10 YEARS.I’ve always been a really transparent person. I like to be open, honest, and real with my life, and show that I have absolutely nothing to hide. On that note… he goes another blog post.
The news this week has been heartbreaking. We’ve lost 2 amazing people in the entertainment industry to suicide, as well as Avicii a few weeks ago.
I think what breaks my heart the most is the thought that they lost hope. That they were so distraught that they thought that was their only option.
I think it hits me hard, because I’ve been there… but I’ve come out the other side.
When I was 16 I was diagnosed with depression. Not long after, I tried to commit suicide. It obviously didn’t work… and for that I’m so grateful. But at the time it was the only clear option for me. It all felt too much. I felt as though the world would be better off without me.
It was then my amazing Mother took me to a counselor. All I remember him saying was “God will never put you through anything you can’t handle.”
I remember that really resonating with me, because I remember thinking “Wow.. God must think I’m really strong if he thinks I can deal with this.”
I felt like someone had faith in me I guess?
That night I went home, and I gave my life to God. I thought… what the heck. I’ll give this Christian thing a go.
That was 10 years ago. And I can honestly say, my life has never been the same.
I still struggle with anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, but the difference is, I have hope. I know I’m unconditionally loved by God, and I have a purpose.
I never really shut up about God because I feel like I’ve struck gold! If you found a cure for cancer would you keep it to yourself? No. You’d want to tell everyone!
It’s the same for me with God.
I hope and pray more people will experience this freedom.
That’s why it breaks my heart hearing this news… because there is hope. There is an answer and a way out.
If you’re dealing with something similar, PLEASE seek help. Or even contact me. I would love to talk with you.
I read this article recently on The Fashion Law, and felt it was important to share.
I know how tempting it is to buy that jaw dropping, Gucci bag for the sweet price of $30, but at what cost?
I know a lot of people would just rather not think about it... ignorance is bliss right? But this is something that needs to be brought to attention. This is a billion dollar industry... one of the biggest criminal industries in the world, and we're mindlessly funding it.
A 2004 report stated that the counterfeit goods industry in the United States alone brings in around $287 billion, which would make it one of the highest-grossing criminal trades worldwide. A lot of us buy luxury goods, which cost us hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars. We spend hundreds of billions per year on fake versions of what we think we’re buying, sometimes knowingly, sometimes not. Products labeled as “designer imposters,” or some equivalent are usually safe, because they are overt imitations (though the conditions of the workers who produce them may be objectionable). But when we buy imitation luxury goods, there’s always a chance that we are donating our cash to the continuation of a form of human trafficking.
Buying online is particularly risky because there’s no guarantee that the seller’s photographs of the product are real, or that the product you’ll be sent matches the one advertised.
But above all this, keep in mind that there are real people who suffer from the trade in fake luxury goods. It’s easy to forget that there are complex human costs involved in bringing a product, particularly an illicit one, to the consumer. Just like buying an antiquity that seems to come from Syria or Iraq these days might place cash into the hands of terrorists, the desire for a discount knockoff handbag may encourage a practice that is little removed from indentured servitude, and not a far cry from slavery.
Why do ads and editorials depicting violence against women happen in Fashion?
Fashion appears to be skewed against women quite a bit, and finds it to be rather "edgy" – or artistic even? – to depict women as the victims of violence.
But what about when the messages are harmful? Does this change the “We Show, You Interpret” relationship between fashion's creators and fashion's observers? While it feels as though it potentially should, it probably does not, and so, in this way, these ad campaigns and editorials may aim to open the door for discussion amongst their viewers.
On the other hand, they may just be glamorizing violence against women as a way to sell more bags.
(The Fashion Law)
Sometimes I don’t even know where to begin. Sometimes it feels too big, too impossible, and too unrealistic. It is easy to feel small and insignificant in the face of global injustices. But to give in to the fear would be the greater injustice.
I first became aware of human trafficking on a visit to Thailand in 2011. We were visiting friends of ours who had established a home for children at risk. Seeing their world, their reality, I couldn’t comprehend what I was learning. It seemed so unreal that the kids I was playing with could be trafficked, sold, and prostituted. These were just words to me, which I couldn’t consolidate with the faces.
