Saturday, November 01, 2008

finding life

where do we go to live? has life lived us or are we living full. i see the life around me in a small town and wonder are they happy. Are they alive? I am wondering if I am drinking the cup today? to the it's depths stun me, humiliate me, bless me. Am i alive today? Or is my worry living me. Is there letting go in living? i am wandering through my leave of absence struggling to feel alive. in part i feel detached from my heart, my still beats in india for freedom, for my beloved community. i feel isolated and lonely, waiting for my heart to beat in this waiting, this worry. not sure how break free of the dungeon of over responsibility i have created for myself. i feel alive when i run, when my hands create, when my heart loves deeply, when fear of acceptance does not rule me. i feel alive when Jesus holds me, when i let Him. I feel alive when i drink from the cup of my life to the dregs...

So today a toast to the dregs! May we all live full, alive, and open to the beating hearts within us!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A great Sermon

One of the great thing about being home is being apart of my mom and dad's church community. Dad preached one of the best sermon's i have heard in a long time on sunday. If you are interested you can listen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


we took a long drive up into the forest...gorgeous. deep green pines giving stark contrast to brilliant yellow. Red shocking us with depth and orange backed by fall sunlight. I love fall. it seems forever since i was able to experience the beauty of the changing seasons. I also went with my mom to an antique own personal heaven. I will go back again and again just to browse at the beauty. thinking of my beautiful friends around the world as beauty graces me today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

thoughts on off the radar

so i am off the radar so to speak. Trying to rest,to be, struggling without my "do" in place. I keep checking my email and facebook and this blog that i have not written on in months. i am missing bethie and kolkata and the ladies...they stay in the back of mind everyday as i wake up late because i stayed up late and as i crochet my way to happiness. so far this week, i have made dinner a couple of times, climbed on the roof to attach the cable for the TV antenna (my heart is still beating fast), peeled some apples on an amazing contraption, watched half an oprah, caught up on gray's, still catching up on lost from last year and had a starbucks coffee with my mom at the grocery store. i am weirded out by everything being so clean and accessible. I am wondering about a recession when i all can see is excess things and choices (not minimizing people struggles just trying to get my mind around it after being in india). i judge myself and my own desire for a trip to target (i am in the recesses of the oregon wilderness, i know this because the nearest target is an hour away). it's my first week off the radar and i am learning to slow but i am not slow yet, my neck still pulls to the right when i get an email about work (lord help me). I want to let go or lay it all down so to speak so i can take it up again in a healthier fuller better way, make sense? So next week will be planned rest in the beauty of the oregon wilderness, maybe moving toward something will help me move away in a good way toward true rest. ahhhh...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sari Bari Website is LIVE

Hey peeps...just wanted to let you know that you can now purchase sari blankets and bags from the Sari Bari website. Exciting new step for the Sari Bari family!!


Thursday, October 02, 2008

October Prayer Letter

I sat with the ladies today as they cried. One after the other tears came to their eyes as they thought of their friend, teacher and sister leaving. I cried too. Not much sewing actually happened this afternoon at Sari Bari but their was the cleansing, healing work of tears. The tears were for our dear staff member, Kristin Keen, who is returning to the states after 5 years and she is taking with her the love of these women and a little piece of the heart of Sari Bari. Kristin was the original visionary for Sari Bari and my partner in founding Sari Bari more than 2 years ago. Sari Bari is now full of women on the road to freedom (35 women as of writing) and is a beautiful community of transformed women, a few of us passionate ex-pats, and a committed and growing Indian Staff. Freedom is happening here…

Tomorrow we celebrate. We will gather together all the men, women, and children who know and love Kristin. It will mark a goodbye but also what might be a future remembrance from another celebration, the Wedding Supper of the lamb. On that day we might all be together again celebrating what brought us together in the first place, Jesus love and amazing grace.

I love celebrations. I love times at the table. I grew up in a house of family dinners, Saturday’s at the pool at grandma’s (Baba’s or Grandma Lance’s), big Christmas and Easter celebrations and celebration of every holiday in between. Birthdays, good behavior or good grades meant the red plate. Thanks to my parents, who know how to celebrate, I learned to celebrate and the value of honoring people.

Life in Kolkata, for all of it difficulties, is full of celebrations. Indians love to celebrate (maybe because life here is often so hard for everyone). There are more than 25 public holidays here, seriously they love to have festivals. We, the WMF Kolkata Community and Sari Bari Family, celebrate everything! We celebrate the first day a new woman starts at Sari Bari with a cake, what we call a “Mukti Birthday”, the start of the woman’s road to freedom. It is the marker of a new life and we continue this celebration annually for the rest of the woman’s time at Sari Bari (hopefully, some day there will be a 20 year celebration of freedom for some of our women!!!). We also have something called Community Night in which we celebrate our life together every few weeks over a meal. If there is a birthday, then we celebrate the person and how God has created them and who He is creating them to be. We celebrate production targets met and unmet. We celebrate all of these things in community with one another. Each time it feels like I not only enjoy the taste of a good meal but also a bit of what it might be like to be at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb because I sense God’s presence in those celebrations. To sit among the beloved, in the presence of the God of the Universe and His son, the slain lamb.

Jesus talked of places of honor at the table and how where we place ourselves will ultimately affect our final position. If we sit at the head of the table and someone with more prestige comes, we may be asked to move down to the end of the table. But if we posture ourselves in humility and take a set at end of the table in the first place, the host may ask that we move to the front of the table. Recently, some amazing women came and spent some time with us at Sari Bari. In reflecting on Jesus words about the table, they thought about our “table” at Sari Bari. We actually do not have a table. Everyone sits on the floor, whether we are sharing in our daily lunch or on a celebration day meals. So there is no place of honor really, we all have a place in the circle. As Amey and Leia reflected, it became clear that the only place of honor at Sari Bari, is the place of service. The only person standing during any meal is the one serving and usually there is a loud barrage of encouragements to sit down and eat with everyone else!

