How often does it feel like the whole world is not only against you but reveling in your defeat? The psalmist, David, understood those feelings but also knew and declared the truth of who God is and who God says we are meant to be.
This year’s Super Bowl halftime show was nothing if not controversial! People from all walks of life, backgrounds in faith, genders and sexual identities fell on both sides of the fence when it came to answering the question: was this performance empowering or degrading to women?
Enter Brandi Voth, the woman behind The Power Project who is working to bring empowerment to women and men alike. She is a podcaster, author, and volunteer working with people in after-care who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.
In this episode, Brandi and I sit down and talk about what the commercial sex trade industry looks like, who is targeted for sex trafficking, how the church can better come alongside those who’ve been exploited, and what women’s empowerment looks like.
Brandi dropped some hard truths about what drives the sex industry and opened my eyes to the prevalence it has not only in our nation but even in our small towns.
Table of Contents:
:05The Road Home to You website 2:55 Welcome Brandi Voth; The Power Project – empowering people to live purposeful lives 5:00 Awareness to sex trafficking industry in Melbourne, Australia 9:10 A21 “Walk for Freedom” 10:40 What sex trafficking really looks like and where it is 13:54 The grooming process happens in social media apps and chat rooms 15:15 bark.us app and Tik Tok 17:10 Be where your kids and their friends are spending time online 18:20 Predators in public places 20:00 Red flags that someone is endangered 23:59 The Church’s response to help the exploited 28:10 Testimony from after-care client 31:59 Seeing the hurting and being the hands and feet of Jesus 32:57 Super Bowl halftime show re-cap and conflict 36:07 Female empowerment and the messages sent to boys/men 37:40 Empowerment vs. Sexual Objectification 39:15 Strip club and pornography – exploitation and consumption 40:39 Super Bowl is the single largest event for sex trafficking 41:35 Take a stand against the demand 43:00 The message sent to girls/women 45:28 Early exposure to pornography and the cycle of addiction 48:00 Defining empowerment 48:43 Finding your voice and using it 52:05 Signs you’re not in a safe relationship 53:19 Resources and Hotlines 53:52 Bottom line – You’re worth it 54:37 Thank you, Brandy 55:15 Brandi’s information: The Power Project and Power Hat Co.
Don’t forget to check out this week’s all-new episode on recovery. We’ll be dropping full episodes every Tuesday full of great content about mental health in the context of faith. We’ll continue our rest stops every Friday, as we set the activities of the week aside and spend some time unwinding from the busyness of life.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway
The simple fact is this: we’re all a little broken.
It isn’t a pretty truth and certainly not one that most people like to cling to, but it is a fact, none-the-less. We’ve all been hurt by someone as a small child, whether with words or fists. We’ve all seen horrible things happen. We’ve all got some form of addiction – turning even a good thing into The Thing we need in order to numb out from the daily toll of life.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Hurt people hurt people.” We’ve likely even seen this played out in our lives, when someone who’s having a horrible, no good, rotten kind of day turns around and berates us for the smallest thing. They didn’t mean to lash out, but their words hurt all the same.
So what do we do with all that? How do we move forward in life recognizing that sure, maybe we’re not quite as well put together as we’d like to believe and that, yeah, we can even recognize how we’ve hurt people we care about without even meaning to?
It seems to me like we have a couple of different options.
Option 1: Fake It Til You Make It
This is the approach that a whole lot of people take. They white-knuckle their way through life, striving to be disciplined enough, strong enough, smart enough, attractive enough, good enough. These people likely have the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality. They’ve probably heard this message and others like it throughout their lives, messages including, men don’t cry.
But…what if…after all the faking it, you still don’t quite make it? What if you strive and strain and reach and just…don’t…get…there…?
Honestly, a lot of people are able to go through life with this approach and even do alright. They work hard, have all the right things, look put together enough on the outside, they even seem happy. And maybe some of them are. But maybe not quite as happy as they know they could be.
Option 2: Deny, Deny, Deny
Listen, I am well gifted in this approach. I have been known to quite literally bury myself in a pile of blankets and hide because the checkbook needed to be balanced and I knew it was going to be a big ugly mess caused by me.
Denial seems like such a simple way to make the problems go away. We like to fool ourselves into believing that if time heals all wounds, then surely it will cure the mess that is my life. But that is a lie and every one of us who has lived on our own and seen the credit card bills come in can attest to that. Denial will get you nowhere but further behind your problem. Whether it’s overdue bills, an eating disorder, an undiagnosed lump on our breast, addiction, anxiety, or a wounded relationship it will not correct itself. Our problems only seem to grow as we try desperately to shove them into the closet.
Option 3: Name Your Monster and Face It
This is probably the least popular approach to dealing with the messier side to life, but it is hands-down, my favorite.