And it send me on this journey. And I haven’t been able to sit still since.
Many people wonder what would make a young Aussie girl want to get involved in this subject. It seems so distant and separate from our lives in Australia. But the main thing I’ve learnt from all the reading, researching and talking with people from all walks of life, the more I’ve realized we’re already involved.
You and I are already involved.
When a plane crashes, it’s generally not caused by a single malfunction. It will involve a series of events, coinciding glitches, that when combined, lead to some of the most horrific and heartbreaking accidents.
Sex trafficking cannot exist by itself. It is the result of a system of problems, perpetuated at every level; global, national, and state, all the way down to the individual. There is no singular cause, and no individual person to blame. But this series of glitches and oversights needs to be addressed.
This may be controversial, but it needs to be said. If you believe that sex trafficking and sexual violence are problems, then you must consider prostitution and pornography the same way. These industries are two of the most significant forces driving the global trafficking industry today.
The line between legal and illegal prostitution is grey, if it exists at all. One industry cannot exist without the other. Prostitution depends on discrimination and exploitation to survive. Exploitation of vulnerabilities, of economic dysfunction, of mental health and of self-esteem. Meanwhile, we use throw away lines like “it’s empowering” and “they probably enjoy it”.
Trafficking for the purposes of pornography is on the rise, particularly increasing the demand for child trafficking. To keep up with the growing demand, porn producers will continue to push the limits until something changes. And so far it’s only getting worse; current research showing that porn use changes attitudes and behaviors of sexual aggression. Its little wonder domestic violence has become such a prominent public health issue.
How did we get here? When did violence in sex become the norm? When did we substitute sex education for porn?
Content of Internet Porn
· 88% Physical aggression
· 48% Verbal aggression
· 94.4% Violence against women
(Dr. Michael Flood, UNSW, 2016)
The way our culture views sex will define the way we have it. And our bureau of statistics show’s we’re abusing and assaulting each other in increasing rates.
I don’t want to be a part of that culture.
Our views need to change because violent and aggressive sex defies the definition of sexual health. We need to stop the silence, stop normalizing violence and stop the traffic.
- Bethany Parson
WHERE DOES JUSTICE START?
MY NAME IS SAM. THAT’S RIGHT, THIS ISN’T EMILY, AND THAT’S SHORT FOR SAMUEL, NOT SAMANTHA. I AM A YOUNG FILMMAKER LIVING IN THE NORTHERN RIVERS OF NSW WHO SHARES THE SAME PASSION TO SEE THE INJUSTICE THAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING ERADICATED. AND AS A YOUNG MALE LOOKING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN A WORLD PLAGUED WITH INJUSTICE, THIS IS THE QUESTION THAT BEGAN TO STIR IN ME, AND THIS IS THE BLOG POST THAT TELLS OF HOW I FOUND THE ANSWER, AND HOPEFULLY HOW YOU WILL FIND IT TOO.
I WAS HONOURED AND TERRIFIED WHEN EM ASKED ME TO WRITE THIS BLOG POST. HONOURED TO CONTRIBUTE TO A MOVEMENT AS INCREDIBLE AS SWEET SOCIETY BUT AT THE SAME TIME TERRIFIED, BECAUSE THE IDEA OF JUSTICE WAS ONLY NEW TO ME; I STILL HAD TRAINING WHEELS ON. I BELIEVED THAT MY MINOR CONTRIBUTION TO THE MOVEMENT OF JUSTICE WOULD PROVE INSIGNIFICANT TO ANY READER DESIRING TO GAIN SOME ENCOURAGEMENT OR WISDOM.
BUT THE THING IS, ANY CONTRIBUTION TO JUSTICE IS SIGNIFICANT. BECAUSE IT’S ANOTHER STEP CLOSER TO FULLY REFLECTING THE HEART OF GOD IN THE WORLD.
JUSTICE DOESN’T REQUIRE THE PLATFORM OF AN INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION TO COME INTO FRUITION. IT LONGS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO WILL SURRENDER THEIR LIVES TO THE MISSION OF BRINGING THE FATHER’S HEART INTO THEIR EVERYDAY.