Kristin has sat with us at the table for many years now both as community member and as a servant. Having shared life among us, tomorrow Kristin will hold the place of honor, as one who served with us. And we will celebrate her life and service in Kolkata with tears, dancing, good food, and laughter. We will mark this day as remembrance for when we meet again at the wedding supper of the Lamb.

Celebrating Jesus work among us!


End Note: The party was amazing! There were 135 people, half of them from Sari Bari, the rest from all the places where Kristin gives herself; the Mukti Network, our small group, many, many women from Songacchi (the red light area), our neighbors (new and old) and our friends from Freeset. Also, I am wondering if maybe when we do sit at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb if it will be round table…here’s hoping!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A few recent photos

September 2008 Prayer Letter

Most of life is lived in the tension between knowing that God is taking me somewhere and not knowing where I am going. It is in this tension where we find ourselves waiting, often in silence and sorrow, on the instruction and promises of God. Here we remember the things he spoke calling us into the journey; here we contend with the seeming evidence that his promises are not true…We see hints and glimmers of what was intended, but the distortions of our veiled eyes, this world bent frame, or the illusionary, mocking ways of evil cause us to doubt what we see and hear at every turn.
Jan Meyers, Listening to Love

God has been taking me somewhere these many years but I often feel like I do not know exactly where he is taking me. He has brought me to India, to Kolkata, to a place of death and destruction to show me the life and hope that is possible for those bound by its darkness. He has brought me here to community and intimacy in friendship among His beloved poor to be apart of the body of Christ in this place. But sometimes, I still wonder where He is taking me.

I have been in a season of brokeness here and I have asked God so many times where are you taking me? I have been asking God about his promises for me, about my unmet desires and hopes and dreams. I have been wrestling with what it means to lose my life here, so that I might gain it. And the response came through Dad earlier this week as I shared my broken and over burdened heart, “God is not asking you to lose your life to India, Sarah, God is asking you to lose your life to Him.” The response is simple and easy from the outside, but inside this season of doubt and fear, I have been struggling to lose my life in battle that was not mine to fight. I have been struggling to lose my life, manage Sari Bari, care for the women, care for the WMF staff and in that pressing forward, working harder, I have only burnt out. I have come so far to the end of my rope, that I have gone beyond it to the point where I have nothing to hang onto at the moment. Nothing but Jesus.

So I am re-evaluating and ready to choose a different way of being in Kolkata. I am giving up “trying”. I am laying down working harder for the freedom of these beloved and choosing to allow God to take the reigns in a new way, a life submitted, I can not do it anymore way. And God is speaking His gracious love over me reminding that I never had to do it, the job that fills my days was always His. The chaff in my heart is being burned as I try to lay myself down at His feet. And I must say that “the life giving fire of the Spirit has rarely made me comfortable…it consumes everything in its path. When I’ve tried to fill the charred places with my own efforts—trying to be a better friend, (a better leader, a better servant), trying to be more loving---I have missed the point: Love wants to fill me, to take control….The spirit has something else in mind. Instead of my trying harder, the spirit wants me to rest, releasing the life of Christ in me (Meyers).”

Blaise Pascal wrote this prayer:

Everything that is not God, is unable to fulfill my desires. It is you alone that I seek, that I may have you. O Lord, open my heart…Enter in, as into a strong man’s house. But first bind the strong and powerful enemy, who is tryrant over it. Take to yourself the treasures that are there. Lord take my affections which the world has robbed me of; spoil the world of this treasure. Rather, continue to posses it, for it belongs only to you.

“This man was experiencing a holy resignation, a holy giving up. He had fainted. He could do no more, offer nothing more, he could come up with no other devices to battle to try to please God, nor earn love (Meyers).”

I am experiencing a “holy giving up.” I am giving up the heavy burden for the easy yoke, a yoke that is shared and where the burden is on Jesus’ shoulders not my own. I am not giving up my calling or vocation in India just the way I do it. I hope you pray with me in this season for something new as I seek to break free of over-responsibilty and trying to please God, and be freed into His love in a new way.

I am coming home this fall for a season of rest and renewal and to share my heart with the church and gather a larger community of supporters and prayerful senders to hold me up for the many years in Kolkata that I hope to remain. While I am in the states, I will be pursuing some intensive counseling to deal with issues of post tramatic stress due to the intense environment in which we live. I will spend time with family and loved ones soaking in the embraces. And I hope to be able to share with several church communities in Oregon and California.

I have continually struggled with financial support in the last several years and I know that many of you find yourselves also in difficult financial situations, so I struggle to ask again for your support. I am looking for 50 people who would be willing to support me on a monthly basis for $10.00 a month or 25 people who can support me for $20.00 a month. This extra $500.00 a month will cover the regular deficit in my support account. I am currently raising about $1000.00 a month which covers my living expenses and taxes. The additional support will cover required annual travel for visa runs, annual spiritual retreat, retirement, health care and health insurance, and development (language and spiritual development resources). My immediate needs include funds for a ticket to the states ($1600) in November, a very overdue Physical check up ($300) and funds for counseling expenses ($500) while I am home in the states. If you are able to support any of these needs with a one time financial gift I would really appreciate it.

You can give through the Word Made Flesh website or you can set up a automated deductions through your checking account (you can call WMF to have the form sent to you by mail, 800-279-4543) and then return the form to WMF, P.O. Box 70, Omaha, NE 68101. Or you can mail a check to the same address with a note that the funds are for my support account.

Thanks for your love and support in this season and in the year past and those to come. Jesus sustains me and you make my presence here possible in so many ways.

Much love and respect,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

When good things come to pass...

There are things in the last few days that have lifted my eyes from the ground and reminded me that the "to do's" have a grace in them. Because sometimes there is a beautiful fruit the past investment that reminds me of my current purpose in vocation and calling amoung the women in the trade. sometimes doing the thing i do not feel like doing leads to provision, grace and hope in ways i do not understand until later.

