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.

Come, Lay em down.

Come, Lay em down.

I carry a lot of things around.
The other day, I had this revelation on the 3rd trip to my car that on any given day I notice on my right arm I am carrying one mega-sized work-bag (with my laptop, a few folders, marketing materials, planners, little notebooks, and any number of random objects for my kid clients such as a football, a box of play dough, a my little pony figurines, you get the picture). in my right hand is a traveling mug of tea, in my left is a water bottle. Underneath my arm my yoga mat, and strapped on my left arm is my lunch bag.

I carry a lot of things around.
Today I had this realization as I sat reading the words of Jesus to the Pharisees. He said “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” As a therapist, I think I get caught up in the trap of thinking I am supposed to carry people’s burdens, they are supposed to lay them at my feet. But really, no human can hold any burden with any sense of comfort and rest. We all have burdens, and the more we try to take on others’ burdens, the heavier ours become and the less we are actually able to truly help them. I carry the load of worry, fear, unforgiveness, pride. I put this load on myself and walk around life wondering why I get stressed, sad and anxious. I let it seep into my relationships with other people but worse, I let it seep into my relationship with my Savior.
And in the midst of trying to juggle these burdens, trying to bear them on my back I hear Him say:
Come.
Find rest for your soul
Cast your burdens on Me.
I care for you.

So come to the River, whose streams make glad the city of God. Find a place to lay your trouble. And find true rest for your soul.
Just, “lay em down”.

Lyric: Needtobreathe “Lay em down”

It’s the soul that needs a surgery.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x190k8m_beyonce-pretty-hurts-official-video-hd-720p_music

I once heard a quote that went something like “If women just woke up one morning and decided they liked the way they looked, how many companies would go out of business?”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy supporting American economy as much as the next girl but whoever said this has a point; a thought-provoking and legitimate one that made me think twice when I looked in the mirror this morning.

Since I began working in the field of eating disorder treatment, the way that I think about myself, other women, the media, and let’s face it, basically everything has changed. I see these clients and hear their stories and think to myself: as good as women are at putting up a facade of “I’m-so-happy-that’s-why-I’m-smiling-like-this-and-no-it’s-not-because-of-botox”; the truth is that the plight of a women in the 21st century is not the slightest bit easy. And don’t get me wrong, men surely have their difficulties in this life too, but as Beyonce so poignantly expresses in her ballad “Pretty Hurts”, the messages women and men receive in our society are so drastically different:
“Mama said, “You’re a pretty girl.
What’s in your head, it doesn’t matter
Brush your hair, fix your teeth.
What you wear is all that matters.”

Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says, “Bigger is better.”
South beach, sugar free
Vogue says, “Thinner is better.””

With all of these mixed messages, telling us who to be, what to wear, what to eat, what to manipulate about our every body part, it’s a wonder any of us are actually functioning and living with any amount of self esteem at all! And as if the messages weren’t enough for us female auditory-learners, the visual images our male “visual learner” counterparts are bombarded with on every side about what an “ideal” woman looks like only breeds more dissatisfaction and less joy and appreciation for the soul and essence of a person and what makes us unique.

So what are we to do in the face of this ever-increasing cultural focus on appearance?

The answer is easy and both Jesus and Beyonce answer it in the same way:
Jesus: For what will it profit a man (or woman) if he (or she) gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
Beyonce: It’s the soul that needs a surgery.

We have to start with the soul. We have to look inside ourselves, each and every one of us and ask ourselves if what we are focusing on is making us lose our very selves. I’m the last person to judge someone for getting plastic surgery, trying to eat healthy, or even wearing certain clothing that will enhance your figure. But when the focus on our outward appearance becomes all that we are, and all that we find our value in, we begin to forfeit our soul. We forget that who we are: women made in God’s image, dearly loved and clothed with strength and dignity, is what gives us worth. And once we realize this for ourselves, we can begin sharing it with others. And the light that we find can shine in the dark places in our society, can heal the broken women and can create a new culture in which we realize our worth, we are happy in ourselves and the only opinion that matters is the one of The One who made us:
Fill your mind with His messages, and your heart with His love:

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be Praised.

