Tag Archives | sex-trafficking

What I’m Loving: Fall 2017

What I'm Loving: Fall Edition

Before this season had ever lifted off the ground I had a word pinned to it. Launch. The word brims with action and indicates any sort of beginning. Our church launched a second campus, our kids started a new school, and I entered that long-awaited season of having all three kids in school a couple days a week.

I launched a new series this fall, and I shared how I love beginnings but hate admitting I’m a beginner, mostly because it means admitting I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. But I’m so thankful for the brave steps of ordinary beginners who take a risk and release something new into existence one shaky step of faith at a time.

Here are FIVE things I’m loving for fall… one for each of your five senses. All can be traced back to certain a place of origin, a simple dream, idea, or passion. Every beautiful one has its own precious beginning.

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Speaking Beauty blog by Julie Cassol

My friend Julie began this blog with one hope: to capture and communicate beauty. The images she collects from her everyday paths have quietly invited me to notice the beauty I pass by without a second glance. Her latest post on unity gifts us all a pair of fresh eyes. Her simple conversational style leaves me hungry for more of this beauty she seeks, then speaks.

To see

from “Pumpkin Beauty” by Julie Cassol [Speaking Beauty blog]

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The Next Right Thing podcast with Emily P. Freeman

Every Tuesday I exhale as I press play and soak in the audible words of the world’s most peaceful voice. Emily’s amiable honesty inspires me, and her willingness to search for the place her voice fits best blesses me. I didn’t realize until half way through the fifth episode that I was arranging my schedule around each new fifteen-minute increment of pure soul food week to week. It will become your favorite Tuesday habit, too.

TO HEAR

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Sparrow House Botanicals

The sparrows at Redeemed Ministries launched an amazing bath and beauty product line this year. Every gorgeous bar of handmade soap, every chic tube of lip balm, and every tub of whipped body butter is 100% organic and exploitation free. Not only will you enjoy the beautiful scents paired in these products, your shopping list will make a difference in the lives of survivors and simultaneously spread the word about sex-trafficking.

To smell

I never used to be one of those people who bought Christmas presents and Halloween candy at the same time. But when my youngest was due just weeks after Christmas, I figured I didn’t have much choice. When she arrived three and a half weeks early (exactly eight days before Christmas), I was surprisingly prepared.

You can make a difference and let these amazing fair trade products help you whittle down your gift-giving list long before the rush begins. Teachers, coaches, dance instructors. Neighbors, community helpers, and all the people who make your life a little brighter.

Here you go, and you’re welcome.

The peppermint lavender lip balm is one of my favorites and perfect for stocking stuffing. I’ve set aside some of my favorites, including the orange coconut body butter and handmade soaps, so I can give away a product I believe in on an everyday whim.

If you are already so far ahead that Christmas shopping is a big check mark for you, Sparrow House Botanicals has some amazing new pumpkin products perfect for the month of November. There are so many people in my life who deserve a little pumpkin spice pampering. Maybe that someone is you.

Pumpkin Spice

Sparrow House Botanicals Fall Favorites Gift Set

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins

I’m all about “Team Pumpkin Spice,” but I hold the position that not all things need pumpkinizing. When you rip through the wrapper of a Reese’s Peanut Butter pumpkin, you taste nothing but chocolate peanut buttery goodness… all in a darling pumpkin shape. I can handle that. Oh, and because these aren’t jack-o-lanterns, you can go ahead and enjoy these for the whole month of November… or until you officially declare it’s Christmas season.

Reese's peanut butter pumpkins

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Homemade Play-dough

It began as a bribe on the days my tiny one cried all the way home after dropping the big kids off at school. I taught her to plow the huge mound of dough together with her palms, then squeeze it tightly into a ball. “Push then squeeze; push then squeeze,” I’d hear her say in a sing-song way as I’d slip off to the sink to rinse out my coffee cup.

I’ve come to enjoy our morning play-dough routine. As her tiny hands grip the rolling pin, her eyes light up when she realizes she’s flattened the dough all on her own. When I made this “play clay,” as the recipe calls it, I didn’t much think about the color. I grabbed the food coloring we had the most of: bright orange.

To feel

Feeling the soft play-dough take on a new form in my hands has reminded me that God is molding me and changing me and that new beginnings are part of His plan. Mornings at the kitchen table with orange play-dough have been the highlight of my fall. And witnessing my littlest soak it all up has been everything I’ve needed to embrace this season of beautiful beginnings.

What beginnings are you celebrating this fall?

