Friday, December 15, 2017

Dressember: The Halfway Point

Dressember has been flying by this year! Since I haven't posted here during the actual challenge, I wanted to share some updates from the first half of the month.

The best thing about this year's challenge has been the team atmosphere. It has been so great to participate with others--adults and students--and to walk through this journey with each other. It is encouraging to share the highs and lows together, and to remember that regardless of how much money we raise, we are bringing awareness to new people in new places. And that is the ultimate goal of Dressember.

The Dressember World Changers team has grown exponentially. In its first year (2015) we had two members; last year we had four. This year our team has 21 members, all of whom are new to the team, except for me. As of publication, our team has raised over $3,600 from 73 different donations. If you are one of our donors, thank you so, so much for your contribution to Dressember!

On a personal level, this Dressember has felt both rewarding and challenging up to this point. I was able to speak to our youth group about Dressember, and loved seeing many of them sign up to participate. I started an artistic lettering challenge on social media to bring awareness and another level of participation to the campaign. And I've been blessed to have both new and repeat donors supporting my fundraiser.

It's always challenging to wear dresses all month, but this year I think my primary focus has been on other aspects, so my wardrobe has almost felt like an afterthought. I increased my fundraising goal to $2,000, which is an amount I have never raised in an individual campaign. Last year we got incredibly close, at $1,741. So that's an increase of only $259 over last year's total. I know it's reachable, but there is always a part of me that questions whether I'll make it. As I am writing this post, I have raised $889 so far. I would love to reach the $1,000 mark today, only $111 away, and I am hoping you will help me.

The biggest thing I have learned through participating in Dressember is that anyone can make a difference. When I first started doing Dressember in 2014, I was excited but uncertain. I didn't know if anyone would believe in the cause like I did, or if anyone would want to give their hard-earned money to it. At the end of that first campaign, thanks to the generosity of friends and family, I reached my goal. I felt so empowered, like I could take on anything and conquer it.

When you give to Dressember, your donation goes far beyond empowering me. It goes toward justice, toward freedom, toward the fight for human rights and dignity. When you give to Dressember, you can know deep down in your soul that you have contributed to something that is bigger than all of us. And when people ask what you are doing to make the world a better place, you can point to Dressember and say, "This. This is what I have done."

It truly takes a community to make a change. You are my community, and today I am asking you to stand with me to make a global change. Will you give what you can to help the fight for justice? Will you lend what you have to a war that is being waged in our own back yards? Will you speak where others have fallen silent? Will you give to Dressember?

Thank you, my friends, for your continual love and support. It does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. You inspire me and so many others in the ways you continually show up and care. To borrow from Dr. Seuss, "To the world you may be one person, but to me, you mean the world."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dressember 2017: My Story

When I first heard about Dressember, I knew I had to be involved. Fighting to end slavery and promote human dignity in a simple, yet meaningful way was something I could support. It was something I could do in the midst of an issue that can feel insurmountable. After all, speaking out wasn't a new concept for me.

I hated high school for lots of reasons, one being the times I found myself trapped in situations I couldn't escape. I experienced severe anxiety and powerlessness under the hands and voices of a couple of classmates. Classmates who were bigger and stronger than me, who would make obscene comments about my body, touch me inappropriately, or tell me that they were going to rape me. You can't get away when you have to stay in school, when they're in the classroom sitting next to you, and when your teacher doesn't notice. Meanwhile your mind tries to make sense of it all, telling you it's somehow okay, somehow not as bad as it seems.

Those days were dark. I felt cheap, broken, and invisible to the rest of the world. When I finally worked up the courage to tell my parents, I could barely put to words what had happened. My mind still tried to make it okay, excusable, normal. We reported the physical incidents to authorities, went to court, went home, and that was pretty much it. It took time for me to understand and come to a place where I could declare to myself that it wasn't okay, and that I wouldn't stand for that kind of treatment again. But in my teenage mind, I felt anything but powerful.

However, after it was all over, I did feel a measure of pride. Pride in myself, that I was able to do something. That I was able to tell, and that people believed me. Pride that I could walk into that courtroom, hear the plea and verdict, and know that what happened really wasn't okay, excusable, normal. Pride at the knowledge that maybe another girl wouldn't experience what I had experienced if this behavior was stopped.

It's been a long time since high school. In some ways, I still carry the scars, and the memories will never leave. But today I feel not only a measure of pride, but also power. Power that enables me to rise above that experience and use it to fight for other girls. They're girls I'll probably never meet, never see their faces, or know their stories. But that's okay, because they could be any one of us. Evil preys on all people without regard for who they are, where they live, what they do, or how they dress. That's why those of us who can speak up, must. We have to raise a voice for those who have been silenced.

As we move into another Dressember, I am grateful for yet another opportunity to use my voice for good. An opportunity to share my story, and speak up for those whose dignity has been stolen. An opportunity to take my experience, and see it redeemed for good. An opportunity to encourage others to come with what they have--whether it's one dress in their closet or $1 in their wallet--and use it to change the world.

