Human Trafficking: What You Need to Know + What You Can Do

“Nothing will happen just because we are aware but nothing will ever happen until we are aware.”

-Gary Haugen, Founder, and CEO of International Justice Mission

Today is Shine a Light on Slavery Day, a day dedicated by the End It Coalition to raise awareness of the tragedy that is human trafficking. For many people, this might be your first exposure to ht outside of the movie Taken. This day might mean nothing more to you than a day on which celebrities draw red x’s on their hands and talk about justice, or you may know enough to care about the issue but you don’t really understand it and it feels so big that you don’t think you can really have an impact fighting it.

If that just described you, keep reading because human trafficking is an issue that has touched everyone and it will take all of us do to anything to stop it.

So what is ht?

Human trafficking is defined by the UN as the recruitment, harboring, transfer, or receipt of persons by the means of force, fraud or coercion, for the purpose of exploitation.

To put it in more plain language:

Instagram Quote Template

Most estimates say that there are about 45 million slaves currently. Ht is the second largest criminal industry after drug trafficking and will likely move to first place. It touches every industry and everyone has bought something made by a slave. Human trafficking is an overwhelming problem so it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing you can do about it but that’s not true.

What can you do about ht?

Last year, I wrote a blog post about 5 Ways to Fight Human Trafficking Today but today I want to focus on two of them.

Advocate for victims and survivors

Talk about human trafficking in all of your spheres of influence, warn people in your life about how to stay safe and how to recognize traffic so they can report it. Call and write your government representatives to let them know about your support for anti-trafficking legislation and to push for better justice for survivors. Talk to companies about transparency and ethical practices in supply chains and vote with your dollar for companies that fight to provide dignified employment rather than profiting off of trafficking.

Know the signs and report them

The Polaris Project has a lot more information about how to recognize human trafficking than I can include in this post but there are two major signs that I will talk about.

An obvious power imbalance within a pair or a group of people: if one person makes all the decisions or members of a group are do not speak for themselves, control their own money and identification documents or are not free to come and go as they please this is a huge indicator of trafficking.

Signs of mental and/or physical abuse including suspicious injuries, anxiety and depression, and substance abuse. Abuse is always wrong and if you suspect someone is experiencing abuse always seek to get help for them but it can also be a sign of a bigger issue especially if it is paired with other indicators of trafficking.

Human trafficking is a massive and overwhelming problem but it’s not impossible to fight it. We can all do something and it will take all of us to make a difference. As William Wilberforce said, you can choose to look away but you can never again say you didn’t know.


How to Empower Young Women in Your Life

I’ve been thinking lately about what empowerment has looked like in my life. There have been a couple of instances lately where the way a person interacted with me distinctly made me feel powerful and like I had something to offer in a situation or the opposite, where the way they acted either made me feel small or that I was imposing and needed to make myself smaller. It got me thinking about ways that I make others feel either more or less important, respected, and like their voice has value. I have sisters in high school and nieces in elementary and preschool so I’ve also been thinking about what it means to empower people younger than us. It’s so so important that everyone is made to feel empowered and respected but as a girl, I have a unique perspective on what it looks like to empower girls; these tips are all things that I experienced growing up and that I think are still applicable today.


Encourage all healthy interests

Carpentry, Electrical Engineering, Ballet, Astrophysics, Poetry, mountain climbing. I was so blessed that as a kid my parents never let me believe that I couldn’t do something if I worked for it. As I got older strengths in some areas over others became clear (I’ll likely never be a mathematician) but I wasn’t held back by a belief that there were things I couldn’t do. Rather, I was motivated to pursue and grow in the things at which I excelled and not to give up if I struggled at first.


Fill their lives with diverse role models

Jane Austen, both Queen Elizabeths, Maya Angelou, Gal Gadot, Marie Curie, Lupita Nyong’o, Laura Ingalls Wilder. There are so many amazing women for girls to look up to. I loved reading about strong women in real-life and fiction growing up


Teach all kids about empathy, respect, kindness, and consent

Feminism isn’t about making women better than men or achieving equality by bringing men down. Feminism is about raising everyone up and recognizing each person’s value, uniqueness, and autonomy regardless of gender, race, or any other distinguishing factor. To achieve that kind of equality, everyone has to be on board and we have to be committed to teaching all kids the same values of respect, empathy, and kindness for self and others.



