The Locust Effect

“While the world has made encouraging strides in the fight against global poverty, there is a hidden crisis silently undermining our best efforts to help the poor.

It is a plague of everyday violence.”

This week marks the book launch of The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of  Violence, by International Justice Mission president Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros. You may remember hearing about IJM in the past, as I participated in the Dressember campaign to raise funds for IJM — and again, thank you to all who helped us in that campaign.

It was during Dressember that I learned of the social media campaign to launch the upcoming book, so I volunteered to read an advance copy and give a review. Little did I know what I was getting myself into! I’ve read extensively in the past about human trafficking, slavery, global poverty, etc, but nothing prepared me for the powerful message of The Locust Effect.

Haugen’s thesis is both simple and complex at the same time: poor people around the world are the most vulnerable victims of violence. They are targeted for violence because they are poor, and they remain poor because of violence. If we want to make a serious effort at helping people out of poverty, we must address the corruption and malfunction plaguing the justice systems and law enforcement agencies of the developing world.

I’m posting a video below that movingly illustrates many of the scenarios touched upon in The Locust Effect. Please scroll down and take three minutes to watch it. But before you do, please consider buying a copy of The Locust Effect during launch week. Your purchase this week would be beneficial for several reasons:

1. You’d be receiving a perspective changing book that I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning more about the everyday situation of the poorest communities in the world.

2. All author royalties will go to IJM, so you’d be supporting an outstanding organization at work fighting injustice around the world.

3. This week, a grant will provide $20 extra to IJM for every copy of the book purchased. So, author royalties + $20. Your purchase will make a difference in rescuing people from slavery and violence!

4. Buying the book this week will help put The Locust Effect on bestseller lists. The issue of violence in the lives of those in poverty is one that direly needs attention. Let’s cause people to sit up and take notice!

Here’s the link to purchase the book on Amazon: click here. Thank you for considering purchasing The Locust Effect.

And here’s the video, “Everyday”:

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A Stake in West Texas now available for Kindle

WEST TEXAS cover

Good morning, y’all! After 2 1/2 years, the book release is finally here: A Stake in West Texas: Pulling a Chain and Raising a Family Across Big Oil Country is now available for Kindle download (published by The History Press).

To purchase the Kindle version, click here. Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app to read on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The paperback version will be released within the next few days, but it’s already available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ll post news about local Texas bookstores carrying it later, as well.

Thank you again to all my family and friends who have supported me in getting this book written and published. I am truly blessed to know you all!

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Thank You for Dressember — and a Video

A new year has begun, and Dressember 2013 has come to a close. I want to thank everyone who supported me and Suzie and Beverly in our campaign — our little group raised $1500, and the overall Dressember campaign raised $165,000 for International Justice Mission! That’s something to be excited about!

Though Dressember 2013 has ended, my desire to bring awareness to the issue of the global slave trade and its effects on millions around the world is far from over. This month is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. I’m not going to stop thinking or talking about this issue any time soon, and I want to use my voice here on this blog to share with others what I’m learning.

Today, if you can spare 12 minutes, I would like to ask you watch this chapter from the movie “Girl Rising.” Through the stories of nine young girls from countries like Haiti, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Peru, the film illustrates the hardships faced by countless girls today — poverty, sexual violence, abuse, forced labor, child marriage, to name only a few — and also highlights the transformation that can take place in an entire community or nation if the number of girls given an education increases. The storytelling of the film is captivating, and the statistics indicate that these nine stories are repeated over and over in millions of young lives.

Please watch Suma’s story, the Nepal Chapter. Her life started off in difficulty, but the ending of her chapter brings great hope you’ll be glad you watched.

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A Dressember Reading List

It just wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t find a way to tie in my recent posts on Dressember to one of my favorite subjects of all time: books. Reading has been a big part of making me who I am today, and my thoughts and actions in raising funds and awareness for International Justice Mission this Dressember have also been shaped by books.