The stories of interns being discipled by our women of grace and beauty through their hospitality and friendship. The wisdom of a Godly child teaching her silly leaders about grace and true beauty. I love hearing the stories retold,i love the words that are preached being lived out so well as to remind me of my why's and yes'.

Gita's words,
"I am beautiful because God made me beautiful."
"Your life has so much value."

Spoken over others with simple confidence, far reaching in their simplicity and wisdom. The passionate embrace of confidence in being a loved one of Jesus.

i was tired and worn yesterday and the last thing i wanted to look at another property but to my surprise I saw the perfect location for Sari Bari in the Gach. really nothing could be better! It was more than is what i have been praying for months. we have been looking and looking for a space in the other area we work but the doors have remained closed and this seems to be opening up. i could provide freedom to 50 women. it is in the middle of the largest redlight area and on the worst lane for underage girls. it would be a beacon of hope in the middle of desperation. pray, pray,pray that we get it, pray that we can work out the funds, pray for a miracle!!

My dear friend julie is here visiting. it is good to be known and share this part of my life with such an old friend.

thankful for today and trying to be faithful in the waiting for those good things that God has for His kids in Kolkata.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


If could describe myself in word today...i would say "buried." the have tos and have nots, should, and coulds, and what ifs, and "responsiblities" real or false have me buried at the moment. i hate that whenever i go to the states that coming back here is so hard. that i catch my breath for moment in the company of family and friends and then i must again submerge, hold my breath and wonder how long i can make it this time. the things is i know i could leave but i do not want to--i want to make it work here, i want to thrive here...sometimes i do thrive. but probably more real is that i mostly survive. The conflict is of course that i love the ladies, i love my job as catalyst of movements and ideas and developer of others, i love my community. But i am having a hard time thriving at the moment, being sick does not help much. each life giving moment feels swallowed by the moments that want to take from me. maybe i am holding on too tight, so rather than giving my life away, i feel like it is being taken. maybe this is a season, I hope so. i want to write good things, amazing stories of hope and truth not self sad complaining words but i am stuggling to keep my head up. so i only catch glimpes of the light, moments each day that move me forward. moments like on friday when i remember what it is i am about in this place--freedom on behalf of the only one who offers it truly. i remembered the visions of something new for sari bari in a new place and something new for girls for in mushirabad who might not need to find a job in a red light area if we can offer them one at home. It was a moment of light when Gita said i will go, i will go. i want to go and be a light bringer to the darkness, to show these girls they have value. that was my moment on friday...i think it might get me through the week. if you pray, pray for me. pray for something fresh to refresh and breath to help me breath when i feel like i am can not, pray for grace.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

receive or else

I heard a good sermon this morning. it was good reminder and challenge for my week. He talked about receiving, something i have a very difficult time with in general especially receiving affirmation or compliments. I think part of it is that i really do believe many times things that happen here have nothing to do with me and part of it is that i am just bad at receiving. the speaker said that one of the reasons that we find the cross offensive is because there is nothing that we can contribute to it. we have no part in it, we can not ask God not to do it for us or say let me take part of the was and is a gift, a divine sacrificial compliment for us to receive. there is no other response but gratefulness. it is hard to just rest in that place of knowing that we can do nothing to make it up to God. we can only be who he has called us be, human beings, in a broken world where his Kingdom has come, is coming and will come. We are called to "be" not "do"...being always supercedes doing. we are human "beings" not human "doing"...though we/I often like to think the doing will make the being easier. if i can just get it all done then i can be. maybe this week i try to "be" and let the doing happen out of that place.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

nobody wants pain

You know you have been wounded so deeply by a person that you can barely breathe right when you think of remember the love your enemies thing, and the desire, the hope, even the ache to be able to fully forgive. but the wound still smarts and stings with pain, healing never really happened because there was not reconcilliation. Over the last years, i have learned alot about forgiving the debt, having been forgiven my own debt over and over. and seeing the women forgive those who have trafficked them, seeing the women forgive the culture which binds them...they are my light, my leaders in forgiveness. Sometimes, as much as, we may want an apology, my might not get it but forgiveness still has to happen. I am in a place where i need to really forgive someone who really, really hurt me and i am weepy to think of having to see this person, to be kind, to turn the other cheek allowing for the possibility that they might strike again. i guess you could say I am afraid. afraid of judgement, afraid of my own anger, afraid of being walked on if open the door again. I told beth yesterday, i choose everyday to forgive but nothing has made this particular hurt less painful, or me feel less vulnerable to being hurt again. I think i feel mostly broken and broken hearted and i am trusting God for his miraculous grace, his healing and his ability to set me in the presence of those who might hurt me or those i love and not fear.

I often think that living here in Kolkata has a tendancy to expose me in a way that nothing else can in the world. it also has a way of healing me, teaching me and changing me for the good like nothing else can... I sometimes think if i did not live here, if this was not my call, my vocation, my dream then i would not have to drink this cup of suffering. which might be true, but i also know that in that cup, that beautiful cup of suffering is great joy. so i am holding out for joy and redemeption and reconcilliation.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Off the radar

So I am not very good at traditions. Jumping back into life here is never easy...there is no slow road. it is in or out, full on or not. there is never any half way. kristin describes at a full course meal 3 times a day(and you do not really like what is being served) when sometimes all you really want is salad. it is not just being back at work but squeezing myself onto the crowded metro and the horns, the horns, the horns. the emotions of sadness, joy and some fear all mixed together. The suffering never makes sense, whether i am far away or near and coming face to face again always is a little harsh. the needs never go away, there is aways a conflict to mediate, a teachable moment or a person who needs a hug or a hand. And then all the tasks, the tasks are on top of the emotions. so i have been off the radar, trying to get back on my proverbial feet. i am almost there, unpacked and ready to put my suitcases away. ready for routine and ready to more forward beyond the amazing vacation days to the these days before me.

we have lots of fun things in the days ahead. kyle, a former servant team member and way amazing person, comes wednesday to start three years with us and then we have a team from the states for weeks which is includes some of the coolest people i know...the heuertz's and amanda and chad knihal and then some i do not know...amey and leah who will be interns with me for about a month...i am expecting them to be cool too!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sari Bari Stuff Available NOW!