Do not let your beauty be merely external–the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Love is Christmas

“Love is who we are, and no season could contain it. Love would never fall for that.
Let Love lead us, Love is Christmas.” – Sara Bareilles

My favorite quote from A Christmas Carol (one of my favorite Christmas movies) is: “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”– The Genius Charles Dickens.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. And I know I’m not alone in this. I think we all love Christmas because it’s become more than just a day, a season or a reason to buy things. Christmas represents an emotion, a feeling, a belief. During a cold season, the idea of the warmth of things such as love, generosity, compassion on those in need stirs in us a passion to prioritize our lives. To make the things that matter, matter. To reach for a higher potential in the relational areas of our lives than perhaps we do all the year round.

Things like love, cheer, joy, peace all make their way to the forefront during this season. They are the stars of the Christmas pageant of our society. It all of a sudden becomes popular to be generous, give to charities, give to others, make amends with people we haven’t spoken to for a while, find the courage to express our feelings and our love for others. But then it seems that once the season ends, we wrap all of those things up like we do the ornaments on January 2nd and put them in boxes in our garage until next year. We start focusing on the things that don’t matter as much and worrying about our jobs, our appearance, our status in the world. And we wonder, what happened to Christmas?

This song by Sara B. is so beautiful to me in many ways. It speaks to the heart of Christmas, which is Love. And Love is a person who embodies the reason we celebrate. He was born in a manger and His name is Jesus and although this world has tried to remove Him from His own birthday (X-mas?) and tried to make us forget by saying that the things we feel during Christmas are “only Christmas feelings” and things we can only feel from December 1-December 25. Jesus has come so that we can have life “abundantly” All of life. Whether it be 365 days we are alive for 365,365 days. Every day can be Christmas because Jesus is the reason for the season but He cannot be contained in a season.

He is Love. And the reason we forget all of the things we love about Christmas once the new year rolls around is because we forget Him. And the reason He came. We can never know all of the beautiful things He brings without knowing Him for more than a little story we tell to kids in a Sunday School class. If you don’t know Jesus, you’re crashing His birthday by celebrating Christmas. You’re getting a little Christmas favor as you leave and some eggnog with cookies but never getting to live in the continual Christmas party of His Love. And you return home with a small and unsatisfying glimpse of a few hours with the advantages of knowing Him, but it does not last.

The only way to feel the Love of Christmas in your heart and keep it all the year round is to know the Reason for this season. And He is Love. Unending, unfailing Love. That cannot be contained by a season, a lifetime, a culture, a world. It is the free gift for everyone this year. Open it, share it with others and your life will be a celebration of Christmas that never ends.

There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

This time of year is the best reminder that there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Thanksgiving really exists 365 days a year. It is an attitude, not a holiday. It is a decision to be like Louis and “think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

This week, try to find the wonderful in your world. It may be God’s creation, it may be a loved one who has really helped you in a time of need. It may be as simple as getting a green light, or a tasty lunch. We all have difficulties and struggles. Some days seem to give us everything BUT things to be thankful for. But as one of my mantras of life says: the reason we even suffer or feel pain is because we know the beauty of what it is not to feel pain. We live in a world where there is no rainbow without rain. We would not know true happiness if we did not experience the opposite. And the really amazing thing that we can do is be thankful for the things we didn’t even know we were saved from.

So tomorrow morning, and every day, let your first and every thought be, that it is really a wonderful world.

Girls, we run this.

“Reppin for the girls, who takin over the world

…How we’re smart enough to make these millions

Strong enough to bear the children

Then get back to business.”- Beyonce “Run the World (Girls)”

Happy International Girls’ Day! A wise person once said, “If you can be yourself, be yourself. But if you can be Beyonce, be Beyonce.” Needless to say, I love Beyonce and I love this jam. Beyonce writes and sings anthems. Songs that embody a movement, a belief, an ideology. And this song, certainly embodies the cause and belief in the power and strength of women. As a woman, who works primarily with women; I see strength, patience, love, and all good things pour out of many of the strong women that I am blessed to know. Many of them have faith beyond any person I’ve ever met, but you wouldn’t be able to guess just by looking at them. You can’t judge a woman by her cover!

