Friday, December 16, 2011

Life Examined

Theatre is life examined. A reality intentionally crafted—the great paradox. Theatre, like all other forms of art, reflects the human experience. Telling stories that need to be told, have never been told, or are worthy to tell again is what preforming arts is about. Our stories are what compose the very fabric of our beings, and by telling stories we remember and we grow. Through telling stories life can be shared across boundaries of gender, race, age, and life experience. Theatre unites people by forming common experiences and modeling memories. Those that are crafting the story transform into pieces of a greater story, all interacting, shifting and changing and all vitally important. Those that sit in the audience are not just merely spectating and being entertained, but they are being shaped in some small way, and together as an audience they share that experience. The imagination that creating a show requires forms a unity that is genuine and quite nearly tangible.
Theatre is all of the things above, and for me it is also a home. In the artistic process of creating a show I learn more about myself, relationships, life and the world around me, than I do in any other art form.  The community that builds on a stage is where I feel safe to be vulnerable, and only in a place of vulnerability is there true honesty. There's a freedom in becoming something other than myself-not something false, not a lie, but just something other. I share moments, emotions and histories with my character. It’s ironic, but by creating a character and a story I come more into my own character and I live more presently in my own story. Theatre is my own life examined.

This fall I was in the production Hideous Progeny by Emily Dendinger. I grew quite close with these wonderful and silly people as we worked hard to do Dendinger's witty script justice!
These two beautiful ladies swiftly became two of my best friends. I was very blessed by them and we learned so much during our work on Hideous Progeny.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To The Beyond

Nearly five months ago I let my simple grey dress fall over my shoulders, zipped up a royal blue gown over it and pinned a funny card board hat on my head. My name was called out amongst hundreds of others and an auditorium of people hid my loved ones faces as I walked across a platform and received a fancy, official-looking piece of paper. There was lots of laughing and a few tears. People I had known for 12 years hugged me in a surreal flurry of flowers and hand shakes. I graduated.

I'm not sure what I expected to happen when I walked across the stage and accepted that piece of paper, but it felt a bit anticlimactic. I mean that was the culminating moment of my entire high school career! I spent four years of my life at Worthington Kilbourne High School, and it ended in an hour half long ceremony. Graduating marked the last day of my grey dress experiment. It marked the end of my WKHS days-the end of an era I suppose.
After the ceremony, I took a few pictures with my closest friends, and a few more awkward pictures with kids I grew up with but wouldn't consider friends. We all knew that this was the last time we would see most of these people, so we humored each other and posed in front of weepy moms with digital cameras. After the last photos had been taken, and the crowd started to thin out there was an awkward feeling of solemnity amidst the celebration. I waved my last goodbyes, hugged a few final friends and piled into the back of my family's mini van. And that was that.

I'm not the type to stick around for the rolling credits, and staying in Columbus for the summer seemed silly to me. I was headed off to school in the fall, so why prolong the goodbye? So two days after graduation, I packed up my little honda with a missing muffler and drove south. All three of my older sisters were going to be in Nashville for the summer so I figured I would join them and the four of us could have one last summer together before we scattered in the wind again. Much of my summer in Nashville was spent reading, watching movies, playing with my niece and nephew and working. I had a job working as customer service for a company that recycles cell phones. I made my own hours, and worked as many hours as I wanted all from home in my pjs on the couch. It was a sweet job.