Our latest shipment has finally arrived--long-awaited bags, baby
blankets and throws!!
Click on the links below to see what's available.

bags are $24.00">
baby blankets (aprox. 36 x 36) are $35.00

regular sized throws (aprox.34 x 80) are $58.00
xl throws (aprox. 50 x 80) are $100.00

(+ tax for those of you who live in TN and NE)

Shipping Costs:
$5.50 for the first bag OR
$7.00 for the first blanket
+ $4.00 for each additional item

If you would like to make a purchase, please email
indicating your preferences by number. As always, items tend to sell quickly so you may want to list several options or state no preference and let us pick an
available beauty for you!

We will reply to your e-mails as quickly as possible to confirm your
sale and to let you know your total.

Checks can be made out to Word Made Flesh and sent to:

Sari Bari
P.O. Box 56
Omaha, NE 68101

All payments should be received by Friday June 27th and all products ordered
will be shipped the next day, June 28th via USPS 2-day priority mail.

Thank you for your support of Sari Bari and for making life-giving freedom
for many women possible!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

a little family lovin

just got off the phone with all the SB ladies! i feel a little bit humbled by their love. it was riotous and funny and there was lots of talk about the husband i am supposed to meet while i am home. so i told they should keep praying and i will be open and have faith!! i sure to love being in the states with my family and friends but i know for sure what a treasure i have in the relationships that have helped me make my home in india.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My most recent prayer letter

June Prayer Letter 2008

The suffering in the world is coming hard and fast these days. This month Burma has been horrifically devastated by a cyclone. Multiple bomb blasts rocked Jaipur in North West India and a huge earthquake rocked China. In West Bengal, the Indian state in which I live, elections often get out of control and a child was trampled to death yesterday in the chaos. Even closer to home for me, another friend here has been diagnosed with HIV and several of our Sari Bari ladies are suffering from serious heath issues. I struggle to make sense of it all, especially when I am confronted with my own struggle to embrace the suffering while still retaining the hope that moves me forward.

My own person struggle to make sense of God's love and his undeserved gift of grace has been at the forefront of my mind these last months. I think encountering suffering for me often brings me back to the feet of Jesus to try and make sense of things. The love of the Father extends to those who are suffering, struggling to survive in a harsh world. The craziest thing is that most of the time I do not think it all makes much sense. God's love, especially as it pertains to grace, does not make much sense in a world of disasters, terrorist acts, HIV and the senseless deaths of children.

But the Master of loves giving us lessons in just how far His loves goes. He gives us such a grand dose of His amazing love that it is overwhelming. Overwhelming because in all truth we do anything and every thing to prove to God that we are not worthy or to prove that we ARE! It is the free undeserved gift of it that seems to gets me every time. The grace of part of God's plan does not make any sense, the part the forgives when we get it wrong, as many times as we get it wrong. Really that kind of love does not make sense if you want to get things done in the way we do things here on the planet earth. If you make a really big mistake, commit violence against another human being, you get fired, or lose relationship, you will find yourself in situation with few options. There are not too many people lining up to help you out, take your place on the unemployment line, or forgive your bad behaviour. We who make mistakes deserve to pay for them, we who make enemies deserve the treatment we receive, right?

The upside downess of grace has me in a tailspin these days. I keep reading Luke 6 over and over trying to soak up his words. Luke's writing of the of the beatitudes, words on forgiveness, loving your enemies, storing up good things in your heart and not evil things so you can bring the good things out to share when the time comes, are hitting me where it hurts. Reminding me that the traffickers and customers, need God's grace and forgiveness and that God wants to give Good gifts to those who suffer in this world…blessed are you poor for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus wants to give the Kingdom for those who now suffer, He wants us to love our enemies and go even further to embrace them, he wants us to protect us from becoming like those we struggle to love and give grace. He calls us to radical love, to making our lives about filling up on His Goodness so we can share it. These are hard words for me because while I love the women we work with deeply, there are many things about Kolkata and the injustice I encounter that I loathe. Many days I have unpack the hard ugly things I have stored in my heart to once again allow God to remind me that I too desperately need the undeserved gift of grace.

I want to thank all of you have joined with me in prayer for the women and you are who are advocating for me personally. I have felt the covering of prayer and I am being sustained even in the hot, hot grossness of the Kolkata MAY!

I will be in the states at the end of the year, marking three years since my return to Kolkata, as I said in last prayer letter and I look forward to spending time you my prayer warriors and friends. I will need to to cover my travel home during that time and I am also continuing to look for additional financial support for my regular expenses. I know times are hard in the states so really do appreciate you regular support and I know what a sacrifice it is for many of you. Know that you are much appreciated!

With love,


Monday, April 28, 2008

if i blogged...

If I actually blogged in the last week, this is what i a would have written about:

*The coolness of the WMF Nepal Community. Sweet hang out times mixed with times of fear and murderous rage toward extremely large spiders that moved faster than a speeding bullet. moved being the operative word, said spider is no longer with us.

*What God is showing me though Luke Chapter 6

*How to celebrate simplicity with the poor. Imagine facilitating a discussion on simplicity with someone who lives in one room with their whole family. i may actually write a whole blog later this week on this experience.

*The beauty of learning new things, watching the Bengali staff understand why the women respond the way they do, learning the effects of trafficking, seeing how we can serve the women we love so much better, seeing that we are doing somethings right and that we still have a way to go.

*Coffee is always best when shared.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This is true...

