Friday, January 28, 2011

Cherished - January

I've just started my first cup of coffee, so if this post lacks any pizazz, that's why. :-) But I wanted to get this post up while everything was fresh in my mind.

My lovely friend Diana and I went to the club last night for our January outreach. The gifts were really cute bags of manicure kits for the ladies and butterscotch haystacks for the guys who were working. There was a different color of nail polish in each bag, so the girls had fun looking through them and finding the color they liked best. The atmosphere in the club was a little weird. I didn't see "D" (the dj who has mentioned a desire to come to church) but the bartender was really chatty and nice. There were 2 new girls there: one who used to work there and is back now due to a recent divorce, and another who is working to save up money to move to another state. She seems to move around a lot, and used to work as a special-needs caretaker, but needed a break, as it was very draining. Both of the new girls were very sweet and talkative, and very grateful for the gifts. When I told the first girl that we just wanted them to know we loved them, she started to tear up and got up from her chair to give us a hug. One lady we saw was one we met for the first time last month, and just judging from the air about her, I'm starting to wonder if she isn't more of a house mom than a dancer. I saw her directing one of the dancers around, and for the past two months there has been no hanging out in the dressing room. All the girls are on the floor, waiting for customers or working. A house mom is usually an older woman who "takes care" of the dancers. I'm sure the responsiblities vary from club to club, but my understanding is that in most cases this lady makes sure there is a meal for the girls each night, provides help with hair/makeup/wardrobe as needed, and generally tries to keep moral up and make sure the girls put on a happy face and do their job well. The girls are (in my understanding, in almost all cases) required to pay her a portion of their tips each night. Anyway, this lady is polite, and will give us a hug, but remains a little stand-offish. Overall it was a good visit, just different. We were able to hang out for a while and talk to the new girls a little about themselves, and that was nice. There were more customers in the club than I've seen in a long time, if ever, so the girls kind of came and went as they approached a customer and came back to talk if he wasn't ready for anything yet. But whether a visit is super-encouraging or feels kind of so-so, we continue in the faith and knowledge that God has blessed us with the opportunity to do this ministry. We'll keep praying that the seeds we are able to plant grow into relationships and friendships outside of the club, and freedom for the women and men. Thank you all for your prayers!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I need a new profile picture.

Today I accidentally brushed my teeth with Buzz Lightyear toothpaste. Bubblegum toothpaste is not the worst way to start your day, my friends. But it does make me concerned about exactly how clean my teeth got.

So it's been big news here in town that this past Tuesday the three "massage parlors" got raided and at least 6 people were arrested for prostitution. The news report on one station reported a few men and women arrested for promoting prostitution, and the news last night on tv showed pictures of 6 women who were arrested for prostitution. It feels so strange to see their faces. I knew (everyone in town knew) what was going on in those places, and I tried to visit one of the parlors a couple of times with gifts, but they said no. A few friends and I resorted to simply praying. Do the words simply and praying even belong together? I think maybe I put them together out of ignorance and maybe doubt about how effective my prayers are. I need to have more faith that my prayers make a difference. Apparently the police had been conducting a 3 month undercover investigation, and then raided the places this week. I thought there were only 2 parlors, but there were definitely 3. So I've started praying for those women who worked in those places. Now they have to (first, get out of jail) find another job. I wonder if they have a community of friends and family, or if it is limited to the people they worked for/with. I'm praying God brings people into their lives to show them there's another way. Someone to tell them God loves them, and they have more worth than they think.

Tonight is our trip to the Manhattan Club, and I'm really looking forward to it. Every time I get butterflies in my stomach, but I can't wait to go. Please pray that we only say what God wants the girls to hear, that they would see Him and His love when we come to visit them for a little while. Please pray for wisdom and boldness when it comes to our conversations. I never want to hold back because of fear, but to have the wisdom to know when to be frank, and when to be more gentle. I'm really grateful to have the chance to be a part of a ministry like this. I don't know how long I'll get to do it, or be a part of it, but for however long we get to do it, I'm really really glad I did.

