A Healthy New Me


I tried to post this yesterday.  Well, I posted this yesterday.  And shortly after I posted it, a few people tried to read it, and it just wasn’t there.  So if you follow my blog via email, and you’re receiving this almost verbatim again, sorry about that.  The only reason I even have it is that it went to my Mom’s email and she forwarded it back to me.  Thanks Mom!

 

Today I’d like to talk about being healthy.

A couple weeks ago, one of my grade 8 girls confessed to me that she thinks she’s fat, because she weighs 129 pounds.  I explained to this sweet, sweet girl that she’s beautiful (and she is), and that those numbers mean different things for different people.  That if that’s what she weighs at 14, she’ll likely weigh more as an adult, and that that’s ok, because she’s healthy, but she’s tall, so her bones need to weigh more to hold her up.  She understood, and then I added “I’d probably end up in the hospital trying to get to 129 pounds.  You need to be happy with who YOU are.”

She looked at me and she paused, and she said “really?  why?  what do you weigh?”  Tempted to brush her off and tell her it was rude to ask, something in me reconsidered.  This girl was having a genuine moment of poor self esteem based solely upon the number she saw on a scale.  Not on her size, her health, her fitness level, her ability to do the activities that she wants to do…. a number that not many people even know about.  I told her she’d be shocked, because it’s just a number, and it means very little when it comes to your overall health.  And then I told her.  And guess what…. she was shocked.

Am I happy with my number?  Not necessarily.  But I’m also aware that my issues are deeper seeded than simply a number.  I don’t feel fat because of a number.  Most days, I don’t even feel fat.  I do feel unhealthy though, because I have a poor relationship with food and it needs to change.  I know that with proper nutrition and slightly more exercise, it would be quite simple for me to get back to the 160 pounds where I was very content.  But I’ve said it before — I didn’t do it properly the first time, and so guess what, some of the weight came back.  I lost weight out of a desperate fight for control at a time in my life when I felt like I could control nothing else.  Unwilling to give all of it to God, I fought for control of the one thing I could control, and I controlled it well.  I dropped 90 pounds in 10 months.  And I would have kept going, because dropping 90 pounds, 10 pants sizes, and countless inches all over my body did not fix my self esteem.  I thought it would…. I thought it would get me a boyfriend and fix my problems and make me happy and it didn’t.

It took me a while to figure out the root of the problem — the root of my unhappiness was not that I was single.  Because I’m still single, and I’m totally OK with that.  The root of my unhappiness was not that I was fat, though I sincerely thought it was.  It wasn’t that my parents got divorced, though I considered it.  The root of my unhappiness was that every single one of us has a longing for something bigger than ourselves, and how we deal with that is how we define ourselves.  When you meet people that are just completely sold on God, they trust in everything that He will be there and provide.  They are secure in what they hope for — and not just fanciful wishful thinking hope, the kind of hope that Paul has, the kind that knows the truth and looks forward to the day that God’s promises of eternal life come true, knowing securely that this life is but a blip.  They are trusting, and they are filling that longing for something deeper and more intimate than what we can get on Earth with study of scripture and a prayerful, listening, close, deep relationship with the Holy Spirit where they listen, let It lead, trust, and they don’t fret.  The root of my unhappiness is that for many, many years I’d been filling my longing for Jesus with food, and guess what — it didn’t work.  I just got fat.  And it took years to figure that out.  I was unhappy, and I tried to fix it, and I couldn’t, so I counted every single calorie, making sure to never eat more than 12-1400 in a day while also either walking or running for an hour or more daily (I know, I know, terrible.  I promise not to ever do it again).  I obsessed.  And not once did I trust God with my plan for a “healthy” me.

I looked good on the outside, but I was incomplete and dying inside.

As life situations gradually shifted, changed, and mostly improved, I stopped grasping so hard for control and I relaxed on my crazy diet rules, and I gained weight back.  But until this fall, I was completely happy with whatever the weight was, because I was eating fairly well, I was exercising, and this was my body’s natural rhythm.  I found that something went hand in hand with that — I had begun to trust God with my circumstances, because there came a point where I realized that I legitimately have no control, and that nothing I can do will change that, so why bother?