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When Modern-Day Slavery Becomes Personal

I could be her.

This wasn’t my first thought, but it’s the conclusion that eventually transformed my perspective on modern-day slavery.

Her face was listed among countless others on the internet. Every last one of her teeth had been removed. For marketing purposes. Her lifeless eyes haunted me when I laid down to go to sleep at night.

Her dignity and worth stripped down to nothingness.

Though I’d probably never meet this girl, I was compelled to pray for her. A torrent of tears overwhelmed me each time I tried to discuss the matter with God.

I felt helpless, hopeless, and quite certain that my prayers lifted up to heaven from underneath the comfort of a down blanket could never make the tiniest shred of difference in this war on humanity.

I called her Sarah even though God knew her real name. For the longest time, that’s all I could do. Just pray. Lift my voice on behalf of the girl whose smile was stolen. Mostly they were angry, bitter prayers.

A fearful darkness crept over me. Sometimes, in the middle of my prayer, I couldn’t breathe. I saw precious life in those eyes. A girl with big, bold dreams.

Somehow, I never saw myself.

I came to terms with how little I knew about modern-day slavery, particularly sex trafficking. Turning my head the other way no longer worked, so I started asking questions. I quit worrying how the answers would affect me.

Most left me altered.

“How could I ever understand her world? Or walk with her?” I asked God. “How could my words ever make a difference?”

My understanding of trafficking was limited to the kidnapped girl chained to a bed in a cellar. I didn’t recognize the prostitute on the street corner who appeared to be in control of her life as a victim, too.

Never before had I considered that a girl can become a trafficking victim just because she is hurt and searching. I didn’t yet understand the slow and methodical way that evil uses trust and love as lures.

Preying upon vulnerability, evil profits from brokenness over and over and over again.

I failed to comprehend that many of the women caught up in this industry will eventually come to accept their lifestyle as shame quietly convinces them that this is all there is.

I didn’t see, because I wasn’t looking.

Though an entire world spanned the difference between Sarah’s heart and mine, one day all that changed. God began to let me see myself in her defeated eyes. I realized I could be her. Nameless face. Crushed spirit. I could be the girl without a smile.

Modern-day slavery became personal that day.

I’ve been broken. Searching. Hurting. Shame has whispered the very same lies, and I’ve listened like I had no other option.

I could be her.

It was a terrifying yet necessary realization. Though I wanted more than anything to run from the thought, I let myself feel the suffocating weight of it.

That possibility changed my perspective entirely.

Eventually, every excuse, every judgment, every misconception, and every lie became exposed by the light of God’s truth. The darkness over me subsided, and God replaced the old picture in my mind with something brand new.

When I prayed for Sarah, I no longer saw her in that hopeless state. I began to see her beautiful smile. I heard laughter deep in her soul.

Because of the cross, Sarah and I can share the same story of hope. No, I’ve never met her. I don’t know the rest of her story, but I do know this: Jesus has the power and desire to rescue her.

The good news isn’t all that good if I don’t believe that.

Modern-day slavery is a personal issue. 20.9 million faces with hopes and dreams and names. Even though we could never conjure up the realities required to truly understand, we can stand with Sarah and all the others who share the exact same horrifying story.

Modern-day slavery is a personal issue.

Start somewhere. Learn more. Ask the questions you’re afraid to ask. Give. Volunteer. Pray, and ask God to make it personal for you, too.

Any one of us could be her.

I don’t know exactly how God will use either of us in this fight, but He has called us all to battle the darkness from a place of hope and to believe wholeheartedly that He can and will win this war. Are you in?

Jesus loves you… and her.

Kelly

 

Resources

The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking by Mary Frances Bowley 

This book provides a profound picture of our willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sex trafficking.

Traffic Cam App by Exchange Initiative 

TraffickCam allows anyone with a smartphone to help fight sex trafficking by uploading photos of hotel rooms when they travel.

 

Local Ministries

Redeemed Ministries HoustonRedeemed Ministries  {Austin, Dallas, Houston, Chicago}

Provides holistic care to adult women sex trafficking victims, and operates a four-bed safe house (1 of 2 in Texas).

 

Free the Captives Free the Captives {Houston}

Fights the exploitation and trafficking of Houston’s youth, and hosts the Houston Human-Trafficking Conference.

 

Jesus Said LoveJesus Said Love

{Waco, Dallas, San Antonio, Killeen, College Station, Houston, East Texas} Visits commercial sex establishments to build authentic relationships.

 

 

 

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