I LEARNED THAT I COULD CULTIVATE JUSTICE REGARDLESS OF WHERE I WAS OR WHAT I WAS DOING. THE WAY THAT I LOVE MY FAMILY; ENSURING THAT NOTHING BUT THE BEST FOR THEM WAS ALWAYS THE OUTCOME OF MY ACTIONS GREW THAT PASSION FOR JUSTICE IN MY HEART. BEING INTEGRAL IN MY BUSINESS AND MAKING IT A PLATFORM TO BLESS EVERY INDIVIDUAL THAT CAME INTO CONTACT WITH IT PRODUCES A JUSTICE FOR EXCELLENCE. ULTIMATELY, I WAS TAKING EVERYTHING I WAS ALREADY DOING AND ASKING - “HOW CAN THESE THINGS BE A TOOL FOR JUSTICE?”
SACRIFICING MY WANTS AND NEEDS TO SEE GOD’S DESIRES MADE A REALITY IN THE WORLD IS JUSTICE TO ME RIGHT NOW.
AND ITS PRETTY CLEAR WHAT HE WANTS - “I WANT JUSTICE - OCEANS OF IT. I WANT FAIRNESS - RIVERS OF IT. THAT’S WHAT I WANT. THAT’S ALL I WANT.” AMOS 5:24 (MESSAGE)
I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO SIT ACROSS THE TABLE FROM A VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING, HEAR THEIR STORY AND LOVE ON THEM RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT. ALBEIT, I CAN GROW A JUST HEART WITHIN ME, AND PRODUCE A COMMUNITY THAT CHAMPIONS JUSTICE AROUND ME; RIGHT WHERE I AM AND WITH WHAT I HAVE.
JUSTICE STARTS WITH PEOPLE WILLING TO REFLECT THE FATHER’S HEART EVERY MOMENT OF THEIR LIVES. IT STARTS WITH ME AND YOU.
The other day I read a statistic that shook me…
“1 in 3 women have been sexually abused or assaulted.” (unwomen.org)
This shocked me not only because it was a high statistic, but because I realized that there must be so many women out there, dealing with this, and keeping it to themselves.
This hit a nerve, because I personally have a story that I’ve kept to myself for a long time. but I’ve decided it’s time to share it.
In April 2013, I went to a nightclub in New York City with a person I knew and trusted. I don’t remember much from that night, but I do remember tiny snippets. I remember having 1 glass of champagne, and it all going downhill after that.
That night my drink was spiked, and I was raped.
I woke up the next morning in pain, but what affected me most was the shame of what had just happen.
I went to hospital in Sydney a couple of weeks later. It took me that long to work up the courage to actually confront what had happened. At this point, my own Mother still didn’t know. I couldn’t tell anyone because I felt as though it was my fault, and I must have done something to cause it.
The Doctor said to me, “You have no idea how often this happens.”
After seeing the Doctor, I decided to tell Mum and a couple of close friends, but I pretty much have kept it to myself for the last 3 years.
Up until recently I felt like I’d done a good job suppressing my feelings, and not having to deal with it. But that’s when I started noticing different things in my thinking, attitude and behavior that weren’t healthy. I realized it linked back to this event in my life that I hadn’t dealt with.
Hesitantly, I decided to see a counselor and process this experience. I was really scared. I was scared of the emotion that would be brought back, and I was scared to go back to that vulnerable place.
Without going into too much detail, this experience of opening up, speaking to a complete stranger, processing those emotions and dealing with what had happened was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. I physically feel different. I’m no longer carrying that shame, or that heaviness. I know now that what happened to me, doesn’t define me.
This is why the statistic rocked me. Because it means that so many women I know have been through this, and aren’t speaking up and getting help, and I understand that feeling. But I can’t begin to describe the feeling of getting rid of that shame and heaviness.
I’m not writing this for sympathy. I don't need sympathy. I’m writing this because I want to encourage women to speak up. It’s scary to deal with, but I promise in the end it’s worth it.
