We were in Vegas this past week where we went to car museums, the drag races, a car show, saw shows, and ate amazing meals. But, I saw more than that.
While at the car show (the largest in the world) I saw two peddlers outside of the convention center shoving flip cards in men's faces as they walked by trying to get them to take the images of scantily clad women. I watched man after man turn them down and keep walking. I watched the two peddlers motion to my friends and me, and grumble, saying that none of the men were going to take the cards while we women were standing there. In the past, I would have never thought twice other than that normal "ick" feeling. I would have thought that's just Vegas and moved on. But, I know too much now. I knew that 200,000 men had come to Vegas for a car show which meant that countless girls had been brought to town specifically for that reason. And my stomach sunk.
I saw Her. She walked in and sat down at a bar with two men at least 40 years older than her. Both dressed to the nines in flashy dress shirts, pants and loafers, white hair slicked back, and ready for a night out on the town. One pulled a chair out for her and placed her in it while the other pulled a chair next to her. She fidgeted with her short tight black lace dress and crossed and uncrossed her worn flip flops. She smoothed her unnaturally red hair with her chipped manicure clad hand as she nervously looked back and forth over her shoulder. The man standing, rubbing both of her shoulders asked what she wanted to drink, but she never responded. Instead, she chewed her fingernails, smoothed her hair, and darted her eyes back and forth watching the bartender. The two men asked Her again what she wanted to drink as the one standing squeezed her shoulders, leaned in, and with a denture baring grin told her "You've got two guys tonight, you should probably go with Tequila!" While the two men laughed and gave her a shoulder rub, they didn't see what I saw. I saw her eyes that were filled with terror, misery, and emptiness. I saw her chewing her fingernails. I saw her not speaking. I saw her pick the menu up and put it down three times. I saw her scan the room constantly to see who was watching. I saw that she was much younger than her heavily made up face told. I saw someone who wanted to be anywhere other than she was.
I tried to make eye contact, just to let her know that I see Her. I wanted to reach out, share the Human Trafficking hotline number, tell her to say she needs help, something..... I wanted to kick the men in their teeth, and I wanted to vomit.
But, instead, I walked off to watch a show called "Love" with my heart breaking. I wondered what I could do for Her. So, I prayed. I prayed that she would get out. I prayed that she would find a way to escape her torture. I prayed that she would tell someone she needs help. And, I'm still praying for Her every day. I pray that God sends someone to help Her.
Most people would blow it off because prostitution is legal in Vegas & our society sees prostitutes as entrepreneurs that have chosen to sell themselves. But, more often than not, that's not the case. Less than 6% of Vegas "prostitutes" are not under the control of a pimp. While chatting with a survivor recently, I asked her to explain the difference between prostitution and being trafficked. Her response was "It's whether they have the ability to leave or not. I had a car and my own money. I physically could have left at anytime. But, I also had a Dude that had the address of every family member of mine and promised to kill each and every one of them if I ever left."
So, look around. Pull your head out of the sand and realize that Trafficking isn't something that is happening in other countries. It's happening in your country, your state, and your city.
And, do me another favor. Pray for Her and all the other Hers out there.
We're going through a rough season over here and I think some of you out there may be as well. While I'm not really looking for advice, I feel like I should just share where we are right now.
Let me start with this disclaimer: I am a freaking awesome mom! Like the absolute best there ever was! I'm on top of my game.... June Cleaver ain't got nothing on me! And..... I fall asleep most nights feeling like I'm somehow failing at this Mom game and could have done so many things differently that day: i.e. Not yelled, gotten off my phone and paid attention, listened more, held them more, not cursed... I mean..honesty..
But, right now, is an unprecedented season in parenting. I'm not sure that I've felt so unsure or out of control since the little one was a newborn that didn't sleep for the first 17 months of his life, required to be held/fed for 22 out of 24 hours, and I literally thought I was losing my ever loving mind... Thank the good Lord for creating grapes or I may not have survived...
But, we've rounded this bend, kids are getting older, and with that, developing into their own human forms that also have their own personalities and mind sets... I was a strong willed child. My husband was a strong willed child. We're both incredibly strong willed adults..... *as iron sharpens iron*. And, I have absolutely no doubt that my youngest will be a successful entrepreneur who goes on to lead legions of people and quite possibly rule the world. It's in his DNA and I thank God daily for making him strong enough to be a leader that God needs in his army. However, it's that space in between where we're struggling.
