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Lately I've been spending my down-time watching dating shows on Netflix and other online platforms. The drama is compelling. As someone who loves to study human behavior, there's lot's to chew on in this genre of entertainment.

One of the hardest things to watch as a viewer is when one party is head-over-heels for someone who doesn't feel the same. Unrequited love is a heart-breaking phenomena that seems to be universal to humankind; it happens again and again in different contexts, countries and cultures.

I cringe when I see a man with lovey puppy dog eyes being overlooked by the person he's infatuated with. Or when I see a "player" stringing a love-interest along when he's just not that "into" her. Love should be a two-way street, when it's one-sided, something's wrong.

The Bible tells a story about a man, named Hosea, who was a prophet. God told Hosea to do something drastic to show the people of God His love for them. He instructed Hosea to marry someone who "just wasn't that into him." In fact, his wife, Gomer, was a prostitute. She was used to transactional relationships, not relationships based on love, sacrifice, honor or respect.

As I read through the story of Hosea and Gomer I'm reminded of the characters in those modern dating shows who don't quite know how to love, how to commit, how to open their hearts to vulnerability. With Gomer, time and again Hosea had to go find her with other men and bring her home, professing his continued love and commitment to her, despite her actions.

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods...”

Hosea 3:1

How often do I, like Gomer, wander away from intimacy with God, looking for a quick fix or transaction? When I'm feeling down or lonely, do I turn to prayer or do I turn on the TV for comfort? Grabbing some food to celebrate is quicker and easier than turning on worship music and thanking God for what He's doing in my life. Sometimes my actions show that I'm "just not that into" Him.

Transactional relationships are easy. They don't require humility or self sacrifice. They are all about what you can get out of them. A transactional relationship with God looks like me going to church and Him blessing me for going. Or me praying for something and Him giving me what I asked for. True love isn't transactional, it's sacrificial. How painful must it have been for Hosea to put himself out there and ask his wife to return? How many times has God had to woo me back when my affection has wandered from Him?

In Hosea we see how unconditional God's love is. We get a glimpse of the strength and vulnerability required to continue to love someone despite their unfaithfulness. Today I am awed by the unfailing love of God. Are you?

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A year ago, I heard about an international anti-trafficking organization coming to Belize to begin work here. At the time, I was researching any and all anti-trafficking work going on in the country. I felt that God was calling me to join the work, but I had no idea how I would become involved. I reached out to the ministry and didn't hear anything back from them.

Then randomly, months later, I went to visit a friend and ran into the country director at the car wash. I introduced myself and told him a little about my background in social work, foster care and trafficking.

A few more months went by. If you've read my blogs, you'll know I was constantly asking God to point me to my purpose here. I sensed He had a specific call for me, and when I was offered two positions with other organizations, I knew I had to turn them down. It was hard to say "No" to good options, while waiting on His perfect will.

Mid-summer of 2021 the director of the anti-trafficking organization contacted me, wanting to hear more about our family and our background with trafficking survivors. More months passed, and in the Fall I was asked to consult for them pro-bono. Since then, I've been working with them on creating a program of after-care services for young girls rescued out of sex trafficking. The work I'm doing is rewarding and connects precisely to the work I did back in Seattle.

Due to the nature of the work, who I am working with, and the details of the project are confidential. Moving forward, my work with the organization will become more public and I'll share more updates as I'm able. Since my work is ramping up, this blog will become a monthly update on the anti-trafficking work I am involved with.

Please be in prayer for the team God is assembling to serve these young people. It blesses and astonishes me to see how perfectly He has ordered and orchestrated the building of our team so far. Pray that we would identify the perfect strategy for the Belizean context. Pray for co-laborers who will add their talents, passion and resources to the work.

Be encouraged! God has not forgotten you. He sees you and has a plan for you that will connect you with your purpose. Abide in Him. Turn to Him with your concerns, questions and fear. Hold tight to His promises and you will see them come to pass.

Thank you for your support and concern for the work we are doing here as a family. We are blessed to be under-girded by so many friends and family members.

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John 14:27

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,

praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds, they declared peace (Shalom) had come to the world. But the meaning of Shalom goes deeper than peace; it also means harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. Isn't that the crux of what we are all looking for? To be at peace within ourselves, between each other and at peace with God? To have that is to be in harmony, whole and complete.

It's interesting to note that Jews greet each other saying, "Shalom," and they say goodbye in the same way. To greet someone with peace, harmony, prosperity and to send them on their way with the same blessing, is not accidental. In the Jewish tradition, the spoken blessing is a very powerful thing; one not to be taken lightly.

As Christians, we have access to the very source of Shalom, and not just access, the Spirit of Shalom resides in us.

John 14:26, 27

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,

will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

So, as we navigate the stresses of relationships, work pressures, parenting or loneliness, let us be agents of Shalom this season. Let's allow the Spirit of Shalom to use us to bless others, as we are so richly blessed by Him.

This week, and as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I bless you saying, "Shalom. May God fill you with His Shalom. May you experience harmony, prosperity, tranquility and wholeness. Shalom."

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