Teach them the true source of their value

Genesis 1:26-27 talks about how God created humanity in His image to rule over the earth in relationship with Him. When I think about the implications for that, I’m a little overwhelmed by how awesome it is. But on top of that, John 3:16 says that when we messed up He loved us enough to die to redeem us and restore His original plan. When we really understand and believe that it should change the way we live and the way we think about ourselves and others and that is how true equality and empowerment will be reached.

What do you think about feminism? How are you working to empower the people in your life? Tell me in the comments!


Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t honestly think are fantastic. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on those links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.


5 Low-Waste Products I’ve Been Loving Lately

While I am by no means a zero-waste master I’ve been trying to adopt more environmentally sustainable habits. I’m blessed with two awesome zero-waste shops and other local businesses in my city that make it super easy to find products that help me with that goal. Some of these products I’ve been using are old favorites and some I’ve recently started using but all are awesome!


Safety Razor

No razor burn, blades are $0.60 each and they last twice as long so basically safety razors are the closest thing possible to a perfect shaving experience. I got mine from Target for $10.

Please note proper disposal of razor blades is super important or the people handling your trash could be seriously injured and many cities won’t recycle them because of the health hazard. Buy a blade bank like *this one on Amazon, and put all of your old blades in it when you’re done with them so no one gets hurt.


Hard Lotion

My family has been using MadeOn for years and I’ve talked about their products before (their *tinted lip balm in crimson rose is amazing) but my skin has been irrationally sensitive lately and I haven’t been able to use many lotions so I have re-realized (is that a word?) how much I love their hard lotion.  The *citrus scent is my favorite but their classic *Bee Silk comes in a larger family size and once you have the tin you can just buy refill bars.


Bamboo Utensils

I’m pretty good about carrying a reusable mug with me, and packing silverware when I take a lunch but up until I bought these utensils I still used plastic utensils when I ate out somewhere that didn’t offer dine-in utensils, or I got take-out. The fork is a little weird and I don’t really use the straw but I have been loving this kit nonetheless. The next step is bringing reusable take-out containers with me to restaurants but I’m taking it one step at a time. I bought my set at the Conscious Living Shop in Pikes Peak Market. If you live in the Pikes Peak Region Weighstead also carries reusable utensils. If not, Package Free Shop also carries resuable utensils and ships anywhere in the USA.


Roll-On Perfume

Rocky Mountain Soap Market is one of my favorite local businesses so I was excited when I saw that they have an expanded collection of roll-on fragrances. They are made with really healthy ingredients and smell awesome! The packaging is simple enough you could take it apart and recycle the pieces or whenever I bring in empty containers of their products they are happy to refill them for me and sometimes I get a discount!


Waxed Cotton Food Wraps

These awesome food wraps are like plastic wrap or aluminum foil but better. Just warm them up in your hands and use them to cover any leftover food. I’ve also found that they keep my food fresh for way longer than any other food storage methods I’ve tried. I got mine in a pack of 3 for $8.99 at Trader Joes but if you don’t have one near you Abeego carries them in several sizes!

What earth-friendly habits have you been implementing? Tell me in the comments!


Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Fashion Friday: Thrifted Pleated Skirt

Throwback to when there were still leaves on the trees and the weather was warm enough to wear sandals! I wore this outfit to a wedding in September and immediately knew I wanted to share it on here. It took me a couple of months to get through school and enjoy the Christmas season but now my brain cells are back to their normal level of function and I actually share it! It’s the perfect combination of comfy enough for dancing the night away, warm enough for chilly autumn evenings in the mountains, and dressy enough for most occasions.