We're struggling with him not taking responsibility, not listening, arguing constantly with his brother, talking back, and basically.. doing whatever the heck he feels like.... It's not that he gets in trouble or has a track record. He actually has a great repertoire with his teachers, Sunday school workers, other parents, etc.... He just pushes our/my buttons & loves every minute of it.
Tonight while saying prayers, I very candidly prayed that God would "Help Mom to be more understanding, more patient, communicate more, and follow God's will in raising witnesses for him." There may or may not have been a line about God helping mom to not beat/choke the children... thrown in there...
Listen, I know my kid will SOAR & do amazing things in life! God planted him on this earth to be a leader and I love his little squishy cheeks that I want to kiss on a daily basis! But, I also know that we all struggle with different seasons and this is just where we are right now. So, please send up a prayer for me that he will make life a little easier right now and let me know how I can pray for you as well!
I went to sleep last night after listening to a conference call covering details for our upcoming convention. I made a checklist of things that I needed to pack, looked at the weather in Vegas, and chatted with my business partners about scheduling happy hour meet ups, team dinners, what we were wearing for the gala, etc....
What I didn't account for was waking up to see the news of the deadliest mass shooting in US history. I should be packing. But, instead, I'm glued to the television and social media with tears streaming down my face. I can't imagine the emotional and psychological trauma the survivors have endured. I can't imagine the grief and pain that the families of the victims have experienced. I can't imagine the sheer terror that everyone there had to feel.
I don't understand what could ever convince someone to do something so horrendously atrocious! But, I'm reminded of the message yesterday, Wasteland: Lessons from the book of Job. After losing everything and all of his children dying, Job still praised the Lord. Job 1:20-22. God is still good and God is still Love in a world filled with evil. Without the presence of evil you wouldn't recognize Love. You can have no light without there being dark, no hot without cold.
And so, today, as I go about my day, I will praise God because he is good. I will pray for those victims of evil. I will hug my loved ones a little tighter and try not to take one single second with them for granted. I will also pray that God uses me to touch someone that may be struggling. I pray that his love shines through me to someone that needs to see it. I pray that any individual tormented inside of their own mind to the point where they feel it necessary to pour out pure evil on others may see the light and the love of God through someone willing to reach out and share it with them. We can walk around questioning and asking why and blaming, or we can look to him, Creator of All Things & pray that he use us to share his love with others so that we may live to see more Love in the world than Evil.
To the mom whose baby went off to school today, I see you. I remember the gut wrenching sadness of knowing that someone else would have my baby for 8 hours a day. I remember knowing that my children's safety was turned over to someone else for the majority of the week. I remember thinking that they would now spend more time in the care of others than with me for the next 13 years. I remember thinking that I wish I would have held them more when they were home every day with me. I remember thinking that the last five years had been the fastest of my life. I remember hoping and praying that I had done everything right. I remember praying that I had taught them to be kind to others, to wait their turn, to use their manners, to wash their hands after using the restroom and before they eat, to not drink from the water fountain. I remember hoping and praying that they would be a light to others that they come in contact with. I remember praying that they would remember their personal boundaries and use their voice if that was ever violated. I remember praying that they would not learn about things that would violate their innocence. I remember hoping and praying that they would not bully or be bullied. I remember hoping that their teachers would love them and they would feel cared for. And, thanks to some incredibly wonderful loving women they had just that.
But, most of all, I remember feeling lost. I had invested 8 years of my life with kids at home I had spent every day having someone that needed me. I wasn't ready to not be needed daily. I remember begging my husband for another baby and him telling me that I just couldn't keep having kids every time one started school... I remember thinking how fast it had gone with my step-son and that I would blink one day and these boys would be leaving for college. I remember going to the grocery store that morning & the cashier asking where my buddy was & breaking down in tears unable to speak.
Just know that you're not alone. I see you and feel you. Know that this is a new chapter. You've done your job and they won't forget that. They will come home excited to tell you about all they've learned & the friends they've met. Know that there will be time now to work on you, to get back to who you were before becoming Mommy. Know that there will be time for lunch with your husband, uninterrupted. Know that you will be able to find time for pedicures, yoga, lunch with friends, self-development. Know that now is a time to find yourself & reignite your dreams. Know that there is life after the baby goes to school. And, know that if you need a friend to have lunch with and... *gasp* a glass of wine in the middle of the day, I'm your girl!
Hi! I'm, Brandi, founder of The Power Project, and I'm so glad you're here! I have this crazy belief that we can all do anything we set our minds to! Sometimes, you just need to hear it from a stranger on the internet. But, we're not strangers anymore. We're friends now. Welcome Friend! I hope you find some inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment here.