Category Archives: Uncategorized

Livin’ in Limbo Landia

©I.K.Hadinger
©I.K.Hadinger

I’m where I don’t belong.  To where I do belong, I can’t yet go.  Yet where I don’t belong is where I’m from, and to where I do belong I’m a stranger, a foreigner.

Welcome to my world: Limbo Landia- a place where there is neither yes nor no, only I don’t know.  A place where suitcases and moving boxes are caught in a real life freeze frame.

Budget issues, then medical issues, followed by visa issues, now counselling issues.

Limbo Landia is a paradox, not a paradise.  It’s a treadmill existence of running the race.

We can’t just jump off this treadmill whenever we want but must wait until a change is effected.   We are in constant stationary motion.

We can all become loco in this land if not for the one thing that is…

Certain.

Unchanging.

Permanent.

GOD.

My God!   And His Word coupled with His people. His promises supercede Limbo Landia and his encouragement extends everywhere.   His prescription for pain and examples of others motivate the momentum needed in my heart.

I’m where I don’t belong.  To where I do belong, I can’t yet go.  Yet I know He is with me.  Wherever and whenever.  Even in Limbo Landia.

 

IlonaSignature

Divine Makeover Book Giveaway Winner

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I promised a book giveaway with my last post (see Divine Makeover – Author Interview and Book Giveaway.)

To win, the reader had to leave a comment with their name following the author interview. With those names written on a folded piece of paper  and put in a small container, I gave the privilege of drawing a name to my hubby.

The winner? Kathy McGregor. Congratulations, Kathy! You will be receiving a copy of Divine Makeover  from the publisher.

DiVineblogtour_2

 

 

Book Excerpt: Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage

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Elisabeth Corcoran’s new book, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, released on Valentine’s Day.

Here is an excerpt:


Who Am I to Judge?

Question: How do you confront your husband when he’s in sin?

The same way you eat an elephant…one bite at a time and very, very carefully.

Somewhere along the way, I got the impression that it wasn’t my place to confront my husband.  For two reasons.  First, I had it in my head that a man should do it.  I have literally no idea where I came up with that one. And secondly, I thought, “Who am I to judge him? I’m a total nutcase, a complete mess.”  Another reason some might have that keeps them from speaking up is fear of what will happen if they do.

I no longer believe that only another man can speak into the life of a husband.  I believe part of what God meant for us when he calls us the “helpmate” is to come alongside our partners and help them live holy lives.

Sara Groves expresses this beautifully in one of my favorite songs, Different Kinds of Happy:

It’s a sweet, sweet thing
standing here with you and nothing to hide
light shining down to our very insides
sharing our secrets, baring our souls,
helping each other come clean

In fact, I even played this song for my daughter and niece and told them to look for this quality when choosing their husbands.  Being able to ask each other the hard questions is part and parcel with a healthy marriage.  You are allowed to ask anything.  If you’re not, that’s a red flag.

I totally get where I was coming from on the judging part though.  None of us are sinless.  But if we wait until we’re completely without sin to point out something to someone who is going down a dangerous path, no one would ever hold anyone accountable for anything.  If you are doing your best to walk with God and if you are as current with him as you can be as far as your own faults go, you have the obligation to help a fellow believer see the error of his ways.  If your spouse is hurting you, someone else or himself either physically, emotionally or spiritually, it needs to be called out.  Just make sure you’re prayed up and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words and to give your husband a softened heart to accept your concerns.

If fear of fallout is what’s holding you back, that should tell you something.  Though there are definitely topics of conversation that are harder to bring up than others, you should never be fearful of your spouse.  If you are, that signals a bigger problem.  If this is the case, then ask someone to have this difficult conversation with you, like a counselor, pastor or friend of your husband’s.  It needs to be someone you can trust and someone who will make sure that what you have to say is heard.