These shoes were a thrilling thrift store find last summer. They had no tags and I don’t know where they were originally purchased but they had zero signs of wear and they fit (!) which when you have feet as small as mine is an impressive feat in the women’s shoe section.

Top: Madewell via Poshmark, Skirt: A local Arc, Shoes: A local Goodwill

All of the photos, as well as the photos from this post were taken by the amazing Caitlin Verette. She is seriously the sweetest and I am in love with these photos, I can’t recommend her work enough.


I hope you have a blessed start to 2019, until next time!


2018 in Photos

2018 was quite a year! It was incredibly hard in many ways but it was also a year that I grew in my understanding of who God is and what it means to be a Christ follower. The past 12 months have been full of people I love, new experiences and wonderful opportunities. I think the best way to share the highlights of this year is in my favorite photos from each month.



I rang in the new year surrounded by friends at a decades themed party hosted by me and my friend. It was an absolute blast and so worth how tired I was the next day!


In January I also had the opportunity to visit Aspen, CO for a fun girls weekend. None of us are very avid skiiers or snowboarders so it wasn’t until we got up there that we realized we were visiting the weekend of the X Games. We had an amazing time watching the games, exploring the town, and were totally refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of the semester when we returned.



February was one of the less eventful months out of 2018 but I still managed to dig myself out of homework long enough to explore Manitou Springs and experiment with photography in some unusual settings.



The month of March can be split into three sections, waiting for spring break, spring break, and recovering from spring break. This year, I went to Steamboat Springs, CO with my mom and one of my sisters. We ate good food, watched the snow fall around us while enjoying the hot springs, and visited the last major National Park in Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument.




In April, I helped a friend plan a surprise 80th birthday party for her Grandma. We baked a cake, brought spray-in hair color, and had so much fun celebrating such a sweet lady!



In May I completed my first year as a full-time college student. UCCS was my second-choice school, and I ultimately chose it because my goal is to graduate from college debt-free. I now wholeheartedly love the school primarily because of the people that I have met and the community I found there. I ended up visiting a student ministry called Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) and it has been such a blessing.


In May I also traveled to Dallas, TX to visit my best friend. We got to know each other the summer before my freshman and her sophomore year of highschool and have been pretty much like sisters ever since. She moved from CO to TX after she graduated high school and I hadn’t seen her in a year so it was so good to get to visit her.



In June, I kayaked for the first time. It is much more of an upper body work out than I’m used to but it was so fun and I can’t wait to go again next summer! We tried to get across Twin Lakes to visit a ghost town that can only be reached by boat or hiking trail but a storm blew in while we were halfway across and we had to turn around so that is my first goal for kayaking once it gets warm enough!



In July, I turned 19, finally passed College Algebra, and (the most exciting thing) got to visit El Salvador and meet my sponsored child!


Meeting Nuria was the best part of my entire year and made me even more passionate about sponsoring through Compassion. If you want to read more about my trip, I wrote blog posts about Day 1, an overview, and Child Visit Day


August started with a camping trip on the western slope and finally hiking to Crystal, CO before I started my sophomore year of college!


The Crystal Mill is one of the most photographed locations in Colorado and it is located in a ghost town near Marble, CO which can only be reached by jeep or hiking. Most of the property in the town was recently purchased by a woman who planned to develop it into a resort. I was worried that the town would be commercialized and the historical and natural beauty would be lost but actually, the result was quite lovely. All of the original cabins were still there and while I wasn’t able to see inside of any of them it looks like the structure has been repaired so that they are safe to inhabit without significantly altering the appearance. Some descendants of the original residents of the town still live there and I was able to speak to one of them and he was very optimistic about the changes.

I also jumped into a new school year and while this one definitely kicked my butt I learned and grew a ton as a result.


In September I went to Kansas for my cousin’s bridal shower, learned to dirt bike and went to my other cousin’s wedding! It was a wild month but so great!



October was a month full of community. I went to my second RMGA which is the fall retreat for Cru in CO. The first night of the retreat always ends with a dance competition and after 2 years of coming in second to UNC, UCCS finally won! That led into an amazing weekend where everyone grew and we enjoyed time away from school and with God.



