Dressember Weekend Update_Dressed in Holiday Style

Lyric of the day: Dressed in Holiday Style

Silver Bells by Jay Livingston& Ray Evans

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Let the Christmas parties commence! I’m blessed to have a job that doesn’t always feel like one. Getting to know people and build relationships for a living and then celebrating my favorite season with them at fun winter galas ain’t so bad! even though I “worked” at these events most of the weekend, it didn’t feel like work and this month in honor of Dressember, it was even more fun to think of outfits to put together and as the song goes, “dress in holiday style” 🙂 One of the things I love the most about the organization that Dressember supports, the International Justice Mission, is the fact that their multifaceted model to fighting slavery includes rehabilitating previous victims and strengthen with hands-on mentoring, helping them restore their lives and teaching them skills and careers in order for them to get their lives back. Everyone deserves the right to do something meaningful in this world that they enjoy.

I felt very blessed this weekend getting to celebrate the season in so many ways!

Friday was about Celebrating Love. After helping to sort food at the Foodshare for International Volunteer Day, I got to celebrate with the engagement of my dear & funny friend, Gabi & her fiancee Armel. This is truly the season of Giving and the season of loving each other!

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Dressember Day 5

Dress: Painted Threads

Jacket: Muse

Necklace: Kate Spade

Boots: Michael Kors

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Dressember Day 6:

Dress: Forever 21

Booties: Mossimo for Target

Earrings: Nordstrom

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Forever 21 outfit through and through 🙂

Saturday was about celebrating Community: both my church family and my professional community. Gathering around the truth that “God is With Us’ no matter what we go through and gathering around the work that we do in helping to treat eating disorders and give people hope.

Sunday was about celebrating laughter. I laughed with my students in Sunday School, in Fellowship with my church family (and sister in Christ who is joining me in the Dressember challenge!– pictured below) and with friends from my professional community at another winter gala– Bingo Night! Laughter is really the best medicine.

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I can’t help but pray and hope the same celebrations for victims of slavery in our world. They deserve the freedom and abundant life that we’ve all been blessed with and we can all do something to effect change in their world and ours.

Some of my favorite words ever written are by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. And as we comity to change the current state of our world, let’s not forget to celebrate all the good things on behalf of those who can’t. Because love, community & laughter are in style for the holidays and they are in style forever.

DressemberDay4_You’re as cuddly as a cactus, Mr. Grinch.

Lyric of the Day: And her heart is full and hollow, like a cactus tree.

While she’s so busy being free. 

Joni Mitchell “Cactus Tree”

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Dressember Day #4

Dress by Zara

Vest by Morro

Necklace by Aldo

Boots by Ecco

I visited the cute little Inland Empire town of Temecula today for a work event. It’s nice to see a little town celebrate Christmas in a big way. Every street seemed to scream “Merry Christmas y’all”. Some people have a white Christmas building snowmen and some have a desert Christmas decorating a cactus with Christmas lights. But the beautiful thing about Christmas is the common spirit of joy & giving. It’s a universal thing that we all feel called to do from a deep place in our souls. And sometimes, the best gift you can give is your voice.

Joni Mitchell is one of my favorite artists of all time. I have yet to hear a song as beautiful as Both Sides Now and the timeless quality of Big Yellow Taxi is heard in every heart on the streets of New York City. Although she’s a truly beloved legend for her literal voice, my love for her is because of her true voice– the one that speaks from her heart. The one that stood up for women in a time that it wasn’t popular. The one that walked away from an industry when it began destroying her soul. The one who wrote the words of the lyric of the day– “her heart is full and hollow, like a cactus tree. While she’s so busy being free.”

Dressember more than anything has reminded me how much I value freedom for women everywhere. This season is a busy time for everyone, this Dressember challenge has challenged me more than ever to be “busy” for things that matter”. In our day and age “busy” is the new four-letter-word. We’d like to do ___ but we’re so busy. And unfortunately we never seem to be busy with the things that matter, it’s always the other things we blame for keeping us from the real things. But I think it’s time for a change. I want to be busy for freedom. I want to be busy for kindness. I want to be busy for hope. I want to be too busy helping my elderly neighbor put up her christmas lights to go catch the latest sale. I want to be too busy on the phone with a friend to watch another Hallmark movie (although I love them.) It will take a shift in priorities, but it’s something I’m too passionate about to put on the back burner. Kindness should not have to wait until we buy our Christmas presents. Freedom should not have to wait, the time for freedom for women from slavery is now. The time for freedom for all women from everything that binds us from living lives of meaning and purpose is now. Freedom from the bondage of shame, self-hatred, oppression, objectification. Free to be individuals. And what better time than Christmas to celebrate who we are, and our inherent value as Daughters– in whom there is no flaw.

This Christmas, let’s invest in what truly matters. The gifts that keep on giving. If freedom is something you value and believe in, it is an investment you will not regret.