I have slipped back out of that.  Gradually.  Almost like a frog in boiling water.  I look at myself and realize that I’ve gained back 55 pounds and that I’m not even entirely sure how it happened.  I mean I know how it happened… I’m not dumb, and I had the mechanics of weight loss mastered:  consume less than you burn and you lose.  Consume WAY less than you burn, and you lose lots.  Not the healthiest, but it was effective for its purposes at the time.

I read a book lent to me by a friend of mine called Made To Crave.  In it, Lysa TerKeurst, the author, talks about this very thing — how we are made to crave God, but how Satan and his minions will fill us with cravings for so many other things to distract us.

So here is where I get to the point.  I loved the book.  It resonated with me.  It spoke to me.  It made me think.  It made me realize that I was at it again, that I was filling my need for God with food, and that I can’t keep doing it or I will be fat and unhappy and spiritually far from God.

Through the process of reading the book, I downloaded YouVersion for my iPhone, and have begun to follow some GREAT reading plans.  I have never been so consistent in reading the Bible for so long, and I love it.  I love what I can see it doing in me, and I love how I can sense that even after a few months at it, I am more in tune with the nudgings of the Spirit.

But I’m not there yet.  I have a long road ahead to healthy, and it’ll be even longer because I am at a point where I am content with what I look like on most days.  Sure, I have bad days, but I think everyone does.  My overall self esteem though is decent.  I’m not a size 6, I may never be, and I certainly don’t want to be obsessive enough to maintain it even if I ever get there, but I also know that no matter what size I am, I am beautiful, loved, cherished, valued, and considered useful by my Heavenly Father, and I was created that way.

That being said, my body is a living sacrifice to God.  That means that there are going to be times where I want donuts and nanaimo bars and chocolate and all manner of delicious disgusting things, and I have to say no because I want them for the wrong reasons.  With this very point in mind, I tried to give up a bunch of these things for Lent.  And I screwed up.  I have given into temptation anyway because I want to, and I haven’t been doing well at upholding the promises I made and commitments I laid out.  So I will restart, because this will not be just another thing that I say “well I already screwed it up” to and go back to where I was.

So I am making it public, …ish, so that I have people who know.

For Lent, in order to rely on God when I want the following things and in order to in the process, draw closer to Him, I am committing again to give up the following things:

  • Snacks when I am not hungry, as well as unhealthy snacks when I am
  • Dessert
  • Fast Food

And here’s the thing — I’ve already figured out that I can’t do this.  But through me, God can.  So please pray for me.

Some food for thought:

9 Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. 10 Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Cor. 12:9-10

19 Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.  1 Cor. 6:19-20

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. 13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.  1 Cor. 10:12-14

19 I speak this way, using the illustration of slaves and masters, because it is easy to understand. Before, you let yourselves be slaves of impurity and lawlessness. Now you must choose to be slaves of righteousness so that you will become holy.  Romans 6:19

12 You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.  1 Cor. 6:12

 

In semi-related news, I’ve joined a gym, and am going to start working out again.  And I finally signed up for a race in May, because I’ve been saying I love running for almost a year now, but I haven’t done it since July and I planned to race LAST spring.  So the motivation is signed up for.  I paid for the race registration fee, I’m going.  My goal is not to win, because I feel like that’ll be quite disappointing at this point.  But my goal is to finish that 5k, and to rely on God to do so.

And a quote to end the rambly post….

Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

What I want most is a solid relationship with my Father, uninhibited by an unhealthy relationship with food.  I want that more than donuts and chocolate.  More than donuts and chocolate and all other delectable goodies, I want to address my issues with gluttony and sloth, and with God’s help, I’ll be the me He made me to be.

 

And as a footnote, now adding this on Sunday to what I wrote on Saturday.  I learned something cool in church today, that I had never put together before, no matter how many times I’d read the story of Joseph.  We’ve been studying Joseph’s story, and today we were in Genesis 41-45, the part of the story where the brothers have to go to Joseph when he’s ruling in Egypt to ask for grain because they’re going to starve, and they leave Benjamin at home.  Of course, Joseph recognizes them, and recognizes that Benjamin is missing, but given that the last time the brothers saw Joseph was when he was 17 and he’s now like 40, and they sold him into slavery so they’re totally not expecting him to be the right hand man to Pharaoah….. they don’t recognize him.