I had no one really to answer to, but truthfully no one really to talk to either. My sisters and brothers all worked full time jobs, so most of the day I was home alone with all the time in the world to think. I thought a lot about high school, and the days behind me. I thought about the friends I left in Ohio, and wondered wether we would stay in touch. I thought about the grey dress I had left hanging in my closet (I figured a summer apart would be good for our relationship.)
The second half of my senior year I learned a lot about freedom. I educated myself on the lack of freedom in our world. I now recognize the clever facade of freedom our nation wears to hide the thousands in slavery within our borders. I taught others what I knew about the crisis and I prayed countless prayers to God for freedom. My grey dress project had consumed much of me the last four months of my senior year, and it all came screeching to a halt in one short ceremony. I had talked and written a lot about freedom, and now that I had graduated and moved out of my parents house I was experiencing it first hand, and quite frankly, I was bored. The shift from final papers, class presentations, graduation parties and 'Thank You' cards, to sitting around my sisters house in my pjs watching movies and occasionally going to the pool, was so dramatic I think I got whiplash. I was a kid fresh out of high school, living without parental supervision, all the freedom in the world, yet I spent a majority of my time alone and inside.
Don't get me wrong, it was still a summer well spent. My sisters and I lived in the same city again for the first time in 10 years. I got to know my brother-in-law's much better than before, and can whole heartedly call them my good friends. I read lots of books, and filled two journals with my personal musings. I wouldn't trade that summer for anything-but it certainly wasn't what I had expected when I drove noisily away from my childhood home toward the unknown. I wrote a lot that summer about how different this freedom was and how different I could feel myself becoming. The taste of this freedom was less sweet, and surprisingly more weighty than I would have guessed. I learned less facts about freedom and the lack of it in the US, but I learned just as much by tasting a different kind of independence.

Through all of my musing about my new freedom, I have realized that just because I'm no longer wearing a grey dress everyday doesn't mean my exploration of freedom ends. My experience with the One Dress Campaign has permanently opened my eyes to freedom. My own freedom, others freedom, and the consequences of if all. I will continue to ponder and write about freedom as I learn more. I am keenly aware that freedom changes everything.
This post wasn't the most articulate piece of work, but I think it fits. More will follow soon with some recent updates on my exploration of freedom, but for now I think enough has been said about my transition from high school to the beyond.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


As I sit in the pale midmorning light and sip my coffee swirled with sugar, I read and ponder. A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken is a tale of love, beauty and wholeness; a tale of lives well lived. As I take theses moments to breathe and consider those all important abstract nouns I compare them to the intangible concepts that drive my own life—success, progress, acceptance. I have worried and rushed through this year, failing to enjoy the fullness of my last year living at home. There's a certain freedom that accompanies being nearly an adult but still living in the care of others. I've taken that freedom for granted.

But that's not the only freedom I've taken for granted. I've continually forgotten or abused the wholesome freedom that I am blessed with. Becoming aware of the enslavement around me has drawn my own freedom into sharper contrast. I am free. I am free from physical enslavement. I am free from the captivity of mental illness. I have been set free in the fullest sense of the word by Jesus. Yet I continually enslave myself to these terrestrial ideals that are here one minute and gone the next. As the author of Ecclesiastes writes it is all a "chasing after the wind." With steel nets and open jars I run right past Life in pursuit of the winds of this world.

This morning I'm shifting my abstract noun focus. As gusts of passing storms arouse the trees and birds outside my window—I quietly—without procession or parade, celebrate my freedom. I wonder why we save the celebration of something as monumental as freedom for one hot day in July. Personally, I aim to constantly become more conscious and consequently more grateful, for the freedom I am blessed with

I am free.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Senior Project

I graduate in 10 days. I have been to at least eight graduations (I have three older sisters out of college and parents who like to go back to school) but I have never once put on a cap and gown myself. This time it's for me. This is the time of year that most high school seniors skip class more than they attend, and homework is almost laughable. I choose a different path for the conclusion of my high school career...and sometimes I question why.

I have chosen to participate in something known as 'Senior Project'. It's an out of the classroom learning experience where seniors either intern somewhere, or design a project they would like to do during the month of May. There is lots of paper work and outside sources to consult in the planning and executing of any senior project but I thought there was lots of potential so I gave it a whirl. Most kids just shadow a profession in the occupation they hope to enter, but I don't know what I want to do exactly so I took my project a different route. I do know that whatever job I end up in I want to be focused on social justice so I planned a project around that concept.