Support International Justice Mission here: https://support.dressemberfoundation.org/fundraise?fcid=372170

DressemberDay3_ With Candy Canes & Silver Lanes Aglow

Lyric of the day:

With Candy Canes & Silver Lanes Aglow… It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

By Meredith Wilson

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Dressember Day #3

Dress by Papaya

Boots by Steve Madden

I love old references in Christmas songs. The ones that make you question “what actually is figgy pudding?” and “who are Currier and Ives?” and doing the research to see what Christmas looked like fifty years ago and the meaning behind these references.

In Meredith Wilson’s, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”, a black friday favorite to be sure that carries a subliminal message somewhere along the lines of “GET THOSE GIFTS BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE DOES BECAUSE IT’S NOVEMBER 1 AND YOU’RE ALREADY LATE”, the lyrics of the first verse go:

“Take a look at the Five and Ten. Glistening once again.

With Candy Canes and Silver Lanes Aglow” 

If you’re anything like me you may be wondering, what exactly is a “Five and Ten”. And if you’re anything like me and live in L.A. you’re probably thinking the glistening refers to the traffic when you are merging on the 5 freeway from the 10 #trafficjoke haha. So I did some research, and the 5 and 10 is in reference to the 1950s version of the Dollar Tree, also known as the “Nickel & Dime” store, these stores would sell items for, 5 and 10 cents. Such a steal right?! Those bargain shopping baby boomers…

This lyric shows quite a contrast between the current world we live in and the one they were living in back then. A world where there was joy in simplicity, the decorations at the corner “5 & 10” were enough . Candy Canes. Silver Lanes. The simple pleasures of the season are what brought joy, reminded them of the love of family and friends and ultimately were the icing on top of the cake of Christmas, it seems they had their priorities straight in contrast to our twisted modern day and age where if you’re not buying your toddler the new iPhone 6s(plus, minus, multiply…etc. etc.), you don’t love them enough. Or you may be missing the hype and not really experiencing the “reason for the season” like the rest of our consumer culture.

I paid exactly ten dollars for the dress I wore today for the Dressember Challenge Day #3 (could have bought it at the 5 & 10 back then 😉 And it was ironic today that the lyric that stood out to me was one that spoke to what exactly  makes this season special. What does it mean to “look” like Christmas? One of the reasons I embarked on this challenge because I wanted to add meaning to this month in a way I never had before. This is my favorite holiday and I have always enjoyed every part of it… but is that what Christmas is about? Enjoying family, friends, decorations, food? That’s all a part of what makes this season so special and I think we should most certainly embrace it. But if the true reason for the season is celebrating Christ’s love for us and that He humbled Himself to be born in a manger and grow up to die for every wrong thing you and I have ever done, this season has to be less about buying and more about being there for each other. This season can’t solely be about individual enjoyment. It has to be more about being the kind of people that we would want others to be for us. We must have a giving heart, make our focus on people not on things and allow the “things” to be seen only as an additional blessing we are fortunate enough to have help facilitate the sharing of the ultimate gift of Love we’ve received and are called to share, paying it forward this season and always.

They don’t call this the “season of giving” for no reason. Yesterday was “Giving Tuesday”, and if you feel so inclined to partner with me this Christmas in ending modern day slavery– find it in your heart to give. If you don’t feel called in this way, I support you to find a cause you’re passionate about and give this season. Donate your old clothes to the Salvation Army. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a food bank.  Even if it’s not monetary. Even a 5 or 10 will make a world of difference… 5 minutes of your time for a friend who’s struggling, 10 minutes talking to an elderly loved one far away. If you look for ways to give, then it will truly begin to look a lot more like Christmas.

DressemberDay2_And in His Name, all oppression shall cease.

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Lyric of the Day: And in His Name, All Oppression Shall Cease. 

“O Holy Night”Lyrics by French Poet, Placide Cappeau

Dressember Day #2:

Dress: Scrapbook Originals

Coat by BB Dakota

Scarf homemade by my Mommy 🙂

Shoes by Gap

Purse by Steve Madden

Earlier this evening, I got to attend a special Christmas event which officially makes it the Christmas season in my opinion. Sipping apple cider, buying homemade Christmas cookies and listening to Christmas Carols sung by a group dressed in Charles Dickens’ era attire is my kinda party!

While the carolers sang one of my most beloved songs, O Holy Night, even though I’ve heard that song a thousand times before (and probably at least 4 times on the radio today alone), I was especially struck by the following lyric: “And in His name, all oppression shall cease.” One of the most interesting parts of my Dressember challenge so far (and it’s only day two) is how my awareness and perspective on so many things, even lyrics I’ve heard a thousand times, has drastically changed.

When I was in college, I was very involved in the campaign to “Save Darfur”, a country which at the time was experiencing one of the worst genocides of the 21st century. In all my efforts and work in spreading awareness about the situation in Darfur, one of the tag lines for our campaign was “What happens in Darfur, happens to us”. In fact, I even have a safety pin of that tagline pinned to a purse I use all the time as a reminder of a truth that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote so eloquently in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”{1963}

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea.”

