Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Because of You

As I finish out another normal American day, Cambodia is on my heart. I spent time in prayer for each of my little sisters tonight...all twenty-three of them. I miss them dearly.
Although it's no secret that my time in Cambodia was a challenge in every way, there are still those little moments that made everything worth it!
Pirate sword fights in the rain.
Dancing in the front yard.
Family worship sessions.
Bike rides with a little Khmer girl on the back of my bike.
Putting faces with a cause I have fought for three years now.
One moment, however, has stuck in my brain and come to my mind often today.
It was my last day in the She home. After a time of worship and a bike ride, it was time to say goodbye. I used one of the older girls as a translator and thanked my sisters for allowing me into their home. Hugs were given and received. I choked back tears as I struggled to keep a smile on my face as I left.
My Cambodian journey was over. I was at peace with where I was and ready to take the next step, but that doesn't mean that goodbyes were easy.
One young girl, aged 13, frantically searched for an older girl to translate for her so she could talk to me.
This young girl had become especially close to my heart over the last two weeks of my trip. I still get choked up when I talk about her, because we had a soul tie. In my last days with her, I asked the Lord why He didn't allow us to connect on a deep level earlier on in my trip. I firmly believe that it's because it would have been too painful for me to leave her. Just the two weeks of closeness I had with her made a world of impact on my heart.
My sweet sister held back tears once she found a translator and began talking to me through her. She and I never needed to use words to communicate before. Presence was always enough. With her arms encircling my waist, she told me that she thought of me like her big sister. She thanked me for coming and wished me safe travels home. She asked to come home with me, and it was everything my heart could do to tell her no. I hugged her and began to leave, but she stopped me. I couldn't believe what came out of her mouth next (or...out of the translator's mouth).
"Sister, I want you to know that I am going to be praying for you to stay close to Jesus. Because of you, I'm going to stay close to Jesus, too. I already know you'll be praying for me, and I know I will see you again."
We both knew that the next time we will see each other is when we are united together with our King. I hugged her tightly and walked through the gates of the home. The girls yelled goodbye as I left. As soon as I left the house, I hit the ground on my knees.
Thank you, Jesus, for letting this little girl see Your love in me. I am so blessed.
Because it isn't because of me, it's because of Him.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Five Minutes in Cambodia

I'm sitting in the same exact spot where I wrote my very first post only hours before I hopped on a plane and flew to the other side of the world. I have been so blessed by the Khmer people and my experience in Cambodia! I am so thankful for the two months I had there!
The Lord has done such a work in my heart!
Please enjoy this video that wraps up my trip!

God bless you!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Outside the Lens

Many of you have been following my adventure in Cambodia since the very beginning.
In my first post, I explained that I did not want my readers to have the expectation that they were going to see pictures of the work I am doing.
Here at She Rescue, we are very careful not to take any pictures of the home or of the girls we care for. We are not even able to take our cameras or phones inside the home. This is for two reasons.
1) In Cambodia, it is illegal to post the face of a girl that has been trafficked to the internet.
2) We are protecting the identities of our girls. We do not want to risk any former pimps or customers trying to find our girls. This is because we are trying to keep them physically safe, and we want to ensure a safe environment for them to heal and have a hope in Christ for the future.
I knew coming into this that I would not get to share pictures of the 23 precious faces I have been working with, so this didn't come as a shock or disappointment to me.
The difficult part about this is not being able to share their faces with you. I want to be able to come home and show my friends and family the faces of my new little sisters, but the only thing that I have is my words. I want to be able to remember the faces of these little ones when I leave, but I won't have that picture to hang on my wall in my dorm room and remember. When I come home, I'll have pictures of places I've been, things I've seen, and people I've never met...but I won't be able to show people the very reason I came to Cambodia.
Even though these things are a little bit of a downside, I have learned a valuable lesson from these rules. I have learned to see experiences in life in a new light.
Most people are so excited to go to a third world country on a missions trip, take a picture with a cute foreign kid, come back home, make it their profile picture, and then continue to live life. People live life to take a picture, post it on Facebook, see how many "likes" they can get, and then move onto the next picture-taking opportunity.
Don't get me wrong; I love pictures! I love being able to capture memories, but the mindset of today's technology filled world is that the picture IS the memory!
At She Rescue, I have learned that the moment is precious in and of itself! I look at things now with the intention of storing it away in my memory forever...because the moment itself is the memory--not the picture. I've learned to live life outside the take advantage of the moment before I reach for my camera and miss it.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