For my senior project I am planning a fundraiser at my school for The Daughter Project (a nonprofit organization in NE Ohio that is building a safe house for minors who are survivors of sex trafficking). I wanted to meet a very practical need of TDP-funds. I also organized several bands and musicians from my school to play and local food establishments donated food-it should be a bang up time! I wanted to create a fun opportunity for high school kids to be involved in something bigger than themselves. Most people's reactions when I tell them about my One Dress Campaign is "Wow, but you're in high school!?" or "That's so brave for a high schooler!" This assumption that high schoolers would not do something they were not required to do, or care about something more than themselves is largely untrue. I'm a big believer that people will live into the perceptions people have of them, even if those perceptions are untrue so I'm trying to break that misconception a little bit. High schoolers can make a difference in their schools and communities.

Planning this fundraiser has a lot of extremely time consuming aspects to it. I joined a group called Bound For Freedom in their fundraising efforts. They make journals out of old books. By removing the pages from the old book and folding, cutting and sewing new pages they make really sweet looking journals. My sister's boy friend Teddy heads up the Bound For Freedom effort at Bowling Green so he taught me the tricks of the trade. I'm attempting to make 100 of these journals for sale for 10 dollars each. I'm also hand sewing 30 headbands to sell. I've had several 'Journal Making Parties' at my house where other students come over and help me fold cut and sew! At these parties we've made 43 complete journals...and the fundraiser is this friday.. I have 5 days to make 57 journals and 25 head bands! Yikes!

I have learned through this whole process that maybe I'm not the best planner. I did not enjoy the emailing and phone calling involved. The excessive number of bureaucratic hoops to jump through made my head spin. But I loved the one-on-one conversations that my project brought about. I enjoyed teaching people how to do the crafts and I loved actually doing the crafts (which is good cause that's what I'll be doing this week day and night!) I also learned so much about myself emotionally, but that's for another time and another blog.

The fundraiser is this friday night, and though it is hosted at my school (Worthington Kilbourne) it is ope in the community, so if anyones in the Columbus area at 6:30 this friday come on by and help support an important abolitionist organization! And could everyone pray for me and the success of the event.

                                   The advertisement for the event! These are hanging all over my school

                                                     Journal making with a few friends

                                                    More journal making in the grey dress!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

They are just children

When I was twelve I was in the sixth grade. Elementary school was very good to me. I had wonderful teachers who let me read constantly and it was still socially acceptable to have dirt smeared somewhere on your person at all times. I just barely survived the right of passage know as Youth Boosters Soccer. Thank goodness, I eventually realized I was not going to be a soccer star and I cut my losses. I had a pet rat, Freckles, who was in all seriousness my best friend. I taught her to come when called and we would frequently stroll the sidewalks of my safe suburban neighborhood. (Yes, they make leashes for rats.) I was the founder and president of The Rat Club at my school where we would care for the baby rats the principal was raising to feed his pet snake. I didn't realize at the time just how morbid this is. Overalls were a staple of my wardrobe and my hair was nearly always in a fuzzy pony tail.
           Here's 12-year-old me and Freckles. She is wearing a sweater I made for her out of a sock..
                                                              Freckles on her leash!

There's nothing particularly unique about my childhood (okay, the rats are a little odd). In general, I was just a typical 12-year-old kid in sneakers. I was utterly dependent on my parents and teachers for guidance and protection. I was naive and innocent—as all 12-years-olds should be.

The average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 12-14.

They are just children.

The media shows us images of prostitutes who are adult women who have chosen a certain "lifestyle" because that's the only way they can make money or because they are morally corrupt. As long as that is the association the word prostitute brings to mind, it is very easy to write them off saying: It's their choice or they are just bad people. When you see an image of someone soliciting them self on the street corner, is your immediate reaction disgust? Do you assume they are just trying to make a buck?
In all likelihood—they are children, or they were when they were first forced into the business.

As I think about the covert nature of this prevalent darkness, I have concluded that misconceptions play a huge role. Nothing in our culture makes child prostitution okay. It is just wrong. Yet it happens everywhere. The girls who are being raped by countless men—are girls. Not women. They don't even have the capacity to consent. They're not volunteers by any stretch of the imagination. They should be in loving homes, learning, playing, and freely experiencing life.

We can no longer associate the word 'prostitution' with a shady profession. I propose a new definition.

Pros.ti.tu.tion  [pros-ti-too-shuhn, -tyoo-] (n.)  

They are just children. 

