Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What I want for Christmas this year

Sure, my Christmas present wish list could be a long one if I wanted it to be. There are plenty of new books I'd like to read, kitchen gadgets I would love, a fun new video game to play or movie to watch, a photography class to learn some cool new techniques, a "learn to crochet" book. Sure, it could be very long. Couldn't we all make a nice long list of things we want or "need" this year? Every year?

Of course,  there are lots of things that we want or even get, that sit in a cabinet or drawer or collect dust in some corner, unseen and unused for months or years. Just like our children's belongings. We spend money on toys and stuff, and then complain or get irritated when they don't play with them or break them quickly.

Don't get me wrong! I'm not self-less by ANY means, I'd still love some of those things. But what I really want for Christmas this year?

To reach my $200 fundraising goal for The "Dressember for IJM" campaign. It's not a big goal, it might not seem like it would make a big difference, but it's just a small piece of the bigger campaign goal for $100K! In all honesty, I set it low, hoping it would be surpassed and my faith in humanity would grow.

I know that it doesn't seem like a big deal. So what? She's wearing a dress every day in December. Who cares? Yeah, maybe she looks nice, kind of cute, all dressed up (wishful thinking, LOL), but why does she care and how will that help??

Solidarity. With the other 681 participants of Dressember. Standing with and standing up for those who cannot do it for themselves.

Celebration. What?! Sure, just as the creator of this campaign says "Dressember participants wear dresses every day during the month of December to celebrate the freedom of beauty and femininity that they're allowed..." I am free, along with, as far as I know, all of you, my readers and friends and family, to where what I want, eat what I want, live HOW I want and not be abused, hurt, used, etc on a daily basis.

Raise awareness. By wearing a dress everyday, especially as someone who rarely does, it has garnered notice. Even Saturday, the day I didn't post a picture (I actually forgot to snap one), but I did wear a dress. Ask a friend who saw me at the boys' Catechism class who greeted me with a smile and who would give anyone anything they needed, down to the shirt off her back. Ask the mom from school that stopped me to say hello at the store last night and mentioned that she saw me at school earlier in the week all dressed up, and who I shared with the why behind the dresses. Or ask the cashier who asked to see my ID because I was buying a movie that required me to be over 17 (I had to laugh at this, and as I chuckled and she looked at me strangely, I said, I'll be 33 in April. She responded with "well you look young, take it as a compliment." Um, yeah, I can't see me being confused for under 17, lol.) but who did seem to notice I was wearing a dress in the snow and 20 degree weather. Ask the teacher at school last week who told me I looked nice and asked what I had going on and with whom I was able to share a little bit of info, as well as another mom who happened to be at her child's locker next to the classroom who knew a little about human trafficking that has been going on in our state and nearby states.

A reminder to myself. As I've mentioned before, living in Michigan, the winter months are pretty cold. Yesterday we got our first real snow of the season and quite a bit at that. The daily reminder of being a little colder than normal (for me) makes me think of those who suffering.

Why do I care? Why shouldn't I care? I may not seem like someone who does a lot or can do a lot to help others or change things, but deep down I do care.

You see, as you grow from a child to an adult, your perceptions of the world change and so do you. An example or two: Since the time that I was little, my dreams for the future changed many times. From wanting to be a veterinarian to a lawyer to an archaeologist to a teacher, and ending up as none of those thing, but having different jobs as a cashier, working in pizza places and as a manager, and then finally becoming a stay-at-home mom to three amazing boys. Sure I wanted a family, a husband and children, but never really knew if I wanted a career outside the home or if I wanted to stay home. I just kind of let it play out as it would. But my perception has changed. I love being home (most days) and eventually I hope to find my passion outside the home but it's not absolutely necessary. As a teen and young adult, I felt in my heart that abortion was wrong (go with me here without offense, please. I'm sure there are differing opinions on this) but didn't really know much about it. After going through RCIA and joining the Catholic Church, I learned why the Church is pro-life and also about why they condemn birth control. I understood and also basically expanded my own belief. I was able to go out and do my own research on it. My perception, while my opinion has remained the same, has changed because it encompasses more information. I may not always have the courage and faith to speak up and speak out but I'm trying to change that. Basically, what I'm trying to say is, that even though I don't always do something (how many of you are the same way? Not trying to sound snarky, just an honest, thought-provoking question.) or don't know where to start helping, deep down, in my heart, in my soul, I WANT TO DO SOMETHING!

I feel by changing how I approach life and by trying to help others, maybe someone else can benefit. In different ways. Maybe someone else can benefit by just learning something new, or getting out a bad situation, or preventing their child from being tricked into a bad situation, or seeing things in a new light, or by starting something new that helps others. Who knows? It's a waterfall, just like everything in life. How you react to a situation or event determines how it will play out. Your reaction begets reaction, which begets reaction and so forth. If we are kind, maybe the person we are kind to will share that kindness, or have a better day for it. The whole thought process behind "pay it forward", I suppose.

In recent years, human trafficking has gotten more news coverage than ever. My hometown in Ohio is actually one of the top cities in the country for arrests. Read more here, here and here.

IJM doesn't handle cases in the US or other developed countries, because they are dedicated to helping the poor in developing countries whose justice systems aren't as well-functioning. That being said, by helping raise funds and awareness for IJM and international human trafficking, it can also raise awareness about domestic human trafficking, by making people do research!

Some facts listed on International Justice Mission's website:
  • Each year, nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade. (UNICEF)
  • 27 million men, women and children are held as slaves. (Kevin Bales, Disposable People)
  • 1 in 5 women is a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. (U. N. Development Fund for Women)

My point is, if we don't care, who will?

So, truthfully, all I want for Christmas this year is to help free someone. A child or a woman or a man from injustice. To give them the freedom that we all deserve, and that you and I take for granted each day.

$200 isn't too much, in the grand scheme of things, but it's a start. I know it's the holiday season, Christmas time and many families are struggling to buy gifts or even put food on their own tables. I respect that. I don't ask that you take from the mouths of your family, but if you can spare even a few dollars, someone out there would be eternally grateful. I have over 232 friends on my personal facebook profile, though I'm sure not all of them read or even see my blog from my posts, as well as over 40 "likes" on the blog's facebook page. If every single person was able to give even just $1 - ONE DOLLAR!! - we would meet and exceed my goal! How grand would that be?

I'd love to share with my boys the love that people have for each other, the good in humanity. We don't always see the good in the people around us. More often than not, we see the idiot driver, or the rude worker or shopper, the annoying child in the restaurant - usually mine ;) - or the overwhelmed parent yelling at their child, or just generally not nice people. If you are my friend, I want you to know, that no matter what, I see the good in you. If you are my "friend" on facebook, there is a reason. Only people I know or care to know are on there. I am pretty choosy about who I add, as I share my family and our life more intensely even on my personal profile, in the way of pictures or complaints, and that's because I believe in each and every one of you, in some small way. That you, YES, YOU!!, are a good person and do care about others. So even though this post took a small diversion, it's all relative. Thank you for being you. Be kind to others. Love the way you want to be loved. And if you are able, consider donating to IJM, through my donation page. I get absolutely nothing out of it, other than the satisfaction of knowing my belief in humanity and kindness is well-founded. And if you aren't able, PLEASE know that I truly understand. I wish everyone the best Christmas if you celebrate it, the most fun winter either way, and a Happy New Year for all. I want nothing but the best for all of you!

Just some food for thought...