Freebie for February Holidays!

Who here doesn’t love a reason to celebrate??

But really, if you don’t like celebrating, let me know, and I’ll send you some of my stashed up puppy videos or something.

My family went home to see the grandmas and grandpas over MLK weekend, where I saw that my little sister-in-law had made the funnest calendar full of totally random special days to celebrate! Speaking of which, I think today might be “eat ice-cream for breakfast day”? Double check your calendars, folks. Anyway, she’s going to be checking some of those special days off her list for fun, and I thought that was a great idea! Buuuut while I’m down to celebrate a lot of things, eating ice-cream for breakfast sounds too much like a test of my will power, leading to a quick habit, and eventual recipe for diabetes. So instead, I decided to make my own calendar of a few of the different holidays from around the world I would like to celebrate this month! Most of these are celebrations I have never taken any part in, so I’m really excited and hope you will join me!

Sign up below to unlock this super fun, dorky calendar and other freebies in my newsletter!

Black History Month. This is HUGE in America! Follow me on social media this month to find out what I learn about different African, African-American and other black traditions are, as well as who some of my favorite abolitionists and leaders in the fight against racism are!

Feb 2 – Candlemas. This Christian holiday goes back to Jewish tradition, which considers a woman to be unclean for 40 days after birth. Candlemas specifically celebrates Mary’s cleansing after giving birth to Jesus. If you missed out on Hanukkah last month, then this could be a great opportunity to go to a Jewish Community Center (JCC) and learn a little more about Jewish culture.

Feb 3 – Hero’s Day. Many different countries celebrate different heroes days across the world. This particular day in Mozambique remembers their war of independence against Portugal, and the many people who died fighting. Take this chance to read about some of their hero stories and share here who your favorite Mozambique hero is!

Feb 5 – Chinese New Year. This will be the biggest, most widely celebrated holiday this February. Check back in later this week to learn more about how you can celebrate Chinese New Year!

Feb 14 – Valentine’s Day. Oh, love. Have you gotten some chocolates, roses, or cards stashed up for your loved ones yet?

Feb 18 – Milarepa Day. This is one I’m probably most excited to learn about since it’s a culture I still don’t know much about. On this day, Tibetans will celebrate the great Tibetan Saint Milarepa. My understanding is that he might be the Tibetan equivalent of the biblical Paul. You might even be able to find a local Shambhala Meditation Center where everyone is welcome to join their singing and other celebrations!

Feb 19 – Turkmenistan Flag Day. Sometimes I find it crazy to think about just how young many countries in the world are! Or how recently they’ve reformed their government. Turkmenistan is one of those countries, whose flag was only just approved in 1992! 26 years ago! In my opinion, it might be one of the most intricate and beautiful flags in the world too, so I wanted to make sure and take that day to be reminded to look up its symbolism and maybe learn a little more about this country.

Remember to just sign up below for your copy of this fun calendar, and then keep me updated on what you learn during each of these holidays!

“Slave Stealers” Book Review for Human Trafficking Awareness Month!

Scroll to the end of the page for recommendations on where to go this January to participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Month!

After finishing my first post about what O.U.R. does, I did what every independent adult does and made the daily phone call to my mom to chat. (If you haven’t read it, check out this post.) She told me about a recent trip she’d made with my 17-year-old brother to In-N-Out Burger. Being 17, “sex” is still a decently uncomfortable word that you hear all the time, but definitely don’t say around your parents unless you have a real question. So when he lifted his burger off the tray to see the words “CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING” mixed in with some other characters, he was probably thinking, “I’m just gonna pretend I didn’t see that or know what it means..” We all know the feeling, right? I’m just gonna pretend I didn’t see that so it doesn’t become a bigger thing than it needs to be..

My mom said it even surprised her some. I mean those are huge trigger words for a parent, especially when you think you’re just out for a shake and fries. Then BAM. “CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING” gets thrown in your face with a list of stats, things to look for, and ways to try to prevent it. That burger stop just got real deep real quick.

And I just have to say – way to go In-N-Out! (Click here or on the blue link above to see how In-N-Out is joining the fight through donations this month!)

And then, of course, we also need to give a quick shoutout to Arizona for blasting the highways with this phone number this month:

By shining a spotlight on the dark truth that such evil things are happening, In-N-Out and these road signs can really make a difference to someone. You can make a difference.

Knowledge. Is. Power!

If we can do nothing else, we can certainly still spread the knowledge about what is happening. Learn what and where the issues are, and then tell someone else about it. I’d bet a lot of money that no kidnapper stepping into one of those In-N-Out locations with malicious intentions will carry out their plans when they hear the mother and her athletic teenage son at the next table talking about what it means to keep yourself and others safe from traffickers.

