Close Your Eyes and Point to a Spot on a Local Map

Here we are, about to begin week four of 2014 already! Can you believe it? I am glad to say that I have been pretty busy! Unfortunately, that means that I am a little behind on my 52 Things to Do list.

This past week I accomplished #2 with the help of my friends.

Sunday was a beautiful sunny, windy day. We realized after church that it was too pretty to just go home and sit inside all day, so we thought, why not do something fun? But what?

Well… luckily I had 52 things to choose from! We didn’t want to spend too much money (if any) and we wanted to soak in the beauty of the day, so that narrowed down our options. We settled on going on an adventure: “Close your eyes and point to a spot on a local map. Go there and take a picture.” 

All you need to complete this is:

  • A Map
  • A vehicle with gas
  • A camera
  • Friends (Not required, but more fun this way!)

I don’t know how many people actually own maps anymore, but none of us did. Detour to Target! Of course, I didn’t buy a map. They are ridiculously expensive! Instead, I found a local map and laid it out on the floor. Then I sat down next to it, closed my eyes and pointed.

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The first time didn’t work. The map was so small that my finger landed on the blue line. What are the odds. So, I tried again.  This time I landed on the farthest spot in the area from where we were; “Je Woody Rd” which is actually J. E., not “Je”. Good job, finger! (I’m not sure that my friends were too happy, but at least they stuck it out!) We loaded up the car and headed for J.E. Woody Rd. in Springtown, Texas.

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The drive was pretty. A country drive with a few small hills and lots of cows. I’m not a country girl, but there’s something about driving through the country on a Sunday…

About an hour later, we arrived at J.E. Woody Rd.

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This is the road:

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And that’s about all there was to see.

Time to relax for the long road home. And here’s the most exciting part! 

On the way home, we passed by this giant statue of Jesus.

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On the gate to the statue it said: “Capernaum Village and Stone Garden”. Apparently, it’s a complete replica of a first-century village! You can even lodge there! I can’t wait until it’s open this summer to go visit.

This adventure was fun and it led to a new adventure for this Summer. I would say it was a success!

How are your goals for 2014 going?

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52 Things To Do In 2014

2013-07-06 19.51.26-5Being an adult can get really boring. I am so busy with work during the week that by the time the weekend gets here, I don’t want to do anything. When I am actually in the mood to do something, my friends are all busy or we can’t think of anything to do so we wind up doing nothing.

This coming year I want to change that.

I want to try something new, so this past week I created a list of 52 things that I’ve always meant to do, but haven’t; one for each week of 2014. I thought it would be fun to complete them and keep a journal of how each one turned out, posting some of them in my blog. Next year should never be boring or uneventful.

I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!