Our Pastor talked about the different character traits of God this morning, and he said that from the perspective of Joseph’s brothers, God would be a God of Vengeance… they look at the things happening to them as punishment from God for what they did to Joseph.  But our Pastor suggested… what if God isn’t into Vengeance really, so much as He’s into loving discipline.  Yeah, the brothers felt terribly guilty for what they did to Joseph, it was a terrible thing… but what ended up coming of it was all tied together.  Judah, the ringleader behind the idea to sell Joseph into slavery in the first place, ends up going from a place where he’s so self-serving that he’ll sell his brother into slavery for money, not caring what happens to him, because he just can’t deal with the things Joseph is prophesying will come to pass.  Where we see Judah by the end of chapter 45 is that he’s willing to trade his life for Benjamin’s because he can’t stand the thought of having to deliver the anguish-ridden news to Jacob that he couldn’t get Benjamin back.  God is the God of loving discipline.  He doesn’t have to be angry with us when we sin because He poured out His vengeance and wrath on Jesus, who took that for us.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be judgment for our sins, but we don’t have to live in fear.

The End.  Hopefully it actually posts this time.

Rescue is Here. Anna’s Story: Part 3.


A brief synopsis of where we’ve left Anna:

In Part 1, We find 15 year old Anna living in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Her mother is a prostitute just to keep food on the table for her and her siblings.  She sees a sign in a shop window advertising nanny positions in America for $1000.00 a month, and she sees a way to save her mother and family from the poverty and wretched circumstances that they live in.  She applies, but as she gets on a bus to go to the airport, she’s driven off the wrong way, and her passport is sold to a Chinese man who boards the bus as they cross the Chinese border.  In Part 2, the bus continues moving.  One of the other girls on the bus tries to escape but is shot three times for trying.  The bus arrives in Laos, and Anna and one of the other girls are sold as household slaves to a wealthy man/family in Vientiane, the Capital city.  By the end of Part 2, Anna has become numb from abuse (physical and sexual), threats, manipulation, loneliness, and desperation.  She felt lost and hopeless, because no one even knew where she was.  She feared that her family assumed she was having such a great time that she forgot about them, and she wanted to die.

The sun rose and shone through the cracks in the wall of my bedroom.  The birds outside chirped, and if I didn’t remember that I was a slave, beaten and prostituted for sport, I think I could have liked Vientiane.  I’d been there long enough that I’d figured out that the house was owned by a very rich man.  From what Kalina and I could pick up, everyone appeared to be masquerading as employees who worked for this man, Palani, in a fairly small business that designed and sold athletic clothing.  A team of graphic designers designed the prints that would go on the clothing and accessories, had everything printed and shipped to the house, and from there it was sold.  There was a storefront at the main entrance of the massive house, as well as several small offices that we were responsible for keeping clean.  Kalina and I did not run the store, as neither of us spoke Laotian, and I was usually too severely beaten to stand and face customers.  I haven’t looked anyone but Kalina in the eye for months, anyway.  It would likely blow the cover they have set up for the drug smuggling and human trafficking operation that they run behind the scenes.  It seemed so obvious to me even from the start that this could not be a legitimate business.  Such a small storefront could not possibly sustain such a large home attached to the back with so many employees living right on site.  I quickly came to the conclusion that no one, not even government officials, cared about what was going on.  I would see police officers standing in the shop as I walked past from time to time, but they stood talking quietly with Palani.  They were there to be part of the corruption, not part of a solution.  They would usually leave with drugs.  Sometimes, they would come in through the back entrance and Palani would leave them alone with older, more experienced girls.  They left with gifts of drugs, smiles on their faces, and substantially less money.  Whatever hope I had of rescue evaporated the day that a uniformed Laotian police officer walked around the corner in the house and nearly bumped into me while I cleaned the hallway, looked me right in the eye, winked, and stroked my bruised arm before leaving the house.  I meant nothing to him, and he was not there to be my rescue.  One tear slipped down my cheek — more emotion than I’d let myself feel or express in months.  It was a tear of utter despair.