Without further fanfare or explanation, let’s jump into my list of recommended reading on the topic of the fight against human trafficking today:

* The Gospels. I don’t mean for this to be the 3rd grade Sunday School answer of “The Bible” to the question “What should I read?” Of course the Bible has something to say on the topic of taking a stand for the least of these in the face of their oppressors — but just because the answer seems obvious doesn’t make it any less important to mention it. The number one reason I want to publicly call attention to the tragedy of modern slavery is that Jesus says he came to this earth to bring freedom. He brings freedom from slavery to sin and death, and by helping to eliminate physical slavery on this earth we are living out a picture of what he has done in our hearts. You can read more about my thoughts on Dressember and the coming of Christ in this blog post.

* Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma. For a comprehensive read on the question of justice and why anyone who is a follower of Jesus should be involved in the work of making right the wrongs of this world, Wytsma’s Pursuing Justice is an excellent, thought-provoking choice. I wrote a full review of the book here, but these lines are from one of my favorite paragraphs in that write-up: “Social justice seems to have become a fad in certain circles, and a lot of us really don’t need another pet cause. What we need is a deeper understanding of what the Bible says about justice so that our heart and our actions line up as we seek to live out a right relationship with God and with other people. After reading the book, I feel challenged not just to continue finding ways to give my time, money, prayer, and efforts to serving in my hometown or around the world, but to look more closely at my personal relationships and how they are or are not a reflection of the gospel of Christ, how I am or am not considering others before myself (Philippians 2:3-4).”

* Sold by Patricia McCormick. I also mentioned this young adult novel on my blog a while back, as part of my list of fave books in 2010. The memory of this story still haunts me in its nightmare portrayal of a young girl trafficked from her home in Nepal to a brothel in India. To understand the realities faced by millions of girls around the world, told in heartbreakingly poetic language, you must read this novel.

* Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn, if you have a lot of time to read — or The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn if you want a more succinct version of Alcorn’s teaching on giving. Over and over Alcorn points the reader back to the words of Jesus: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) A pretty simple concept, but a life-changing one. If I’m living a life of following Jesus, it should be reflected in how I spend my money, including spending more on supporting work that will last eternally (like bringing freedom to slaves) than on junk I don’t really need.

* The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen. This last one I haven’t read yet — it will be released February 2014, but you can read a free preview here. Written by the president of International Justice Mission, the book explores the idea that the end of poverty requires the end of violence.

Are there any other titles you can think to add to this short list?

(There’s still plenty of time to give to our Dressember campaign — we’re still quite a bit short of our goal and would love your help! You can donate here. 100% of Dressember funds go to the work of IJM. Thanks!)

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A Stake in West Texas Cover Reveal

WEST TEXAS cover

Introducing the cover art for A Stake in West Texas.

I’m so pleased with the beautiful work by the designer at The History Press. Read what the blurb on the back cover has to say:

“Aspermont to Pecos. Pecos to Fort Davis. Fort Davis to Sanderson. Sanderson to Monahans. In 1950, Ann was eighteen and Bob D twenty when he asked her to marry him and hit the road for West Texas. They packed their station wagon, left home, and began a life of adventure together on Conoco’s West Texas survey crew during the 1950s oil boom. Five kids, twenty-one towns, and thirteen years on the road — Bob D and Ann’s travels along the highways of West Texas are a portrait in a landscape of oil fields, railroads, and ranches. Layering local history with family memoir, author Rebecca D. Henderson reveals a glimpse of mid-century West Texas through her grandparents’ adventures as a young couple raising children on the road.”

A Stake in West Texas will be released January 14 and will be available as both paperback and e-book in bookstores and from online booksellers. You can preorder now from Amazon here.

In the meantime, you can check out this free preview of the e-book version, including color photos from Bob D’s collection.

Look for more news of the book launch in the weeks ahead! You have helped me make this launch possible, and I’m so grateful for you!