I’m assuming that everyone reading this has probably watched a movie or tv show where there are good guys and bad guys. Let’s, for example, look at Harry Potter. Harry, along with his friends, has faced many monsters in his time at Hogwarts. They’ve dealt with Death Eaters, a three-headed dog, a spider the size of Chicago, Bertie Bot’s Every Flavor Beans…you get the point. They’ve fought some very scary foes.
What did they use to fight these adversaries? Well, it’s easy to say they used magic. True. Most of the time, that’s what they used. But more specifically, they used certain types of magic. In fighting Dementors, they used a Patronus. When Harry needed to do reconnaissance work, he wore a cloak that turned him invisible. To disarm another wizard, the spell, expelliarmus was used. The point is: there were different tools used to fight against different opponents.
The same is true for us as we face the issues that are causing us to live in a cyclical pattern of bad choices. Unless we know what “monster” it is we’re fighting, we don’t know how to fight against it.
I can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about alcohol addiction, but if what you’re fighting is grief because your spouse died and you don’t know how to move forward in life without that person, the knowledge you may acquire about addiction isn’t going to do you an ounce of good. It’s important for us to be able to name our monster because then we can be better equipped to overcome it.
This is why recovery matters not just for the “obvious” people – the strung-out junkie or the inebriated raging alcoholic. Recovery is for everyone. Recovery literally means to “return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength” (Oxford Dictionary).
God didn’t create you broken. He made you a masterpiece (Eph. 2:10) and then placed you into a broken world where you experienced hurt and abuse and the ugliness of sin. He wants to return you to the state you belong: whole and complete in Him.
We won’t get there 100% this side of Heaven but we can experience joy more fully, we can find healing and forgiveness for ourselves and others, and we can understand our purpose and the purpose for our pain when we allow God into the broken places of our hearts and begin the transformative work of recovery.
To learn more be sure to check out our website to find links to other episodes.
Be sure to subscribe to The Road Home to You on Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever podcasts are found!
Welcome to the New & Improved The Road Home to You!
We’re going to start off this re-launch with Matt and Brandy in the studio talking about changes you can expect to see as the show moves forward as well as what’s been happening as they’ve been leading Genesis for Change Groups.
:50 Intro to Relaunching The Road Home to You 3:05 Why you should listen to TRHTY 5:45 Talking about mental health is important 6:50 Mental health in the context of faith 10:25 Authentic conversations with real people need to happen 11:41 Name Your Monster 13:00 Structure of show – what to expect moving forward 13:52 Call to Action – Be A Guest! 14:20 Recovery – Genesis Groups 16:25 What is Genesis? 21:10 What is the Limbic System? 23:35 Recovery means being honest & taking risks 26:10 Vulnerability in men and leaders 35:29 Progress of Recovery 45:04 Call to Action – Join a Genesis group 47:41 Upcoming Guests 48:55 Call to Action – Subscribe and Share! 50:10 Thank You’s 51:05 Blooper
The Road Home to You
“Offering hope and faith in Jesus to those wounded by others, stuck in addiction or afflicted by the storms of life.”
The Genesis Process for Change Groups are meant to happen in the context of relationship. You may gain some insight simply by going through the work on your own, but true recovery comes as learn to trust again, which can only happen as we interact with other people. You may be able to find a Genesis group at a local church. If not, feel free to contact Brandy for further information.
“Oh God, You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly;
my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
– Psalm 63:1
Word of the Year
At the end of 2019, I did what so many of us do – I reflected. I thought about what I’d accomplished in the year as well as the ways I’d grown and the many areas in life where I hadn’t achieved quite what I’d set out to do.
There’s been a trend for some time now for people to choose a word that will be their focus for the year. Sometimes it’s simply a word that a person chooses based on what they hope to accomplish, while some people seek God to give them a word. I’ve sought God in this process multiple times over the years but it seems like He wasn’t super keen on my approach. It’s equally possible that I just wasn’t being a good listener. It’s a problem I sometimes have. Can I get a witness?
This year, as I moaned and groaned to God about why He never gives me a word for the year (please tell me I’m not alone in sounding like a whiny kid when I talk to God), He answered. And man…how.
Standing in the shower, I felt a spiritual gut-punch like I’ve not often felt. And the word “Enough” hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew, hands down, that God was giving me exactly what I’d been begging for: a word to focus on.
Here’s how I knew: I’d spent the bulk of 2019 comparing myself with every other person around me. I compared myself to other podcasters, writers, speakers, musicians, needlework designers – all the fields I’m a part of. Daily I was feeding on everyone else’s success and instead of rejoicing with them in their victories, their accomplishments were rotting in my heart and festering into an emotional bile that left me feeling more bitter than blessed by being surrounded by people that are walking in their gifts with grace and purpose.
That day in the shower, this is the conclusion I felt like God was bringing me to: I, Brandy, am enough. The call that God has placed on my life is enough. The talents He has given me and the ability He’s given me to grow those talents, is enough. The arena He’s put me in, no matter its shape or size is enough. And above all…He is Enough.