Months passed again with the cycle endlessly repeating itself.  Girls would come and go through the house.  They were often sold again if they could get a higher price than what had been paid.  I watched while two girls who’d only been in the house a week were stuffed into the back of a large black van, bound and gagged, and taken only God knows where.  I must not have been worth much, because no one ever wanted to take me out.  I suppose I was fine with that.  At least here I was fed and had shelter.  This endlessly repeating cycle had become my life.

Early one morning, I was cleaning in the storefront when a man walked in.  I hadn’t made eye contact with anyone, not even Kalina, since the police officer had leered at me.  He was tall and white.  Apart from Kalina, I hadn’t seen anyone with white skin since I left Russia.  He had an athletic build and I tried not to stare, but he looked so out of place that I couldn’t help it.  I couldn’t help but wonder what he was doing in a fake athletic shop in Vientiane, Laos.  He made eye contact with me and smiled.  I looked away and left the room quickly.  I feared he’d be asking for me later.  I stayed closer than I normally do during a business deal to the store.  He didn’t speak Laotian, so the girl running the store had to get Palani.  Palani spoke to the man in broken English, and the man sounded so relieved.  I don’t speak English, so I don’t know what was said, but something felt different about this man.  He purchased a pair of shoes and he left the store.  I wondered if it were possible that he really was only there to buy running shoes.

Weeks went by again, and I had nearly forgotten the man’s kind face.  I was outside pruning a bush in the blazing hot sun.  My pale skin was burning, I could feel it.  I asked to come inside but no one listened.  I was shoved back outside.

I looked around, stretching my back and wiping my face free of sweat.  As I looked around, I saw his face again.  He was walking on the sidewalk past the house.  It surprised me that the backyard area of the house wasn’t more closely watched, but this was the first time I’d been out of the building since being brought to it.  My best guess is that I’d been there roughly seven months.  I walked slowly closer to the sidewalk.  He stopped to tie his shoes and as he looked up, he saw me watching him.  He smiled and walked toward the fence.  He said something in English that I didn’t understand.  He looked right into my eyes, and I looked at my feet.  He looked closely at the bruises and scars on my arms.  I stepped backwards.  He said something else in English, quickly, and he walked away.

Later that afternoon, a uniformed officer walked into the shop.  I was cleaning the shop and the officer said something to me in Laotian.  He handed me a piece of paper that I gave to Palani when he entered the room.  He motioned for me to leave, but I stayed just behind the door.  I heard an argument, but I understood only a few words.  I heard them coming toward the door so I fled.  A few minutes later, there were several uniformed police officers throughout the building searching rooms, talking to girls, and taking pictures.  I was so confused.  My experience with the police has not been positive in Laos.  I tried to go find a place to hide, but the police were looking in every room.  I backed into my own room… dank and dark.  I hoped they wouldn’t find me.  But they did.

A police officer took me by the hand and told me something in Laotian.  I saw Kalina down the hall and I tried to run for her.  The police officer kept talking to me in Laotian and I started to panic.  Kalina said something to the man who had her in broken Laotian.  She must have paid closer attention than I did in the past seven months.  The officer who had me looked down and looked me in the eyes and smiled.  I was terrified.

He took me around the corner and I watched in utter confusion as Palani and all of his employees were handcuffed and being taken away.  I also saw the man from outside and he smiled and waved.  I still didn’t understand.  The officer put Kalina and me in a car and we were taken away.  I didn’t know whether to feel relief or dread.  Could this really be over?  Were these police officers the same as what I’d already seen?  Or were they different?  Were they really there to help?

Kalina asked me the same questions in the car.  The officers said nothing, but we assumed they didn’t speak Russian.  We arrived at the police station and were met by people who spoke Russian who could talk to us.  We were given clean clothes, showers, a big, hot meal, and we were allowed to sit together.

