buy all of their gifts in time.  I am talking about real survival mode.  As in: they don't have enough food to eat, decent clothes to wear, proper medical attention, maybe even a roof over their heads.  Or they might be struggling through chronic pain or handicaps - physical, emotional, and or spiritual.  They might be afflicted with mental illness.  They might just be lonely or anxious, or grieving the loss of loved ones.

Think through the people you know, or even those whom you don't know yet.  What are they going through right now?  

Where are they?  In a Third World country around the globe from you, on the streets downtown, in a decent enough home down the street from you, or, chances are, they might be living at your house.  This might be you.   

What can you do?  How can you help make the holiday season a little merrier for someone else?
  • Invite an international student or someone else who has no local family over for a holiday meal, even if it is not right on Christmas Day.   
  • Talk to a lonely friend.  A cup of tea?  A listening ear for sure.  Listen, don't lecture.
  • Watch what you say to people, especially among those whom you don't know really, really well.  You might make a critical comment about "other people's problems" (such as substance abuse, financial issues, family crisis, mental illness, etc.) not realizing that those in your presence are affected by it too.  You don't always know what someone is going through, and if you are throwing off negative vibes, you can be sure they won't be eager to tell you about it, unless it is to tell you off for being insensitive. :-(
  • Be extra sensitive and gracious to families with special needs children.  Read here: Making It Through the Holidays with Children Who Have Special Needs (at Karen Campell's That Mom blog)
  • Offer to watch friends' kids so the stressed out parents (especially a single mom) can go out for some alone time, a date with a hubby or friend, or a holiday party. 
  • Take a fancy casserole or a plate of Christmas cookies to a shut in.  
  • Sing Christmas carols at a nursing home.  
  • Write letters to your elderly relatives.  Add pictures that your kids have made.
  • Help an elderly or handicapped friend decorate for Christmas.  They can't always reach up high or lift boxes.  See Easy Christmas Decorating on a Dime.
  • Throw a Christmas craft party for neighbor kids.  Provide all of the supplies for projects for various ages and interests. Make sure you serve lots of yummy snacks!   And tell them about Jesus.  Yes, tell them about Jesus.
  • Go serve the Christmas meal at the homeless shelter.  
  • Donate non-perishable foods or gift cards to a food drive. 
  • Pick out gifts for a needy someone in your community. (Ask your pastor for the names of needy folks or worthy organizations.)  
  • Be a Secret Santa and drop a bag of goodies or presents off on a doorstep of someone you know.  
  • Harvest of Hope with Partners International - gift catalog of items you can order to be sent to impoverished people around the world. Piglets anyone?  Or how about medicine, or school supplies, or clean water, or therapy for a disabled child?  There are plenty of options to fit your budget and get your kids involved!
  • Buy the Christmas CD, It Happened One Night, a benefit for the work of International Justice Mission in bringing liberty to the oppressed around the world.  Why yes, you do want to listen to Sara Groves, Kari Jobe, Brandon Heath, David Crowder, Matt Maher, Laura Story, Mandisa and more... Beauty. Justice. What more could you ask for at Christmastime? Why don't you order a bunch and give them as pre-Christmas gifts?  I think they are only $5 right now! While you're at it, go over to the IJM web site and donate there, too!
It Happened One Night

You might also like to read: 
(Go do it!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gathering Gifts for the Poor (Advocating for the Vulnerable #7)

Dear friends,

Welcome back to my Advocating for the Vulnerable series.  This time, let's talk about caring for the poor. This is a huge topic.  I'm only going to give you a tiny little sliver from my own recent and near future experience in collecting items to give to the disadvantaged. (You can read about past ministry projects here.)  A little here, a little there adds up.   We love to partner with other people and organizations who have great ideas.  Here are three: one with a global outreach to children, one to migrant worker families, and another to the downtown homeless.