52 Things to do in 2014 (in no particular order):

  1.  Paint a canvas with Glitter.
  2. Close your eyes and point to a spot on a local map. Go there and take a picture.
  3. Host a fancy dinner party.
  4. Write hand-written letters to all your friends and mail them.
  5. Design a dress and sew it.
  6. Visit three local independent bookstores and purchase a book at each one.
  7. Bake cookies and surprise a friend with them.
  8. Write chapter 1 of a novel.
  9. Get a massage followed by a manicure and pedicure.
  10. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  11. Babysit a friend’s kids for a whole day so that they can have a “Date Day.”
  12. Take a 1-day road trip to somewhere you’ve never been.
  13. Go through your room and simplify. Get rid of as much as you can and donate it all to a charity.
  14. Host a Gatsby Party.
  15. Buy a disposable camera and take friends on a picnic. Use up the whole camera.
  16. Go on a Daddy-Daughter Date.
  17. Find an old world map and mark everywhere you’ve been with cute pins.
  18. Buy film for your Diana camera and go to Dallas with your girlfriends to do a photoshoot.
  19. Go through your whole wardrobe and create as many outfits as you can. Take a picture of each one.
  20. Dress up and go to a movie by yourself. See what YOU want to see.
  21. Creatively paint a flower pot and buy a plant for it. Name it and try to keep it alive.
  22. Have a Mother-Daughter Day.
  23. Find a famous painting that you love and try to replicate it.
  24. Upcycle something that you own.
  25. Host a book exchange.
  26. Go to the top of one of the tallest buildings in the city and take pictures.
  27. Make your own glitter heels.
  28. Whiten your teeth.
  29. Have an old movie classics marathon.
  30. Go to Six Flags.
  31. Do something that tourists do in your hometown that you’ve never done.
  32. Go on a hike.
  33. Go to the park by yourself. People watch, journal, do a devotional and have lunch.
  34. Pick a random person in the phone book and write them an anonymous letter saying how much God loves them.
  35. Go to a wedding. If you don’t have one to go to, find one.
  36. Dress up like Barbie and have a Girl’s Night Out.
  37. Hand wash and detail your car.
  38. Attend a local fashion show.
  39. Make a flower box garden for the patio.
  40. Take a photography class.
  41. Go to the botanical gardens and take pictures of all the beauty.
  42. Visit someone you haven’t seen in a while.
  43. Stay in your pajamas all day.
  44. Go see a local band play.
  45. Face a fear.
  46. Try coffee at a coffeehouse you’ve never been to.
  47. Make a kite and fly it.
  48. Write a letter to your favorite Disney Princess.
  49. Go to a drive-in movie.
  50. Get sushi to-go and have a night in.
  51. Find or create the tackiest sweater you can and make it a tacky outfit day. (December)
  52. Make a fancy gingerbread house. (December)

What are your plans for 2014?

What Christmas Means to Me.

Throughout my life, I have gone back and forth on Christmas and what it means to me. My mom says I never believed in Santa as a child. However, I remember one specific year sitting in my room as a child looking out the window with the hope of seeing a glimpse of Santa.Image I never saw him. That very next morning, I started down the stairs and heard my dad say, “What just a minute!” My brother and I hovered on the top step as we listened to the rustling of our toys being set up. Santa must’ve woken up late. Oops!

Soon after that, during my young elementary days, Christmas was about Getting. I received so many presents from people, it was ridiculous. I would pile up all my gifts and not touch them until after Christmas so that I could count how many gifts I had received in total. I may have been a little selfish.

That probably lasted until I was a young adult. I received less anyways, so getting things was not as important as Giving. For a 19-year-old with a minimum wage job, having 30 people on my list of gifts to buy was crazy, but I loved giving! The more the better!

ImageThen, I realized there was so much love during Christmas, so it became about Romance. I always had a boyfriend. If I was single, my closest guy friend at the time and I would get together. I think we just wanted that emphasized feeling of romance during Christmas and a date for New Years, because we’d always break up by Valentines. Ha.

The past three years have been completely different and great all at the same time. I made the choice to live the way that Christ lived and my world completely changed for the better. It was hard, yes. It wasn’t an immediate transformation. In fact, the first year I didn’t even want Christmas to come because it was the first year that I was single since age 14 and wasn’t Christmas all about giving to others and being romantic? 

Last year I learned what true love was- from God. I decided to ask Him for a Christmas present, so I thought really hard. I knew I couldn’t ask for just anything. It had to be something that could be according to His Will.

So I asked myself, What is the MOST ROMANTIC thing God could give me for Christmas? Snow. So, I asked Him for snow on Christmas Day. I knew that this was a lot to ask for; especially living in the Dallas area of Texas. On Christmas Day, I woke up to a heavy snow fall and a very White Christmas: True Romance. 

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As a single 28 year old woman, Christmas is the one time of year that can make me feel more special than any guy ever could. It is the time of year that people stop thinking of themselves and give to those less fortunate; that people hold the doors open for you at the crowded mall; that bank tellers refund fees from that “mistake” you made; that someone offers a meal to that “drunk” homeless person and a place to stay during the ice storm.  Glittering lights are hung everywhere you look, actual MAILED letters arrive in your mailbox, music that have lyrics that bring hope and not depression play on the radio, that special red cup arrives at Starbucks, family comes together in spite of their differences, and innocent children look forward to the cute, chubby man in the red suit who brings them gifts while they are fast asleep. Most importantly, it is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ; the most romantic man ever. (That I found through relationship with Him, no other way.) I mean, who else can give you SNOW in TEXAS on Christmas Day??