The man who came in to talk to us sat down at the table.  He introduced himself as Kapono.  He told us that the man who had bought the running shoes, Lucas, had seen the bruises and scars on my arms in the store that first day and he had suspected that something wasn’t right, so he had gone to the police.  Kapono had explained that over the couple weeks since the first time Lucas had come in, several officers had come in in plain clothes, looking around, building a case, and ready to raid Palani’s ‘business’ efforts.  He also explained that between the trafficking, the drugs, the kidnapping, and the abuse and rape charges, Palani and his men wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone again.  He said we’d be moved to a center for girls who’d been rescued run by an organization specializing in rehabilitation for girls who’d gone through what we’d been through.  I still wasn’t sure that I trusted any of them, but the word rescue sure sounded promising.  This was a temporary measure, Kapono explained, until we could be returned to our families after some counselling, but they would inform our families if at all possible of our whereabouts.

Kalina and I were taken to the facility that night.  I had a warm bed, clean clothes, clean sheets, and people who seemed to care about me very much.  I hoped this would last, because it sure seemed too good to be true.

Stay tuned in March for details about Anna’s care at the rehabilitation facility.  For more information about organizations that help rescue people like Anna, please check out The Exodus Road.  There, you’ll find plenty of stories about people just like Anna, rescued from slavery and returned to their families.  Want a way you can help?  Check out Exodus Auctions.  You can get in contact with Exodus Road and if your product meets their requirements, they’ll help you sell it.  All proceeds would go to rescue victims of trafficking.

Anna’s Story, Part 2


We left Anna on a bus where the driver picked up a Chinese man, and handed over the passports of Anna and several other girls.  They knew they were in trouble.  I wrote Part 1 of Anna’s Story of being taken and sold into slavery as an attempt to get stories just like this one out there.  I may have made most of those details up, but this still happens for sure.  Anna had tried to secure a job as a Nanny in the US and was ready to move when her ride to the airport went the wrong way, and that’s where we’ll pick back up.

I’d been sitting on the bus for hours, alone.  It was hot.  It was stuffy.  I was scared.  We all were.  Scared didn’t cut it.  I was petrified.  I couldn’t move.  I knew I should make a run for it the next time we stopped to fuel, but my muscles wouldn’t do what my brain willed them to do.  I watched in horror though while Katarina, brave as she was, tried to do that very thing… run the next time we stopped.  The Chinese man we picked up shot her three times, and pocketed the amount of money I can only assume was what would have been needed to keep her alive.  So I sat.  I stared out the window and watched as the scenery changed.  I knew this trip was going to hold changes in scenery, but I expected to be in the air right now, headed for some place called Manhattan.  Buildings as far as the eyes can see.  My heart breaks every time I think about it.  I try to stop thinking about it, it’s clear that it’s not going to happen, but I can’t.  The pictures I saw on those ads keep floating through my head.

The bus kept moving for hours, days even.  I lost track.  The sun set and rose again in there somewhere I’m certain, but I don’t really remember.  We eventually crossed the border into Laos.  We arrived in what I assume was Vientiane, the capital.  I didn’t know why we were there, what was going to happen to us, but I know I wanted to die.  It couldn’t be good.  My passport had been sold, and I was hours from my home, my family… and with no way of telling them why no money would be coming from America.  They’d be bound to assume I took off, started loving my life in America, and kept the profit for myself.  My Mother would be heartbroken.

We finally stopped.  It was near dark again, and we were all yanked from our seats on the bus.  I looked so out of place; we all did.  I felt so white.  So white.  My skin is so white.  I remember thinking it over and over again.  “They all know why I’m here.  They know I’m not visiting.  They know.”

More money changed hands, and I was shoved into the backseat of a car in an alley.  I didn’t get a chance to say anything at all to the girls I’d met, even so briefly, on the bus in St. Petersburg.  I fought, I didn’t want to get in the car.  I would rather die.  I screamed that in Russian at the man trying to force me in, and he slapped me across the face.  I demanded to be let go.  I told them they couldn’t do this.  I screamed that slavery is illegal and that they’ll pay for this.  They hit me again and said something I didn’t understand.  I’m sure it meant I needed to keep my mouth shut or I’d pay.  I figured they were probably right; I stopped talking.

I was dragged back out of the vehicle at an enormous house.  I don’t know how long I’d been in the car for.  I was stunned.  For a moment I was speechless, but it didn’t last long.  A woman came out to greet me.  She spoke quickly and incomprehensibly in Laotian.  Or at least, I assume it was Laotian.  I didn’t speak it.  With my hands tied behind my back, I began to rail at her, at anyone who would listen.

