Sewing With Love and a Prayer

Friends, are you experienced in sewing‬?

Your help, love and prayers are needed with a new partnership and project!

We are teaming up with Hope 4 Women International and their Dress a Girl Around the World campaign

25636_381091284031_670004031_3771071_7765931_nOur seamstresses will make one dress to sell at our events, and we will offer a second dress to be shipped around the world to protect a little girl from would-be predators. This endeavor ensures consistent work for our own seamstresses as they transition into a new line of work, and also provides an opportunity for us to bless a daughter around the world.

We need experienced seamstresses to sew that second dress with care, love and a prayer for the recipient.

Start by visiting Dress a Girl Around the World website to learn more. Also, read this letter addressed specifically to seamstresses.

Please direct any and all questions to our project leader, Kathleen: kkeefer4@gmail.com. She will guide and direct this project, and provide needed supplies. She only requires that you sew with care, because of the steps and protocols involved.

A Word From Hope 4 Women International: 
Dresslogo

By providing a new dress you may well be changing a young girl’s destiny. Village pastors tell us that a girl wearing a new dress presents an appearance that she is well cared for and may discourage would-be predators. We attach our Dress a Girl label on the outside of each dress sending an additional message that each girl is under the care of an organization, giving her added protection from those who would harm her. 

 


Protect and Bless the Homeless in Harrisburg

It’s a Dual Team Project! LBC class

OurBE Team has joined forces with a Social Work and Human Trafficking class at Lancaster Bible College.

We met last month to brainstorm ways we could work together on a class project. Professor Dinse’s class is collecting blankets, soap, apples, and other important items to create care packages for the homeless in Harrisburg PA.

On a Saturday afternoon later this month, our team of ladies will lead students through various sections  in the city to hand out the food and packages together.

According to Polaris Project, young people who have faced prior abuse, lost their homes or fled broken child protection systems are at greater risk for recruitment by traffickers who unscrupulously exploit their vulnerabilities or circumstances. Therefore, homeless youth are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.

We will include cards with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 1-(888)-373-7888 in the care packages, pointing them to Polaris, who works to strengthen community responses so that all trafficked youth have access to the specialized, trauma-informed services needed to feel safe and rebuild their lives.

Working together, with this team from LBC, we hope to make a difference in the lives of those we reach, as well as learn from one another in the process.


A Spark Changes Everything

She was drawn back to the BeadforLife table and couldn’t stop looking at and thinking about the ‘Spark’ Bracelet Set. It would make the perfect gift for Miss M, a single mom who had become very special to her. But would it be too much? Too personal?

The idea is that your friend wears one bracelet and you wear the other one. It comes with a card so you can write what she sparked in you; the bracelets become a reminder of the connection you share:

A spark changes everything. Think about the first time someone recognized in you a spark, a talent you hadn’t yet seen in yourself. Remember the way your heart soared when you felt the power of what you could do and be. Celebrate the spark and the woman who sparked something in you with a matching bracelet set featuring a beautiful pewter charm engraved with the word “spark” – a reminder of the connection you share. Each set comes attached to a gift card that features the story of the spark that was ignited in you

At the annual Gifts That Give Hope Fair, there are so many beautiful items to consider purchasing as presents for those in our lives, but this had a special, personal meaning for both of them.

We started walking beside Miss M two years after meeting her through our outreach initiative to those who work in the sex industry. Since last fall, we’ve been watching a transformation take place her heart and life. She freely shares her story about a childhood riddled with crack houses, raised by a mom who worked the streets as a prostitute to get drug money, sexual abuse, and severe neglect. Her grandparents became her only safe people and her lifeline. When they both passed away, she felt lost and alone, except for her kids.

She entered into OurBE program last fall and has become an integral part of our sewing team. She had never sewn before, yet she is now our best seamstress! She worked hard to learn the basics and comes to our training center every week to sew pillowcases and iron fabric. She is dedicated to helping further develop our new initiative and keep it moving forward.