Christmas is the one season of the year, that no matter what is happening in the world, you know it will be the same every year: Happy, joyful, generous, magical.

ImageWhat does Christmas mean to you? 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…(That Fight Trafficking)

medium_2067393199It’s that time of year! (YAY!) The stores have started decorating, the commercials are trying to sell their version of a “magical” Christmas, and my neighbors have [already] put their decorations up.

Although a lot of people aren’t ready to admit to it because Thanksgiving hasn’t come yet, it is about time to start planning: the best cards to send, a list of who to buy presents for, and of course the menu for that perfect Holiday meal.

Christmas cards, gifts and food are inevitable to make the Holidays special, so why not also make them meaningful?

With a little research, everything you purchase for the perfect Holiday this year can also make a difference in someone else’s life or support a cause that you’re passionate about.

You all know my passion, so below is a list of some of my favorite stores that provide beautiful products that fight human trafficking.

Christmas Cards:

love146         mhkenya        sanctuary

Love146 -These ReImagine cards were all handmade on recycled paper by young women in the Love146 survivor care program in the Philippines. Proceeds go toward ending child trafficking and exploitation.

Sanctuary Spring -By purchasing these cards you are helping employ women who are escaping prostitution in the Philippines.

FACTAlliance – These cards were designed by American Survivors of Child Sex Trafficking. Proceeds go toward building and sustaining aftercare homes  for survivors in the USA. (Much needed!)

Mercy House Kenya -Made by the girls from Mercy House Kenya. Every card is completely unique and each have a beautiful African flare.

House of Magnets -This is a neat website where you can choose your Holiday card, customize it and then choose what type of Charity you would like to donate proceeds towards. Anything from a water well to ending trafficking.

Gifts:

lily          Mary Clutch          livefashionable

Raven and Lily -(Probably my favorite!) Created as a platform to utilize the passion of fashion and ethical design to alleviate poverty among women. Raven and Lily provide GORGEOUS, modern jewelry, accessories, clothing and gifts made by women from all over the world who were at risk and are now employed at fair wages.

Starfish Project – Established to provide alternative employment to empower exploited women in Asia. This store also has amazingly beautiful jewelry! (Check out the Lily necklace. FAB.)

Live Fashionable -Provides employment to women in Africa so that they will have a life-changing impact on their family and community. They make some of the most beautiful scarves I’ve ever seen!

Sak Saum -A ministry dedicated to the rescue, restoration, transformation and rehabilitation of vulnerable and exploited women and men in Cambodia. If you are looking for a handbag for someone, look no further. I’m loving the Mary Clutch!

Made by Survivors -Offering pretty much everything, Made by Survivors gives 100% of their proceeds to fight trafficking and end slavery. All products are made by people around the world who have been exploited or lived in extreme poverty. The best part is that they have a kid’s department, but nothing is made by kids!!

Amazon Smile -Now you can shop your favorite online store for anything (and I mean anything) and Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to a charity of your choice! Just click the link, sign in and choose what organization you would like to choose! (RescueHer.org, anyone?)

Food:

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ZOE Coffee -If you drink coffee every morning anyway, why not make it count? Try ZOE, a European style, dark roasted, fair trade coffee. Each sip is a step closer to ending slavery!

Free2Work -Before you plan that perfect Holiday meal, learn how your favorite brands relate to trafficking and other labor abuses. Free2Work provides consumers with information on forced and child labor for the brands and products they love. (Check out chocolate*.)                                                                                                                         *Warning: Once you look you can never again say that you did not know.

Fair Trade USA -This site is kind of fun! Choose what type of food (or product) you are needing and it will give you a list of brands that are fair trade!

Whole Foods -Claiming to be the “America’s healthiest grocery store,” Whole Foods seeks out the finest natural and organic foods available, maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry, and have an unshakable commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Market Street -Committed to be more environmentally friendly, Market Street is a unique, one-stop shopping experience that combines shoppers’ everyday grocery needs with the gourmet and specialty items, whole-health products, and freshly prepared foods they create.