More Than Just a Cause

Before Cambodia I called myself an abolitionist because I raised awareness for human trafficking. I wrote letters in protest to companies that used child labor. I bought merchandise made by former sex slaves, and I spread statistics in my blog posts and on my Facebook statuses.
Don't get me wrong...these are all good things. All of these things are much needed, and I'll continue to do most of them when I return home in just under two weeks.
But this week I had a revelation. As I stood worshipping God in a circle of 23 girls that have been trafficked or raped, I realized the biggest thing this trip has changed for me.
I sang my heart out to "You Won't Relent" and "Hosanna" that afternoon. A six year old girl stood directly in front of me with my arm wrapped around her little frame. Another nine year old girl was snuggled in by my side. I almost lost my voice in a moment that seemed to last forever. As I looked around our little family worship circle, I realized that I'm not allowed to stand by anymore.
Human trafficking isn't just a cause anymore. My motivation doesn't come and go like some fleeting college-aged passion.
This all changed for me when I looked around the circle that afternoon, and 23 little Khmer faces looked back.
I don't know what I'm going to do to work against human trafficking in the future, but I do know that these 23 little faces are going to push me onto the finish line.
She has a name.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

That Thing No One Wants to Talk About...

All over the world, people are raising awareness for the global catastrophe of sex trafficking. This atrocity has been under wraps for a long time, but people everywhere are starting to shed light on the matter. There have been documentaries made and conferences attended. Many people are focused on funding aftercare and taking care of the girls that have been rescued.
But there is something we can do to stop trafficking before it even happens: we can fight against pornography.
College students are much more likely to fight sex trafficking than porn because many students don’t see the connection between the two. A study says: “It's easier to attack trafficking than porn because so many students are using it, they have to confront the issue that being an activist, they may be hypocritical.” It has been found that men who went to prostitutes were twice as likely to watch porn than other men. Pornography fuels the sex industry and puts girls at a greater risk of being trafficked. To read more about this, click here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trafficking in Cambodia

Every year, the US Department of State puts out a report on human trafficking. In June of this year, a new report was put out. This disturbing report shows us that Phnom Penh’s effort to fight trafficking has slowed down from last year. The US Department of State moved Cambodia down on the watch list. If Cambodia declines any more, they will be put on a list that is for countries that do not meet the minimum standards and are not even trying to meet those standards. There was an outburst of Cambodia’s opinions on the matter once the report was released. Cambodians claim that the main customers of trafficking are Western men. To read more about this, click here.

Friday, June 21, 2013



God had some serious lessons in store for me. In fact, I'm sure He still does in the three weeks I have left on this Cambodian journey! I had no idea how hard missionary life would be. I had no idea how hard being on the other side of the world from familiar people would be, but God brought me all the way over here to show me things about who He is and who I am.

First of all, it is so hard to be myself overseas. The culture shock and the stresses of overseas life brought out sides of me that I didn't know existed. Sometimes I don't like what I see. I think I'm too cowardly and not good enough...but God has shown me that even at my lowest point, He loves me. He loves me despite my filth and sin. That elementary truth has come to absolutely BLOW my mind since I have been here. I am so thankful that I have been able to more fully grasp how wide His love is for me.

Secondly, I have been able to see that I don't need anyone but Jesus. Although familiar faces are nice (and I miss them dearly!), I don't need them as much as I need Jesus. I don't need bathrooms that don't smell like sewage and showers that don't require you to straddle a toilet whilst you attempt to get clean... I have Jesus, and that is enough. I might be in a place full of unfamiliar people and things, but my God is faithful and He remains the same. I can count on Him, and He really is all I need.