Here are somethings that are true about my life in INDIA:

1. I rarely sleep well because of the traffic noise outside my window.
2. I get to eat good indian food whenever I want!
3. God's grace is real to me because i get to see my brokeness reflected back to me everyday.
4. i have very dirty feet!
5. My finger nails are dirty 76 percent of the time.
6. I eat with my hands 50 percent of the time.
7. i can make a plan but i can plan on the fact that it will not happen the way i planned!
8. Jesus teaches me everyday about HOPE!
9. My community and the Sari Bari ladies teach me everyday about intimacy, forgiveness, choseness, freedom and community.
10. When you wash the floor, it will only stay clean for 10 minutes.
11. I cohabitate with insects, rodents and gecko's.
12. I do not know what i look like 98percent of the time. This is often a bad thing!
13. I have significantly more gray hair in the last year.
14. I always look forward to going to work at Sari Bari.
15. The red light area is both the hardest and best thing i spend time doing every week.
16. Sitting on our kitchen counter every morning looking at the howrah bridge gives me life.
17. Cold showers are a beautiful thing when it is 103.
18. I see the bible with different eyes. many things make more sense....
19. Skype makes living here not so far away...

I guess I will leave it on an odd number.....just to keep it interesting. Lots of other things are true but right now i am headed for bed so i can get up and run in the morning! So number 20. could be, i get up every tuesday and thursday morning with beth and run by the river, just because.

The end of the experiment

The experiment is over but my life is changed. I think, hope and believe. I still find my hands willing to stay open and ready to give. My heart has changed. I feel more open to kolkata, to see the suffering than i have for a long time. I turned around yesterday when i walked past an old man and gave him something. He did not look like a beggar or an addict, he just looked desperate. I wondered what he was doing begging...he must have been really desperate. he seemed more like a villager, with some grave need, i did not have reason not to give so i turned around and gave. i hope i can stay soft, ready to respond, i let the rupees linger, collecting on the bottom of my purse ready for whomever God send across my path. we all need mercy and to be seen. i know after the last week, i need mercy. i need mercy. thankful today that i am beginning for the first time in my life to understand undeserved grace, beautiful mercy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

do not grow weary in doing good

yesterday i was asked more than 15 times to give. 15 times in maybe 4 hours...i was worn out and ready to say no. it's hard to choose to "see" that many people, look into their eyes and say yes, okay here's a little something. i stopped wanting to give after about number 5, i felt a little attacked and vulnerable. on my way home, the words "do not grow weary in doing good" came to mind. i felt the weariness and wonder how i could keep this up if i was asked 15 times everyday instead of the usual 2 or 3. i wonder how jesus felt, or even feels, being asked a thousand, million times a day for this or that...i sure he wants to know our needs, wants to respond. he did respond on earth to both the person and the need, what is so overwhelming for me may have just been the natural response of the savior. still have alot to process about yesterday, and what days like it mean for my life.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

love your enemies

i think experiment is becoming more natural for me and i can see how practicing open hands, open heart leads to actually having at least more openness than before. but also how it can be so terribly painful. I had the strange and sad opportunity to meet the long term "babu" of one of our ladies last week. He is an austrailian man in his forties and he has been visiting one of the SB ladies since she was 14. i was full of loathing as i thought about meeting him but it was important to this lady that i do i went to her house for tea. i felt like i sat down at the table in the presence of my enemy. I felt like he represented all that i hate about what men do to women who work in the trade. he was superior and justified his actions without me saying a word. mind you i did not say much, i was polite and kind and treated with him respect more for my friends sake than his. i wanted to yell and accuse. to demand explanation for his relationship with my friend, his use of her, his choice to continue to seek out other very young girls to sleep with in the red light area....but i felt the need to be silent, to be kind, to remember in the presence of my enemy that i am called to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute. i sense my presence and the presence of jesus that came with me was enough for him to feel all the condemnation that he must keep at bay, because it poured out with my saying anything, the guilt, the justification, the proud proclamation of what he believes. my silence i think was a grace for both of us...because instead of not so righteous anger, i was just so sad for this man. so sad for my friend and the lives of parrell pain and suffering that we inflict on each other. i felt sick with the sadness for my friend and twistedness of one of the most consistent relationships in her life is a man to who she can barely communicate and who openly sleeps with her and her neighbors. having an open heart, is painful, to let everyone in, to let them take a piece, even my enemies...jesus laid down his life not just for the righteous but for his enemies from that day to this....this is a beautiful profoundly painful sacrifice. i do not think i could lay down my life for that man, it was hard enough to hold my tongue. what a terrible, terrible tragedy that i so rarely comprehend this profound gift of grace, of undeserved forgiveness. may we all grow in grace and the knowledge of jesus...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

seeing with different eyes

i treasure good frienships. I am guess most people do. Being more or less on my own for the last ten days i have relearned a few things about myself. I really do need to space and rest. when i have space and rest, i can give out and share life a whole lot better. that was my experience in omaha. i lived alone but that made my times with people more full, more enjoyable. i like being alone a bit but i really enjoying hosting people, caring for them, being hospitable too. i have had a couple of guests this week and the alone time has made those times feel more full, more special. i hung out with a friend on friday night and it was good just to talk and be. i think i realize that i continue to give out of a space of emptiness rather than fullness because i am never really alone and it does take me awhile when i do get those moments to relax. having extended time alone has helped me relax. i am wondering if i can find the space tod live this out on regular basis. i think finding my own place will help. maybe i could be relaxed and ready to share my life more readily. i want to treasure people better. treasure time with friends. not be compelled in a 1000 have to's but live in the 10 i would love to's. i have so so much to learn.