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Advent and Dressember

I’ve made a couple of posts about the fact that I’m participating in Dressember this year to raise money for International Justice Mission, and since wearing my handful of dresses this past several days I’ve had time to reflect on the connection between Dressember for IJM and Advent. I don’t know that the connection was intentional for the creator of Dressember (maybe it was and I’m not aware), but I’ve thought of this connection often, especially as my husband and I have been going through our Advent readings with the boys.

All of the boys have enjoyed reading Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible, but our six-year-old in particular loves the book and is fascinated with certain stories in particular. For a while his favorites were “The Good Shepherd” (a paraphrase of Psalm 23) and “How to pray” (a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer). You may or may not know that the six-year-old is autistic, and he has an eidetic memory — well, within one or two times of reading the stories, he had memorized these paraphrases of Psalm 23 and The Lord’s Prayer, both of which he delights to recite in his own adorable expressive interpretation (he’s also started memorizing Psalm 23 in Chinese, but that’s an entirely different story). To hear him joyfully recall his favorite passages, line by line, is to experience the living out of Jesus’ own words to let the little children come to him. His love for God’s Word is simple, but not simplistic.

Peter_JSB

One of the lines in Lloyd-Jones’ paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer says “Make everything in the world right again. And in our hearts, too. Do what is best — just like you do in heaven, and please do it down here, too.” As I’ve read these stories with the boys so many times in recent months, I’ve dwelled a lot on those lines. They have caught hold of my heart and won’t let go. I find myself praying in that exact way. That God would make things right again. In my heart, in the hearts of others, in the whole world. And as I’ve been participating in Dressember, I’ve prayed for the men, women, and children who are in captivity around the world, whether in forced labor or in the sex industry, that God would make things right for them, here on earth just like he does in heaven.

Jesus says in Luke 4 that he came to earth to heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, make the blind to see, and set at liberty those who are oppressed — and he did those things both physically and spiritually while on earth. One of the things we’ve tried to emphasize with the boys recently is that Advent means “coming” or “arrival” — we are celebrating Advent to remember the coming of Jesus, both at the first Christmas as a baby and in the future during his second coming. As we look back on Jesus’ first coming to earth and look ahead with longing to his return, we also live out our lives in a way that is a reflection of who he is and who we are in him. If Jesus himself stood up in a crowd and said that he came to set the captives free, then I as his follower should be a part of doing the same thing. One way I can proclaim liberty to the captives is to support the work of an organization that is literally working to set slaves free.

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And so this December I’m wearing a dress every day and asking for help in donating money to IJM. Would you help? You can donate to the campaign here, and you can share this blog post to spread the word.

Bless you and yours during this Advent season.

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The Dressember Team

Dressember_Logo_Yellow

Last week I posted about the International Justice Mission fundraiser I’m joining this year — Dressember. Every day of December I’ll be wearing a dress in an attempt to raise awareness of IJM’s work in the fight against human trafficking and sexual slavery. I set a fundraising goal of $5000, knowing that it’s a crazy high amount for one person to attempt in 31 days. But I’m not just one person tackling this Dressember thing myself. I issued a challenge for others to join me, and my sister Suzie and her friend Beverly took me up on it. We’re now a team in the Dressember fundraising campaign — look for us as “Rebecca and Suzie and Beverly” (yes, our first name on the page is “Rebecca and” and our last name is “Suzie and Beverly.”

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The point of Dressember isn’t the dresses. Dresses are a symbol of femininity, and 80% of trafficking victims are women, so it’s a natural tie-in. But Dressember isn’t about going out and buying new dresses — the creator of Dressember is wearing one dress all month, with different accessories. I’m planning to wear three or four dresses of my own throughout the month and borrowing some from my cousin.

The point of Dressember is to get others to think about the horrors of human trafficking taking place around the world today. The point is to let others know that there are people and organizations who have dedicated their existence to fighting the evil of trafficking. The point is that IJM is one of those organizations, and a really great one at that, and they survive on the donations of people like us.

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday (you know, like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday) — would you consider giving a donation to IJM as part of our Dressember goal? If you’re moved to do so, you can donate on our campaign page here. 100% of the money raised during Dressember goes directly to IJM’s work. Bless you greatly!