Thus began my year of Enough.
Enough is Enough
But Friends, we are in February and I am here to tell you, that when God gives you a thing to focus on, He won’t quit just because you think you’ve learned the lesson. If that were the case, I’d have been good two weeks into January when all of the above truths were affirmed at a women’s worship night I attended at a local church.
Instead, here’s where we are now, God and I.
After my shower revelation, aka Holy Spirit gut-punch, I sat down and made a plan to read through the Bible in a year. Mind you, I’ve done this before, though not in some time. Not only is reading through the Bible a good practice to develop but it also seemed like a really sound way to be reminded of all the ways God is faithful and how He truly is Enough. So, I did some research, found the Bible reading plan I wanted to use, transferred January’s reading into my faith journal where my plan was to keep track of reading, my prayers and gratitude, as well as write Sunday sermon notes and a little reflection at the end of every week. It all seemed so simple.
Until January 4th hit. There was nothing special about that particular day. I just didn’t read. No big deal…I can make that up easily on the 5th. Oops…..well…. Now it’s January 12, I have 9 days of reading to do and listen…I do NOT have time for that!
Less than 2 weeks in and I’d already failed miserably. Again.
In fact, the only part of my faith journal that I’ve managed to be consistent with up to now is keeping my sermon notes. For some reason, finding – or rather making – the time to sit down and read my Bible for 15-20 minutes a day has been impossibly difficult. So much so, that here we are nearly done with February and I’m still working on finishing January’s reading. Oy vey.
Give Lent a Chance
But…yesterday marked the first day of Lent. Now, I’m not a Catholic and have never been very big on the kinds of traditional observances of our more liturgical brethren, but this year I attended our church’s Ash Wednesday service and decided to give Lent a try while I reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf so that I could know God intimately and eternally.
Once again, I found myself in the shower whining to God about what to give up for Lent. (God probably wishes I didn’t shower so much as I seem to get very needy then). I went through a litany of things I could give up: TV time. No. Soda. Nope. Listening to podcasts. What??? Social Media. Uh-uh. The list went on and on and my heels dug in.
Finally, after days of praying and considering, I landed on the thing. I’m giving up my time.
What does that even mean?
Giving Up and Gaining More
I’ll tell ya. It means that instead of jumping right into work before I’ve even gotten dressed (working from home is a blessing and a curse), or rather than watching YouTube for an hour while I cross stitch because that’s my therapy or any of the other million distractions I can find, I am devoting 40 minutes for 40 days over to God.
Here’s what that looks like for me: Given that my work mostly keeps me in front of a computer all day, I am lacing up my sneakers, grabbing my earbuds and phone and taking a stroll through our neighborhood while I listen to an audio Bible app. Three birds; one stone. I get physical exercise, God’s word seeps into my heart, and I might…might…even get caught up on my Bible reading plan.
If I want to fully understand what it means for me to be enough and more importantly what it means for God to be enough, I have to spend time hearing from God. I have to see the myriad ways He has been enough to millions of people before me, how His faithfulness is certain and that no matter what storms life may throw at me, God is a safe refuge for me to trust in.
What about You? Is there anything you’ve decided to let go of during this season of Lent? What about your resolutions? Are you keeping them? Tell me how I can pray for you – I’d be honored to lift you up before our God.
Joy in the midst of suffering. That’s what David, as the Psalmist, shows us time and time again. When all is going well, David sings his praises to the Lord. When he is feeling pressed by his enemies, He cries out to God reminding himself of God’s promises and His faithfulness to deliver.
Whether you are on the mountain-top of life or feeling crushed by the weight of the world, you have a great defender, a God who will respond to your cries and be glorified in your praise.
When was the last time you cried out to God with the awareness of your own shortcomings and sins? Have you ever just let it all out? God knows your heart, he knows your deeds, but have YOU actually owned up to your own transgressions?
Follow David’s example. Time and again, David acknowledges his own sins and time and again, he asks for forgiveness and courage to live with integrity. The only way we move closer to God is by renouncing our sin and setting our sights on the grace of Jesus at the cross, where all those sins were washed away in one final sacrificial gift.
God doesn’t want to hold your sin over your head to condemn you. He wants you to address it so that he can transform your heart into one that beats in rhythm with his.
King David knew a thing or two about fear and finding security and comfort God. Even as a young shepherd boy he had to protect his flock from predators.
Listen in this week as David shares one of his most beloved poems, speaking from a place of personal understanding. Be encouraged by the promise of God that He has you safely guarded and will love you tenderly through the trials.
Feeling discouraged, downtrodden, conspired against? Even kings feel that way. Listen in as King David, the man after God’s own heart shares his heart with God. Listen to the prophetic song that David writes in Psalm 22 and take courage that God is for you. The battles may seem overwhelming, but the war has been won.