We watched this new spark come into her eyes when she realized that sewing was a skill she never knew she had. She could create something beautiful with her very own hands and with a sense of dignity. When she’s sewing with us, she is no longer that person who needs to sell herself on stage or in the VIP room. The confidence she has gained, and knowing that she now sees herself as a seamstress, is priceless.

Yes, this ‘Spark’ bracelet set was perfect – Jenn could write what she had seen sparked in Miss M’s life as an encouragement. Therefore, she couldn’t resist purchasing this very special Christmas gift. Miss M was so touched when she received it; she publicly posted her thoughts on Facebook:

“I’ve been working with these ladies whom I grew to love so much. Yesterday I received this from Jenn. I want to thank you for believing in me, because it really means a lot to me ❤ Things in my life are slowly getting better with the help of the ladies I work with. I know God puts people in your life for a reason and I’m so blessed to have these ladies in my life. I love you all! Thank you for believing in me!”

A spark changes everything.

We’ll be set up, showcasing Miss M’s pillowcases and purses, right beside BeadforLife, at this year’s Gifts That Give Hope Fair on December 10, 2016 – it’s not too early to mark it on your calendar now. We hope to see you there!

 


 


Taking up Home in My Heart by Andrea Meredith, Director of Outreach

There is a phenomenon that happens within the community of Our Beautiful Exchange: ladies I’ve only known a short time or barely know – some I have not yet met in person –  take up home in my heart.

I have spent a great deal of time with some of these sisters  – over meals, in the car, grocery shopping, in their living rooms, and so on – so it makes sense to me that they would often come to mind. And hold a spot in my heart reserved for those I deeply care about, and with whom I do everyday life.

Yet there are several I only get to see briefly, maybe once a month, and still others I’ve heard of but haven’t met yet. None of these sisters have been part of my life for even a year, but wow, they most definitely have taken up home in my heart!

I’m not the only one who has experienced this. After a spa day where our lovely volunteers spent a few hours pampering our sisters, many of whom they had just met, one volunteer said “I don’t know why, but I can’t get these ladies off my mind!” I knew exactly what she meant.

Throughout my day, I often find myself wondering how each of them are doing, whether they’re going to work that night, what their children are eating for dinner, how they are dealing with struggles they’ve entrusted to my knowledge. I wake up sometimes at night burdened with their burdens and dreaming their dreams. I find myself voluntarily filling as much of my free time as I can with coffees and meals with these sisters and their children. In the faces of strangers while out in public, I see the faces of girls I’ve only met once or twice during outreach visits.

Each sister I’ve met through OurBE is kept in my heart…in her home in my heart. Each one has a safe place there…a place where she can be real and vulnerable, a place where she is seen and loved, a place where she is protected with prayer, a place where she matters and is considered often. Her passions and dreams are hoped for in my heart’s home. Her pain is felt. Her joy is celebrated.

The vision of OurBE is to be a community of love and hope, to support and provide opportunities to ladies who are out or transitioning out of the commercial sex industry and/or have experienced sexual abuse or trauma. This community isn’t always tangible. It isn’t always observable, and sometimes these ladies may not even know they’ve been welcomed into it. And yet, they have been! These sisters have homes in our hearts…our community includes them and cares for them in ways they may never be aware of.

Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven,” and I can’t help but think one way He manifests this blessing is through the homes in our hearts. I do not believe God brought the ‘poor in spirit’ status upon our sisters, but I do believe He has something special in store for each of them despite that because He is especially fond of each one.

And part of that something special may just be that they now have part of His Kingdom surrounding them, seeing them, looking out for them, comforting them, knowing them, and showing up for them.

It’s a blessing to be part of this community, this Kingdom, this phenomenon!!


Recovery Theme : Love

Recovery Theme: Love

A True Love Story: Ruth and Boaz

You know that gnawing feeling you get when you’re really hungry? It reminds me of the very real pain we feel when we’re hungry for love. And all of us are hungry for love.

When we stray from legitimate and healthy ways to feed our love hunger, our compulsive/addictive behaviors rear their ugly heads, we make destructive choices and next thing we know, we are headed down those wrong paths… again.