Operation Christmas Child

Ever year, our church's Sunday School kids love participating in the Operation Christmas Child program from Samaritan's Purse.  In the fall, the organizer, Debora Lisle, asks folks in the congregation to bring in small gifts such as toys, school and craft supplies, hygiene items, and other goodies for children living in impoverished regions of the world.  The kids then spend a lot of their class time for several weeks assembling and filling the bright red and green boxes.  I am astounded by how many boxes they do considering Lake Baldwin is a small church and on any given Sunday there are only 30-40 elementary age kids.  (The exact number of boxes this year is a secret to be revealed in church next month, but I can tell you it is in the hundreds.)  Then we have a party where we load them into cars and take them to the local drop-off point, Northland Church.  

This semi at Northland is already full!

OK, that's pretty global.  They're estimating that this year will mark 100,000,000 gift boxes since 1993!  Please go check out the web site, Operation Christmas Child.  It's not too late to donate.  If you don't have time to fill a box yourself, you or your child can still have the fun of picking out the gifts online with their Build-a-Box program. 

DeNeef Village

I don't know a lot about this, but I do know that my friend Allura Lightfoot at Metro Life Church has been taking a group out to the DeNeef Village migrant trailer camp in Apopka twice a month to serve the families there.  They are gathering Christmas gifts for the children, as well as gift baskets for the moms.  

Lights on the RiverI asked the students in my home school co-op English class to bring in items for the mom's gift baskets, and we've been able to fill two so far.  To get them in the spirit, I brought in the picture book Lights on the River by Jane Resh Thomas, which is about the plight of impoverished migrant workers.  It's one of my favorite books, and I warned them that I would cry when I read it.  I think it made quite an impression on them. 

I also asked Allura about putting together first aid bags for the families with bandages, individually packaged antibacterial wipes and other items.   She said that any family with kids would appreciate that! I'm scheming how to pull that off.  If you want to help out with that -- especially with supplies or money -- let me know.

I'll try to write more about migrant workers in the future.  I'd even like to go visit DeNeef.  I'll bet you have migrant communities in your area, too.  Are any churches or organizations reaching out to them?

Homeless in Downtown Orlando

There are many fine organizations working with the homeless in Orlando and I applaud what they are doing.  But individual people can make a difference, too.  My daughter Julia Corbett has a heart for ministering to the homeless and those in crisis pregnancies. (Allura has been a wonderful mentor!)  Two years ago, Julia organized a clothing and blanket drive.  I was amazed at how much stuff showed up at Metro Life Church.  She also packaged up snack bags and put a Gospel of John in each one.  Her team loaded it all up, took it downtown, and started handing them out.  They were able to bless about 50 people.  I just found out that she and her husband are going to do it again in early January.  I think I might try to do some first aid bags for this project, too.  I don't know all of the details yet, but if you're interested, let me know!

In the meantime, you can visit these web sites to learn about helping the homeless in Orlando.

I hope this inspires you to do something, big or small, with your family to bless the needy in your community and around the globe.

You may also wish to read these posts:

Other posts in the Advocating for the Vulnerable Series

Do justice, love mercy!

Virginia Knowles

Saturday, October 20, 2012

We Can't Ignore Domestic Violence (Advocating for the Vulnerable, Part #6)

Dear friends,

It's happened again, another horrifying and tragic episode of domestic violence in our community, leaving several dead and one critically injured. In the Orlando area alone, eleven people in the past several weeks have been killed because of domestic violence. We read these so often in the news that it's easy to become numb and then turn the channel, turn the page, click the next link to think about something a little more cheerful.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But even if it wasn't, we need to...




You might assume that domestic violence does not affect you or anyone you personally know. You are probably wrong.

First, think of the ripple effect in society. When families are torn up by domestic violence, there is a cost: lost education and income opportunities for both the victim and abuser, on-going medical needs from injuries and psychiatric disorders, increased substance abuse, impact of the possible death of a parent (usually a mother), necessary government intervention, potential homelessness, children who grow up to perpetuate the vicious cycle and increase crime rates and more.

Think of these sobering statistics:
  • 1 in 4 women report being the victim of abuse by a spouse/boyfriend in their lifetime. (United States statistics)
  • More than three women per day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
  • Women suffer 2,000,000 injuries per year from domestic violence.