So yet again this year I'm asking you, dear reader, will you join me? Will you stand with me? Will you speak alongside me? Will you do what you can for girls like me? If there's one thing I know it's this: none of us can do it alone. But together, we can go farther than we ever dreamed possible, and do more than we ever thought probable.

It's almost Dressember 2017. Let's do this.

Visit my Dressember fundraising page.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Unexpected Jesus

Where is the last place you'd expect to see Jesus?

In His day, Jesus was radical, unpredictable, unexpected. The long-expected King was not what the keepers of the law and teachers expected, at all. He was different, and they often failed to recognize Him. They had built up an expectation in their minds based on their years spent studying and upholding the Scriptures. They thought they knew Him.

But they were shocked by everything: where He came from, what He did, who He spent time with, how He died. To them, everything He did was wrong.

I wonder sometimes if we're foolish to think we'd be any different. We think we know the right answers, the hills to die upon, the lines in the sand. We think we know what Jesus would look like, where He would go, what He would do. But do we?

Where is the last place you'd expect to see Jesus? Sitting at the bar down the street? At the gay pride parade? In the back alley brothel? With refugees on the run? In the waiting room of the abortion clinic? At the women's march? Spending time in the Muslim community? At the college frat party?

Where is the last place you'd expect to see Jesus? Because, Christian, He is there. He is in that place, arms wide, calling any who would come. He is there whispering His name. He is there offering peace.

And I think He is calling us to do the same. Come down from those hills, cross that line. Open your arms wide. Whisper His name. Invite any who would come.

Where is the last place you'd expect to see Jesus? Maybe that is where He is calling you to go.

Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dressember Essentials + Outfit Ideas for Men and Women

One of the most intimidating things about Dressember can be the issue of what to wear, especially if you're in a region with cold, snowy winters. Don't let this discourage you, it's not as hard as you might think. That's why I have assembled an updated list of my Dressember Essentials, plus some outfit ideas. And I haven't left out the men either! (Keep scrolling if you're looking for some Dressember Men ideas.)

Also, if you have to wear a school or work uniform that prevents you from wearing a dress or tie, just wear your Dressember-wear when you can. Any time you can choose your outfit, choose to wear a dress or tie. You don't have to wear it all day, just as long as you can. Personally, I make sure to get a photo in my dress to share on social media so my donors can see that I am keeping my commitment. I also make sure to wear a dress whenever I go out in public.

Dressember Essentials 2017

1. Versatile dresses. Start with checking your closet for the most comfortable and versatile dresses you own, even if they are more summery. I love mixing things up with a floral print sundress or a neutral-colored t-shirt dress. Remember that layering is key, so you can make light fabrics work.

If you want or need to add a new dress/dresses to your wardrobe, check what's available in the Dressember shop. If you're shopping on a budget, check out your local thrift shop, or borrow a dress from a friend or family member.

2. Tights and leggings. Look for warmer options, like fleece-lined leggings and sweater tights. You can also layer up with ponte pants or even jeans. If it's really cold where you live, try layering tights under leggings.

3. Sweaters and cardigans. Really any type of outerwear is great and can be layered in multiples. Cardigans with pockets are handy if you have a pocket-less dress. And a pull-over sweater can completely change the look of your dress.

When choosing a cardigan or sweater, think about the climate and what will pair well with most of your wardrobe. If you're in a cold climate, go for a thicker, chunky-knit sweater. If it isn't as cold, go for something lightweight. Choose neutral colors if you have mostly bold or bright dresses. If you have a lot of solid-color, neutral dresses, go for a bright color or bold print to brighten things up.

4. Layering pieces. Layering pieces can add warmth, and they can also change the look of your dress. Add a fitted t-shirt underneath a tank dress, or wear a skirt over a shorter dress to make it look like a top. Don't forget scarves, mittens, wool socks, and knit hats for extra warmth.

5. Boots. Boots are cute and will help keep your feet warm and dry, especially if there's snow on the ground. Switch things up with different styles, from ankle booties to riding boots, and different colors.

6. Accessories. Top off and switch up your Dressember styles with fun accessories. Cinch your waist with a belt, add a pop of color with a bag, and work in some glitter or metallics with jewelry.

Want some specific outfit inspiration? Check out my Dressember board on Pinterest! I've pinned looks from casual, to cute, to dressy.

Dressember Men Styles

I didn't want to leave out the men, so here is some inspiration for the guys who plan to participate. Typically, men wear ties or bow ties for Dressember, but can also choose to wear something else throughout the month like suspenders or vests. The key is to choose one type of item to wear each day throughout December. This will give consistency and provide a talking point to share about the campaign.

Combine multiple elements including fun socks, cuff links, dress shoes, or hats to complete your look. If you want to look put together and stay warm, choose a peacoat in place of a suit jacket or casual coat, and don't forget to add a scarf. If you need some new items, check your local thrift shop, or see about borrowing things from a friend or relative.

I've got some more outfit ideas for the guys on my Dressember Men Pinterest board. You can also check out the hashtag #DressemberMen on Instagram to see what other guys have done.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...