I have kind of begun to imagine traffickers as vampires. They can’t even stand the light anymore. Cowards and weak, except that they’re so darn sneaky and scary. They need the darkness to function, and cower and shrivel away under the sun.

Oh, if only! Be a light anyway!

Now, The Book Report

In Tim Ballard’s latest book, “Slave Stealers“, he shares overwhelming examples of the brightest, yet most abused souls that lit the way to become steadfast beacons of freedom. The theme of the book sheds light on how to join the liberators. Every chapter left me in awe and reflection. Most chapters left me pausing to fight tears that I don’t believe even pregnancy hormones can be blamed for. And the book as a whole has left me tormented with a need to do something.

So here I am, a fresh stack of books about slavery from the library and five more internet tabs open trying to decide where to begin with all this self-assigned studying. All to tell you, my small audience, that some victim out there needs you to act for their best outcome. I know this writing thing isn’t nearly enough, but look at what Frederick Douglass accomplished in writing! So, for me, it is at least a start to feel committed to the cause by writing about it and enlisting others’ attention. Let me share a few major points, doctrines almost, that really stood out in “Slave Stealers”.

1. What is slavery?

This is important to understand up front because it can become problematic to make nonpersonal, general comparisons between historical slavery, often called the transatlantic trade, and modern-day slavery. Though both forms of abuse should certainly be called slavery (as there is no other word for what happened then and what is happening now), it’s important to distinguish between the two evils. For there are marked differences between the two. We must be careful to preserve the integrity of the stories of the old and the new slavery and to protect each story and those players in it.

“Slave Stealers”, pg 4, Tim Ballard.

What is the old slavery then?

The transatlantic trade we’re familiar with, right? We study it in school. As Ballard also reviews and further explains in “Slave Stealers”, it was the open, unmasked, accepted and legally protected sale and trade of humans. The slavery was accounted for by witnesses, signatures, state-recorded money exchanges, and overall impossible to escape because any “illegal freedom” would have resulted in harsh punishment, even on the family of the runaway. And that was the thing – their freedom was considered illegal! How could they ever hope to be their own person anywhere they went? I feel like Tim Ballard answers and elaborates on all these things superbly.

So what is the new/modern slavery?

Well, through a lot of trial and error, the world is coming to unite in and implement the truth that freedom cannot be a legal or monetary thing, but a God-given right. Legally, in the US and most countries, we are now protected against the pains of slavery. The government promises to try to back us and rescue us in situations where our freedom is at stake. This means that when slavery happens now it is hidden, undocumented, and done under the guise of something else. This makes it difficult to escape, because while people now truly want to free any and all slaves today, and sympathize with the horror of the situation, how can we begin to find them? It’s a different kind of dark and seemingly hopeless trap. Hopeless except for people, like the O.U.R. operators, who are making the rescues happen and finding the children in despair.

2. We need to make it personal.

“Do you have children, Tim?”

“Yes,” I responded, my eyes matching the intensity I was reading in his.

“Then let me ask you something….” He hesitated. He must have known the question was somewhat cruel. But he went forward with it anyway. “Could you get in bed and sleep at night, knowing that one of your children’s beds was empty?”

I knew the answer was no, but I couldn’t get the word out, as instant tears and emotion blocked my ability to vocalize. I just shook my head.

“Slave Stealers,” pg 56, Tim Ballard

The evolution of Tim Ballard’s response to this question, and the decisions he made on how to cope with the answer are beyond inspiring in this novel. I think we will all absolutely understand the desire he expresses at first to disassociate ourselves from the problem and people involved. My mother in law actually just told me this week that some of her friends or acquaintances had turned down the opportunity to go to a weekend conference for women, because they are emotionally not able to sit through his talks – and of course, he would be speaking. Ladies, I 100% understand. I ugly cry every time. But I’m also filled with incomparable hope and determination to act that you just cannot get from sitting cozy at home. The courage and power he has to be able to embrace and love the world as it is and the dangers it presents to his children is amazing! So maybe ignorance would be bliss, but knowledge is power. And as we really try to make it personal, to connect with and deeply love and mourn for those that are victims, we will find our own ways to know how to hope and help and love and give in ways that can liberate someone.

3. “There is magic in service.”

