Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review - January 2014

As I was reading a local blog I was excited for her that for the first time in the 6 years she's been blogging, she had posted every single day in 2014 and as I commented I realized that I had probably posted the least this year of any year I've been blogging and as I came over here to my little space on the internet, I discovered that it was absolutely true!  By a long shot!

So, I am going to attempt a series of 12 posts "real quick" (I am *not* staying up until midnight so we shall see . . . ) to recap our year both for ourselves and for any of you who are interested. 
I would love to read your comments if you do take a moment to scroll through.  Or if you're reading on your phone I totally get that it is too hard to comment!!!  Text me or email me or even . . . gasp, call me instead!

So here goes, January 2014.

We rang in the new year preschool/toddler style with an early, low key party.  

Cora's room that I have never actually finished completely photographing and she is now 20 months old but I either need to just take an hour and do it or let it go!  Fun BIG basket that I got at a yard sale.  Fun story, I stopped at the sale with Sweetie when she was visiting and they were asking 20 bucks for this basket!  A few weeks later I pulled up to a sale at the same house not realizing it was the same one until I recognized this basket and a few other things.  This time they were asking $2!  Sold!!!

My Aunt Gail made this quilt!  Isn't it amazing?  I love the ruffled edge, the pinwheel pattern and the colors!  I love the crib that was a garage sale find before David was born and the luscious ruffled crib skirt was a labor of LOVE from my mama and the painted nursery (pale pink with a light grey accent wall) was a labor of love from my dad!  Crib sheet from my sweet friend, Jenee and I do love the wood floors in her room and the other bedrooms in our home.    

I will admit that looking back through these photos has brought some pain.  On December 30, 2014 Cora was diagnosed with hip displasia.  It was a really, really hard time BUT God saw us through completely and wonderfully and we are so thankful these days of traction, surgery, casting, etc. are behind us.  Being prayerful that they will not need to be repeated in years to come but it is a possibility.

I did love those little ice cream jammies though.  Thanks, Emily and Lilli!

Nana always brightens up a dreary day!!! 

Sweet girl was SUCH a champ with her traction!

my cutie little snow shoveler

Thank you Jenny and Lyndle for hand me downs as well!!!

Pretty girl!  All dressed up to go to the library if I remember correctly.  We were soaking up this pre-cast time.  

This girl still loves her apples a year later.  In fact "apple" was one of her first words!  In Europe she began just totally going after them, seeds, core and all!  

Stringing cheerios during "quiet alone time" - formerly called "nap".  

sibling photo shoot

snow ice cream!

Cora's surgery was January 30th

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dressember style challenge

Dressember is so much fun!  

I am cozy in a sweater dress today so kindly given to me by my friend Tabitha!  Thank you, Tabitha!  It is quite snowy and blowy outside today.  

While the temps have dipped outside the numbers on my fundraising page keep climbing and climbing!  Thank you all so much!  Together we have crossed the $1,000 mark!!!  

This is incredible!!!

In today's post I wanted to tell you about a fun Dressember challenge that happened last week and is happening again tomorrow!  

Every Tuesday Dressember teams up with a coast to coast style challenge and encourages Dressember participants to not only wear a dress but to put a twist on it.  Two weeks ago was to layer a vest over a dress.  Last week was to incorporate animal print and tomorrow is to wear sequins!  

I issued a challenge to nearly 150 friends and family that for everyone who:

a) wore a dress along with me last Tuesday (12/23)
b) incorporated animal print in their outfit
c) told at least one person about the Dressember project and the work of International Justice Mission 

I would donate $1 per person to the Dressember campaign.  

These ten wonderful women joined with me and sent me their photos!  


THREE generations here!   Brenda pictured above and Erin, Clara and Ava below

two generations here, why oh why didn't I dress Cora in some of her leopard print leggings?!  
yours truly above and my wonderful mama below

my sweet friend Marcella



and my fantastic mother-in-law, Rebecca!

Doesn't they all look so great!  It was so much fun to get the photos rolling in!  

So, anyone up for wearing sequins tomorrow?

Same deal applies, if you 

a) wear a dress along with me tomorrow (or Wednesday if you don't read this until you're already dressed on Tuesday!)
b) include sequins in your outfit
c) tell at least one person about the Dressember project and the work of International Justice Mission 

I will donate $1 per person to the Dressember campaign.  

I would dearly love it if you send me a photo if you join in!  

Bonus points if you post your photo on social media and spread the word of what Dressember is all about and what International Justice Mission is up to!!!!

We are changing lives!!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dressember post three

Hi you guys!  

Hope you had a very merry Christmas!  

The whole Dressember campaign is drawing quickly to a close.  Three more days left in 2014 = 3 more days of Dressember!