Thirdly, I have allowed God to restore me. It a trip to the other side of the world, but seeing young girls come to an understanding that God has given them a second chance after being enslaved to sex tourism has opened my eyes to the fact that God can take what has been broken and make it whole again. I have in no way been through anything anywhere close to what my girls have been through, but He has shown over and over to me that He is faithful and that He will complete the work He has started in me...just as He is still working on the work He has started in the lives of these girls that have been rescued.

That's just a glimpse of what God has done in my heart lately!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What It's Like

People have asked me two questions a billion times since I left the US a little more than three weeks ago: What is Cambodia like? What does a day in Cambodia look like for you?
I think it will do a world of good for the people who are supporting me to see what it is that I do and what it is like where I live.
First thing's first! What is Cambodia is like? I have to say it is entirely too difficult to describe. People come to Cambodia to vacation by the riverside in Phnom Penh, but that isn't what Cambodia is really like. People come to the beautiful beach at Kep to get away to a resort, but that isn't what Cambodia is like. I've been to both of these beautiful places where tourists flock, and it is not an accurate glimpse of what Cambodia really is like. Today I sat on a bus for close to five hours with dozens of Khmer people. I watched out the window as towns, villages, and provinces passed by. I have visited houses of girls that have been reintegrated into their homes, and I have seen what people really live like in the US. I have a couple of pictures that may help you see how people live:

Being in the city of Phnom Penh is very fast paced and crazy. A normal, four lane road of traffic will easily have 16 rows worth of traffic. Monks with their orange robes and yellow umbrellas go from house to house. Elaborate mosques, temples, and buddhist churches tower over the small shacks that are falling apart. It is common to see a family of five riding one motorcycle. Tuk tuks and motos jam the streets. People sell things on the side of the road, and people pull ox carts full of things on the roads. Markets are everywhere and full of smelly fish that sit out in the hot sun all day. It is blazing hot with insane humidity all the time. I never stop sweating. Horns are always honking, dogs are always barking, everyone stares at me because I'm white...oh, and did I mention that little girls are prostituted on the streets? Yep. You read that right. Little girls are prostituted on the streets. I've seen it with my own eyes. It is no secret in Cambodia that sex is a big thing that the Westerners want. Most of the time, it is safe to assume that a Western, white man with a younger Khmer girl is only using her for that evening. It is sickening.
I am in no way complaining about where I am. I know that I am in the center of God's will for my life right now, and I just want you to be able to see through my writing what it is really like over here. I want to remember how blessed I am and thank God continually for those blessings. I also want you to see how blessed you are. I want you to stop and thank God for the blessings that you have.
I also want you to be able to see the good that you are doing by supporting me on my Cambodian adventure...because some of the girls that have been used so wrongly have been rescued.
That is where you come in. That is where your support and your prayers are making the difference, because 23 little girls have become my Cambodian sisters over the last three weeks. There are 23 little girls that have been taken off of the streets and are no longer slaves to the sinful desires of evil men and women.
That being said, here is the answer to the second question! What does a day in Cambodia look like for me?
I work an 8 to 5 day Tuesdays through Saturdays. I arrive at my office at 8 AM and prepare for staff devotions with the Khmer office workers, social workers, drivers, and house mothers. The devotion takes place at 8:30, and then I ask if any of the Khmer staff would like help with their English. We help the staff learn more English, and then we spend the rest of our morning doing any preparation or office work that needs to be finished, as well as running any errands around Phnom Penh that need to be finished for the ministry. We have a lunch break at 11:30 and resume any tasks that may need to be finished at 1 PM. The girls are in school all morning, so I do not spend time with them in the mornings. Depending on the day of the week, the afternoons look different. I help the girls with their English at 2:00, and sometimes I spend my afternoons taking my 23 new little sisters to the pool for their swimming lessons. Nevertheless, at 4:00 every day we have devotion time. Today I led a devotion on 1 Timothy 4:12, and spent the rest of the afternoon telling stories to the girls and having them braid my hair. We just sat in a tight circle on the floor together and laughed at funny stories and silly hair styles. I love these girls. The evenings in Phnom Penh are quiet. I usually bike ride around the city a little bit, grab some dinner, spend some time with the others that I work with here, and then come back to my room to reflect on my day and spend some time with the Lord.
Here is a picture of my sisters:

