Thursday, August 30, 2012

a good feeling

Do you remember that list I wrote a while back? Do you remember how many things I've checked off that list?

None. I started part of one.

And guess what? I got to cross that one off the list! Weeeee!

How, you ask?

Well, one night I came home to a sweet little email, who's important contents I've screen-shot and included below.

Needless to say, I was enjoying that good feeling.

This is not the first bow tie I've sold, but it is the first I've sold to a complete stranger! Huzzah!

Who else gets a good feeling from crossing things off a To-Do list? *raises hand earnestly.  

That is pretty much all I wanted to share with you today. I know it's shorter than normal, but it's a nice change, no? :)

P.S. There are some new things in the store, so if you'd like to check them out, they're right here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I've written about lots of things, mostly concerning myself. I wrote for a couple weeks straight on my travels to China and India, places that are beautiful and wonderful. I've written about crafts and foods. New things I'm trying. Things I would like to try in the future.

But I'd like to take a minute to write about something old. Ancient. Dark. Insidious.


It is an institution more ancient than China and more detestable than centipedes in your apartment (take my word for it). 

And it still exists today (a modern definition of slavery).

It may not be as obvious as a bent over man or woman in a field, picking cotton, with stripes on their backs and their families scattered against their will--no, it has gone underground. Away from the light and sight of those who would act if they knew. Out of sight, out of mind. 

The issue of human trafficking is one that I began learning about in college and towards the end of my college career, spent one night a week for a whole semester learning, discussing and seeing images of human trafficking (slavery). Women, seated in a room on riser levels behind a glass window--like pets in a pet store. For sale.

We would discuss it's entrenchment in society, and in some places, its integration into the very culture.

Maybe numbers will help paint a picture. (source)

There are an estimated 20-30 million slaves today, worldwide. (that ranges from the combined populations of Shanghai and New York City to the combined populations of Shanghai, NYC, London and Taipei)

Trafficking is the 3rd most profitable crime industry (behind drugs and weapons), grossing around $32 billion annually (some variance in it's placing, but it's solidly in the top 3).

To bring it a little closer to home-- an estimated 14.5 to 17.5 thousand victims are trafficked across US borders every year. That number does not include domestic trafficking where no international borders are crossed.

Of the numbers of global child sex tourists (individuals who travel to locales specifically for child sex), an estimated 25% of them are American. This percentage increases in certain countries. In Cambodia, 38% of child sex tourists are American. In Costa Rica, 80%. (source)

The numbers are big and hard to comprehend. I've read articles upon articles. The facts and stories would fill so many books. Over all the nuances, depravity and forms that it can take, the fact remains that slavery exists.

Did you know about it? This breach of human rights is unacceptable. I've wanted to do something about it for a while, but I'm not entirely sure what. I have a couple of ideas, so if and when they materialize, I'll let you know.

I just wanted to share this bit of my heart with you.

What you do with it is up to you :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I have a reason

I will exalt you, LORD, 
for you lifted me out of the depths 
and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 

LORD my God,  I called to you for help, 
and you healed me. 
You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."
LORD, when you favored me, 
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, LORD, I called; 
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
"What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; 
LORD, be my help."

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and
not be silent.
LORD, my God, I will praise you forever.
Psalm 30

There is so much brokenness in this world. Senseless. Relentless.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about suffering and human nature. How we're bound to to hurt those closest to us no matter how much we don't want to. So why should we even attempt to build those intimate relationships? How can we open ourselves up to the possibility of being hurt?

I don't know if my words that day were helpful, but it's been something I've been thinking over. I'd like to get it down in words, if you'll bear with me.

I've been hurt before. Deeply betrayed by someone from whom this was least expected. Pain, shock, disbelief and anger ensued.

When I was alone, I cried out to my Jesus in desperation because things were falling apart and I had no control. The gaping emptiness seemed too big to be real, but the pain reminded me that it was. I cried out to my God because I was too weak to face it. Too broken. Confused. Sad. Sad because how had things gotten to this point?

I don't know if I have all the words to describe what I felt then. Even thinking back to that moment takes my breath away still. But. My friends, I'm not here to talk about how Satan's work caused brokenness. That's old news. That's news that's been happening for ages.

Instead, let me tell you what happened in my moment of utter fallen-apart-ness. Peace. Inexplicable joy. In that moment I had no illusions of what this world has to offer and I knew, with complete certainty, that this quiet, still Voice, was there.

"Things are going to be hard, Michelle, but I AM. It is not your responsibility, but Mine. I have taken it."

I remember that time, the provision that God gave me in the form of a few close friends who held me when I could not stand. Who cried with me. Who spent time with me in silence. Just being there. What an amazing treasure. I will be forever thankful.

I have a distinct memory of walking with one of these friends one day, and we were walking down a street we had walked down countless times. Yet that day I marveled and rejoiced in God's creation. I felt delight in His work. In the trees around me. The air, the light-- despite the pollution, it dazzled me. Looking back, that seems to be a surreal and out of place moment, given the circumstances. But it was a sweet gift. The brokenness was not magically removed, but I had invited God into it. And He has made all the difference.

After time had passed, the rebuilding of relationship was (and is) still a process. Frustration in the midst of the aftermath was often present. I still had strong feelings of anger and hurt. I still cried out to God about it. How could this person be so blind? How could this person be so insensitive? How could this person be so seemingly unrepentant? Do they not see the consequences of their actions? I raged at God. I don't want to share my heart. I don't want to open a vulnerability to this person. I don't want them to have power to hurt me ever again. I don't want to trust anything this person says. They've lied before. How can you ask me to forgive when I know that this person will just repeat their actions and hurt me again? 

"Because that is what I did for you, beloved."

Stillness. Truth. My rage dissipated. My will submitted. 

I placed my trust not in this person, but in Jesus. Who, after all the things I've ever said and done that betray and hurt him after he has taken my deserved death punishment, loves me with an everlasting, open love.

Yes, we will be let down, hurt and betrayed by those with whom we have intimate relationships. We are human and sinful, so that is inevitable. But fearing that possibility, avoiding certain relationships because of that possibility, is not seeming wisdom or self preservation. If you have placed your life in Jesus' hands, it is a lack of trust in His sovereignty and a disregard of what He did on the cross. Jesus' eyes were wide open from the beginning. He knew the depths of our darkest betrayals. He knew, and he went to the cross any way. He opened himself to the deep, cutting wounds of our willful imperfection. 

And he has redeemed those wounds. His light has pushed out all darkness. 

As for me, it's still a process. After that moment of stillness, I can't say that I forgave completely and trusted implicitly. I'm still striving for it. Forgiveness is a choice. There are many times I don't handle things as I should, but the rage I harbored no longer has a place in my heart. The process of rebuilding trust takes much longer. Patience. Perseverence. All things are made new in Him. 

Sure, I might not have gone through so much pain if I hadn’t chosen to stay in on this relationship and had refused to be vulnerable, allowing the possibility of further pain. But I also wouldn’t have seen God’s redemption at work. I wouldn’t have a changed perspective on humanity-- one much more aware and less judgmental of our failings. I wouldn’t have the same response to other’s suffering, even feel it as my own sometimes. We’re so averse to hurt and pain in this world. But it is the hurt and pain that tells us there is More.

While I would never ask to go through this again, I can say some of my sweetest moments, feeling a tangible presence of the Spirit and inexplicable joy that can come only from Him, came in some of those darkest times.

I have a reason to be Thankful. To Rejoice. To Praise. Even in the suffering that may come.