Still, that seems so “other” to many of us. 

Sure, it raises our taxes.

Sure, we need more police officers. 

Pity the poor families out there.

You know, the ones who don't know how to get along. 

Oh well.

Stop and think again.

Unless you are a hermit, someone you personally know is probably the victim of domestic violence. Perhaps someone in your church or Christian organization.  And you could be completely oblivious because it's not something a victim really likes to advertise. It is humiliating. There is a stigma, especially among Christians. There is a fear of reprisal from the abuser if anyone finds out. There is a fear of having to single parent, with all of the emotional, logistical and financial ramifications. It's hard to rock the boat, to risk upsetting things even more than they already are. It's easier to deny, minimize, try harder to make it work.

You might wonder how a Christian family could be affected by domestic violence. I think the desire for control over others (often with the sincere intent of having a “godly” family at all costs) and the inability to control anger are two prime factors. This is compounded by the fact that many Christian women feel like it is their duty to submit to whatever their husbands say or do (as long as the wife is not personally sinning), and so they continue to enable abusive behavior. They may reason that their husbands are otherwise decent, hardworking members of society, and they don't want to damage their reputations in the church or community. Many Christian men insist it is their right as the leader of the family to assert their “God-given” authority and enforce whatever they wish to say or do. The wife may think, “He is controlling and verbally abusive, but he's never physically hurt me,” but if that goes unchecked, it can easily slide into physical abuse. Or she may think, “Well, he pushed me and I got hurt, but that was an accident. He's never tried to beat me up.” It's still physical abuse. If it happens once, it may be an accident that you can get past. But if it continues to happen, it is a pattern that needs to be interrupted. 

In some cases, domestic violence against the wife occurs when she tries to intervene when her husband gets out of control while “disciplining” the children. In many Christian circles, especially among conservative home educators, there is a fear of both government intervention and professional counseling/therapy. There is also an emphasis on Christian marriages staying together at all costs “until death do us part” – which sometimes it does when one spouse murders the other. Whatever the reasons, whatever the extent, these extremely unhealthy dynamics are something for a qualified, professional counselor to explore. (Pastors can help, but some of them are just not equipped. In so many cases, a wife is told to just go home and pray for her husband, forgive, stop being so bitter, submit more, give him more sex, keep the house cleaner, get the kids under control, and try harder not to make him angry. This is total crap! Seriously? Blaming the victim just won't cut it anymore.)

I am no expert on domestic violence, but I do personally know several families who have been affected and I have been involved in intervening/supporting in a few cases. Several of my friends and fellow bloggers have also been directly and regularly involved in counseling women in abusive situations, especially in Christian families.  I appreciate their input about this topic which has enabled me to write this article, which I had already been planning for my series on Advocating for the Vulnerable.  I've been asking around and gathering my information for a while. I can't write a comprehensive or scholarly article, but I can ask you to stop, think, read some more.

Recognizing Domestic Violence:

The symptoms: unexplained injuries, fear, depression, anxiety, self-loathing, distrust, isolation, avoidance, overly passive or overly aggressive behavior

The kinds of abuse: physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, spiritual, etc.

The repeating cycles and patterns of abuse:

  1. violent incident
  2. guilt, excuses, remorse, reconciliation
  3. calm/normality
  4. tension/escalation

The psychological tactics of abuse: dominance, intimidation, threats, denial, blame, isolation, inappropriate rules, belittling, shaming

If you are the victim of domestic violence, PLEASE don't go it alone. Get help. If you have children, they are at risk too. You can't shield them forever. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for them. Start by confiding in a trusted friend, family member, or pastor. If that doesn't work, try another one until someone will listen and help. You don't have to advertise it to everyone. You can get help discretely. If you are in danger, find a safe place to stay, or, if possible and if safe, insist that the abuser leave the home. You might not think you can handle being separated from your abuser, but you can! You might not trust government intervention, such as from the police or social services, but it may be just what you need.