I also started working at Trader Joe’s in October! I am so glad to be doing something different from lifeguarding


November can be split into three categories: stress about school, Thanksgiving break, stress about finals. As you can see, most of the month was rough but the week of Thanksgiving was wonderful. My friend’s birthday was right before Thanksgiving so we pretty much spent the whole week celebrating.




In December my cousin got married! She and her husband are an awesome couple and I was thrilled to see them start their life together and gain a cousin!


December also marked the second New Years party that my friend and I threw. We ran out of time to plan much so we opted for a low-key game night to ring in 2019.

2018 was a wild ride. While it came with so many amazing moments I am more than happy to see what 2019 has in store now!

Giving Tuesday: 4 Great Places to Give if you Live in Colorado (Or Anywhere)

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to kicking off the holiday season by giving. You’ve probably seen various organizations’ campaigns asking for donations or heard that Facebook is matching donations up to 7 million (which they hit by 7am this morning). Everyone has causes that are near to their heart and today I’m sharing mine.  If you connect with any of them feel free to give or share the causes you are giving to today in the comments!

The Exodus Road I have had the privilege of interning for The Exodus Road for the past year. They work to find and free slaves in SE Asia, Latin America, and the USA. Today they are trying to raise $165,000 and all gifts given today will be TRIPLED. Another great way to give to TER is through their store which is full of beautiful fair trade products that not only help their mission but also provided dignified employment to either survivors or individuals at risk of trafficking.

Unite Ministries is a new ministry dedicated to uniting churches across Colorado Springs. They host quarterly worship nights (the next one is on November 30 at the World Prayer Center). I am so excited about how God will use this ministry and the young people who founded it in my city.

Life Network provides support, resources, and education to young parents, counseling to parents who are grieving after an abortion, and education on healthy relationships and safe sex to highschool students in the Pikes Peak region. I love their holistic approach to being pro-life and that they fight for the health of the whole family and whole community.

Dressember is a month-long advocacy and fundraising challenge that officially kicks off on December 1. 2018 is the second year that I will be wearing a dress every day of December and I can’t wait. All of the money donated to Dressember will be given in grants to their partners. This year they are partnering with IJM, A21, McMahon-Ryan, Restore, Pathfinders, Best, Youth Spark, Cast, and Olive Crest, Thorn, Love146, and Saving Innocence.

Are you giving today? What organizations are you passionate about? Tell me in the comments!


Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Make Thanksgiving Weekend Count: Where I’m Shopping this Year

Black Friday has been getting a bad rap in the past few years and for good reason. As a nation we devote an entire day to excessive consumption immediately after spending a day (supposedly) practicing gratitude and at the beginning of an entire season that should be centered around community, generosity, and gratitude. That said, Black Friday isn’t all bad. Businesses have to make a profit and my family has benefitted from the opportunity to save a lot of money on both necessary and enjoyable things. The key to doing Black Friday well is our attitude and purpose going into it. Are we mindful of the things that we truly need and will bring joy to our lives? Or are we just shopping because everything’s cheap? Black Friday is no different from any other day of the year in that we need to be mindful of the impact our consumption has on others and the ways we can either honor or further marginalize the people involved in creating the life we are accustomed to in the western world.

This Black Friday I challenge you to shop some sales but also try to do good with your shopping. To help you with that I’ve compiled a list of companies that are working to change consumption culture, including Black Friday. Some have sales, some don’t but all have amazing products that are guaranteed to be huge hits as Christmas gifts or super fun for yourself.

REI: Love the outdoors? Rei has amazing products for every outdoor activity. Don’t try shopping there the day after Thanksgiving though because their #OptOutside campaign is designed to encourage people to get out of consumerism and into nature.

Everlane: Ethically made, high-quality basics abound at Everlane. I’ve been drooling over their #damngooddenim. The best part? All of their profits from Black Friday will be used to start a farm that will provide two meals every day to the workers who create that denim as part of their Black Friday Fund.