After her husband died, Ruth knew what it was like to lose love and also to be hungry for such a basic thing as food. She needed to feed herself and her family – her mother-in-law.

I love the vision of Ruth curling up at the feet of Boaz, as was the custom in this land and time, taking a risk to ask him for love, protection, and care. That’s what Jesus invites us to do. Curl up at his feet. Not only will he be glad to find us there, he will also provide for us, as he protects and loves us.

How? Just like with Ruth, as she searched and worked for food in a new land, she trusted God to provide for her, and in the process, she found love. Food was provided, protection was ordered, and a relationship naturally developed. She followed ‘protocol’ if you will, and in turn received all that she needed, plus some.

It wasn’t an overnight fix. She worked through harvest time, which meant days turned into weeks, which turned into months, which turned into a season.

Hindsight really is 20/20. When we look back at a season in our lives, we can either see God at work providing for and protecting us….or we will recognize defining moments when we turned away from Him. We can, and should, choose to trust Him enough to take risks to be loved and have our needs met.

Are you hungry? Contact us if you need a grocery gift card or are simply looking for someone to talk to.


Recovery Theme : Rest

Recovery Theme: Rest

Come to Me All Who are Weary…

Rest is important. When we’re tired, we don’t think as well, we make bad decisions, and we are more vulnerable or susceptible to those things that drag us down.

Getting enough rest means also planning times of rest during our weeks, maintaining a consistent schedule, and saying no to some things.

God thought it was important enough to dedicate an entire day to rest!  And we need it a lot more than He does.

Reading, watching a movie, talking with a friend, or just taking a very long nap are great ways to rest. What do you do when you have down time?

Are you in need of a place to rest? Let us know – we’ve got lots of ideas to help!!


Grant Me Serenity ~ Self Perception

serenityprayerOne of the resources we use within OurBE is the Life Recovery Bible. We’ve handed them out to friends, to patrons at adult businesses, and for family members struggling with addiction issues.

If you need one, let us know! We’d love to give one to you.

I started using it in the mornings for my own devotional time so I could become familiar with it at a personal level.

Today I read about self-perception and was reminded that it takes a balanced view of ourselves to keep moving forward, no matter what our struggle might be.

This self-perception issue is a big one. We need to be honest with and about ourselves, but if we only focus on our bad qualities or mistakes we’ve made, then we can’t see the good in ourselves. It literally becomes a hurdle and we tend to get stuck.

But! Since we’ve all been created in God’s image, this means that excellence and dignity are inherent qualities in each of us! No matter how bad we think we are, there is a heck of a lot of good in us, too!

Try this. Instead of spending ten minutes beating yourself up for messing up, keep it to three minutes, and use the remaining seven minutes to recognize the good in you and the progress you are making!

I’ll share more about what I’m learning as I use this Bible each week. If you’re interested in discussing things like at a deeper level, consider attending our 1st Monday Dinner and Discussion nights. Find more info about this event on our site.


Messy Lives

Growing up, I had a messy room. Actually, it was beyond messy. I could hide people in it. And did. My step-mom would take guests to see it as a feature in our home. It was deep; it covered every surface, and even though I was used to living in it, it was overwhelming. And on those dreaded days when I had to attempt to clean it, the sheer scope of it all felt hopeless. Where on earth do you start?

The other night we were in the adult businesses we visit monthly, listening to a couple ladies we’ve come to know and love tell us once again about the hard circumstances they were facing. I couldn’t help but feel like their lives were like my messy room. Overwhelming to live in. And even if they wanted it to change, where on earth do you start?

Sometimes we think our approach to ministering to people with such deeply complicated lives should be to go in, sort through the mess, and try to ‘clean it up’ for them. Hoping we can have some sort of reveal like on Extreme Home Makeover, present them with their new life and ride away to tackle our next “project.”

But does that create lasting change?