Monday, May 9, 2011


After I had carefully applied my new 'Red Revolution' lipstick I nervously readjusted my dress...or should I say dresses. It was my senior prom. Some girls plan for months–others just weeks–for this big night. There are so many things to consider–hair, nails, shoes, a date (crucial), and of course the dress. Some girls agonize about what dress to wear, others pay a fortune for just the right one. I went a step further and wore not one, but two dresses. Yes, I said two, though this dual dress decision wasn't entirely what I had in mind for my senior prom. The 60th day of my 'One Dress Campaign' was thus far the hardest-but definitely a good one. I felt like an oxymoron when I slipped my red and black renaissance princess gown (my dream dress) over my simple worn out grey dress. I knew I had committed to wearing the grey dress everyday...a high school dance is no exception.

My friends' mom asked politely why I had a shirt under my dress. She thought I was trying to be more conservative. And although that wasn't the original intent (just a byproduct) I was able to share a little bit about my commitment and about the issue. I didn't want to be a drag at prom...talking about slavery and such...but I'm glad I got to share a little with her.

Even without saying anything, people around me were conscious of the dress. Comments like: "Doesn't he look like a pimp" would quickly be followed by "Oh man...sorry Emily." I wasn't personally offended, but their apology meant that they now had a new association with the word 'pimp'. Our cultural glorification of pimps and 'hoes' has only made the commercial sex industry more accessible and yes, even acceptable.

By the end of the night I was very glad to have the grey dress on. It sparked one conversation and reminded a few people to rethink culturally acceptable language. And honestly, it wouldn't have felt right to go without it on. I've grown fond of my unshapely grey dress. The end of my senior year has been turbulent, draining and wonderful, but my dress is the consistent variable through it all. I'm glad my memories of senior prom will include my little oxymoronic dress.

                                               Prom night with three of my best friends!
                        I just like this ma said it looks a bit Aubrey Hepburn like!
Now admire my mom's artistic talent. Yes she did my hair in a mohawk of curls. I loved it!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Now they know.

        "Bec, it's not working. I don't know how to make it work," I frantically whispered in Barnes and Nobel as I pounded buttons on my netbook. "I do not have time for this! My presentation is tomorrow!" Hot tears burned my eyes, threatening to spill over my eyelashes.
        "Don't worry Em, let me see it. Let me help," Becca, my older sister patiently replied. I passed her my small red computer and put my face in my hands, squeezing my eyes shut tight. Tomorrow I would be standing in front of my peers and sharing some of the most intimate and real parts of my life. It was the day before a big presentation where so much felt at stake, and I couldn't figure out how to make a power point. This was not the time to be hampered by my disconnect with technology. I was going to be telling people about human trafficking! This was serious. The topic of human freedom deserved at least a power point, right?!
        "I don't think you have the program on here, babe. I can show you how to do it in iworks if you want? It's really simple, I promise," Becca gently offered. She knows of my discomfort with screens and she read the intense stress on my face. One rebellious tear embarrassingly broke my shaking facade.
        "I want to go home," I choked out. Gathering up my things with my head down, more tears betrayed me.
        I handed Becca the keys–I was in no state to drive–and in the semiprivate safety of my car, I cried. I didn't want to be an advocate. I wasn't equipped to teach anyone about freedom, or slavery or what they should do about it. What am I even doing about it? I'm not liberating anyone, I'm not making important legal changes...I'm just wearing a dress. How undramatic is that. How can I stand in front of four consecutive classes of my peers and say anything of substance? Who am I?

        Needless to say, the night before I presented about human trafficking/my dress campaign was a rough night. After crying and talking with my sister in the car for twenty minutes, I went inside, put on sweatpants and Beethoven, grabbed a notepad and wrote out everything and anything I wanted to share. And that was my presentation. No professional power point. No dramatic stories or videos. I just shared what I knew and how I felt. And I'm so glad that's how I did it. Some fancy electronic show is not what the seniors at Worthington Kilbourne need–they have enough of that. I was blessed by they encouraging responses and I think they were blessed by my story. I could tell by the faces of the students–the numbers shocked them. Slavery was not even on their radar. I saw appreciation in a few students eyes as I admitted to feeling like a failure for not doing much of anything to help the abolitionist movement. I saw conflict in some, and disgust in others. Now they know. 