Listen, going to someone to tell them that they’ve hurt you or are hurting themselves is never easy.  But it’s part of what God wants for those of us living in community and trying to become more like Jesus.  It’s a burden but it’s also a sweet, sweet thing.

Secrets and cyphers
there’s no good way to hide
there’s redemption in confession
and freedom in the light
I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid
-Sara Groves

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1011676_10202979914041105_1570950043_nElisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books. She speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. She lives with her children in Illinois.

Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at elisabeth@elisabethcorcoran.com if interested in joining.

Elisabeth is a proud Member of Redbud Writer’s Guild and has been featured on Moody’s In the Market with Janet Parshall, This is the Day with Nancy Turner, and Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea.

Winter’s Composition (Thursday’s Foto Fun Link-In)

© 2013 I.K.Hadinger
© 2013 I.K.Hadinger

The roses are dead now, so we can’t stop to smell them.

It’s cold outside, and you’d think it’s bedlam!

Yet beauty can be seen, a.m. or p.m.

By venturing out to shoot winter’s welcome!

 

This photo was shot near my home, at a local park just a hop off a well traveled road. I love this photo because of it’s serenity and beauty. And because I could write a poem about it. 😉

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Want to join in on the Foto Fun Link-In? Here are Tammy’s rules:

Share a photo you took.  No cheating!

G-rated (breaking this will get you kicked off the island)

Tell why you love it.

Visit another link-in blogger and make a comment. (My note: still working on a link-it button to make this do-able).

 

 

 

Time, for me

time_clockFor the first time ever, I’m joining the OneWord365 party. Late, but that’s okay! Time and it’s essence are flexible, at least in this case.

This “OneWord365” movement had caught my attention in the past when noticing friends blogging or posting Facebook statuses about it.

The idea, for those who are clueless, live in a bubble, are anti social-media, or only follow sports (heh), is to choose one word at the beginning of each year in lieu of making resolutions, and see how that one word can affect our life, i.e. decisions, attitude, goals, relationships, etc.

Some of my blogging friends chose words for 2014 like joy, fulfill, and words.

For the past week or so, even before considering hopping onto this OneWord bandwagon, the word ‘time’ has been reverberating within me. Perhaps reading through the Book of Ecclesiastes four times since the beginning of the year may have something to do with that? My one word for 2014, therefore, is “time”.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Like you, I have no idea what this year will hold for us. However, we do have certain plans, and that includes our move back to Mexico, because it is time.

My husband will be weaned off his anti-seizure medication, because, in answer to prayer, his neurologist had told him it is time.

And though none of us know what other events will significantly mark this year, we can know and trust the One who does:

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.  Psalm 62:8

My times are in your hand.  Psalm 31:15

And with that trust comes the assurance that even through life’s unfavourable circumstances that (may) (will?) come our way, God can turn them into something beautiful.

“God makes every thing beautiful in his time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Do you have a word for 2014?

Why Laundry, Like Ministry, Needs to be Culturally Relevant

A missionary to Europe told of her first months living in an apartment in her new city and wondering why the neighbors seemed to avoid her. Finally, someone was bold enough to tell her that everyone thought she was a dirty pig. Why? It had something to do with her laundry, as you’ll see below.

Doing laundry is defined by culture. So is the way we do ministry. And sometimes the two overlap. It doesn’t matter how well you can do either of those in your own setting, you’ll need to learn again how to do it appropriately in your new cultural context.

I’ve done both (laundry and ministry) in various cultural settings and have learned this: though essentials remain, the methods must be adjusted. Otherwise, frustration and possibly failure, could be the outcome.

For instance, when doing laundry, the unchanging essentials are soap, water, and air, but there are varying methods and possibly social rules in each local context. For ministry, the unchanging essentials are the Gospel (Good News) of Christ and a love for God, but here too unique methods and possibly social rules must be applied in its local context.

In a sordid mess of confusion and cultural adaptation, those methods and rules are learned only by doing…and that, usually, via ignorant mistakes (note the plural of that last word).

