An Influential Man Remembers His Mother’s Advice

An Influential Man Remembers His Mother’s Advice

Proverbs 31 is not a well-loved passage of scripture for a lot of women who feel the pressure to be the perfect women, wives and mothers when they hear it taught. But I don’t think this passage was meant for women. I think the passage, as a whole, from verses 1-31, not just 10-31 as it is often reflected on, is for men, and specifically men of influence, or men who could be of influence. I haven’t felt this way until I read this entire passage tonight as it’s translated in Blue Letter Bible’s Interlinear Parallel NASB (New American Standard) translation next to the original Greek and then, not even until I studied many of its specific words and phrases in the Greek. Here is the entire passage written out in the NASB translation: 1 The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him. 2 What, O my son? And what, O son of my womb? And what, O son of my vows? 3 Do not give your strength to women, or your ways to that which destroys kings. 4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink, 5 For they will drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. 7 Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more. 8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. 9...
You Notice When Your A/C Is Not Working, Right?

You Notice When Your A/C Is Not Working, Right?

I was sitting in my car today at the bank drive-through, and I noticed that my air conditioning wasn’t pumping out very cold air. I looked at the controls and realized that the setting was turned to floor/windshield. So I adjusted it to floor/torso, and I instantly felt the cool relief. This made me wonder, if I’d never felt the coolness of properly adjusted and working a/c before, would I have even noticed that it wasn’t fully working in that moment? It was definitely cooler than the outside temperature, and provided a little relief, but not what I knew was available to me. That made me wonder about our clients at twentyTHREE61 who suffer from past sexual abuse, from abortions, and from other past traumas. Many of them have a hard time fully receiving God’s grace and forgiveness. They may receive it partially, but more often than not, the common struggle they voice to us is the inability to receive God’s forgiveness or to forgive themselves. Some receive God’s grace generally, for the “good” parts of themselves, some receive it some of the time, but not when they remember what they’ve done (or feel responsible for doing). Rarely do they easily and fully receive God’s 100% grace and forgiveness to move forward in life with joy and contentment and a focus on the next chapter in life. Today, my a/c analogy helped me remember that I have in fact struggled with accepting God’s grace as well, and it wasn’t until I healed from my abortion ten years ago that I was able to begin to more easily forgive other...
Liberty, Flowing Like a Waterfall

Liberty, Flowing Like a Waterfall

On our way to vacation last week we came across a beautiful waterfall on the side of the road. As I took pictures and video of it I remembered the definition of the word liberty I recently studied in the Bible passage that inspired the name of our organization in Isaiah 61:1-3. The word “liberty” is how the blueletterbible.org lexicon translates the phrase “freedom for the captives.” It further gives the meaning of liberty to be: a flowing, to move rapidly, spontaneity of outflow, and so clear, pure. When considering our healing from past traumas like abortion and sexual abuse, the freedom in forgiveness we find of ourselves and others – through Jesus – doesn’t take the traumas away. They are still a part of our past, but our lives are now free to flow over and around them, slowly eroding the painful memories and strongholds they once had on us. As with the powerful waterfall, there is no rock or boulder (past pain or hurt) that will block the flow of the water, but instead only cause a shift in the direction of the flow. As we heal, these shifts can result in goodness and blessing, wisdom, and a breaking of the cycle for future generations. Left alone however, untreated, ignored, avoided, buried deep, self-medicated, our past traumas can certainly cause us to shift the flow and course of our lives, maybe in slight unnoticeable ways at first, but usually, eventually all the way through the spectrum to additional and compiling traumatic events, and unfortunately in extreme circumstances possibly leading to suicide or death through reckless choices. No matter...
Compassion is a Womb

Compassion is a Womb

Is compassion like a womb? No, I think it IS a womb. Hot burning embers can be thought of like the womb of a fire. As the embers feed the flames of a fire from below; we see the flames move and dance, but the embers, although hidden are necessary for the flame to exist and persist. The embers themselves take a bit of time and nurture to become hot and stay hot. Thus, this womb (the embers) needs a womb of protection and growth itself (the fire-creator, us). What happens in a woman’s womb? A tiny little new human being is protected, nourished, and given all it needs to grow, develop and thrive. It’s not something the woman needs to think about and direct her brain to tell her abdomen, blood vessels and heart to do. Our bodies just know how to do it, and the baby knows how to receive it as well. But doesn’t the woman, the womb of the womb need protection too? Isn’t this what compassion is? It’s a protected space in our hearts that allows our thoughts and feelings for another person, a group of people, an idea, a cause, a belief to be protected, nourished and given all it needs to grow, develop and thrive. When we try to think about it and force it, it’s not a natural flow of compassion. It’s contrived and maybe half-hearted at best. But when it’s natural, it’s unstoppable and beautiful. Where did I get this thought? Well, I didn’t make it up. In writing our training manual for our first new volunteer training, I came...
What is twentyTHREE61?

What is twentyTHREE61?

Naming a new organization is not easy. We bounced around quite a few ideas until twentyTHREE61 was the name that stuck. It takes a little explaining to get to the point of what we stand for, but that’s kind of the point. Some things are just too hard to talk about straight and direct. Fear, anger, shame, too many emotions would well up and shoot defensive walls into place blocking the possibility of engagement. Healing from abortion and sexual trauma, our two main focuses, are just the types of things that need to be talked about, but most people don’t know how to or why. I’m a visual thinker. I see images in my mind’s eye all day long, even in the midst of conversation. After many years of helping people come out of the darkness about their past abortions and learning about the shame and regret and pain they had to bear, usually completely alone, a stark image began to imprint in my mind, that of a lone, cold, fearful, person huddled in the corner of a remote run-down building in some foreign country long forgotten. More acutely, I imagined a prisoner-of-war. This is incredibly dark and depressing, I know, but it’s unfortunately the truth about post-abortion pain, at least for more than half of all post-abortive men and women. I and many of the people on our team know this pain first-hand and can speak from this unfortunate experience. What’s most confusing is that many of us become pretty talented at hiding and masking our pain so that the people around us have no idea that there is even anything buried deep below the...