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Dressember 2013

The guys have Movember (mustache + November) to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues, but have you heard of Dressember? Why am I just now hearing about this annual event where women pledge to wear a dress each day in December? In the case of Dressember, the awareness and funds are going to International Justice Mission, an organization I’ve loved and supported for years.

IJM is a human rights organization that works around the globe to combat human trafficking and end sexual slavery, by freeing the victims and prosecuting the perpetrators. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, and about 80% of the victims are female (up to 50% of them are minors). We’re talking about a $32 billion industry, according to the United Nations.

Now that I know about Dressember, I’m in. I’m pledging to wear a dress every day this December, and I’m planning a few blog posts (don’t be shocked…I know I’ve been a blogging slacker of late) throughout the month to add my voice to those raising awareness of the work IJM is doing and the great need for support.

Will you join me in lending your support to IJM this month of Dressember? Would you be willing to give a donation to IJM to help pay for the costs of caseworkers, investigators, and lawyers in field offices on several continents?

My fundraising goal for this Dressember is $5000 — honestly, part of me is scared to death to think of trying to raise that much money in just one month. But I believe in the worthiness of the work IJM is doing, and I believe that $5000 is attainable with your help.

To make a donation toward my goal of raising $5000 for IJM, click here, and I will be forever grateful.

Would you be interested in participating in Dressember yourself? Let me know — we can form a team and raise money towards the goal together! Leave me a comment below if you’re interested.

To learn more about IJM, click here.

To learn more about Dressember, click here.

Follow IJM on twitter or “like” them on Facebook.

Many blessings and a great Thanksgiving to you and yours.

 

 

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Announcing the New West Texas Book Title

Last month (yep, it’s been a month since I blogged) I wrote asking for suggestions for a new title for the West Texas book — you know, the book I’ve been mentioning on the blog for over two years now. Can you believe it? This book has been over two years in the making, and we’re getting SO CLOSE to seeing it in print.

I’ve heard back from my editor that the publisher (The History Press — check them out) has decided on a new title for the book.

You’d probably like to know it, right?

I hope you do, at least.

Chances are if you’re reading this blog post, you’re curious about the new title.

So, without dragging it out any further, I’d like to introduce the title of my upcoming book:

A Stake in West Texas: Pulling a Chain and Raising a Family across Big Oil Country

What do you think? I really love it. A part of me will always hold West Texas Interlude in my heart — it’s the title the project started out as, and it served the project well. But I love that after the revisions and additions I’ve made over the past several months, the project has a completely new title, one that will be put in print. Exciting!

Other big news: the publisher decided to include a color insert in the book and has asked me to double the number of photos I’m including. This is a dream come true. So many of my grandfather’s photos would just not look right without the vivid colors, but I wasn’t sure if it would be cost prohibitive for the publisher to include color pages. I’m more and more excited to see the final version and am confident that it will be a beautiful work of art — one that Bob D and Ann (the main characters of the book) will be proud of.

The expected release date will be January 14, 2014. More news as I get it!

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Title Help Needed

I’m emerging from my blogging hibernation with a request for help from those who’ve read my West Texas book or are closely enough associated with it to give me some quality feedback and suggestions.

Oh, and good news, I’ve finished revising the new manuscript (to be published later this year by The History Press) — all that remains is to do some rereading and checking, along with completing the index. If this project were a marathon, I think I’d only have about a mile to go. Almost there!

At this point in the process, the publisher is still looking to update the title of the book. Previously, I had called it West Texas Interlude: Stories and Photos from the Desert. Now, the book encompasses much more than my grandparents’ story. There are chapters on the history of West Texas as it relates to oil drilling, ranching, farming, and the railroad, and a couple of chapters on the history and practice of land surveying in Texas. We need a title that covers more of the topics included in the new manuscript.

Any suggestions? If you help me brainstorm and contribute an idea that leads to the eventual title of the book, I’m sure we could work out a prize along the lines of an autographed copy. But please help!

Thanks, everyone!

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