Laundry – Do it Right, or Else…

So why was the missionary to Europe considered a dirty pig? She didn’t hang her sheets outside the window to dry like everyone else did, so it was assumed she never washed them. She was considered filthy; probably thought to have bed-bugs and carry disease.

The Gospel message wasn’t initially heard because the messenger didn’t do her laundry correctly.

The missionary changed her method. Instead of washing and drying her sheets inside as had been her habit, she began to hang them out to dry for the world to see. And only then did the world begin to hear the news she was sent to tell them.

in Mexico, I've always hung our laundry out to dry...
In Mexico, I’ve always hung our laundry out to dry. This photo from Oaxaca on a typically warm and sunny day.
...here I use my "adjustable height" dryer!
…here I use my “adjustable height dryer” –sticks propping the line higher– so (1) nothing would hang on the ground and (2) our dogs would stop running through them.

When we lived in Northern Mexico among the Old Colony Germans (much like the Amish), I learned by way of snide gossip that not only did I do laundry on the wrong days of the week, made obvious by everyone seeing my laundry hanging out to dry on the wrong days, I also hung certain clothes the wrong way. (That was only one of about a hundred things I did wrong in that community, for which there was little grace and much vilifying of my person).

When I finally realized my mistake, I did my best to mend it, wanting to remove each stumbling block, one by one, for people to accept me, but especially and ultimately, the message of Christ we carried.

Change Will Cost Us (Don’t expect Easy St.)

As we have moved from place to place, I’ve adjusted my laundry methods. The photos below show us (namely my daughter while I took a break to snap the pics) doing laundry in yet another way: by hand, on the roof. This was in Huatulco, where we temporarily rented a small apartment while ministering in the Pacific coastal region.

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My daughter learning how to wash clothes by hand. The red bucket on top is the water and soap “soak” bucket, while the blue bucket at the bottom is the clean water “rinse”.
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Miss Perfectionist working hard to remove a spot. The circular metal stairs are seen to her left, next to the neighbor’s roof. And if you look carefully at the top of the photo, you’ll see a glimpse of the neighbor’s  laundry on the roof of a house on the next street over.
after rinsing them in a bucket and twisting out excess water by hand, we hang out clothes, underwear and all, flying like flags for the neighborhood to see! (but since everyone does it, nobody cares)
After rinsing them in the bucket and twisting out excess water by hand, we hang out clothes– underwear and all flying like flags– for the neighborhood to see! (but since everyone does it, nobody cares)

Changes, though necessary, aren’t always welcome or easy. I didn’t like doing laundry by hand, but it was the only way to get it done right, in that location. Sometimes we’re forced to do things differently than we’ve ever done before. And remember, different isn’t necessarily bad; it’s just…different. The important thing is remembering the essentials. Whether I did my laundry on a roof or in a basement, on a mountaintop or in a valley, used machines or used my hands, I always maintained the essentials: soap, water, and air.

Similarly, in ministry we have had to learn to adjust our method, to do things differently, depending on our cultural context. Those changes have not always been easy and have usually come on the heels of blunders. Most often we don’t realize we’ve done something wrong or strange until we see certain looks, hear the gossip, are avoided, or outright confronted. Our purpose is moot and our message unheeded until we change our method…

…Without changing the essentials: the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a fervent love for God.

Like the apostle Paul, it is possible, yes even necessary, to maintain those essentials as we adjust our method.

“So…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God…even as I try to please everybody in every way, I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many, so that they may be saved. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

I Corinthians 10:31-33, I Corinthians 9:22,23

Culturally Re-Defined

As it is, many missionaries end up adapting so well to certain changes, we can’t leave them behind when we return to the USA. We’ve spent years and tears trying to please others for the sake of the Gospel and now find ourselves ministering, interacting, or behaving awkwardly to and with our own patriots. Some things simply become automatic…

Like hugging and kissing everyone we meet in church…

Like calling everyone hermano or hermana

Like shouting salud! in public when someone sneezes…

…or, if you’re like me, hanging our laundry in the basement when a dryer sits idly by.