“Slave Stealers,” pg 238, Tim Ballard

This just builds upon the last point. As we feel the issue become personal and grow a feeling to need to act and join the rescue in some way, Tim Ballard assures us that we will find ourselves serving more. When you get to this point in the book, everything seems to come together perfectly in those five simple words. The way that each slave he describes became the conqueror was through service – to a brother, children, friends, strangers. In their own depths of despair, they gave to others. They gave up their means of passage, some food, some friendship, some fear, whatever another person needed more right then. It’s not just shadows of people drifting in this underground affair. These are what I call spiritual giants!

I often think that for me this image of broken down, starving people is an easy way I disassociate myself from the issue. Whether it’s the reality or not – which it is – I just don’t know anyone physically at that point, so I struggle to truly imagine the horrors it takes to get there. Therefore, I don’t make it personal or feel driven to act in the same way. They are just these unreal ghosts of people on the TV ads to me. It’s sad, but honest.

That’s one thing I have started to change in my small perspective of slavery while following O.U.R. and Tim Ballard’s stories. I now believe that some of the strongest souls we could ever imagine are waiting to be rescued! The kinds of people we want to have influencing our politics, media, literature, and own families are praying for us to come. The kinds of children that grow up to be liberators and inspirations themselves are out there, and isn’t that how we would see our own children and friends? Don’t we hope that if anything ever happened to a loved one, that all their strongest traits and beliefs would get them through it? So, while these children are sure to need special recovery and treatment of every kind, they are also carrying around something powerful to have made it out at all, and we would do well to fight to bring out the best in them for others to see. We would do well to remember the potential we can give back to them. Really, we should treat everyone this way and serve a little more, because, well, there is magic in service.

This book is truly inspiring. I hope that as you read, something in your understanding or perspective of human trafficking is shook like I was. I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings! Or to talk about ideas and ways that you might be able to help.

For the next few days til the end of January, here are just a few of the places you can go online to make a donation that will make a difference, or just to learn more:

If you are in Oregon, take a look at their free self defense classes and trainings.
If you’re not from Oregon, they are offering everyone a free Webinar through January on the topic of human trafficking awareness.

What will you bring to the table to help fight human trafficking? What ideas can you share to help others spread the word? Don’t know, but want more inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter below!

Where in the World Do I Live?

Just this week, I took my son to an indoor gym called “Uptown Jungle” for the second time ever. It’s full of fun slides, obstacle courses, trampolines, and of course, ball pits. The place is just a maze of fun for kids, and a full-body workout for parents. That maze part is what really caught my attention. My son and his friend that was with us are both about 20 months old, yet they always seemed to know where they were going, and were able to map out routes to objects we suggested. “Want to go find the red slide?” Zoom! They would both turn and look for the red slide, and then you’d see them check the holes and exits around them before quickly navigating the way there. Or when they would wander apart, I would ask Trey to look for his friend, and as soon as we saw him, Trey would start weaving his way towards Wyatt, only occasionally pausing to make sure we were still on target. I kept thinking that their navigation skills were about up to par with mine! I wondered how many places Trey knew the layout to. Could he find his own way home alone in our neighborhood just as well, or across certain stores?

Unfortunately, experiments of that sort seem slightly unethical.

Ok, they’re probably illegal. Yeah, definitely illegal. But I’m still curious! So I came home and put a lot more thought into this activity that I had researched and saved a while back. How could I make a fun activity span a wider age range to begin teaching my 1 year old about where he lived?

Well, he loves my Russian nesting dolls. But since I’m not a carpenter, and my art supply funds are very limited, I can’t afford to make any sort of nesting dolls showing the place he lives on a growing scale. However, if you are capable of making some sort of nesting doll, I would love to see my envisioned design come to life!!!!

Instead, I have to work with paper and glue like most of you. Here is what I came up with:

Pinterest guided me a ton through this idea of a “Where in the World Do I Live” activity, and people have so many ideas of how to do it! I even found one smart momma that figured out my nesting doll problem! Just put the images on stackable tuberware! Voila! A no-cost homemade nesting doll! But so many of them were asking to be paid for just a circular cutout with some text, and I wanted to make something equally functional but really cute too.

Or you can keep it even simpler and just punch a hole in the top of each of these, tie a ribbon or string, and let your children color the images. You can cut out the stars and glue them to where your city is found on the state (AZ or UT), or just use them as the cutest little flash cards! Make sure to share a picture in the comments of how you use these to be featured on social media!

Where In the World Do I Live?

Use this printable in a hundred different ways. You can stack them together like a flip book, tape them to stackable tuperwares or nesting dolls, and the list goes on! However you use them, this printable will hep your young child to gain an understanding of how big of a world we live in. They'll learn that outside of their home, there are different kinds of people on their street, city, country, and continent! That's a lot of people!