The longer the majority of the population remains ignorant or apathetic about this darkness, the more girls are going to slip under the radar and become slaves in our cities. At least now they know. 

                                                     Some various styles of the dress!
                             Trying on silly hats while visiting Amish Country with my parents!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Shema

    Today is my last day of spring break and I am sincerely sad to see it go. I spent my break this year in Chicago with my sister Becca. I spent the break sleeping, reading, eating thai food and chocolate, and watching Flireflies (an amazing show I was introduced to by my sisters roommate Angela.) It was my kind of vacation. Though despite the numerous naps and rich conversations deep brewing uncertainties were never fully calmed or dealt with. I'm the kind of gal who doesn't rest well when a to-do list and unanswered questions are looming. I have papers, projects, and tests (oh my!) not to mention deeper issues of insecurity, personal darkness and injustice to deal with.
So today I took a walk.
    I slipped my grey dress on over my head, stepped into my worn brown flats and headed out the door with a book in hand. A perfect 63 degree day welcomed me as I headed out for my street adventure. I don't know my way around this neighborhood but I figured I could find my way back if I got lost so I just wandered. With every step I took my heart lifted just a little. Walking past apartment after apartment, all different styles of brick and stone, I heard scores of languages drifting out and mingling in the street, some of them children laughing or singing, others accompanied by music. I eventually happened upon a little park. There were swing sets and dogs playing and neighbors yelling to one another across the green space. This was a different side of this city I hadn't seen yet and I loved it. I choose a bench facing the sun and settled in. I wrote this in my journal:

   As I sit here in a small little park in Chicago with the warm sun bathing my face I turn the pages my The Jesus Creed slowly and deliberately-thinking. The playful wind dances with the wispy hair framing my face (my mom calls them my angel wings). I feel blessed. I tip my head and close my eyes to the brightness of the sun-I probably look foolish to all the cool Chicago natives, but I don't mind. I feel warm. Reading the Jesus Creed I am reminded of my call. I do not live for myself or my happiness but for my God and for others. That is how I choose to live today. 

    It is very easy for me to get wrapped up in striving for my own happiness and success. Our culture is obsessed with the personal pursuit of why are more people depressed today than in any other time in history? Scot McKnight in The Jesus Creed writes about the difference between being happy and being blessed. We are blessed when we are the people God created us to be. "Blessed is about loving God and loving others; happy is about loving myself (and whatever makes me happy)." -Scot McKnight. Despite the wonderful and rich week I had I was constantly running over lists in the back of my mind, constantly fretting and planning. I let my own agenda muddle the blessing all around me, but today just walked, thought and prayed. I'm very thankful for this subtle but significant reminder from the Lord. My mind set has shifted just a little bit farther away from myself and I can already feel a weight lifting off my shoulders. School work is important, the things on my lists will eventually get done, and there are many questions I still have, but those things are not my primary pursuit. Even if I got full marks on all of my assignments, had completed every to-do list in the world and knew all the answers I would not be fulfilled unless I was loving my God with all my heart, soul and mind and serving others. My life is not my own, and I'm thankful for that. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Comfort in Numbers

This week was hard. I am sick, tired and overwhelmed with school (isn't senior year of high school supposed to be all fun and slacking off?!). A lovely idea for a blog would roll into my mind but would swiftly be overcome by dark clouds of exhaustion and inadequacy. Learning more about human trafficking has really weighed heavily on me. With a workload piling up exponentially on my back and my heart burdened, I shut down emotionally and creatively. My grades, my work schedule and fighting human trafficking loomed before me and everything else was shoved to the back burner. 
I headed off wearily last night to Bible study, thinking about my growing to do list and the mounting suffering in the city around me. I settled down into a comfy couch and prayed in my heart "Jesus...I'm so tired..I need you." We sang, lifting our praise to the Lord, and then we opened our Bibles to Ecclesiastes 4, the book we've been studying and read:

 I saw the tears of the oppressed— 
   and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
   and they have no comforter. 
2 And I declared that the dead,
   who had already died,
are happier than the living,
   who are still alive. 
3 But better than both
   is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
   that is done under the sun.