Living in this world, and working with eating disorders; I’ve begun to reflect on the plight of women through a different lens. Our society has become increasingly (and disgustingly) objectifying of women. As every year passes, it seems we’re expected to be even more skinny, artificial and photo-shopped than the month, year, or day before. We begin to view standards and see images that make us feel less worthy, less beautiful, less “woman.” And it is a sad, sad truth only sadly (sometimes) reinforced by the men in our society. Instead of lifting us up and appreciating the beauty, brains and baby-making ladies we are (Beyonce paraphrase); they often feed into our insecurity and validate that because we are not big/small enough, smart/dumb enough, out-going/quiet enough than we are un-worthy.

At the risk of sounding like a complete bra-burning feminist, I have to say that ladies– we have to stick together and stand up for ourselves! It is one of my core beliefs that we all receive the respect that we give ourselves. Love who you are, and know what you deserve and don’t treat your body like an object, free to be “bought” for a cheap drink or bargained for a commitment. Your body is a temple to be honored, not an object to be perfected. It is sacred. It is “fearfully and wonderfully made” to be enjoyed through a life that is well lived, not hated and bashed and criticized for the way it looks different than the one next to it. Women, we need to stop comparing and putting beach other down and recognize the unique role that each woman plays in her life, her family, our world.

And if we come together and recognize and see the beauty in all women, whether or not they look like they belong on the cover of Vogue, we will each do our part in coloring this black and white world a rainbow of light. Because we all have different colors, we all have light within us, we all have deep, incomparable beauty and the sooner we begin to recognize it in each other; the sooner we begin to believe it for ourselves and act in a way that honors the beauty of us.

Because after all girls, we run this!

You step a little closer each day… 11.12.13

“You step a little closer each day
Still I can’t see what’s going on

Stones taught me to fly
Love taught me to cry
So come on courage!
Teach me to be shy

It’s not hard to grow
When you know that you just don’t know”. – Damien Rice “Cannonball”

Yesterday was 11-11, the day of Wishes, Dreams, Hopes and Prayers. Today is 11-12-13. The day of steps, progress, faith. The day that my hero Martin Luther King Jr. calls us to “take the next step without seeing the whole staircase”. One step at a time. 5 minutes at a time. That’s how we really live life. The problem is when we think that we know the future, we can predict the next step, the next moment, the next move.

As Damien shares with us through the tear-jerking ballad, “Cannonball”, everything he experienced in life that he was taught would teach him something specific or would surely produce a specific action; ended up having the opposite effect on him. Stones are meant to knock us down. Love is surely not supposed to make you cry. Courage is intended to keep you from being shy. Sometimes in the school of life, the teacher we thought would reveal to us one thing; ends up teaching us an unexpected, sometimes unwanted lesson. You show up to Social Studies and you end up studying math. You show up as the teacher, but end up the student. Learning from those who you should be teaching. Growing in places you should “have it together” already.

The beautiful and fascinating thing about life is that right when we believe we’ve learned a lesson enough times and we’ve finally “got it down”; we end up being challenged in a new way, we never would have guessed would occur. And that is the essence of growth. How can you grow in a place where you feel you have already reached your full potential, your full purpose, your full growth. Each of us has a purpose here in this moment, on this earth. If we didn’t, we would not be here any longer. Sometimes we know our purpose and feel a calling on our personal, professional, emotional and spiritual lives. And other times we don’t. But whether we do or don’t, the true growth occurs in the beauty of the unknown, the piercing mysteries of life that leave us not knowing, yet still growing. Living one day at a time. Counting one breath. Stepping 1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 13.

Aware that we are human. We are here. And we keep stepping closer each day, living life in the beautiful unknown, which is the true place of surrender. The place of Light and Truth.