In the fight against modern-day-slavery and for international justice around the world, this wisdom is as true as ever. What happens to the 13-year-old sex slave in a brothel in Cambodia, is happening to us here in our suburban homes in Southern California. Although it may seem like an indirect correlation, the root cause is the same. The objectification of women anywhere, leads to the oppression of women everywhere. The women I see in an eating disorder treatment center in Los Angeles, are oppressed by the same objectification as the “sex tourism slaves” commissioned to “tour” tourists around  Sao Paolo, Brazil. Despite my efforts for this daunting task of helping to fight against slavery in our world, the most important lesson is the truth is that the residual effects of this oppression, which may or may not be eliminated completely in our lifetime despite our greatest hopes or worst fears, on an individual can only be solved with one name, and that name is not Obama, and that name is not United Nations International Court of Justice. That name is Jesus. And He has called us to be set free, it’s the desire of His heart: “You were called to be set free”- Galatians 5:13. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,”- Isaiah 61:1

And what strikes me the most is that this Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this Dressember, requires us two things that we can do to help set free every physical, spiritual and emotional chain and restore any broken life, no matter where it is on this earth:

1. Act Justly (Micah 6:8)

2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)

The injustice is overwhelming. And although the reality is that we cannot do everything, we can do something.

May we think globally this Dressember. May we pray. May our hearts break and our tears flow. May our tears make a change. May we echo Martin Luther King Jr.’s sentiment and replace our names, our addresses, and throw our lives behind this statement:

“I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.”

I cannot sit idly by in ____ and not be concerned about what happens around the world.

dressember day 1__My Grown-Up Christmas List

Lyric of the day: grown-up-list

Happy Dressember! This December, as I type these words my heart is broken by the truth that millions of girls will wake up on December 25th as a part of a chilling statistic of people who are part of the sex trade growing rampant throughout our world, instead of twirling around in their Christmas dresses waiting for Santa to deliver them the gifts their innocent and pure hearts deserve. Dressember, a movement established in 2009 in which women, like myself, advocate, by raising awareness and funds to support the abolition of modern day slavery which is a reality for so many of our sisters around the world.  Dressember uses fashion to advocate for women who’ve been exploited for their femininity. I will be advocating for the inherent dignity of all women by taking on the creative challenge of wearing a dress for the 31 days of December because I believe God created us to be free in every way. I believe that it is God’s will to restore physical, emotional and spiritual freedom to millions of women around this world who have been stripped of their dignity. I believe it is God’s will to restore His princesses. That they will be “clothed with strength and dignity” and restored to their proper place, replacing their role in a statistic, their false identities as a “sex slave” and trading that in for daughter, princess, woman, beautiful.   I know my voice matters, and that I can help change the world that millions of abused women and girls wake up to every morning. Your voice matters, too, and our voices are louder together. Let’s yell, let’s run, let’s dress for the restoration of dignity for all women.

Dressember Day 1

Dressember Day #1:

{Dress by Free People,

Sweater/Jacket by Michael Kors,

 Boots by Michael Kors,

Purse by Marc by Marc Jacobs}

William Wilberforce, the 18th century English Parliament member and leader of the abolitionist movement in his country ended his presentation of the Abolitionist Bill, which included a 3-hour account of the horrific details of slavery, before the English Parliament with the following words:

having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.

When it comes to the epidemic of modern slavery, ignorance is no longer an excuse. We cannot say we do not know. We must learn to handle this truth in order to put an end to it:

  • There are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history.
  • Researchers estimate this number is somewhere between 21-36 million people in slavery today.
  • Although there are several different types of slavery and injustice occurring in our world today, statistics show that an estimated 80% of this number of trafficked individuals are used and abused as sexual slaves.
  • The International Labour Organization reported in 2013 that trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.

This is my grown up Christmas list: I ask that as we celebrate this month and the Gift we have been given, Joy, Peace and Love , you would find it in your heart to allow these truths to stir you to action. I ask you to partner with me to help me reach my goal and create real change in this world. As Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Please consider and pray about donating and supporting this world-changing organization on my page through this link: https://support.dressemberfoundation.org/checkout/donation?fcid=372170 and following my blog as I share my heart during this journey.

Donating is safe, secure and easy. You can also partner with me by sharing this page on Facebook and Twitter. Or, send an e-mail to friends you think might be interested in contributing and include a link to my page!

Thank you in advance for offering your helping hand as I twirl in my dresses on behalf of those who can’t, fighting for the inherent dignity and beauty of my sisters around the world, obeying the Biblical Proverb to “speak up for who cannot speak for themselves {and work to} ensure justice for those being crushed”- Proverbs 31:8.

Donating is safe, secure and easy. You can also partner with me by sharing this page on Facebook and Twitter. Or, send an e-mail to friends you think might be interested in contributing and include a link to my page!

Thank you in advance for offering your helping hand as I twirl in my dresses on behalf of those who can’t, fighting for the inherent dignity and beauty of my sisters around the world, obeying the Biblical Proverb to “speak up for who cannot speak for themselves {and wore justice for those being crushed”- Proverbs 31:8.