Harsh. Much of our discussion was dealing with those verses–many had a hard time hearing the author because he seemed so pessimistic–which is understandable. But I'm there. It feels so senselessly painful sometimes to deal with social justice issues. If a child was never born if they were sold into child slavery at the age of six wouldn't it be better if they were never born? Who is the comforter to the marginalized? Those who oppress obviously have all the what can I do? 

Eva's voice broke my desperate chain of thought, "So this book was written before Jesus, so this is all the author of Ecclesiastes could see. But now that Jesus has come we know His Kingdom is different than this world. Those who mourn will be comforted. Those who are meek and without power now will one day inherit the Earth." 

I had forgotten Jesus. 

I had gotten lost in my own narrow view of the darkness around me and forgotten that ultimately the war is already won and my God is victorious. I leaned my head against my knee and closed my eyes tight against gathering tears. 

"See Em. I never left you," I heard the Lord whisper to me. 

"This is great guys, I love getting to talk with you all every week...yea, let's talk about verses 9-12," Steve said as he gently directed our conversation. "These are some of the best verses in the Bible I think." 

9 Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor: 
10 If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up. 
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
   But how can one keep warm alone? 
12 Though one may be overpowered,
   two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

"This image of community, I mean, that's what it's about. We can't do it alone...and also verse 6 is great (Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.) It's like 'it's better to have only one hand full so that the other hand is free to hold someone else's rather than just having two hands full of shit," Steve continued profoundly. 

I was struck. Why do I keep trying to stand alone? I spend so much time chasing achievements or recognition or even good things like social justice, but I leave no time for life giving friendships–for community. Major mistake number one. So many girls have signed up to join me in this one dress campaign and I have so many people praying for me–I am not alone in this. Not only is there strength in numbers, there is comfort in numbers. 

That was a lot. But I felt the need to share a lot. 

My lack of computer knowledge is prohibiting me from uploading any new pictures right now except for this candid of me running out the door as I was late for school! 

 (I have no idea why all of a sudden it won't work! I'll fix it soon...well, my mom will fix it soon!)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Opportunity and Fear

I am in a class at my high school called Political Radicalism. The class is designed to expose students to radical thoughts and challenge set suburban dogmas. I think this class was designed with me in mind. I've already been forced to address personal prejudices, subscribe to a socialist philosophy, adopt a vegan diet–and it's only been one quarter. I love passionate people. I love people willing to share what they hold to be true. My class has heard a number of speakers so far this semester and not one of them alike. The only common theme in their presentations was their passion and zeal. Their idea may not be popular or easy–but they were ready to defend their perception of truth. I admire that kind of tenacity.

I was sharing with my Poly Rad teacher, Mr. Strausbaugh, about my One Dress Campaign and he informed me that we were going to have a speaker come in at the end of April who was going to share about sex trafficking. I was naturally quite excited and interested.

 "Would you be willing to give a presentation in class about your involvement with the issue?" he asked.
 "Sure!" I eagerly replied, envisioning myself giving a five to ten minute introduction to my mini-campaign, and maybe passing out some cards with facts about sex trafficking.
"Ok great!" he smiled "How does the 25th of April sound? There are Poly Rad classes during periods 4, 5, 6, and 7. Would you be willing to miss some of your other classes for this? Just a short 20 minute speech–nothing big." My heart pounded a little faster. Twenty minutes? In front of ALL of the Poly Rad classes?! (Pretty much all seniors at my school take Poly Rad.)

Check out the 25th...there's my name on the official Poly Rad calendar! 