Today was a day that has been seared into my memory. I spent about two hours with the girls in the home today, and I got to just sit with them and love on them. I was able to see how the Lord has taken such broken lives and restored them. Isn't God just great like that? It took coming all the way across the globe to Cambodia for my eyes to be opened to the fact that God can take something so tarnished and bruised and make it new.
The best way I can explain it is through sharing my experience with a little six year old girl. This girl came into the care of the She home just two weeks before I got to Cambodia. When I arrived, she was reserved and quiet...even with the other girls. When I came into the home to lead devotions today, I saw her little head poke out from behind the couch cushions and heard her squeal with delight as she ran to me to hug me and say hello. We sat together and played hand games today and she babbled on and on in Khmer as if I could understand every word she was saying.
Only three weeks ago, this little girl could hardly look me in the eye. Now I've seen her laugh and play with the other girls and heard her sweet little voice whisper her prayers to Jesus after we have done our daily devotions. Jesus has got His hands on this little girl's life, and seeing her restoration in the Lord has caused me to see that He can restore me, too! Nothing is too messy or too ugly for Him to clean up and make new.
I can't show you this sweet little girl's precious face...but just so you can get a glimpse of how adorable she is:

I can hardly believe my time here is almost halfway up. Thank you so much for supporting me with your prayers! I hope this update helps you to see what your prayers and support are doing! You are making a difference!

Monday, June 3, 2013

French Tips and Iced Tea

My first two weeks of work with the SHE Rescue Home have come and gone, and I can hardly believe it has already been two weeks. I have been stretched further than I have ever imagined. It has hurt more than I could have ever fathomed. I have struggled, and I have experienced the sweetest joy.
My last short post was dedicated more to the struggle side of the last two weeks when it comes to my lupus and how I have struggled with that. It took a lot more to adjust to a foreign country than I thought it would. Even when I went to Peru four years ago, after two days I was in it and excited and going crazy with the kids I was working with. It took Cambodia a little longer to grow on me. Culture shock set in and took over for about a week. The new language, the strange food, the weird smells, the intense heat, the 11 hour time was all so much to take in!
Now, I am happy to inform you that the joy has far outweighed the pain.
Now I feel fully rested and ready to take on my third week tomorrow. I feel adjusted and ready to take this summer and milk it for every little thing it is worth. I have a couple of sweet, small stories that I have already stored up in my heart, and I can't wait to share them with you.
Okay, so this one isn't so small...but it is certainly sweet. :D
The girls in the SHE Home have been going through a program called SHINE with a volunteer that has just recently left us. SHINE is a program that came to the rescue home through Hillsong Church in Australia. The purpose of the program is to teach the girls who they are in Christ and where their worth comes from. Since most of the little girls that I work with have been either raped or trafficked, this program was a huge gift to the home. The girls were able to see that they are beautiful and that God is not finished with them yet. It is such a great program!
I came into the country just as the program was wrapping up,and I had the amazing opportunity to see 12 weeks of this program come to a close as my 23 new little sisters graduated from the program. The whole day was absolutely a fairy tale.
I went to work on Friday morning and headed straight over to the SHE house with a box of makeup under one arm and a box of nail polish under the other. The girls squealed with delight when we came through the gates at the front of the yard and headed toward the porch to unload our goodies. The morning was so full of precious moments and ministries as I painted tiny fingernails and applied makeup to little faces. One of the littlest girls, only six years old, made it her mission to make my makeup and nails perfect. Let me tell was not a pretty sight. My makeup was not too bad actually, but my nails were a disaster...and I loved every second of it. She even attempted to do french tips on one of my hands.

