December 12, 2015

Finding God in the Garbage

God is funny.  He really is, if we are created in His image and we laugh, then don't you think he laughs too?  In a world that seems to be falling apart, laughing is so important.  When Ella asked for a leaf blower for Christmas, she was completely serious.  We even went leaf blower shopping, only to discover that leaf blowers are very expensive.  As parents we had to pull the "Not a Good Idea" card.  What a disappointment it would be if grandparents, great-grandparents, and parents pooled our money to buy her a leaf blower that she opened in the middle of winter.  Gifts that can't be used for nine months are bummers.  Aside from the fact that it's a leaf blower we are talking about here, and she's a 13 year old girl.  We felt it was best to nix that idea and tell her to ask for a spy kit instead.

But God wanted to give this little girl a leaf blower.  Because, honestly, that's funny.  I giggle to think of a 70 pound girl hauling a leaf blower around.  I laughed when she said she wanted one.  God loves Ella more than I can imagine.  And God wanted to give her a Christmas gift.  So he did, in our neighbor's garbage.

Last week, we pulled into our driveway and I teased that two doors down our neighbor was throwing out his leaf blower.  I was just teasing Ella, but she hit the driveway before I put the van in park.  I won't easily forget the picture of her straining under the weight of her new treasure as she struggled across the street with it.  I, as such an awesome mom, didn't bother looking at the leaf blower since I assumed it was broken.  I'm so busy, I probably had dinner to make or a poopy diaper to change.  No time to inspect leaf blowers for malfunctions.  Seth looked at it the next day to discover it worked perfectly.

Not only has God given Ella this prized gift, he gave her such enthusiasm that I watch a Tom Sawyer-esque situation unfold in my yard.  Neighborhood kids were begging to use Ella's leaf blower and my yard and driveway were soon cleared of leaves.

God gave me a gift that day too, I suppose.  He shows up in the oddest places, like my neighbor's garbage.

December 9, 2015

Seven days in Dressember

I got caught today not wearing my black dress!  It's the first time I haven't been in it. It was in the dryer and the baby was asleep downstairs, so I couldn't get it out in time to leave for piano lessons.  A legitimate reason for running around sans dress.  I got caught nonetheless, call me a fraud if you must.

This experiment has been interesting on so many levels.  At first I thought it was no big deal, but I am having conversations about human trafficking nearly daily!  That means I needed to beef up on my knowledge so I'm speaking intelligently.  That also means that dressember works.  The fundraising is amazing, but the awareness is miraculous.  I have had so many people declare, "I had no idea.  Here in the United States?!"

Yes, I can't make this stuff up.  It's terrible, but it's true.

The other odd side note is that I have too many clothes.  If I can wear the same dress day in and day out, then I probably don't need a full closet, dresser and off-season bin.  I can't say that I don't desire a little variety, but you can really do a lot with a simple black dress.  By December 31 I will probably want to burn this thing, but for now, it's serving me well.

Dressember Day 1

$32 billion generated annually by human trafficking, December 2 is Int'l Day to Abolish Slavery.

It's more than just a dress! According the human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry.
This statistic is from unlockfreedom an organization that works to educate young people on the dangers of trafficking here in the U.S. Thirteen years old...that's my Ella and Elijah.

According to force 4 compassion, 3,287 men, women, and children are sold or kidnapped and forced into slavery every day.
Wearing my dress to lacrosse practice. Dressember is fundraising to support A21, this video tells the story of one of the 1-2% who survive trafficking.

My sisters and Mom have been sharing information as well.  It's been an incredible experience to see their pictures daily along with the stats they have found.  It's a project in awareness for all of us.

All I want for Christmas...

My in laws were chatting with the kids about their Christmas lists.  It's still pretty early in the season for everyone to have figured out what they really "need", but those grandmas need time to plan.

After much pestering, Josiah finally looked up from his plate and stated, "Okay. Fine.  I know what I want for Christmas.  I want to be famous."

That makes Ella's request of a leaf blower seem more manageable.  

December 1, 2015


Today I am wearing my pajama dress.  I call it that because I could be wearing my pajamas underneath and it would still look classy.  I plan to wear this dress everyday for the next 31 days. 

I heard about 'Dressember' and thought it was just a funny name, but it's a call to bring awareness to the plight of women around the world who are exploited.  This unique fundraiser is donating all funds raised this year to the International Justice Mission and A21, both organizations strive to free women who are enslaved, victims of trafficking, or exploited in other ways.

It's an odd way to bring awareness, but it is something I can do, so I will.  It's hard to believe that there are over 20 million people enslaved around the world.  I can't get my mind around that number and I can't believe, as I enjoy my middle class American lifestyle, that there are men, women, and children who have been forced into slavery.  Right now.  And most of us don't know slavery still exists.

So I will wear the same dress for 31 days. 

What follows is the story of Dressember from it's founder, Blythe Hill.  She was, like most of us, overwhelmed by the knowledge that slavery still exists.  Like most of us, she didn't have talents that lent themselves to an anti-sex trafficking occupation.  But, she wanted to do something.  And most of us could probably do something.   A little thing like wearing the same dress for a month, or donating a little money to the IJM.  Maybe your little something will become something big, like Blythe Hill's idea.

The History of Dressember,

as told by Founder Blythe Hill:

It was around 2005 when I started hearing about the issue of human trafficking. I began learning that slavery exists in every city in the world, around every major sporting event, at brickyards, brothels, truck stops and massage parlors. It’s estimated that there are currently over 30 million people trapped in slavery—more than any other point in history.

When I started hearing about trafficking, I felt an urgency to do something, and so naturally, I looked at my skillset for a way to engage. The problem was my interests and talents didn’t seem to line up with making a difference. I’m not a social worker, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a cop. I’m someone who’s interested in fashion, trend analysis, wordplay, and blogging. My interests felt shallow in the grand scheme of things. I remember feeling powerless, and thinking, “There’s nothing I can do.”

In 2009, everything began to change, and I didn’t even know it at the time. It started with a dress.

I was in college, and felt stifled by the lack of time for creativity, so I decided to create a personal style challenge. I came up with the idea of wearing a dress every day for a month. When I realized the next full month was December, the name “Dressember” came to me and, since I love wordplay, the deal was sealed. So I did it; I wore a dress every day for a month. And I never planned to do it again. 
The next year, a handful of girlfriends wanted to do it with me. So I did it again. And then the next year, my girlfriends' girlfriends wanted to join in. So, when women I didn’t even know were participating in it, I realized this was a good idea.

And then I started to dream bigger. I thought, “maybe I can use Dressember to raise some money for anti-trafficking.” So, in its fifth year, 2013, I aligned Dressember with International Justice Mission and decided, “we’re gonna go big-- we’re gonna try to raise $25K," which felt like a huge, scary goal. When we hit my huge, scary goal-- on the third day of our campaign-- I realized what had started as a few girls in Orange County wearing dresses for fun had become a community of over 1,200 women in 32 countries who collectively raised over $165,000!
Last year, in our second year, we doubled our participation at over 2,600 women registered, and nearly tripled the funds raised, at over $465,000.

Something that started as a silly idea, born out of boredom, has become a global movement, and created a pathway for not just me, but thousands of women like me who are ready to put a stop to one of the greatest injustices of our time.