I hope that this is an encouragement to someone today.
I've been back in Sydney for around 2 months now, and there have been a couple of developments with Sweet Society.
Since being home, I've met some people working in the anti-trafficking industry here, and I've learned that human trafficking is actually a problem in Australia, and not much at all is being done about it.
There are roughly 4,300 victims here, and only 1 safe house, run by the Salvation Army. There has been a 57% increase in the last 5 years. We're very under resourced.
This has pulled at my heart strings and after a lot of thinking and praying, I've decided to base Sweet Society here in Sydney.
I've been asking around about what the needs are in Australia regarding human trafficking, as I thought it would look a little different to the needs in Thailand. But it turns out it's very much the same. These women need training. They need something to put on their resume to give them a fresh start.
So our goal is to start a survivor school to train these women in creative subjects like design, sewing, pattern making, art, fashion business, and entrepreneurship. We will also create job opportunities through the clothing line, and use our contacts to offer internships and jobs in other parts of the industry.
We will also be running a brothel ministry here in Sydney, with a heart to basically love girls in the local brothels, by bringing supplies and being a friend to them.
80% of the women in Sydney brothels are Thai and unable to speak much English, so I'm brushing up on my Thai language, and am hoping to make some sort of impact there.
Lastly, we are looking to run a program for high school students, teaching on the reality and dangers of Human Trafficking, how to stay safe, and how porn and prostitution is actually creating a demand for the human trafficking industry.
I love Thailand, and definitely don't think I'm finished there. Once Sweet Society is properly up and running, I want to take teams over there... But I need to take baby steps.
This hasn't been an easy decision, but I have a lot of peace about it, and I'm excited for this next season!
If you have any questions, feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
My last blog post was in May, so I thought it was probably about time to write another one and fill everyone in on all that's been happening over the last few months.
I landed in Sydney on May 19, with plans for stay for 6 weeks. The trip was intended to be a bit of a break from life in Chiang Mai, to catch up with people, have a rest, and to save up a bit of money. But man I got way more than I bargained for (In a good way)!
By the end of the trip, I had worked full time for an Australian fashion brand, been nominated for Young Australian of the Year, met SO many amazing people, and had the opportunity to speak to the team at Oroton about Sweet Society and the effects of Human Trafficking.
I had a great time in Sydney, but was really keen to get back to Chiang Mai and get working again!
After 2 weeks of being back in Chiang Mai I had a motorbike accident. I won't go into details, mainly because its a pretty lame story, but it could of been much worse, so I'm very grateful.
I had to fly back to Sydney for treatment, and I wanted to be around family. I've fractured my right foot, and will be on crutches for the next 6 weeks.
This is a massive deal for me because I'm quite independent. The thought of having to rely on other people to help me do simple things gives me shivers.
I'd been pretty down since the accident, mainly because I was feeling like it was a big step backwards.
But I've spent all this week by myself in bed, thinking. I'm not going to let this discourage me. If anything, I'm going to use it to fuel the fire I have to see these girls loved and valued and give me more determination to do what I'm doing.
Some people think that God sends us trials to teach us lessons... I don't agree with that. I think he uses trials to help us grow and prepare us for what he has next.
Because this has thrown a very large spanner in the works I've had to rearrange my plans a little, but that's life, and I'm just taking it day by day until I can start running again.
I'm sitting in a cafe in Chiang Mai, thinking about the last 4 months...
I realized I haven't shared much about things I've actually been doing here, so I thought I would write a little bit about that.
A couple of months ago I travelled to a city called Pattaya, which is one of the biggest hot spots in Thailand for Human Trafficking.
Immediately after stepping off the plane, I felt a great sense of heaviness. It felt like a really slimy, horrible place to be.
The first night there, we went down the main walking street in the city. It was incredibly eye opening.
I feel that I've been exposed to a bit of this industry during my teenage years living in Thailand, but this was beyond anything I had ever seen. It was the dirtiest, darkest place I had ever been in. My heart broke for the girls standing in the street. I just wanted to grab them all and get them out of there!
There were men standing outside each bar, with menus of different girls, and really graphic images that they would shove in your face.