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Method or madness? We found our clothes last longer and fit better (!) when kept out of the dryer. It’s more work, but keeps the family happy.

Laundry Baskets and Books: Our Smuggling Operation

444px-Books_of_the_PastIt was desperation. Pure, unadulterated desperation.

It drove us madly to scheming an international smuggling operation in which we involved our four youngsters.

Neither regret nor remorse are motivating me to come clean now, years later. (Really, I needed something to blog about, and this story was as good as the next.)

However, I may consider this our public confession of our contraband years.

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Books and Fools

It all began shortly after we moved to Chihuahua, Mexico in 1998. We were having a conversation with a local pastor who offered his help with anything we may need to become acclimated.

“Where is the closest library?” I promptly asked, realizing the books there would be in Spanish, not English. I was prepared for the challenge for both myself and our children.

His head turned and his brows furrowed as he asked, “¿Para qué? What do you need a library for?”

Questions like that are cultural clue cards. I took that one, filed it away, and answered matter of factly, “To have books to read at home.”

He snickered. “The libraries here do not loan out books.”

Shock registered on my face. “¿Por qué?

“We have a saying here in Mexico,” he answered,

“…if you loan a book to someone, you are a fool, but if you return a book you borrowed, you are a greater fool.”

If my mother would have been there, she would have told me to close my gaping mouth already, before a bug flies in.

That cultural awareness would prove helpful to me years later in managing a Bible Institute library in southern Mexico. Though it was a lending library limited to only students and staff, the end of the year inventory proved the saying true for some.

In 2004, Mexico City ignored, or perhaps tried to overcome, this particular cultural nuance when they hoped to curb crime and improve literacy by lending 1.5 million books – on the honor system – at subway stations around the city. They stopped the program after having so few riders return the books.

Border Runs

El Paso is due north of Chihuahua City. We would make the five-hour trip through the desert, and the one-hour trip through Ciudad Juarez, often. Sometimes we just needed to hear English, sometimes we simply needed to de-stress. We needed to retrieve our mail, all of it, unopened and unpilfered.

But we especially needed a library. El Paso had public libraries. Those libraries loan books. We could sign books out and take them into Mexico with us. Easy!

Not exactly. There were rules mocking us.

First, the librarians voice, “Fill out this form, ma’am, and return it with a utility bill proving your local residency.”

Then, the sign, “No borrowed items are to be taken into Mexico.”

It was then that the desperation for books, namely to sign them out to have at home in Mexico, overtook us, creating the wonderfully deviant smuggling plot.

A local retired missionary allowed us the use of their home address as our mailing address. Though we didn’t have utility bills, other mail such as credit card statements came in time and were deemed acceptable by the library staff.

Five library cards were issued (the baby didn’t need one yet). We lacked only one thing: a way to carry the amount of books we’d be signing out. Most normal people carry books in hand, or perhaps in a bag. Then again, most normal people don’t go to the library with a family of six to check out 60+ items at a time.

To the nearest Wal-Mart we headed, purchasing the largest plastic laundry basket they had. It was go-time.

Here is where we corrupted our children: we told them not to mention “home” or “Mexico” in the same sentence when we were in the library. And, no!, they could NOT say it in Spanish either, since the majority of El Paso either speaks or understands Spanish.

Each child was told to pick out ten titles, bring them to us for approval, then put them in the big basket. I felt somewhat criminal-minded  when we stood in line to check out and that sign would catch my eye and taunt me, tugging at my conscience as it reminded me I didn’t have permission to smuggle those books out of the country.

“It’s for the niños!” I mentally hissed back, wishing the sign knew I was home-schooling and we were starving, literarily speaking.

It stared back, hard and motionless.

“Okay, it’s for me, too!” I ‘fessed.