These are just some of my favorites. There are so many stores that support causes. You can find one that supports your passion, all it takes is a little research.

What causes are you going to support this year?

 

My First Subscription Box

Subscription boxes seem to be the newest popular purchase right now.  Have you heard of them? You go to the website, sign up and at the beginning of each month they send you a box of items worth more than the subscription price.  My first thought was, what a waste of money! Especially since you don’t even know what you are going to get!

But, it did peak my interest, so I decided to do some research. I found out that there are over 100 different subscription boxes for every type of interest!! Makeup, Beauty, Clothes, Food, Health, Fitness, Vegan, Children, Hobbies, Toys, and even Travel.

After reading reviews of all the different boxes, I was intrigued. Almost every single person enjoyed their boxes and the contents.  Many of them were addicted to subscribing to more than one type of box a month!

Obviously I had to know, are these boxes really worth the money? Are they really that enjoyable? Are they really addictive? (I sure hope not! That would get expensive!) So, I narrowed down the type of boxes I was interested in (Makeup, Beauty and Jewelry) and I chose a box that seemed to fit: the Indie Gift Box.

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Indie Gift Box interested me because they don’t just focus on one item, but on handmade items by independent artists. Plus, they give you hints throughout the month about what items will be in the next month’s box. It comes in two sizes: Standard for $20 ($25-$50 worth of items) or Deluxe for $25 ($30-$60 worth of items). I opted to save money and ordered the Standard, just in case I didn’t like it!

I’m not going to lie, the most disappointing thing about this box was it’s size. For some reason I assumed this box was going to be the size of a small shoe box. Instead it was the size of a thick journal. Once I opened the bright hot pink tissue paper, I completely forgot my disappointment!

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Here were my surprises:

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I am in love with this nail polish! The color is Unicorn Landia by Starrily.  I painted it over a neutral vanilla matte polish. It dried leaving a beautiful iridescent glow without it feeling like I painted glitter on my nails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013-09-10 18.10.54-1This product completely surprised me! Nail Butter claims to treat and heal nails and cuticles, not just mask the problems. I was skeptical, but after using it for only two days my dry cuticles feel so soft!                                                                                             Plus their product sizes are called “Marilyn” and “Audrey”. They have completely won me over!

 

 

 

 

2013-09-10 19.17.04The sample of Honey Love Face Scrub by The Wild Honey Apothocary came in this cute wrapping stamped with a tiny bee. I was reluctant to use this on my face as I have sensitive skin, but everything I researched said that honey is good for all skin types. I’ve only used it once (and boy it was sticky!!), but my skin felt so clean and smooth afterwards!

 

 

 

2013-09-09 19.24.41-1This was the biggest sample in the box: Apricot and Blackseed Serum by Aucocisco Naturals. I haven’t opened this yet, but it is an oil to be used as a facial moisturizer to smooth rough, dry patches of skin or in your hair to give it a smooth shine. It is also supposed to be safe for all skin types.

 

 

 

2013-09-10 21.14.48-2Finally, there was a sample of eyeshadow by Noelle Beauty. This shade is called “Storm“. It is a silvery gray color and I love it! It looks great with my hazel eyes! Apply dry for a light-gray or wet for a slate-gray color.

 

 

 

 

Also included in the box were several coupons for different Etsy stores and a list of the total value of the above items. My box value was just under $40.

I really enjoy the items that came in my box, but I can’t say that I would want to order this box every month. It would really depend on what was going to be in it. I think next time I will try a beauty subscription box.

Have you tried a subscription box? What did you think?

The Most Powerful Action

Every couple of weeks we close the office for a few hours and drive around the Dallas-Fort Worth area to locate places we feel that trafficking is probably happening based on research, or that we feel led to go to and pray over them. Yesterday we headed to an area in which we are thinking about starting a street outreach for the girls on the streets.  We drove up and down the main street of the potential outreach, praying out loud over the people, the area, the prostitutes, the pimps, the homeless, the families who live in the area; all who are at risk. Many of whom are already trapped.