I can't really put into words my experience that night, but I didn't sleep. It was confirmation for me that I wanted to dedicate my life fighting for these girls.
Over these last few months, I've met and worked with a lot of people already working in Anti Trafficking and have been trying to learn as much as I can from them. It's really important to me that Sweet Society has a very strong, sturdy foundation. This isn't something I want to naively jump into. I want it to be effective.
There are different areas you can work with in the fight against Human Trafficking, Awareness, Protection, Prevention, and Restoration. My heart is for awareness and restoration.
Sweet Society is working towards an education program to teach these women fashion skills so they can start a new life, regardless of their past.
Something I've learned since being here is how incredible it feels to not just have a dream, but to take that scary leap of faith and chase that dream.
With this realization, I would also like to work with these women who have business ideas, or dreams they want to chase, and help them through that process of giving it their all and going for it.
I believe that regardless of what these girls have been through, they are incredibly loved, precious, and have an important purpose on this earth.
I find it very hard to put my experiences here down to paper, luckily I'm coming back to Sydney next week for about 6 weeks! I'm really looking forward to catching up with everyone, eating a lot of avocado, breathing fresh air, drinking good coffee, and not being constantly sweaty!
I'll leave it at that for now,
The blog life is demanding! I'm not too good at keeping this regular, but I'm giving it my best go! Sorry for the delay!
There's been something I wanted to write about for awhile, and it's kind of starting to nag at me...
If you're thinking of stepping out of the boat and pursuing your dreams, do it. 100%. Don't let money, or fear get in the way. I know thats easy for people to say, but I can tell you it's SO worth it. Stepping out of your comfort zone in life is no cakewalk, but its a heck of an adventure.
I left for Thailand with a very small amount of savings. Without God there is no way I could be doing what I'm doing. All the glory goes to him.
The week before I flew out, I got a bill in the mail for around $1000. It was for my car registration/insurance. I freaked! This was a large chunk of my savings, I didn't know what I was going to do. 3 days later, I checked the mailbox, and there was an envelope in there with my name on it, and the verse "...the righteous are as bold as a lion." I opened it, and it had the exact amount of money I needed to pay this bill. It blew my mind!
I've had stories very similar to this through out my life, but every time God provides, I'm still left in awe and wonder.
I've come to a place now where I feel like I have a kind of childlike vulnerability. Back home in Sydney, I was comfortable, and I became too self sufficient. I believe to some extent I had a bit of an ego. I had enough money to get almost anything I wanted, definitely everything I needed. I didn't need to rely on God for much.
After coming here, I have been stretched and pulled in every direction. I have learned so much about myself. Back home I had a large wardrobe, 46 pairs of shoes, and a nice new car. Here I have 4 pairs of shoes, 1 suitcase of clothes, and a 24 year old mitsubishi champ with no airconditioner. There's nothing wrong with having a new car, and lots of clothes, but God's brought me to a place where I've realised I don't need to find my worth and identity in those items, like I used to. I don't have much, but I'm happier than I've ever been. I know now that all I really need is God. So if I were to lose everything, I'd actually be fine because I'd still have God.
When I talk about childlike faith and vulnerability, I'm not talking about acting like a child or being immature. Emulating the faith of children, we should simply take God at his word. As children trust their earthly Fathers, we should trust our Father in Heaven.
Anyway! I feel like I've gone on a bit of a tangent. My main point was to dream big, and go after it. I know that sounds cheesy and cliche, but I really believe it. Don't let anyone's words or opinions stop you. A few people told me I was stupid for doing what I'm doing... I'm SO glad I ignored them.
Just a little Friday reminder to get you through the day!
“For many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money – ever.
We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough – ever.
Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack.
What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.” Lynne Twist
I’m not much of a writer, but this was put on my heart tonight as I was praying and I felt urged to share it.
Today we hit the 1-month mark since moving to Chiang Mai. I don’t want to sugar coat anything, I’d much prefer to be real and say that it hasn’t at all been an easy month. I’ve been hit with multiple medical problems from the weeks leading up to the move, and the 4 weeks we’ve been here.