march 14,15,16: my experiment is still going and i am still very much working out how important it is to be prepared. thats really the thing i think. being prepared to give, making my heart ready to give and maybe not just to those who ask of me but everyone else. today ezekial 47 was the passage for sermon and the river that came out of the temple...i love that passage. the smallness of stream becoming a river that can not be crossed and the fruit and health that comes of the small things that God starts. in His will things will move beyond our control but good things still come (he does not need us to be in control)because thats his plan. the beggars of calcutta are teaching me to see the small things again. the things that first called me to this city...jesus reflected in the poorest of the poor. those who cry out in desperation for someone to see them, feed them, clothe them, set them free from the daily darkness. i have not had perfect responses, i think i have even in this process had sinful responses to giving ie. pride or selfishness. but slowly my eyes are being reopened and my heart is being softened again. i am starting to see again. working in the red light area, i often close myself off to the other feels like too much. but i can see that God has given me a grace to live in this place and piece of his heart for all the people of calcutta from the rich to the desperately poor. i can practice his love in keeping my hands open, by being prepared with open hands to meet all the beautiful people that God loves so desperately. i can remember Isaiah 58, remember the call that first brought me here and promises for those who live the fast. i can see again anna kumari my old friend who i meet this week after many years and i can give to her freely without worrying. i can be sad that she is only 15 and already married and still on the street begging. i can be sad that so little changes and heart broken that poverty is an unstoppable force of destruction in the lives of those who live it. i can be sad that every person i have met on the street in the last several days is a broken picture of God's image in humanity and that there are so few working to restore. i can also rejoice because the kingdom is come, the kingdom is coming and the kingdom will come in kolkata!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

silence and solidarity

so i have lost my voice again, the second time in about 3 months, seriously...maybe my times of morning contemplation are not enough, maybe God is telling me to shut up for the rest of the day too!! i got lots of good lectures today about gargling with hot water and ginger and other various home remedies. i think i must be a freak because i went about my day as normal and everyone was surprised when i could not speak. actually, trying to talk on the phone was hilarious, basically impossible with all the backround noise. i just had to hang up a couple of times....

we have been cleaning sari bari this week. it is looking quite beautiful and clean. the bags are finally making progress. upendra is amazing. gita is amazing and has stayed with me the couple of days so i would not be lonely with kristin and beth in nepal. we will be finished with all the SB legal details by the end of april. yeah!!

i am looking for a flat (small apt.). i have been considering living on my own for awhile now and feel like i am finally making progress(this after months of asking around) . I have seen one good could be better so i am going to hold out just a bit and then tonight i talked with a broker who reminded me of an indian elvis, i think it was the hair and hip swivel. anyway, he said within two weeks he would find me a place...we'll see what that means. looking for a place to live here is an ominous project. everyone overcharges because we are foriegners and they ask for outrageous deposits , which they also charge indians. i am not sure how anyone can afford to live here, i guess thats why so many don't actually have homes...i think 50 percent of the city population is still consider homeless because they live in slums or on the street. if the deposit, reflects about 25 percent of my income for the year how the heck does someone who makes a 1/3 of what i do handle such a thing. mind boggling!! solidarity takes on whole new meaning when considering these things.

this apartment search makes my open handedness seem small. what is 25 cents when i will have to invest 25 percent of my annual income in a deposit?

march 12, 13: normal calcutta days, full of sari bari life and not much else. I gave to the ladies i pass everyday on the way to sari bari. they had given up asking because i never gave. so i decide to give without being asked...just a little tea for everyone. today they all said thank you and smiled.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Being prepared goes a really long way on multiple levels.

March 10: Totally unprepared today. i was in Sari Bari mode. i had to run a few errands and left without money and found my self hounded and feeling selfish and a bit frustrated and at being a bit dehumanized but also at myself for not being prepared. the experience hardened my heart a bit which caused me to look away once or twice during the rest of the day. when i have nothing but 500 rupee notes what do i do? give the 500 rupees? makes me wonder if i am truly being generous because what i have given up to this point has not really cost me anything but some time in slowing down to see the people asking for my help.

March 11: prepared today...made a difference. was in new market for a bit so had multiple giving opps. still wondering how generous i need to be when giving to everyone who asks...when most only expect a ruppee or two. gave one lady 10 rupees, more than usual but still does not cost me anything but a few seconds to Pull out the bill and look the woman in the eye.

on a another note, i started Weight watchers. another example where being prepared is really important. i have to plan the day before what i will eat or it will not work. so much effort to be prepared all the time. working toward my goal of 35 by 35!

being prepared is a discipline. faithfulness to a person, a project or idea does not just happen. it takes discipline, practice. i always seem to forget that faithfulness is not so much a passive thing...rather it seems to be one of the most active of the mind games i play. practicing faithfulness for one more day...trying anyway. we will see what happens today!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

8 rupees

March 8: i think i have been of the mind set in the last year that i will not give unless i hear a from God otherwise. and i think the last week has lead me to see that there are errors in this thinking. right now i am ready to give to anyone who asks...i am wondering if the better perspective is being ready to give unless i hear that i should not. many only ask for a rupee or two...the elderly lady by the metro with her hand out, the man at the corner of hazra road, the older man by upendra's all for 8 rupees. they did not ask for more...this is how they make their or two rupees at a time.

a softer open heart just might be easier to maintain that the hard heart. i am finding it easer to give and i am finding myself prepared to give, my heart ready with compassion. when i am ready to give to anyone who asks, strangely i am finding that i might really be seeing people better because i am not closing myself to their needs before i am even really speak to them.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Today and yesterday

Today was a holiday. And yesterday i was at Sari Bari all day. No opportunities to hold my hand open to those one the streets. However, I did have a few unique opportunities to use my skills(they are strange and varied to be sure). I mediated a conflict at Sari Bari between two ladies. They gossip sometimes and hurt each many women in one place is always a bit sparky! I must say i am loving upendra...he is so amazing! i love dreaming with him about Sari Bari. i loved talking with upendra yesterday about opening a bank account...he was so excited! I rested today because it was a holiday and helped a friend figure out how to start a business of her own for the ladies. i sat on the floor and processed life with beth before she left for nepal (hope you are enjoying the treasure of nepal bethie!)I spring cleaned my room halfway, the rest maybe will happen on saturday. i tried to bid on an ipod but i am bad at it because in my world i will get one for 25USD when they are selling for 150USD. it can't hurt to keep trying. I had to fight to pay the right price for an auto and ended up in an auto with the sweetest guy thankful for those calcutta redemptive moments. I loved coming home from coffee today in an was a scene full of life and energy. everyone is out because it is warming sitting on their haunches playing cards, drinking tea, avoiding their wives, women out shopping, people selling veggies,chickens and towels, men holding their kids, business men in dirty autos looking funny because they look so professional and out of place scrunched into an auto with 5 other guys. it was the kolkata i love....full of life, full of people, the kind of day where i can almost forget that i don't quite fit, still i think i belong.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

more on the experiment...