In some ways it has gone faster than I thought it would.  I'll admit that I was daunted at first about the idea of wearing a dress every single day.  It took me several days to commit to doing it after I first learned about Dressember because in my own flesh I wondered if I'd FEEL like wearing a dress everyday and what if I ran up against denying my own desires!  Boy are we selfish when left to our own natures but thankfully God is molding me more and more into His image as I let Him.

As I recognized that my desires/comfort are a minuscule thing compared to bringing HOPE, JOY, FREEDOM and HEALING to others it became a much easier thing to decide.   

dress from my Aunt Kim worn while running many Christmas shopping errands!

From Dressember participant Katlyn Schwab who is not only wearing a dress everyday but is also traveling in/advocating from China while doing it!  

"Some days, the last thing you want to do is put on a dress and take a picture. But it's a small sacrifice. And this "small sacrifice serves as a daily reminder of the millions of women and girls who wake up without any amount of autonomy. We do this for them. This is our stand, and a dress is our flag. Together we will carve a path to a better future for women everywhere."

You can do anything in a dress including wear one to the chiropractor with some careful layering.  You can also do crafts with a 4 1/2 year old and one year old, clean up messes, prepare and feed meals, etc., etc. AND look festive :) 

I am so, so very glad that I have done this.  Teaming up with all of you has been super meaningful.  

Daydreaming about all of the GOOD that is going to come out of what we have been able to do together is beyond exciting!  

REAL CHANGE is going to occur in people's lives.  

People without HOPE will have HOPE and people to walk alongside them through the process of healing. 

coast to coast meets Dressember style challenge day to incorporate animal print into your outfit with your dress - also day to honor Peggy Davis by wearing her favorite color, hot pink! 

after wearing the animal print outfit to the preschool Christmas party, Christmas shopping with the kids, through the drive through, etc., etc. I was grateful to be able to change into a more comfortable dress layered outfit for cousin Christmas present opening night at my parents.  I recognize that I have so much freedom and choice and I am participating in Dressember for those who through no fault of their own, do not!  

my sweet girlie looks so pretty in her Christmas dress from Nana

We are blessed with richness in material things as well as in our opportunities!  I cannot help but want the same for others!

"Day 28, and really missing jeans. It can sound like such a stretch to call a month of dresses a "sacrifice", but when you get to the end of the month, it feels like exactly that. Then we remember why we're doing this-- because millions of women and girls wake up everyday without the luxury of choice. #Dressember is about solidarity in one small, daily choice; together we proclaim that choice is not a luxury, but a human right. All people have the inherent right to a vibrant, autonomous life.#itsbiggerthanadress"  - Dressember instagram account

As I write this blogpost, a donation came in that HIT my wonderfully crazy goal of $900!!!  Because of all of you who have donated and teamed with me, we have raised $900 that was NOT available before to RESCUE people from HORRIFIC SLAVERY.  

This is a celebration!  I am so happy to be able to help in this way and AM so humbled and feel so privileged that God would use me as a mouthpiece for these individuals and that He would bless me so richly with friends and family who are willing to come alongside me to fight injustice together and bring hope to those who are hurting!  

Thank you!!

Fun fact:  Out of 256 individual fundraisers for the Dressember 2014 campaign - WE - you guys partnering with me are #42 of top fundraisers!  This thing is huge and I am proud of what we have accomplished together!  

My little girl is loved, protected and cherished by her Daddy.  Every girl and woman in the world should be respected and protected by men!  Instead of lamenting the huge problem we can confidently stand together knowing that we can do SOMETHING!  

I wish I could say I was completely content with what we've done and believe me, if not a single other donation comes in I will be thrilled with what we have been able to contribute to the lives of others together but may I gently challenge those of you who have felt like 

"oh I'll give later" 


"I'm busy with this and that and Christmas stuff, etc. right now and I don't have time to go over to the page and figure out how to donate" 


"my $1 or $2 will not make a difference so why bother, everyone else is giving more than me, it would be embarrassing if I only gave a dollar or two" 

to set aside those thoughts just long enough to bless yourself with the chance to do something that you will be proud to be a part of.  I can't tell you the excitement and peace and hope that I have because instead of lamenting this horrible thing that exists in our world and wanting to ignore it, that I have instead been able to be a small part of raising $349,846 (the total amount raised by the entire Dressember campaign as of the moment I am typing this - updated totals can be seen here) to bring hope and healing and freedom. 

What we are doing will drastically change a woman or a young girl's life in extremely tangible ways.

To not be held captive, starved, beaten, made to do the unthinkable up to 110 times in a single day according to reports I've read . . . 

THAT is something worth doing in my opinion.

If each person who has not already donated to International Justice Mission through this Dressember campaign and reads this blogpost or the email that I send about Dressember donates $1, then we collectively as a team of people joining together will have raised $1,321!

$1,200 allows IJM to conduct investigations for one month.

$300 provides the funds to give aftercare packages to 10 survivors of sex traffiking.

$110 allows one family freed from slavery to receive Freedom Training.  