I reached a point today where I actually wanted to jump on the next plane home. I’d just had enough. I was physically tired, mentally tired, my body was aching and overall I just felt really discouraged.
I climbed into bed and instead of laying there feeling sorry for myself, I opened my bible. I randomly opened to Romans 4, this is what it said.
“When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously sceptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.”
These verses brought me to tears. It was exactly what I needed to hear. And I really felt like this wasn’t just a message for me, but for many.
Reading on, it says in Romans 5:3, “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling short-changed. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives.”
I could go on and on about what these verses mean to me, and list story after story of how God has come through on his word time after time. But I feel like I should keep it simple.
He is faithful. You've got this.
As Valentines Day has been fast approaching, us girls at Sweet Society have been thinking a lot about love. But not just in the way of red roses, stuffed baby bears (seriously, who came up with that concept in the first place??), or heart shaped, ganache-filled chocolates. While all of these things are good and admittedly delicious, we want to know why V Day is a holiday that is celebrated and what real love looks like. Our goal at Sweet Society is not only to love fearlessly but to also know that we are fearlessly loved by God and be able to share that with those who the world says are unlovable.
In looking a little bit closer at this holiday and what love means to people in general, I thought it would be a good idea to identify how our society views love. After digging through various articles, blogs and the many wonders of the World Wide Web, it is evident that today, in the western world anyway, love is revered and even glorified. We make movies about it (hello Titanic), write songs about it (hello Taylor Swift) and it seems that most of us are searching for it (hello Tinder… just kidding). Even though love is a commonly sought after experience, it is so often falsely represented and found in the wrong places. The notion of love can be used falsely to manipulate, control and cause guilt. This is where I think fearless love differs to the love portrayed in our society and popular culture.
Fearless love is not just about the way another person can make you feel, but is instead, a choice, a commitment. Fearless love takes strength, respect and vulnerability. You see, love is not self sufficient, it’s not something we can simply find and use, but it calls us to roll up our sleeves and be willing to getting our hands dirty in order for it to flourish.
In one particular article I read in Relevant Magazine, Jonathan Lumbard expresses that the more he journeys to understand love, the more he continues to run into God, and the more he journeys to understand God, he continually runs into love. I find Jonathan’s realisation pivotal in defining fearless love. It is undeniable that we are only able to love another because of the unrelenting love of God, the perfect love that casts out fear and calls us to love others. This is without a doubt what we are seeking to do at Sweet Society. We are hungry to share the love we have experienced, as we simply love those hurt by the sex industry and human trafficking. This is not something that will magically cure or heal the brokenness caused by these issues, but it is a start and coupled with equipping these young women and offering practical skills, this fearless love we seek to spread will hopefully provoke restoration and courage.
So not just today on Valentines Day, but every day, can we encourage you to try and live a life of fearless love. Choose daily to live a life that seeks the fearless love that demands respect and practices vulnerability. We are designed to live a life that pursues the fearless love that strengthens us and fills us to overflowing so we can be poured out to love others.
I know that I speak not only for myself and from my heart for these people, specifically these women, but on behalf of Sweet Society Apparel, when I say that we have no intention of coming from an angle of pity or paternalism. We are not interested in looking down on women pityingly, seeing them only as victims, looking at them through a lens of brokenness or hurt… But embracing them, empowering them and loving them, right where they are. I don’t think it island my role or any one else’s to strive to change another persons’ way of thinking or lifestyle. All I can do is give from myself, out of a place of vulnerability, a place of empathy, not from my own strength, but Gods – He is the one who rescues, not our western ways or solutions. After all, even during his time on earth, Jesus was “out to change hearts before he changed minds, not the other way around.” (Jesse Carey)
It is only through our own weakness that we can help to love and serve others, out of a place of mutual brokenness and the restoration found in Jesus. Not from our own saviour complex or western ideologies. One of my favourite speakers, Craig Groeschel from Life Church, hits the nail on the head expressing that we may “impress people with our strengths. But we connect with people through our weakness.” So I’ve decided to remove some of the expectations I have placed upon myself, instead embracing my imperfection and ‘under-qualifications’. I am living and working here with the sole purpose of loving the people around me and not just the children at the homes I have visited, who have showered me with affection, drawn pictures for me and held onto my hands… But the hurting and the broken, those who don’t want to be ‘changed’, but cared for and treated with dignity.