If you know a victim of domestic violence, offer help. Don't turn a blind eye. You might not already know what to do. Start researching. Compile of list of resources, such as hotlines, web sites, safe houses or social services, that your friend can use. I have listed many of these below. Arrange a safe place for them to stay for as long as necessary. And don't forget to listen without minimizing or invalidating or excusing their concerns.

I have created a domestic violence resource page on this blog that has a complete list of links; I will attempt to add to it as I find more helpful resources.  Some of the links from that page are below.

Other domestic violence articles on this blog:

    Web Sites and On-Line Articles:

    Please note that I am providing these for your information. I do not endorse everything you will find at these sites. Important: If you are a victim of domestic violence and you are using a computer to gather information or gain on-line support, please be sure to use an incognito web browser or erase your history as you browse. Please also be aware that your abuser may be tracking your web viewing with software designed for this purpose. If that is a risk, use a computer that your abuser cannot track, such as one at a friend's house or public library. Click here for more information on How to Cover Your Tracks.)

    Basic Information for Victims and Survivors 

    Phone Numbers:
    • National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800)799-7233
    • USA Domestic Abuse Hotline: (800)999-SAFE

    "Love that is coerced is not real, and neither is submission that is coerced.  Personal dominance, dictatorships in marriage and other forms of mind control that are camouflaged by religion are all unbiblical.  No religion or denomination has permission from Scripture to control a woman.  Some try hard, but they have to violate Scripture in the process.  The biblical truth is that no human being is justified coming between you and God.  In the end of time, when it is your turn to stand before God, you will face Him alone." Elisabeth Julin in Submission Is Not Silence 
    Central Florida Resources:

    • SafeHouse of Seminole: A confidential shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children, includes counseling, practical support, legal help, etc.
    • Harbor House (Orange County): Shelter for victims of domestic violence, includes counseling, practical support, legal help, etc.
    • Kids House of Seminole Children's Advocacy Center: Help for families dealing with child abuse; friendly, non-threatening atmosphere,  includes counseling, support, information on resources, referrals for substance abuse treatment, etc.
    I did not fully address child abuse in this article on domestic violence. I have already done this at: Child Discipline or Child Abuse?

    I hope that this article and links have equipped you to open your eyes and take a stand against domestic violence.  Let me know if you need help taking the next step.

    For peace and justice,

    Virginia Knowles

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Justice by Heart {Repost Plus Extra Notes} Advocating for the Vulnerable #5

    Justice by Heart

    {Repost from October 2008, with lots of extra notes at the end}

    Dear friends,"The LORD spoke through his prophet Isaiah: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." Isaiah 58:6-12 New International Version (NIV)

    I found this passage during my quiet time this morning and it is so relevant to me. I've been thinking a lot about justice lately -- how to live it, how to help make it happen for others ("the oppressed"), and how to teach it to my children. (Of course, that means learning how to treat each other better right here at home.) I try, but I come up short time and time again in applying these truths. So I seek insight and encouragement. A trusted friend at church commented recently about how a Christian book, 
    Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen, is totally rocking her world. I think a lot of us need to be challenged in this area. I know I do.

    I read Isaiah 58:6-12 again to some of my children at the start of our home school day, stopping to define words like "oppression" and "yoke" along the way. Later, Ben found an old Bible alphabet puzzle in the closet and saw the Y piece with the yoke picture. Then he understand what I had meant, at least a little bit more. A yoke steals freedom. It is hard and unbending. It makes you do things that you would not otherwise do.

    A simple picture like this is worth a thousand words. And pictures are sometimes what we need -- visual ones, verbal ones, relational ones -- to shake us out of our lethargy. The promises are profound: we shall live as well-watered gardens in the midst of a sun-scorched land, with light and healing, with guidance and protection. Isn't this such a comfort even in such a time of financial turmoil and global conflict? Our blessings are not always tangible ones like money and the tantalizing things it can buy. They are the essential ones of inner peace and joy, of the paradoxical wholeness that comes from being broken for others, of the knowledge that we have made an impact in the lives of precious human beings.