When I was finally ready to take on the task of cleaning my room, be it through internal or external motivation (i.e. at the demand of the authorities that governed our home), I couldn’t do it alone. It was paralyzing to even attempt it alone. I needed friends to come in with me. But my friends couldn’t tackle my room for me. They didn’t know where everything went. Who knows where things go better than the person living there? No, they couldn’t do it for me but they could be with me. They could be there to ask the right questions, to encourage, to keep me motivated that the end goal was possible.

I believe in a lot of ways, the same principle applies in ministry. Those in our ministry circle don’t need us to be their clean-up crew. They need us to be there to encourage them. They need us to ask the right questions and to help them see hope in the midst of something that feels messy, hopeless and paralyzing. They need someone to say, “I’m here with you in this.”

Want to get a little messy and join our team?

Because His Love compels us,

Jeanne
Board Member, Connecting Team Member


Forgiveness by Brandy D.

God has seen the mess I’ve had to live through earlier in my life and yet I still have a heart, despite the messiness. Sometimes my heart feels hard but it still beats! And it feels for others. I decided to share something I’ve learned; even if helps just one person.

I’ve known my ex-husband since I was seventeen. We’ve been divorced since 1999, but we’ve stayed friends, even though he hurt me deeply as a young wife and mom. Honestly, now he’s like a brother; he doesn’t really feel like an ex to me.

I made a decision to try not to hold a grudge against him. I decided to forgive and move forward, plus we had a kid together!

The deep hurt I went through happened when I learned that my first husband was gay. I’m sure this will blow some people’s minds, and I will share more about that story sometime. But if I can forgive deceit like that, and the fact that he was an alcoholic…well, it wasn’t easy.

When I was younger I held in anger and resentment, but during our marriage I started going to church and learned that forgiveness was something I had to work on. I went through a lot of pain during those years.

But now, with church in my life and getting to know God, I’ve learned a lot, which has helped me become more laid back. I don’t have anger issues like I used to, especially because I learned about forgiveness.

I believe I carried anger for many years and it only hurt me, not those who I was mad at. So when I learned to forgive, not necessarily forget mind you, but to forgive, it was like a huge weight was lifted off of me…from my soul and my heart.

It’s so hard to forgive when your heart’s been hurt. Believe me, I know! But you have to or you will continue to be hurt even when the person isn’t there. And that’s allowing some one else to have control over your life. I don’t want anyone to have control of me or my emotions, but me…and God, because He knows how I feel and He will provide!

Sometimes I wish I would’ve learned all of this sooner, but God knows the best time for things, not me. I’ve got to trust that truth and trust Him. Maybe He prepared a harder life for me, because otherwise I may have never found Him.

He knows what He’s doing. 🙂

What does forgiveness mean to you?


(Photo is from Brandy and Tammy’s trip to Oklahoma City, where Brandy had the honor of seeing the Oklahoma City National Memorial for the first time) 

Ladies Night – Dinner and Discussion

When we visit and connect with the ladies who work in our adopted businesses, we try to be respectful of everyone’s work time.  This means there often isn’t enough time to finish the deeper conversations and discussions we get into together.

Like the conversations we’ve had lately about men, God, sex, relationships, girlfriends, the Bible, and how all of this is supposed to make sense to us as women.

In March, we held our first Ladies Night – Dinner and Discussion and delved into the topic of what it means to be pursued by the men in our lives and how it makes us feel. We all learned something about ourselves and each other that night.

We decided to do it again to keep the discussions going, and are going to block off the 1st Monday night of each month for our Ladies Night – Dinner and DiscussionThose who like to cook and bake can bring something to contribute to dinner, and those who aren’t so skilled in those areas can bring their sharp wit and compelling questions!!

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW!

MONDAY MAY 4 – 6PM

MONDAY JUNE 1 – 6PM

MONDAY JULY 6 – 6PM

MONDAY AUGUST 3 – 6PM

AT OUR OFFICE/CENTER IN HARRISBURG

LIGHT DINNER PROVIDED

BRING YOUR QUESTIONS AND THOUGHTS ABOUT THESE TOPICS!

 

If you need a ride or have questions about attending, Contact Us or text: 717-422-2488.