Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beaded Hope & Dreams

When we met, Jennifer had just begun taking action on a vision after visiting South Africa.  She had a vision to create an avenue for South African women with AIDS to be able to sustain themselves and their families.  She noticed how common and popular beaded objects and jewelry were in South African markets. Jennifer thought having the women make and sell beaded products could generate income in order to put food on their tables.  She named her venture Beaded Hope ( ).

I met Jennifer a few years ago via a mutual friend.  I think I was updating the mutual friend about a vulnerable time in my life when we bumped into each other.  And because Jennifer was part of that conversation it seems we were instantly bonded. I remember Jennifer got tears in her eyes as I shared how God had freed me from a heartbreaking situation. And Jennifer’s vision for Beaded Hope inspired me.  So naturally, I started supporting her vision any way I could.  I bought Beaded Hope products, I took the jewelry to work and sold it to my co-workers, I proudly wear Beaded Hope t-shirts regularly (which, by the way, are very stylish and do not boast the name Beaded Hope-so when people say they like my shirt I get to TELL them about it), I volunteered to help her at Beaded Hope events, etc.

So this is how I ended up at a cute little cafĂ©/book store/lending library called Book Bums in November.  The event was named “Let it Snow” because the featured products were Christmas tree ornaments beaded by women in South Africa.  The ornament that inspired the event name is a beaded snow man. Yes, a snow man! The South African woman who designed this ornament had never seen snow before.  In South Africa it only snows down around Cape Town. And the women associated with Beaded Hope live in Pretoria which is much closer to the equator.  I don’t think it ever gets near freezing there.

Also featured at this event was a book signing by Cathy Liggett who wrote a novel inspired by the Beaded Hope story.  That is a whole ‘nother miraculous divine introduction story in itself. And that story would lead to other miraculous divine introduction stories… so I will refrain from going down that rabbit hole in this post. While Cathy’s book is fictional, it does illustrate the context of Jennifer’s vision- you should buy it and read it!
As it happens, a friend and neighbor of Jennifer’s helped organize this “Beaded Hope: Let it Snow” event at Book Bums. And THIS is the divine introduction story I will share today.  You know how you can walk into a room and- without even realizing it - survey the contents and pick out people and things you think are “cool” or you’d like to know more about?  Well I immediately noticed this tiny thin woman with spiky red hair, glasses that eluded she was fascinating, and her clothes whispered “We like the same stuff.”  This was my first impression of Joules. After catching up with Jennifer, eating some lunch and ordering a fabulous frozen peanut butter hot chocolate (don’t think too much about the contradictory name, just go with it!)- this terrific tiny woman boldly approached me, extended her hand, and said “I’m Joules!”  Her friend Lisa (yet another wonderful person I met that day) joined us in the “Beaded Hope show room” and we started chatting about this, that, and the other.   As it turns out, Joules and I have a lot of mutual interests- she is also a writer, fan of U2 and Over the Rhine (amongst many other bands we both love), and more.

I love God’s timing and how He weaves lives together. And this is just one example of His perfectly mysterious ways.  As we (Joules, Lisa & I) talked, Lisa mentioned she had been at the Unbound Event ( ) a couple weeks prior.  I tend to down play stuff I’m working on that’s early in the process, but I explained to Lisa and Joules I had been there to do my first day of filming for my documentary.  Their eyes widened and Joules said, “Tell me about your documentary.”  My decision to make this documentary had just formulated at the end of October so it was still a very new and very rapidly progressing adventure for me.  So, I explained it was early in the process but that the goal of the documentary is to show how ordinary people can and do make a difference to end human trafficking… specifically sex trafficking.  Well, it just so happens, Joules informed me, that her teenage son was in the Czech Republic making a film about sex trafficking, too! What?  No way.  This is just one of many instances of God putting people in my path to inspire me as I muddle through making a documentary for the first time ever.   I’m super blessed to have a film-making partner (my friend Lee) who has some documentary experience- thank God (quite literally).

As we parted ways that chilly sunny Saturday in November, Joules gave me her business card which reads “Joules Evans- writer and tennis freak” which cracked me up!  We started emailing and she sent me a link to her son’s blog and invited me to join her writing group. I was able to attend the writing group for the first time last week and we celebrated with Joules that she had finished writing her book. “Shaken not Stirred…a chemo cocktail” is about her journey with breast cancer (learn more about it on her website ).  Joules shared the bottle of wine her husband had given her as a “carrot” to finish her book- it was yummy.  They (Joules & David) have other gifted children, in addition to Mike overseas. Their daughter Amanda, also wrote a blog post about the “Let it Snow” event (read it here: ) and she’s a singer/songwriter.  Their son Matt can take you on a complete Spider Man tour of NYC (among other things, I’m sure).

So, there you have it- a rambling tale of God’s inspiration, hope, dreams, and divine introductions.  I haven’t posted in a long while because on top of all of the above I got a promotion at work that required lots of overtime during the transition from one department to another, plus I was busy with Nativity The Pop Opera (see previous post for more info on that). And the month of January I was giving myself extra grace and down time to fully recover from the extreme busy-ness of November and December.  Now, I’m off to apply for grants to pay for the documentary. I think we’ll start actively filming again in March. In the meantime, much preparation is needed in every way.  Please say a prayer for everything mentioned in this blog post: Jennifer & Beaded Hope,  Shaken not Stirred, Joules’ family, and the documentary I’m making. Please pray that God’s perfect truth and grace shines through all these projects and that His Glory is exemplified through all of us who are being His hands and feet.