March 3: walking by the river, a woman in the slums by the tracks waves us over. biscuits for all the kids she biscuits it is, 12 packs (1 dollar). And 5 rups to the man who could not walk. hard to take in all the need everywhere. still seems like the neediest might be those who do not have the power to ask...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Heart Experiment

Blessed are the poor...for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I am doing a little heart experiment. prompted by last weeks experience with the little boy. I am going to give to everyone who asks of me. I am going to give them money, tea, time, and food. And i will not say no. I am going to do this for a month and see if my hard heart cracks up a bit. I am going to do a daily update whenever i encounter someone to i should extend my hand.

1 March: Today is the first day. I avoid all places with beggars.

2 March: Park street. i never give on park street. begging is a profession. but today i gave not much just a little. i almost did not give. this has become my first response. i gave to the kids and the old ladies who always ask. i was afraid of giving because they always ask for more. they did today but it did not matter.

3 March: taking a taxi, the woman and the baby, she did not look into my eyes. not once, only extended her hand. i felt her shame, her brokeness. her lost humanity, my privledge punches me in the gut.

4 march: a new day. god gave me matthew 5 for today. new eyes to live the day...

3 "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are— no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

6 "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
7 "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
8 "You're blessed when you get your inside world— your mind and heart— put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
10 "You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
11 "Not only that— count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.
12 You can be glad when that happens— give a cheer, even!— for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
13 "Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14 "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
15 If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand.
16 Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand— shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

keep looking for jesus today. i am...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February Pics

Here are few highlight photos from our Beach trip plus some. Wish i could show you all the best ones of all of the beautiful ladies faces...but this will give you an idea. plus you got keen in her bo derek out of the water walk and bethie smilling while she drowns...and of course tea and then breakfast the Charlotte and Julian.

The Rooftops

Coming down off the rooftops is hard. We visit one brothel in the gach every week and we have the most amazing conversations sitting on roof, looking at the sky as the sun sets every Tuesday. I forget that it is a brothel and that the women who live on the floors below are selling themselves and that the streets below are being filled with darkness as the sun sets. Coming down from the rooftop, I remember that I am in brothel, in red light district whose dark slippery stairs contributed to the death of one of our friends. Coming down from the rooftop is hard.

This week we celebrated the amazing 2 year anniversary of Sari Bari. We took the ladies out to eat at a nice restaurant, all of us dressed in Sari’s to mark the occasion. We went from the restaurant to the movies to escape into the Bollywood reality. It was great. After two years, it was easy to see the marked changes in the woman who have come to be apart of our community over time. They are healthy, many recovered from multiple serious health issues. Two women were hospitalized when they first came to work with us but now stand as a testimony of healing and life literally being recovered and made new. All the women, including the trainees, a reflect a glow that they did not have when they first walked through our doors. They love each other. Some of them love Jesus and it really shows. They have begun to know that they are loved. If you ask them what kind of business we have, they will tell you “freedom” is our business. If you ask them about their life they will tell you that is has so much value and they are starting to believe it. The woman we shared our celebration meal with and the women we stood with at the entrance to movies are not prostitutes, they are not rejected, they are not without value. No one could recognize them as anything but beautiful Indian women on a day out. It was beautiful…a picture of profound redemption. It was the rooftop so to speak.

But Kolkata sneaks in a reminds me, even on a day like our 2nd anniversary celebration that we do not get to stay on the rooftops watching the sunsets forever. I was distracted by a small boy while waiting for entrance to the movies. He was covered in scabies and in a really bad state. He was begging, asking for money with a sad face that marks a beggar on the Kolkata streets. I felt my heart harden…I wanted to say don’t you see who I am with, I am serving these ladies, loving these ladies, giving my life to Jesus for these ladies. But there he was demanding my attention, my money, my life. And I just at that moment was not willing to let anyone take my life from me, nor was I willing to give it freely, I wanted my moment of joy to be free from suffering and relish in the moments of redemption and hope. I asked the little boy where his mother was and thought I might give her a piece of my mind about letting her small son get in such a bad physical condition. He said he did not have parents. My hands had to open a little…to see the little boy. I had to let him into the inner circle of the redeemed when in my heart I wanted to keep him out. We were able to get the little boy some food and find out that he also had and “owner” (like many of the women we know who still work in the trade) who controlled his begging and his earnings. I am still thinking about that little boy. Thinking about my hard heart and my desire to hold on to my earnings, even my kingdom earnings, when they are not mine to begin with and never will be. What has happened at Sari Bari and in the relational ministry in the red light areas in the last two years is Gods gift to the women of those places. His gifts are not only for them but for the little boys who beg and who need a savior as desperately as the women, as desperately as I do. I realize again and again that I can not open my hand and my heart to one and close my hand and my heart to others. The gift is an open gift for all to receive.

I have been given the gift of compassion. It is hard gift because as Nouwen says it often open to receive another kind of gift which is the gift of self confrontation To suffer with, we must suffer. The little boy confronted me with my pride and selfishness. The women confront me with my impatience, fear of rejection and my own struggle with value. I have to let them in to let God change me, I have to open my hands and let the rooftop moments mingle with the moments in the dark alley.

