October 20, 2020
I always feel like Fall is the beginning of the year. It’s full of fresh starts - new beginnings if you will. I feel like most of the turns and twists in my life’s trajectory happen in Fall. This year is no different. It’s time for me to catch you all up on the happenings. Come take an inside look with me as I ponder, reflect, say thank you, and celebrate the past year.
Thanks to ALL the livEden patrons; in the past 12 months we were able to give:
In-kind donations of 25-40 volunteer hours/week from Kristi
Unknown amount of donations made directly from the “aWEARness Dress Event”
$8000 pledge for the new drop-in center
livEden Clothing was no longer able to work with the women of Sacred Beginnings Transitional Homes. The Executive Director decided that I would need to find a place outside of my home studio to hold the livEden Sewing Academy in order to continue teaching the women. I began contacting local churches within walking distance of a bus stop, with help from my friend Jessica, to inquire about their unused space during the week for the women and I to set up the academy. We were turned down immediately in some instances and also in others after a long process of “board consideration.”
I personally increased volunteer activity in my role as a member of the Sacred Beginnings’ Board. I began to work very closely with the survivor leader of the organization. I was also invited to attend peer survivor meetings, travel to speaking engagements, and journey deeper into the narrative stories of survivor life after being prostituted. I was even honored by being able to speak at the first gala fundraising event.
November - December 2019:
The livEden business profits allowed me to continue to volunteer with Sacred Beginnings, but I began to become discouraged that I was no longer allowed to directly support the women. Fundraising and a social enterprise partnership now became the sole mission of livEden as I continued to hope and patiently await a new space for the studio. I started another initiative to raise funds by sewing eleven special dresses. We called them “aWEARness” dresses. They traveled across the United States for the next 6 weeks being worn once then mailed to another participant. Little girls wore them with pride; and their families shared with anyone who would listen about the realities of human trafficking. The event raised much awareness, according to participants, and many donations were made to Sacred Beginnings. (Donations were made directly to Sacred Beginnings and unfortunately they were unable to tell us how much of the funding received was specifically from our event).
livEden partnered in creating the plans for a Grand Rapids drop-in center serving those who are being trafficked. This drop-in center would also house the new livEden Sewing Academy. I led the drop-in center project management and it quickly became a full-time volunteer “job” for the next several months.
February - April 2020:
livEden prepared to launch its new line, Luluoise. The new Sewing Academy would provide training and jobs for Luluoise small batch production. livEden would continue to create one-of-a-kind designs and Luluouise would create items more easily duplicated for the emerging sewists. The new line uploaded to the website on April 1st amidst the Covid-19 global pandemic. We also welcomed a dear partner, Denise, to the team, and said good-bye to her a few weeks later as the shelter-at-home order became our new reality.
May - July 2020:
livEden business plans began to change based on the economic changes happening around the country, as well as my heavy involvement with and personal time commitment to the new drop-in center campaign. The future was unclear for so many, including livEden and myself.
livEden Clothing, LLC had now been partnering in social enterprise with Sacred Beginnings for two years. I had officially been sitting on the Board of Advisors for 20 months. However, I had at many points during those years reconsidered my commitment and partnership with the organization. For various reasons, I was convicted to step back from fundraising and promoting the campaign, the organization, and my social enterprise partnership.
livEden pulled its social enterprise support and I personally resigned from the board of Sacred Beginnings. We are looking into new partnerships and asking what the future holds for livEden Clothing.
Phew! That was quite a ride! I must admit that it was an emotional and exhausting 12 months. Yes, the business would appear to have “suffered” from most perspectives. I don’t believe, however, that ONE interaction, ONE dollar, ONE stitch, ONE hug, or ONE moment was wasted. We gave it our ALL. We gave everything we could give. Thank you. Thank you with all of the passion I can muster. I do not know what will happen next. My life seems to be “just along for the ride.” I smile as I write those words because I should not be surprised. This can happen when you believe your life is not for YOU, but just a vessel to give back to God.
I pray that I will continue to be a living sacrifice for God in all ways. For now, it appears the livEden business will be slowing down. I will be serving at Grand Rapids Christian Schools as the new Virtual Learning Liaison. This position will provide for our family while giving me time to seek God’s will for livEden, a new social enterprise partnership, the women that God might have in the sewing studio next, or...who knows? Maybe the wind will blow in a brand new direction all together!
Yes, I will still be sewing. I just don’t know how often. Rest assured that when I do I will let you know who livEden is blessing because of YOUR purchase. Until then...treasure the creations, wear them all out, share them with friends and proudly tell how YOU have been a part of the livEden story.
August 4, 2019
Since I have been enrolled in livEden sewing School I have gained feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment. I was so pleased with my first rag quilt that I cried. It had been a long time since I did something I could be proud of. I am excited about my future because I have found a skill that I can make income doing but more importantly sewing has enriched my life and given me something to pass on to my children and loved ones!
Kristi is an amazing instructor and friend. She has been patient and kind and given me so much more than instruction in sewing. Kristi has encouraged me, helped me to believe in myself when I was being to critical, and she has given me guidance in some of what have been the most challenging points in my life to date. Kristi's love for God and her Biblical wisdom has been a blessing to me as it makes me feel at home in this new place and loved. I would say this is the most rewarding thing I could have done with my new life in Michigan.
January 18, 2019
My mom has been telling me for the past year that I need to record the mind-blowing stories of how crazy my God is. This business, my life and role in it...it’s all one miracle after another. Most of them involve all of YOU! That’s the best part!
Because I don’t believe in chance or coincidence, I know that each story is a small part in the grander purpose of my life being used to benefit others. So, if you have a story of how livEden has brought DELIGHT to you or someone you know, share it with me.
So little by little as the stories are brought back to mind, I will share them with you in order to thank you and glorify my God who “is making all things new.”
This picture represents one of the amazing stories. Through a mutual friend, Danyalle Campbell heard of my vision and partnership with Sacred Beginnings. Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are close to her heart. With a full professional schedule and a house full of 4 children of her own, she gave of her MOST PRECIOUS commodity - her time. Danyalle graciously, sacrificially gave the best of herself to someone she barely knew for no other reason than to live out the calling to change the world with one loving act at a time.
My love language is time and service. Nothing speaks love to me like someone who shares their TIME when they have nothing to gain from it. SHE is a gem. A rare and precious gift. She nor I will never know the impact her gift will make as livEden grows and offers hope to women for years to come.
LivEden was blessed with her amazing photography skills. Dany C Photography, along with moms and daughters from Michigan and Canada came together expecting nothing in return to give back.
I’m a changed woman.