“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ…” Colossians 2:2-3 (MSG)
First of all, I'm writing this on my phone, as our wifi hasn't been connected yet. So apologies for the typos!
We made it! After months of talking about it, and a long journey, we finally touched down in Chiang Mai! Because I've lived here before, I honestly wasn't expecting to have any kind of culture shock after arriving, but driving through the city from the airport, it was a bit overwhelming for me! The smells, the heat, the traffick, the language, the culture, the food, the restaurants, very different from my trips to New York!
We arrived at the house, unpacked, and went to buy some sheets, towels, and things. I didn't know where to go to get them, my Thai isn't as good as it used to be, and I'm not very familiar with the areas we're living in. At that point, it hit me how deep I've jumped in. But that's me. I love being uncomfortable and swimming in the deep end.
It's now day 3, I've had two cold showers and one warm shower, our meal last night consisted of something that resembled a cows eyeball, and I haven't had a good coffee since I left Sydney, but I'm absolutely loving it. It's a very different Chiang Mai to the one I grew up in, but I'm so excited to start learning, and meeting this cities beautiful people.
That's all I have to say for now! But watch this space...
I have been avoiding writing this post for a while now... But since I leave to move overseas in a little over a month, I guess I should quit putting it off. I have had lots of people asking questions about what I will be doing in Chiang Mai and of my involvement in The Sweet Society Apparel. So, I would love to share my plans for this trip with you all as well as how it all came about!
When I was 15, I attended one of Hillsong’s Colour Conferences where I, along with thousands of other women were shown a film about human and sex trafficking. This was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing and I vividly remember feeling so broken and moved by this reality. I knew that I needed to do something… but what?
Seven years later, I met my friend Emily and we discovered that we both had the same heart for the victims of human trafficking and a longing to do something about it. Like Em, I have a great interest in fashion and believe it has enormous potential to be used as a platform to create positive change in the world. So often the fashion industry is known for the ways in which it tears others down and exploits both men and women… I know from personal experience, the ways in which fashion and the media surrounding it can create insecurities and doubts about identity, particularly in women. Not only that, but many are taken advantage of in the production of clothing. It would seem that fashion has a way of hurting people on all fronts… So is it possible, that we can use it as a platform to create awareness and positive change? I think so!
To cut to the point, I feel like I have been called in some way to minister to and empower women whose lives have been affected and to a great extent, destroyed by the atrocity of human trafficking. My heart for these women is that they would not only be rescued physically and empowered within their society, but also shown the love of God and their worth as women. I believe this is a message that is so significant and life altering that must be shared not only with these women, but all women. My hope is that we can in some way help women to grasp this not only in Chiang Mai, Thailand but also all over the world.
At about 4:42pm today, I quit my job. A job that I worked incredibly hard for years to get.
Those of you that know me, know what a big deal this is for me.
It's been about 3 very long hours since, and I've had moments of absolute panic, moments of "what the heck am I doing?!", moments of nervous laughter, and moments of rocking back and forward in the fetal position.
I'm the type of person that thrives on living "uncomfortably". But this is definitely the biggest leap I've ever taken... 'YOLO' right?
On a serious note, I'm going through so many emotions right now, but overall, I have a great sense of peace.
I've had all kinds of people say to me "Oh you're too young to be doing something like this", "You shouldn't go, it's dangerous over there", "You should get out of Fashion, you won't get very far", but if I listened to all these opinions, where would I get in life?
Great things never come from fear and comfort zones. We need to let our faith be bigger than our fear, and step out into the things that set our hearts on fire... regardless of what anyone says.
I thought today was a perfect day to write our first blog post, as quitting my job, for me, was another large, significant, step closer to jumping on that plane to Thailand.
I just want to personally thank everyone so much for the support we've receievd so far. I'm absolutely blown away by peoples love, encouragement and generosity.
Love Em x