“God’s compassionate heart does not have limits. God’s heart is greater, than the human heart. It is the divine heart that God wants to give us so that we can love all people without burning out or becoming numb.”

My prayer is always that my heart would be just little like Jesus for those that He loves in Kolkata. I am looking for 100 people to come alongside me as prayer partners this year and in the coming years. The work continues to grow and good, good fruit is coming but I continue to see the need for more of God’s grace and His love and His hand in all the work that we do and in my own life. If you would be interested in praying for me on a regular basis please let me know.

Also if you would be interested in supporting me personally or in supporting the work at Sari Bari please send me an email and I can tell you how to do that as well.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Looking very much like my mom!

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reflecting on my very bruised and also dirty leg!!

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this bruise actually got much worse before it got has all but disappeared now a week after my encounter with a motorcycle on the kolkata streets! There was also one on my bum but i am not sharing that!

Friday, February 08, 2008

i wish...

for starry skies, and dreamy nights, and good, good friends, and lazy days and easy conversation. i long for intimacy deep and true, free and bound in love. i dream of not being selfish or of being selfish because someone else has told me i can for just today. i wish for unfrizzy hair and clean feet and empty streets and coffee, coffee, coffee all the time...cold or hot. i wish for gentleness and kindness and faithfulness for myself and my friends. i dream of strong embraces and closed back doors and places where no one leaves you. i wish for newness everyday. i wish to make right the things that were not right before and then i wish i could let them go. i wish for dancing bears, and calling monkeys and finished financials. i wish for more....

Monday, February 04, 2008

The wide open spaces

the wide open spaces of God's freeing and so scary really. I am not good at grace. giving it or receiving it really, but the last months has been full of lesson after lesson of grace. i can not problem solve my way through everything, i can not make it alright, or perfect. i can only be myself and wait in the wide open spaces. I can ponder the aquarium in my belly...the one i have been so afraid of sharing because i thought it might full of sharks,darkness and sludge but am finding the more i reveal the more beautiful and quiet the aquarium becomes....this may not make sense to you. its all about transparency...most importantly being transparent with myself and not so afraid of who i am or who i might reveal. if i only believe in the sharks and the sludge maybe thats what i will be...but if i believe in the beauty that comes from living in grace maybe thats what i will be.

i have been given a really sweet gift the last 6 weeks. i have been dating an indian/ swedish guy named michael. he leaves to go back to sweden today actually. and i have been having much fun. if feel like he is God's gift to me to reflect back to me things about myself i do not believe. i am not foolish to believe that in six weeks a guy can really know me but michael really reflects thing back to me about myself that i want to believe but struggle too...such as being able beautiful to someone, or being one who is gentle and kind, or being fun to be around. i feel like some of the lies i have been believing about myself are being crushed under the feet of kindness and friendly coffee dates. it has been a gift to escape my very full work weeks in the middle of day for a coffee or take the time that I worked extra last week and use it another day for something that has been super life giving. i am filling up on goodness and it is affecting every part me. its not all about michael at all...he is just part of it. he is just a key that helped open another locked door in my heart. for you curious people, this is nothing serious and will basically end with friendship since i am not really interested in long distance but still i am celebrating the gift it has been. and i am ready and open for another gift of this type soon!!

there is much i want to leave behind from the last six throw off the lies i have believed, the hurts i have ingested, the darkness that left me empty. i often talk about the ladies becoming new...but i think i am becoming something new and i will be able to shed the dark shroud of fear and pain for the wedding gown of beauty and full live, so to speak. there are many losses to be aborbed this dear friend charlotte and julian leave in just two weeks, michael leaves today, our friend abishek leaves at the end of the month. i have already had many tears over these losses, especially over charlotte and julian but i think in the wide open space of grace i can trust that God will meet in the losses, and restore in some unseen way these friends and still allow me to wear the wedding gown in midst of it.

God is my protector and defender too!! i was hit by a motorcycle on sunday (mom and dad don't freak out, i am very much okay) a policeman. i got knocked on my booty and i have the serious bruises to prove it but i walked away. the ladies have scolded me for not causing a riot and getting the policeman beat up for hitting me...but i told them i forgive him and that i am just thankful to God that it was not a bus!! so thankful to be alive, healthy, growing in grace in kolkata!! (will post a bruise picture at a later date)

may you all grow in grace and the knowledge of jesus!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SB is finally legal

Amazing day! Really amazing...the long awaited day....SB is now legal in India. We got our trade liscense...the next step and easier step is business registration with the goverment and in a few years maybe we will be a company LLC! We were all quite overwhelmed today at our staff development meeting. Just another prayer answered and really an answer to prayers of women who have yet to leave the trade...more lives will be made new! What a beautiful gift on a thursday...certainly a gift for the 27 women who currently walk in freedom because of a few old saris and a little grace from the master.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Some light reading if you are interested....

Restoring Life in the Red Light Districts of Kolkata, India
By Sarah Lance

The New Conspirators: The Broken Among the Broken
By Chris Heuertz

Things that I will love this year...

The beautiful amazing Daphne marrying her true heart friend Caleb in may.

My friend Kate marrying herself a Bengali!

Maybe 15 new women coming out of the sex trade through Sari Bari!

Guitar lessons! Yes i might become the next Hendrix...

Going on dates...yes it is possible.

Kerry and Annie coming home to Kolkata in February.

Getting my own little place.

Eating indian food every single day.

Turning 35 and hoping that older means smarter, kinder, and more generous. more beautiful inside and out would not bother me either.

my gray hairs

real friendships

creating beautiful things for my friends and for sari bari

Going to Disney World for a real family vacation.

visiting the Forcatto's and all the fleshies in Argentina

everything new and made new under the hand of the master...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Down by the river

Some of these are from the Burning Ghats(where they cremate the dead) so view with discernment.