“I don’t belong here!  I need to go to America!”  I screamed at them.  They stood and watched, almost amused.  It made me sick, and it made me even angrier.  They took me into the house and shoved me in a dark room, motioned that that’s where I’d be, untied my hands, and locked the door behind them.  It reeked of uncleanliness.  I missed my Mother so much.  My family.  My siblings.  I pleaded with God.  I would never again complain about the circumstances we lived in in Russia if He could just send me back home.  I eventually fell asleep on the wretchedly disgusting bed in the corner of the room.  I was cold and damp, and I cried myself into what would be the first of many very fitful nights’ sleep.

I woke up on my own with a faint shimmer of light piercing the darkness of my life through a crack in the concrete wall.  No wonder it was damp.  The night air had been seeping into what I could only assume was my new room.  I begged God to wake me up from this dream.  This nightmare.  No, that’s not even strong enough — this night terror.

Soon there was a voice yelling at me from the other side of the door, and a hand pounding against the wood.  I could tell by the tone of voice… “GET UP!”  I didn’t need to speak Laotian for that one.  The door unlocked, and in the doorway stood a large man and a grotesque woman.  The woman grabbed me by the wrist, led me to a supply closet, showed me the cleaning materials, and shoved me in.  I wasn’t given much instruction.  I knew though, that between what I had seen happen to Katarina and how unforgiving they’d been so far, I needed to just keep my head down and do my job.

I walked into a bathroom to clean it, and saw one of the girls from the bus.  It gave me hope and filled me with anguish at the same time.  We were both stuck.  We whispered to each other in Russian; we’d had the same dream.  We’d been headed for America, ready to support our families.  Kalina and I would smile hollow, empty smiles at each other for months to come, knowing that at least we had each other.

I realized quickly that I was a servant in this household.  Or at least, they thought of me as such.  I was their slave.  They would beckon, and they would bark orders at me in broken, barely comprehensible Russian or in Laotian.  Regardless, I had trouble understanding, and when I didn’t do things the right way, they beat me.  My owner spoke Russian fluently.  He would threaten me all the time, telling me that if I didn’t do what was asked of me, told to me, he would find my family and have them killed.  I became so numb that once I told him I didn’t care what he did to my family.  If they were dead I’d have no reason to live and I would kill myself.  That night was the last time I spoke up for myself, as I had never known pain like that before.  I became so numb and so cut off from who I had been, so excited to go to America and help my family, that even when the men of the house started coming to visit me at night, I didn’t care.  I did exactly what everyone wanted, all the time, whenever they wanted.  For as long as they wanted.  My life was no longer my own.  I cooked and cleaned all day, and I barely slept at night for what they wanted.

One morning I can remember waking up and looking at myself in a mirror as I cleaned a bathroom.  I saw very pale, very white skin.  I hated myself.  I knew it was what made me so desirable to everyone in this country; I was different, exotic.  It made me loathe everything I was.  I had lost track of how long it had been since I’d been taken from my family, and there was no end in sight.  No one even knew where I was.  No one could help me, because no one cared about the wrong that was being done here.  No one but me, Kalina, and the other girls whose names I didn’t even know.  We didn’t speak.  We just looked at each other sadly with eyes that knew.

 

 

To find out how Anna gets rescued, make sure you follow my blog and wait patiently (I can’t write it until I have the information) for Part 3!

Make sure you check out The Exodus Road for more information about real-life stories of rescue from slavery, as well as ways you can help.  One way you can do that is by checking out NightLight International, an organization that provides jobs for women who are prostitutes but want other work, and they also work in the counter-trafficking community in Bangkok, Thailand.  NightLight is a Christian organization that’s been a presence in Bangkok for the last eight years.  Check out Exodus Road’s post called Celebrate Hope, where they talk about the coalition they’ve made with NightLight.  Exciting stuff.  Unfortunately, the giveaway on there closes in an hour; sorry I didn’t get to writing this sooner.  But still, head on over to NightLight’s website and check out some of the fantastic stuff there!  I know I myself am a big jewelry junkie, and who wouldn’t want to support a great cause by buying something like this gorgeous bracelet from an organization that supports ending global slavery instead of from Ardene.