DressemberWeekendUpdate_In all our trials, born to be our Friend

Lyric of the Day: In all our trials, born to be our Friend- O Holy Night 

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Dressember Day 19

Dress: Free People

Scarf: Steve Madden

Sweater: Michael Kors

Coat: Jessica Simpson

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Dressember Day 20

Dress: Theory

Sweater: H&M

Boots: Michael Kors

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Dressember Day 21: The SNOW outside the Colorado Airport! 

Dress: Forever 21

Jacket: Anthracite by Muse

Scarf: Forever 21

Surprises from friends. Surprises for friends. A White Christmas. These three things defined my weekend and helped to color the already joyful season that I am sad is almost at an end! With so much joy and fun around, it is sobering to remember Dressember but in the back of my mind, the dignity of the people I am advocating for keeps me motivated and so thankful for those who have joined me in this challenge.

Speaking out about such a heart-breaking problem in our world today, during a time of year when everyone wants to essentially “forget their troubles” is not an easy thing. While it’s been fun picking out different dresses, blogging, and being supported financially and through prayer from you all; every time I’ve put on a dress this month, a piece of my heart breaks for those unable to forget their troubles, even for a season. When hearing one of my favorite Christmas songs sung more beautifully than I have ever heard it at a concert this weekend, I was reminded of the true reason Jesus was born. To be God with us. Save us from suffering for our sin in the next life and in this life: “In all our trials, born to be our Friend.” What an indescribable gift! As Jesus told His disciples “In this world, you will have trouble” but Jesus has come down in order to be by our side in these hard times so that we will never walk alone. This alone gives me hope and comfort for the problem of modern slavery in this world, and I pray you have the same hope in all the trials in your life. I hope you don’t forget the friendship you have in Christ. He is a friend who sticks closer than a Brother. He is never too busy, never too early, never too late. Let’s not forget to give Him the gift of our Hearts for His birthday, as we are busy seeing our loved ones and spending time: let’s keep close to our hearts this Comforting, Loving Friend who came to make all things new and never let us walk alone. If we don’t get anything else that we wanted for Christmas, we have His friendship, in which we have everything we could ever need.

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 

Dressember Weekend Update_He comes to make His blessings flow

Lyric of the Day: “He comes to make His blessings flow”- Joy to the World

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Dressember Day 12:

Coat: Jessica Simpson

Wedge Boots: Ella Moss

Dress: Socialite

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Dressember Day 13:

Sweater: Calvin Klein

Dress: Eight- Sixty

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Dressember Day 14

Dress: Forever 21

Coat: Jessica Simpson

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Beanie: USC

Scarf: Homemade Santa Scarf

Boots: Steve Madden

Socks: CHRISTMAS PRESENTS! 🙂

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Dressember Day 15

Sweater: Papaya

Dress: Cielo

Boots: Steve Madden

This weekend was full of blessings. Blessings of Fellowship. Friends. Food. Family. When I heard this lyric during our Christmas service at church on sunday, I thought about the fact that we use the word blessing a lot in conversation (my instagram handle itself is “beablessing”) “I’m so blessed”. “Count your blessings”. I realize as I think about this weekend that a blessing is something we receive as much as something that we should share with others. The gift that keeps on giving. We can be a blessing and receive a blessing and give a blessing but what does it really mean? During Christmas, we draw our attention to things, people, experiences, recognize them as blessings and are particularly thankful for them. Isn’t that the magic of this season? Everything seems like a blessing during Christmas and the truth is that everything is a blessing, no matter what the season. Blessings aren’t just the gifts we open on Christmas morning. Or even the way that God provided for us to buy those gifts. They are also the hard things. Blessings are not just the positive experiences. but The true blessing of life is found in the two truths that these blessed lyrics in Joy to the World describe so beautifully: Jesus has come and because of this, the blessings in our life will never stop flowing. The advent season reminds us of this truth that everything is a blessing because now Jesus has arrived and He brings magic into every moment of life. And when we live like every moment is magic, life truly is a blessing and we are able to share our blessing of a life with others and give that gift to those who really need it. That’s the true reason He has come. That we may have life and live it to the fullest and we can only do that when the definition of a blessing is the way our lives positively affect others, not the things that positively affect our lives. “He comes to make the blessings flow.” If you would like to join me in giving and being a blessing to the millions of people, especially women in slavery, please support my Dressember campaign for the international Justice Mission here: https://support.dressemberfoundation.org/fundraise?fcid=372170

DressemberDays10&11: Your Beauty Green Will Teach Me

Lyric of the Day: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree! Your leaves are so unchanging

….Your beauty green will teach me
That hope and love will ever be
The way to joy and peace for me.

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Dressember Day #10

Dress: Forever 21

Coat: Jessica Simpson

Boots: Michael Kors

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Dressember Day #11

Sweatshirt: Disney

Dress: Steve Madden

Elf Socks: Wherever my secret santa got them 😉

Change is an interesting thing. It’s something we fight for and fight against. It’s something no one goes through life without experiencing. I love how nature reflects our lives. The seasons change, and so do we. As the earth changes, it teaches us lessons. The falling leaves helps us let go of dead things and in life, and the Evergreen leaves that never change teach us that although there are things we must let go of, there are things we also must hold onto. These things are hope, love, joy, peace.

There is so much in the world that needs to change, especially the epidemic of modern slavery facing our world today. But the only way to change the terrors facing our world, is to bravely hold onto the virtues of hope, love, peace and joy as if our lives depended on it. Because they do. The lives of the estimated 35 million people in slavery today depend on us holding onto hope in the face of despair caused by this heartbreaking injustice in our world. To believe that we can, and we are making a difference. This is a problem we would like to have let go of like trees let go of dead leaves in the fall, but here in winter, we welcome this season of waiting and hoping and working towards spring, with hope that remains green like the leaves on a Christmas tree in the face of the fiercest winter, that true freedom can and will become a reality for everyone in our world today and in generations to come.

DressemberDay8__Oh Christmas Lights, Keep Shining On

Lyric of the Day: Oh Christmas Lights, Keep Shining On

By Coldplay

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Dressember Day 8:

Dress: Xhiliration by Target

Jacket: Blanc Noire

Boots: Steve Madden

Wake up and smell the poinsettias! 🙂 My Dressember picture today features my two favorite things about Christmas: Lights & poinsettias. As tradition goes, we put on Christmas Lights as a symbol of Jesus, coming into our world as the ultimate Light in the darkness.

There is also an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettia’s and Christmas come together, it goes like this:

There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
‘Pepita’, he said “I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy.”

Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ.

Reading the history of these Christmas traditions brings so much perspective and meaning to the different aspects of our celebrations. As we join together in the movement to eradicate slavery in the world and bring light to very dark places in our world, we must be reminded of the words that Eleanor Roosevelt once said “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. We can waste so much time focusing on the problem, cursing the darkness, wondering why such evil exists in the world. But wouldn’t the time be better spent lighting the candle, spreading awareness, rehabilitating those in need and effecting positive change? We may be like Pepita and not have much to bring. But God can use our seeds and grow them into beautiful flowers that reflect His love and sacrifice throughout the world.

This Christmas, I pray that we will discover the light within our hearts and never “hide it under a bushel”, as the well-known children’s song goes. We all can do something. We all have a light, we all have a seed. May your light shine in the dark places of the world this season as you help others and may God grow the seed you bring and bring beauty to its surroundings.

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

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.