Sharing in front of my peers is daunting. What do I have to say that will interest them? How can I talk for twenty minutes without stuttering!? Will they take me seriously? Waves of insecurity drown my thoughts. And then I remember Micah 6:8. "Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly." I have been given an opportunity to advocate for the freedom of thousands of women and children and I'm afraid I might be laughed at by some guy in the back of the room who thinks my grey dress is baggy? I have been given the opportunity to share something I am passionate about and I'm nervous that I might stutter around a bit? My fear and insecurity must be thrown away in my pursuit of justice. I am no hero (all I'm doing is wearing a dress for pete's sake!), but I have been given a chance to speak for those who have slipped under the radar for far too long. I bet I will be nervous, and I'm positive I will stutter and someone will laugh–but that will not deter me from setting forth my best efforts despite my fear.

I'm so thankful that God uses small people and small actions. I will be praying the entire time I'm presenting to my class about sex trafficking and the Daughter Project, and I have faith that the Lord will be with me.

I'm glad I get to be a part of God's grander plan. Yes, I will stumble and embarrass my way through, but He will never leave my side.

Some various grey dress days! Sorry I haven't taken a picture every day (my sisters wanted me to document my every outfit) but I promise there have been many repeat outfits and nothing too creative. I'll try to get better at documenting my adventure in my grey dress.

My sweet dog Dolly is quite supportive of the whole campaign as you can see.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Generation Y

I fall solidly into the category "Generation Y." According to studies, my generation is achievement-oriented, we're team players (I've only met one person my age who escaped soccer youth boosters), we crave attention, and we are certainly tech-savvy. We grew up in the age of Internet, youtube, and online social networking. We are equipped with blackberries, laptops, smart phones, and the latest 'i' gadget apple is selling. Constantly plugged-in and connected we are inundated with information from sunrise to well past the sunset. The more I ponder the characteristics of my generation the more I think I'm a bit of a fluke. I hate technology, and technology definitely hates me. My 'dumb' phone (seeing as it's not a smart phone I've assuming it is less intelligent) confounds me. My netbook brings me to the brink of tears. I still do not  know the ins and outs of facebook-they keep updating it and I just can't keep up. Kindles and Nooks will destroy literature–I'm sure of it. Technological malfunctions can swiftly make me swear like a sailor and I frequently shock my friends with questions like "What exactly is the difference between DVR and DDR?" or "How do I put in the flash drive thingy?" I must be an exception. Just writing on this blog is a huge technological victory for me. (PS if anyone knows how to add a device that keeps track of the days starting March 9-June 4 on my blog please let me know!)

With a wealth of information at our finger tips and countless resources available to us we have become a generation of screens. The internet has been identified as the number one platform that pimps, traffickers and "johns" (buyers) currently use for buying and selling women and children for sex in the United States. An FBI investigation discovered that in 2008 alone, 2,800 ads of prostituted children were posted on Craigslist. The uncharted and unclaimed waters of cyberspace have become a digital brothel–exploited and abused young women and children are just a click away. How do we monitor such an impossible amount of data and information? How do we protect women from becoming victims of the impersonal, unblinking screen of a computer?  I don't have all the answers–in fact, I have very few. But I hope that as we search the web, check our facebooks, blog, and shop online–we are reminded of the precious women and children who are being marked for sale on websites like, and 

This story from The Polaris Project website broke my heart: 
"I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28-year-old man. I am not an exception. The man who trafficked me sold so many girls my age, his house was called "Daddy Day Care." All day, other girls and I sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist. He made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock -- and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car. I am 17 now, and my childhood memories aren't of my family, going to middle school, or dancing at the prom. They are of making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths.” – An Open Letter from MC to Craigslist. 

Here I am on day 5 of my One Dress Campaign Sorry I forgot to post pictures of my grey dress for days 3 and 4, but I promise I looked pretty much exactly like this!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

1992-Not Yet

Tuesday morning I went to an informational workshop about human trafficking at the Salvation Army Columbus headquarters. There were three of us who attended: a recent college grad who works for AmeriCorp and was looking for credit hours, an older women who was representing her church group and looking for an organization to volunteer with, and then me, who was just looking. Three women at three very different stages in life united by our desire to see all women treated with the love and respect they deserve. My pen scrawled the staggering statistics across my journal pages as the presentation continued. I was overwhelmed by the gravity of the issue. Sex trafficking is the second largest grossing criminal industry, in recent years surpassing illegal weapon distribution. (Apparently more profit can be made from selling people than selling automatic weapons and bombs.) It's hard to gather accurate numbers when dealing with human trafficking because obviously traffickers would like to keep their victims a secret–but the conservative number of people being trafficked in Ohio right now is 1,900. 