Into the back of the SUV my hubby carefully and systematically placed the basket along with the suitcases, ready to cross the border, go through customs and make the long journey home.

The border guards with their rifles showed less hostility over the basket of books than the stupid sign back at the library.

Todo Bien

The end of the story is a happy one.

We enjoyed hundreds of books during those years, the library received back all their loans, we paid any fines we may have incurred, three of my four kids graduated and went to college, the oldest is halfway through graduate school, and I bought a Kindle.

Back for a season in the USA, my hubby, my tween, and I still use laundry baskets and frequent the local library; the baskets, however, now carry laundry and our visits to the library end with either a bag or our arms carrying the numerous titles scattered throughout our rented home.

There are worse crimes than burning smuggling books.  One of them is not reading them.  ~Joseph Brodsky.  (strikeout and italics are mine).

Consumerism Consumes Us – Why We Hardly See Miracles in America

I am not against Black Friday, in theory. I think we should all be good stewards of our money, and bargain shopping is a good way to go. What I struggle with is the fact that stuff– toys, clothes, latest technology, gourmet this n’ that– consumes too readily as it shoves basic priorities like contentedness, kindness, and character out of the way. Worse, it robs miracles.

I’m not only talking about all those people out there. I’m talking about you…and me.

For the Christian, prayer is the key that helps keep contentedness, kindness, and character a priority in our lives. Yet prayer is too often the least to which we give our time. It is also the key to restoration in our communities, revival in our churches, and miracles in our midst.

Is it any coincidence that so many third world countries regularly experience revival and the miraculous?

They stand in line for God. We stand in line for stuff.

The must-read article I’m reposting below was written by missionary evangelist and author Jason Frenn. May it stir you, as it did me.

“Why We Hardly See Miracles in America”

Recently, I spoke at a missions convention. Immediately afterward, a woman in her late ’40s came to my table in the foyer. The first question out of her mouth echoed what many people have asked me over the years, “Why don’t we see the miraculous things in North America that people experience in other countries?”

After living many years in Central America, I’ve learned that our lives are like a puzzle. In Asia, Latin America and Africa, where people experience miraculous breakthroughs, God is a very large piece in their very small puzzle. They lead simpler lives and focus on the basic necessities of life. In North America and Western Europe, God has been unfortunately reduced to a very small piece in our very large and complex puzzle. We fill our lives with insignificant things that overwhelm us. The key to miraculous breakthroughs is to make God a bigger piece of our life, and the best place to start is prayer.

People in the developing world understand that two of the most important pieces of the human puzzle are our need for God and the time we spend with Him in prayer.

In Latin America, for example, people clearly have a need. Their options are few and far between. Believers are consistent in their prayer lives and see miraculous things as a result. Many attend all-night prayer meetings. In some cases, churches hold prayer gatherings where people come and go over a 72-hour period.

In contrast, in the United States we don’t feel we need God. We have a plethora of options for just about any dilemma we face. As Steve Jobs used to say, “There’s an app for that.” As a result, God has been squeezed out of our lives, and we’ve replaced Him with the trivial — entertainment, gadgets, money and experiences that provide a temporal escape from the pressures we face.

Recently, I got up at 3 a.m. and drove as quickly as I could to get something that I had been anticipating for six months. The streets were empty until I reached the outdoor mall.  When I pulled in, there were 90 people sitting in lawn chairs who had arrived the day before. For the next eight hours, I patiently waited, and when I finally made it to the front of the line, the crowd had swelled to 2,500 — all for the latest iPhone. Ironically, I bought the device with the hopes of making my life simpler.

In contrast, for the believer living overseas, God is one of the highest priorities. Last year, I was invited to speak at a Tuesday and Wednesday-night prayer and miracle campaign in Buenos Aires. The pastor announced the two-night meeting the Sunday before, giving the people two days’ notice. At 2 p.m. Tuesday, I went to the church to record my radio program in its studio.