    I searched the web for something about 
    Bolivia this morning, and by chance came across a site mentioning a movie about the crime of human trafficking -- modern day slavery. I wept. What can I do? I don't know yet. Thad and I are going to Sara Groves' Art*Music*Justice concert two weeks from tonight in Tampa; it is a benefit for the International Justice Mission, which deals with this issues. I also rejoice to see folks from our church doing things like organizing a rummage sale to benefit a Haitian orphanage damaged by the hurricanes. This is Christian compassion in action. I want to be part of all of this, as busy as I am with my own large family. I hope I will breathe it until the day I die. I hope I will pass it to my children, not just in words but in my own example. That's how my daughters got involved in the pro-life movement at first. Then they stayed in it because they believed in it for themselves, even though I haven't been as directly involved for several years. Now it's my girls who decide to order the "Love Lets Live" T-shirts from the pro-life web site (Yeah, I ordered one, too -- I didn't want to be left out!)

    I'll write more on the topic of justice later, I am sure. More and more and more, even as I have written in months past. You can see some of it in the category 
    Do Justice ~ Love Mercy.

    What about my blog title today, "Justice by Heart"? It was partly inspired by the novel, 
    Words by Heart by Ouida Sebestyen, in which a young black girl (a Bible memory whiz) must painfully learn to apply the Scriptures about forgiveness when violence erupts against her own family. Then this morning, Ann Voskamp's Holy Experience blog mentioned Ann Kroeker's Mega Memory Month project where a challenge has gone out to memorize something substantial, something MEGA. I am personally choosing Isaiah 58:6-12, along with my own related poem, "Corpus Christi." It's not really really MEGA but it's enough for me right now. I have already written three of the Isaiah verses up on our white board in hopes that my family will join me in this challenge.

    What will you memorize? And how will you then live?

    "Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God." (See 


    Extra Notes in 2012

    I wrote this post about four years ago when I was starting to think more about the social justice movement.  While at the Sara Groves concert, I bought a copy of Gary Haugen's book Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian, which was very challenging.  I followed it up a few years letter with Tim Keller's Generous Justice: Finding Grace in God through Practicing Justice.  I have subscribed to various blogs that often feature social justice themes.  I have also written more extensively on justice themes on my main blog in this category: Do Justice ~ Love Mercy as well as on this blog in the Advocating for the Vulnerable category.  I am particularly interested in the human trafficking issue right now.

    So, I've been researching and writing.
    Words.  Lots of words.
    And deeds?
    Well, I hope so.

    I try to do the things that are in front of me and then beyond.
    The things that are for me to do.
    Julia in Bolivia, 2009
    Small kindnesses.
    Sticking up for the downtrodden.
    Giving money to charitable organizations when I can.
    Donating canned goods to the local food drive.
    Sending money and stuff to Malawi.
    Training and equipping my own kids to do justice and love mercy. (A long way to go here, to be sure, especially in our own home.  However, my 10 kids have been involved in foreign mercy mission trips, Operation Christmas Child, serving the homeless, standing for the unborn.  They do what I often can't in this season of life.)

    So yes, deeds too.

    Sometimes I feel guilty that my active deeds aren't enough.
    That maybe social justice is just a fad to me, the "in" thing to write about in my circle of bloggers, but what am I really doing?

    I haven't done anything huge.
    I haven't adopted a child out of foster care or from a poverty stricken country.
    I haven't traveled around the globe to dispense medicine or bust brothels.
    I haven't even gone downtown to feed the homeless (at least since I was in college).

    But then I also realize there is nothing wrong with my words.

    I am a writer and a teacher. Whether it is writing a blog post about abuse of authority issues, or teaching my home school co-op students about human trafficking or homelessness, or giving a workshop on justice issues in American literature, or posting links to news articles on Facebook, it makes a difference.

    That is what I do.
    That is, perhaps, where I am most effective and most efficient.
    These words are deeds.
    Words have power.
    Words shape lives.
    Words motivate to action.
    I am raising awareness, even my own.
    I am letting people know so they can do.

    What do you think?

    Virginia Knowles