Driving through downtown Columbus on my way home from the meeting I couldn't shake those numbers–1,900 people are in slavery in my state. I found myself praying to God "Lord, can I even help? This world is so broken–what is the point? I want to be done here and just be with You." Immediately after praying those words a scene from Gladiator popped into my head. It's the scene where Maximus and his fellow gladiator are talking about their families–Maximus's wife and son were brutally murdered, and Juba acknowledges that he will never see his family again on earth. Maximus, broken down by all of the pain in his past and the future suffering to come, expresses his deep desire to be with his wife and son in the afterlife. Juba looks at Maximus with profound understanding and says "You will see them again. But not yet. Not yet."

I'm in that 'not yet.' It is a sweet and severe waiting. What I do with my 'not yet' has eternal consequences. To reference Gladiator again: What we do in this life echos in eternity. I may have 50+ years left on this earth and how I live those years is up to me. From 1992-the day I leave this earth I have a responsibility to love; and one of the best ways I can do that is to advocate for justice. The prospect of a just and loving world is ahead–but not yet. Not yet. 

PS: Here's the outfit for day 2! I know socks with sandals is frowned upon...but I have always enjoyed it!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 1!

     Today was quite grey. I woke up before the jolt of my alarm clock to hear the sound of rain patterning lazily against my window. Stretching I rolled over to look at my clock-five AM. My head still hazy with sleep I breathed deeply. Today was the day of my beginning. It was a such an undramatic beginning to this campaign that weighs so heavy in my heart it felt almost paradoxical. Instead of complaining about the general dreariness of the day, I thought the grey sheet hanging above to be quite fitting. Running from my car to school in my new 'battle greys' I felt encouraged by the sky's participation and acknowledgment. It was as if the gathering clouds of varying shades of grey were tipping their hat to me-I think they knew.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Beginning.

    Tomorrow I will slip a simple unimpressive grey dress over my head and walk the halls of my unforgiving high school. Pledging to wear the same unfitted dress everyday until I graduate on June 4th is a scarier promise than I had imagined. But as I teeter on the edge on this campaign I remember why I initially made this promise. Years ago, I was sitting in church with my parents, most likely rolling my eyes, or playing sudoku on my dad's phone, or even rebelliously pretending to sleep, when the pastor Rich Nathan directed our attention to the front screens for a video. Being a young teenager I was immediately drawn in the familiar media display-But what I saw was not familiar. What was playing on the screen was a video from an organization called Love 146 which is an abolitionist movement fighting against child sex slavery and exploitation. Images of children in bondage and statistics about sex slavery flashed before my eyes. I was stunned. I shut my eyes tightly but hot tears spilled out over my eye lashes, racing down my checks and falling onto my clenched fists. My heart was broken for those women and children whose bodies and spirits had been mutilated by sex slavery. Even before I prayed and asked God for purpose and direction, He was showing me what broke His heart.
    I wear this homely grey dress because I have to do something. My sister Becca told me of a women named Amy Seiffert who was wearing one dress for six months and donating the money she would have spent on clothes, or shoes etc. to The Daughter Project, which is a non-profit organization in Northwest Ohio that creates homes for girls who are survivors of trafficking and helps others escape from it. I was astonished and inspired. It seems small, but then I remembered the size of my closet and the amount of time I devote to my appearance...and realized that this is not a small undertaking. But my hope and prayer is that as I continue to wear this ordinary dress, people notice. People need to know that human trafficking is not just an issue in third world countries, but right here in Ohio there are some where around 1,500 victims a year. Numerically speaking there are more slaves in the United States today than when slavery was legal. I hope people will ask me why I seem to look oddly similar each day so that I can answer them: I put on this dress everyday as a reminder to pray for whose who are forced to degrade themselves for the pleasure of others. I'm wearing this to raise awareness to that fact that in our nation, in our state, in our very city, people are slaves.