As I walked out of the lobby to return to the hotel, I noticed about 400 people standing in the pouring rain in a long line around the block. The person driving me to the hotel said, “These people are waiting for the service to begin tonight.” I was shocked. What were they doing while standing in line? Praying.

That night, the sanctuary was packed to capacity (2,500) and the overflow room had an additional 1,000 people. At the close of the service, the ushers had to check under every chair and pew, because people regularly look for places to hide just to get a decent seat for the next night. Two local hospitals sent ambulances with six children who needed prayer. Even the physicians there recognize the need for God’s intervention. Many people at the meetings testified about experiencing miracles, and it wasn’t because of a dynamic sermon or great worship. It was because they placed their faith in God and spent time with Him in prayer.

Those wonderful people were not there to hear me.  They were there because they needed God. Being with Him was more important than any gadget, distraction or time-consuming piece of the puzzle. Because of that commitment and dedication to prayer, they experience breakthroughs and miracles regularly. They stand in line for God. We stand in line for stuff.

If you want to experience miracles, eliminate some of the useless pieces of your puzzle and replace them with prayer. As you spend time with God, you will see amazing breakthroughs in your life and in the lives of your loved ones and friends. God answers prayer, and He looks forward to answering yours.

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Read more –  The Seven Prayers God Always Answers by Jason Frenn

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photo: taken by me in Sta. Maria Yolotepec, Oaxaca

 

Open Letter to the Church – Caring for the (poor, messed up, problem laden) New Christian

©I.K.Hadinger

Dear Church,

I’m sending you my friend. She just met Jesus.

She overflows with joy about His love for her; her conversation peppered with swear words between drags on her cigarettes.

Her eyes water as she talks about her past as a lost lamb, and how God has found her. She was rejected by her own mother at age 12 and floundered in the US foster care system for years. She left and lived off the grid in Mexico and gave birth to a daughter here.

No paperwork, no legal existence, and no justice.

Taking her by the hand, we fight together in a labyrinth of offices. We need this document to get that one, and this is the fee, and your time has elapsed, so pay the fee again. Notarize and mail, and fee and fee. Will we ever find justice from the unrighteous judge before our resources are exhausted?

In the mire of offices, her daughter, who is deaf, lives in the pleasant moment with me, and a puzzle, as we wait. The little girl knows only the Mexican village where she can run free. But now is forced to wait in a tiny office. Untrained in restraint, she begins to howl, seeking mischief until the disapproving, judgmental looks force me to take her away so business can get done. (Oh, how guilty, I am Church, of these same withering looks, God, forgive me.)

Between the paperwork of two countries, we are tempted to shout in anger at the officials who sit and count their beans and check their boxes. But we stuff it inside and quietly pray for God to make their hearts like water in His hand.

When my friend gets to you, dear Church, you should know a few things. She is guilty of the worst crime of all: she is unfashionable. I know how very much you like fashion, Church. You will glance at her odd clothing after having lived in the remote pueblo for so long.

Stringy, long hair with no highlights or trendy cut. Flip flops in the winter. Teeth yellowed and too-early lines on her face, from smoking and stress. Will you take care of her for me Church? Or will you point and say, “Bad choices!” Never mothered herself, will your jaw drop as she absently allows her daughter to prance by traffic? Or will you inspire mothering like Jesus, the gentle shepherd?

You see, she just met Him. She thinks you are His children.

Please, Church, be kind to my friend. Be ever so gentle. Seek justice on her behalf. Don’t abandon her and cut the ties before she has even learned the baby steps of faith.

I’m sending her to you, Church.

Take care of her.

Missionary in Mexico

(The above Open Letter to the Church was written by a friend and missionary colleague.)

You can read more of the rescue, written by one of my mentorees, the one who began the initial rescue, at A Life Redeemed. Excerpt:

Redemption and restoration are not only spiritual realities, but when Jesus calls someone His own, He calls them out and gives them a new life, providing, restoring and establishing their feet on solid ground.