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“Human trafficking victims are often found in street prostitution where they are forced to provide commercial sexual services by a controller or ‘pimp.’”  –Polaris Project

 

 

We realized that we were driving too far down the road, hitting unfamiliar territories, getting lost in the neighborhoods. Instead of trying to find our way back, we took advantage of the situation and decided to pray through the neighborhood we were in. It was a historic part of town. Every other house was run down, but some were beautifully taken care of, showing off their historical attributes.

Turning down a road of particularly well-maintained homes, we noticed a small white house on the corner. It was a little run down, very plain, kind of cluttered; definitely did not fit the rest of the block. We drove past it going about five miles an hour, silently praying over all the homes on this street. Just because houses look nice doesn’t mean the people in them are exempt from exploitation. You never know what is happening in any area!

A white minivan drove past us slowly, stopping behind us at the white house on the corner. “Elyse, do you see that?”

I turned around in my seat just as a young girl got out of the back of the van. She was maybe 18-19 years old. Her short wavy hair was disheveled, colored a fake-reddish color on the ends, the roots showing, almost orange from being fried by bleach. She wore a skin-tight black top exposing her flat stomach, the sleeves hanging off her bony shoulders. Her denim miniskirt barely covered anything, while the ridiculously high black heels make her legs look longer than they probably were. We were probably a hundred feet away, but to me her messy face seemed sad. As she walked toward the house, she looked down at the ground until she was inside. The man in the white van waited until she was out of sight and then drove off.  I obviously can’t be sure what her story is, but based on her appearance, I believe she was being dropped off either returning from or going to a job.

pros“In the “outcall” or escort service model, the women are ‘delivered’ to a buyer’s house, apartment, or hotel room, instead of the buyers going to a centralized location.”Polaris Project

 

 

 

No matter what her story is, I don’t think getting lost in this area was a coincidence and I am thankful. Thankful for getting lost. Thankful for witnessing her get out of the van. Thankful for seeing details. Thankful for noticing her. Because now she is on my heart and it’s up to me to choose to do something besides turn a blind eye.

I can’t do much. I can’t go rescue her. I can’t turn the situation into the police because there’s no evidence. I can’t do nothing! But I can do something. I can pray. I can pray until God tells me what to do next. It seems like nothing, but I believe it will open the doors to freedom. To me, prayer is the most powerful action there is.

My Passion & Fashion

fashion

I love fashion.  I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is about fashion that I love. It’s a form of expression; it tells people a lot about who you are, what you do and how you view life. It’s beautiful; a work of art. It’s glamorousexcitingattractive, bold. The list can go on and on.

When I was younger I wanted to be a Fashion Designer. I tried to go to school to study fashion design and fashion merchandising several times, but God always closed the door. I tried to go to Fashion Week to see the shows in several different cities, but unless you have connections or money, it’s pretty much impossible. I’ve been to smaller fashion shows and they were a great experience, but I always felt out of place.

Once I discovered that my passion was to fight trafficking, I started searching for clothes and beauty products that supported the cause. I even tried to design clutches to raise funds to sponsor a young girl who has been rescued and is going through recovery. (I found that I really didn’t have the time to dedicate to designing and sewing.) No matter how much I tried to force it, the fashion industry just wasn’t my calling.

This Fall that will finally change! I will get to do something that will mix my passion with my love of fashion and I am SO EXCITED! I have the privilege of helping with the Rescue Her Runway, a fashion show to fight against human trafficking! Even though God has closed all the doors for me to be working full-time in the fashion industry, He still cares about me and what I love!

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Planning a fashion show is NOT easy! Especially since it’s for a non-profit organization. Because we are raising money, we need to stay within budget (or preferably under!).  Finding companies to support us by donating outfits, accessories, hors d’oeuvres, volunteers; it’s a LOT of work! But it’s such a great opportunity! Designers, hair artists, makeup artists, models, and anyone in the fashion industry will be able to use their skills to show their support against this injustice!

If you work in the fashion industry- models, hair artists, makeup artists, designers- or if you just have a love of fashion (like me), then I invite you to use your talents and passion to help make this show a huge success! Let’s work together to do something fun, creative, beautiful and glamorous to fight trafficking!