The morning was full of precious moments and memories. After the morning full of pampering and a lunch break full of last minute preparations for the graduation, we all gathered in the living room of the SHE house. Twenty-three girls all dressed in fancy tea party dresses gathered in the living room. Hair, nails, and makeup was all done, and they looked absolutely stunning. All I could do as each girl passed me was clutch her hand and whisper the only Khmer word that I knew at that point..."sa-a..." which means "beautiful" (how fitting is it that the only word I knew was the only one I needed?!).
The girls climbed up the large, spiral, wooden staircase and the room came to a hush as they waited for the program to begin. The two tuk tuk drivers and the van driver waited at the bottom of the staircase with a basket of tiaras for the girls and six roses for the six women graduates. Each girl's name was called. As her name was called, starting with the youngest, she descended the grand staircase to the cheers of her sisters. At the foot of the staircase, one of the men would bow customarily to her and place the tiara on her tiny little head. The girl would then move to the side where she would watch as the rest of her SHE sisters descended the staircase and joined her on the living room floor. Watching each little girl have her little moment to feel beautiful was precious and moving. Each girl was glowing!
After each name had been called, 23 girls with sparkling tiaras climbed into tuk tuks and vans and rode over to a local café. The place was set up with beautiful table settings, flowers, and china. There were goblets full of iced tea and a table loaded with sweets and sandwiches.
The girls were told a wonderful story about a tea cup who did not understand why the potter had stretched him and put him through the fire, but it turned out that God had big and beautiful plans for the tea cup even through all the hard stuff it went through. The story was very touching because of the situations that the girls have come from. Several of the girls spoke about what the program had spoken into their lives. One girl spoke about how she is no longer insecure and now she has confidence. It was so great to see the end of this great program!
The pure joy on the girls' faces was indescribable. Little girls came running up to me with goblets of iced tea the size of their faces and toasted their glasses with mine. They ate so much food and just had the time of their lives. By the time it was time to leave, many of the girls were crashing down from a sugar high.
It was such a beautiful afternoon, and I was so blessed to be a part of it.
It was such an incredible thing to see that the Lord had restored beauty and confidence to these young girls that were so wrongly used. I can hardly wait to see what other memories and precious moments lie ahead on this journey!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Thorn in My Flesh

My first two weeks of work with the SHE Rescue Home have come and gone, and I can hardly believe it has already been two weeks. I have been stretched further than I have ever imagined. It has hurt more than I could have ever fathomed. I have struggled, and I have experienced the sweetest joy.
Most of you know from my Facebook and through my mom that I really struggled early last week with a lupus spell. For those of you that knew, thank you so much for praying. It was really difficult to move around for a couple of days, but with the exception of my hands, I am pretty much all back to normal.
Lupus has been a big struggle over the past three years. In high school and college I've missed classes for short spells, but usually the pain leaves after a couple of days, and it doesn't limit me very much. I have been so humbled over the last week with my hands.
You know, you never really notice how much you use something until it becomes almost impossible for you to use it. Every morning I have to exercise my wrists and fingers to be able to use them during the day. Even though the pain with using them is excruciating during the day, I have prayed for the strength and the ability to keep on using them to be the hands of Jesus. Let me tell you...even when it hurts, it is worth the pain.
Every time I grip the brush to paint a little girl's nails or play Miss Mary Mack or teach her the handshake from the parent trap it hurts, but the Lord keeps giving me strength to move forward.
I just keep reminding myself of the thorn in Paul's flesh and reminding myself that the Lord is my strength in my weakness!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Ring

I arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday around noon. It is now Friday night, and my head is still spinning from how fast everything has been moving. This will be a quick post, because our weekends here are Sunday-Monday, so I still have to work tomorrow morning.

For this post, I will briefly describe what you should expect from these updates as well as what the main mission I am doing while I am here.
I am working with an organization called the SHE Rescue Home. Our goal is to restore and reintegrate girls into the societies from whence they came. The home takes in girls that have been trafficked, rape, or are at high risk for either of the two and houses them until circumstances with family improves. The home cares lovingly for the girls and shares the love of Jesus with them. It is absolutely incredible to see the great joy that radiates from some of these girls that have been through the worst of circumstances, and a couple of the girls are as young as six years old. The Lord is so good to restore what has been broken and used!
The home also works with the families and communities that the girls come from. In most cases, the immediate family is not responsible for the prostitution or rape of the girl, and therefore they are willing to get help from the home to come out of poverty and become a better living place for their children. Once the girl and her family are back on their feet, the home reintegrates the girls back into their families.
All that being said, do not expect any photos of the girls, any of their names, or any of their individual stories. This is because some of the families and pimps are actively looking for the girls that they once used wrongly, and it is our duty to protect them from these predators. I will be able, however, to share small stories about what we are doing and what the Lord is doing in Cambodia and generally in the lives of these girls.