Please keep us in your prayers tonight.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Lord, you are my light in the darkness. I carry you as a torch through the doors. I hold you out in front of me as I open my mouth. Your arms are my arms as I wrap them around bare bodies. These women are your brides-to-be. They are clothed in darkness, but I yearn to cover them in robes of rose-hued light. When I look into their eyes, glazed and distant, I search them for a glint of you. I want to imprint your image of woman onto their hearts so they understand mercy and grace. Lord, give me eyes that see and ears that hear your voice. Let my words be milk and honey to the wounds they bare nightly. Give me a picture of their innocence to wipe away the stains. Go to them Lord, woo them in the way they deserve. Reclaim these women, Father."

I wish I could take credit for writing this beautiful prayer, but it was shared with me by ladies from another ministry nearby. One of the volunteers with their ministry wrote this prayer and shared it with them. I think it's so perfect and expresses exactly how I feel about Cherished. This Thursday is our visit this month, and I'd love for anyone who reads this to keep the women and men we'll meet in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Welcome to Crazytown

I know it's a little early to be saying this, but I'm ready for the excess estrogen to be out of my body. Not before Baby Ballet is ready, but for some reason, this week has felt like I have boarded the crazy hormone train and there's no stopping. I could imagine a bad Stephen King made-for-tv movie coming from this. Poor saps board a train thinking they're going to Cape Cod, and then experience mood swings to rival Sybil and her 13 personalities. People try to get off the train to no avail, and then attempt to stop the train, only to find everything malfunctioning and no stop in sight. The passengers begin killing each other off in angry rages until the train pulls into Cape Cod, empty. It's the Evil Train of Emotion. Kind of like a really bad version of Ron Burgandy's glass case of emotion.

My poor husband.

Tonight is going to be a good night and tomorrow will be a good day. I have a lot to happy about, and when my toddler makes me crazy, I will call someone and have a nice chat with another adult. It's all good.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Today has felt so strange. All morning I was so down, and I couldn't figure out why. Cabin fever, sickness, a toddler who picked today to test all the limits several times, who knows? But after Siah's nap and finally talking to someone closer to my age I felt a lot better. So here goes.

2011 is going to be a potentially huge and great year for the Hood family. We'll be having little baby girl Hood, we're hoping to buy a house this spring, and also hoping TJ will be able to get onto the first shift at work now that he's been at Tokico for a year. I'm really excited, and a little nervous about everything. Buying a house is such a big move, and we want to make sure we make the right decisions and don't do anything we'll regret later on down the road. Fortunately we have a lot of friends and family who are smarter than we are in this area, so we have a lot of people to go to for counsel. It's been a lot of fun looking at houses online right now, though. :-) It doesn't even really seem like a possibility to have our own house and be able to paint walls any color or style I want. It's going to be so fun. I hate white walls. And landlords aren't superfun either. The apartment we've been in this year has been ok, and is very nice, but not so much sealed against the weather. I'm so glad I'm pregnant and running a little hotter than usual, otherwise I would probably feel like an eskimo! Of course TJ, Joe and Josiah are all pretty warm-blooded, so they like it. Some days I have to fight with Si to keep his socks on. He really likes to see his toes. :-)

I'm still a little nervous about having a girl. TJ and I were both shocked when the ultrasound tech said it was a girl. I actually asked if she was sure, and had her show me. :-) We have several friends who thought they were having girls and ended up with boys, but more than that, I had completely convinced myself that this was another boy (even though this pregnancy has been totally different from Josiah, and all signs pointed toward a high likelihood of a girl). I think because there were so many people hoping I'd have a girl that I was afraid I'd be disappointed if it was a boy, so I told myself that it was definitely a boy, and got really excited about it. We've had so much fun with Josiah, and as far as I'm concerned, boys are way easier than girls. Especially as I'm looking further on down the road to middle school and high school. But now I'm getting really excited, and starting to look at all the cute stuff girls come with. We were pretty nervous about being parents the first time, and that went ok, so I think this will be good too. There's no denying she'll be spoiled rotten!

And in all this happiness and excitement about the future, I'm so very much aware of the people around me who are hurting. I'm so very blessed, and even when I look at the news, I wonder why I got to be blessed with such a wonderful life and family and friends. It's made me thankful, and I'm trying to hold it all loosely even as I recognize how precious the life I have and the people in it are. I just want to make sure I don't waste this life, and that I make God glad he entrusted me with it.