From International Justice Mission's website:

Funds raised on behalf of IJM are directed to IJM's Urgent Needs fund, and will be used to meet IJM's most pressing needs in our mission to combat violent oppression around the world.  Learn more about IJM's work here.

IJM has some impressive and hopeful statistics:

more than 18,000 people relieved from oppression

13,000 + officers and officials trained since 2012

more than 770 convictions!

wearing a dress once the lights are out in the kids' rooms on Christmas eve and getting to work baking, wrapping, etc. for the morning

so thankful for my family who has supported my dreams of making a difference!  

If you are interested in reading the story of one of the rescues International Justice Mission has made you can read it here.   

you can even ice skate in a dress (although I was the only one on the rink doing it!) :) 

If God is not calling you to give at this time to this cause for whatever reason, I completely respect that and you!  Do the work that He is calling you to.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to spread the word about this problem in our world and to share the excitement and hope that there IS something we can do about it.  

We are not powerless.  

Satan does not win!

Another interesting story about IJM's work with widows in Uganda can be found here.  

Blythe Hill, Dressember organizer reminds us that this is all bigger than us afterall.  

May we be hands and feet, wallets and those who pray, so that the world will be different for many, many souls!  

What is happening is EXCITING you guys!  

The enemies strongholds are being torn down and LIGHT is shining into the dark places!  

Thank you for joining with me! 

May His Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

all is calm, all is bright

last year's tree

(oh yeah, no curtains because we had to take them down and wash them because we had a mouse . . . ew!  Thankful to not be dealing with that today!)  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dressember post two

This Dressember thing is exciting you guys!  

So, so much good is happening.  

I am going to paste some of the good news shared by the Dressember campaign into this post along with photos of me wearing dresses this week.  So many of you have been so very generous to give, to pray and to also loan (and in some cases give!) me dresses.  I value you all so much.

I sent out an email to family and friends that many of you probably received asking if each person would please consider donating $2 to this campaign to end slavery and bring dignity to women and girls around the globe.  

Not one person has yet donated $2.  

I am so, so very thankful for ALL of you who have donated more than $2 but I do not want the rest of us to think that our $2 doesn't count.  

Although I have reached about a third of the way to my goal of fundraising for International Justice Mission and their rescue operations there is still quite a ways to go to reach the $900 goal I have set for myself.  

However, if each person I sent the email to donates $2.  Just $2 then the goal will be met.  Do not think because you cannot donate $10 or $25 or $50 that your donation is not important.  

This is about being a team and letting God use us ALL to bring about His glory here on earth.

There is no "too small" amount.  

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3

my friend Peggy loaned me a "twirling" dress.  

"We want to encourage you today: You might not be raising much money, but you're participating in a cultural shift. People see what you're doing, and it challenges them to do something. There is currency in advocacy; you are challenging peoples' values to shift. You are shaking things up, and there is tremendous power in that role."  - Dressember campaign

"Bringing up the issue of human trafficking isn't usually comfortable; you might upset people when you take their focus off maintaining a comfortable, peaceful routine and call them to action. Some will want to join in the fight, and some won't; the only thing you can control is you. #Dressember is a fun and relatively non threatening way to engage in a huge injustice." - Dressember campaign

"Have we told you lately how amazing you all are? 2,544 of you have collectively raised over 223K and we are only halfway through the month! If you're looking at your individual campaign page, thinking you haven't done much, the way that 223K+ amount breaks down is to an average of $88 per advocate-- that's it! When we all put in even a small effort, we can yield big results!" - Dressember campaign

"We're excited to announce that we are officially over halfway to our overall goal! Donations have come in from over 30 countries-- from France to Finland, Mexico to Malaysia, India to Italy-- all overwhelmingly declaring the inherent value of all people."- Dressember campaign

Tuesday's style challenge layering a vest over a dress (and in my case I layered a sweater and a vest!)

 "Because of your advocacy, lives will be changed, people will be freed."- Dressember campaign

my sweetie, cutie pie in a dress that I wore when I was her age!

"Day 19! If this is getting (or has been) challenging, we hope that this small sacrifice serves as a daily reminder of the millions of women and girls who wake up without any amount of autonomy. We do this for them. This is our stand, and a dress is our flag. Together we will carve a path to a better future for women everywhere." Dressember campaign

my friend Tabitha very generously gave me this dress!  

"Advocating for the inherent dignity of all people is something you'll never regret doing. Be someone who leaves a legacy of love, courage, and generosity." Dressember campaign

one of the dresses my friend Julie loaned to me, so pretty 

"Dressember participants have raised over $270K as of today, from donations made in 33 countries! That's reason to celebrate!" Dressember campaign

last night I pulled out my "square dance dress" and topped it with a green apron for our family date to go look at Christmas lights!

If you are interested in reading more, here is an article that my cousin sent me this week about the beginnings of Dressember.