I will end this short post with a story of a small moment that touched my heart. On my second day in the home, one of the girls affectionately grabbed my hand. She noticed my True Love Waits ring and ran her fingers across it. In her broken English, she asked me what my ring meant. I tried my best to explain it in simple English. It can be really difficult to communicate here because I speak absolutely zero Khmer (pronounced "come-eye"). I simply told the young girl that my ring meant that I was waiting for my husband to come someday. I didn't think she would understand, but her face lit up and she held up her left hand to show a ring in the same place where mine is! She excitedly told me this:
"Where I am from, the men in my village look at me like I am bad because of what I have been through. But I know that God loves me and that is enough. But someday God will send me a husband that will love God and take care of me. Now sometimes boys ask me if I have a boyfriend, and I show them my ring. They ask me what it means, and I say that I only want one man, and that is my husband." Then she simply smiled, squeezed my hand, and walked away.

What a beautiful picture of restoration!
God is good. There is much more to tell, but I will update the rest this weekend. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Trading High Heeled Shoes for Chacos

Today is the day I trade in my favorite high heeled shoes for Chacos and my skinny jeans for dry-fit cargo pants. Today is the day I jump on a plane and fly to the other side of the world. Your giving and prayers are getting me there. I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart! In only a couple of days, I will start teaching English to young girls that have just been rescued from human trafficking. I will get to participate in their recovery and restoration, and I know that God is going to speak to me in the process!

My Cambodian adventure is about to begin, and I would like to ask you all to pray with me in a couple of specific areas.
1)Please pray that God’s will be done in every situation I encounter. Especially pray for the hearts of these young girls. Just this last week, a six-year-old girl was rescued from a sex slavery situation and placed in the care of the home I will be working in. Pray that the Lord will restore their hearts and minds and make them like new!
2)Please pray for me as I am entering into a Buddhist culture. The spiritual warfare in Cambodia is intense, and there is a lot of darkness where I am going. Please pray that the joy of the Lord will be my strength and that the Lord will show me His light in a dark place. Also pray that I will have the courage to share His light in the darkness!
3)I believe that full time foreign missions is the call God has placed on my life. Please pray that God will reveal His will to me as I seek after Him and His plans in Cambodia!
Thank you so much in advance for your prayers!

If you would like to receive email updates while I am overseas, please send an email to me at so I can put you on my email list! I will also be updating my blog at

Thank you for being a part of this kingdom work!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Her hands were empty.
Her eyes were undried.
Her smile no longer existed.
Her heart was paralyzed.

A knock sounded in her heart.
She walked up to the door.
She only let it in a little,
But it constantly asked for more.

It paralyzed her heart;
It began to take its toll.
It robbed her of her joy;
It began to rule her soul.

It had its walls around her heart:
A callous in the making,
But one last cry of desperation
Set these walls to shaking.

Then a voice of triumph was heard
In every corner of her heart.
Immediately that pesky fear
Scrambled desperately to depart.

The voice drew her nearer
Into the presence of the Lord,
And as she got closer
She couldn't help but be floored.

She ventured further in,
And she began to understand.
Ashamed for letting fear inside,
She expected nothing but reprimand.

She hung her head in shame,
And she heard that tender voice.
Lifting up her tear-filled eyes
She listened to her choice:

"Fear paralyzed your heart;
Fear has taken its toll.
Fear robbed you of your joy;
Don't let fear rule your soul!

I've put my joy inside you;
It's there for you to share.
This joy is made unquenchable
Just so you'll know I'm there.

This joy is much more powerful
Than anything you'll face.
When paired with love this joy will put
That fear back in its place."

Then the Lord reached down
And wiped her tears away.
She smiled, put her hand in His,
And vowed to follow Him always.

"Take this joy inside
And seal it to your heart,
And when the path gets rocky,
It still will not depart.

Cherish my love forever;
Be careful to hold it dear.
When the enemy attacks you
This love will cast out all your fear."

Now her hands are no longer empty.
Her eyes are filled with joy.
Her smile radiates God's glory.
His love her heart employs.