Able: Stylish shoes and to-die-for leather bags made with ethical leather and beautiful jewelry made by individuals overcoming poverty in Nashville. This Friday their entire site is 30% off with the code ABLE30 and they offer free shipping for purchases over $49.

The Exodus Road: Beautiful gifts and products that are helping to fight human trafficking? Not only is everything in The Exodus Road’s shop made by people rescued from or at risk for HT it is supporting TER’s fight against trafficking by helping them fund nights of investigation to rescue trafficking victims. On Black Friday-Cyber Monday they have free shipping on all orders using the code shippingfreedom

*ThredUp: Y’all, I’m obsessed with ThredUp. Everything is in super great shape, and way cheaper than buying it new. It’s my favorite. There are no sales specifically for Black Friday but be sure to check them out for gifts or holiday clothes!


Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Colorado Travel Guide: How to Spend a Weekend in Colorado Springs

I’ve written quite a few Colorado travel guides over the past couple of years. I started with Estes Park part 1 and part 2 and the most recent was Steamboat Springs but I’ve never posted about my hometown: Colorado Springs! This post was actually really difficult to write because I had a terrible time deciding which local businesses I wanted to recommend and which ones I wanted to keep to myself. Part of me wants everyone to love my favorite coffee shop but I also don’t really want my favorite table to be available even less often. I’ve managed to push down (most of) the selfishness and I’m doing a slightly different format for this post: a three-ish day schedule instead of just a list of my favorite places. I’m also not keeping you inside the city for the whole time. This is really designed for someone who either lives outside of Colorado, or is new to the area and has a few days free so if that sounds like you, or if you just want some new recommendations of things to do in the Springs, read on!

Day 1

Roll into town sometime early in the afternoon and head to Cheyenne Canyon for a hike. Seven Bridges is one of my favorites and if you have extra time you can keep going past the seventh bridge and hike into Allen’s Park. When you finish the hike head to Trader Joes. Get the ingredients to make dinner tonight, and a picnic lunch and trail mix for tomorrow.


Day 2

Get up early and watch the sunrise from Garden of the Gods (balancing rock is a great spot for this!). Grab breakfast burritos from the La Casita on Cimmaron and coffee from Intertia Coffee and head west on highway 24 to explore the mountains. Mueller State Park has some great hikes and the aspens are beautiful in the fall. If you want something more strenuous, head to Pancake Rocks for an amazing view of Cripple Creek (you can read more about Pancake Rocks here). On your way back into town make sure you stop at the Donut Mill in Woodland Park!


Eat a late lunch/early dinner at the Skirted Heifer in downtown CO Springs. They make some of the best burgers in town but don’t get there too late because the line gets crazy long! Spend the rest of the afternoon/evening shopping and exploring the downtown area. Some of my favorite shops are Rocky Mountain Soap Market, and Wilder Bag and Weighstead in Pikes Peak Market. When you’re in Pikes Peak Market, make sure to get some gelato from Legit Gelato, the orange chocolate is my favorite.


Day 3


Have brunch at Ivywild Kitchen. Ivywild Elementary School was built in 1916 and closed in 2009. It is now owned by Bristol Brewery and is home to Bristol Brewery, Ivywild Kitchen, a cute brunch place/coffee shop, a bar called The Principal’s Office, and fairtrade shop Yobel Market as well as a few other local businesses. When you’re done, explore the Broadmoor, a historic resort built by Spencer Penrose before heading back home or out of town.

Honorable mentions: I have visited some but not all of these businesses, they have all been recommended by friends who love them.

The Pop – a coffee/specialty soda drive-through in north CO Springs

Who Gives a Scrap – a second-hand craft supply store in Old Colorado City (I haven’t visited but this place looks really cool and I’m going to visit the next time I’m in the area!)

Roscos Coffee – a local coffee shop and roaster in downtown CO Springs

Switchback Roasters – another local coffee roaster/shop in downtown

Special Grounds Coffee – a local coffee shop in north/east CO Springs

What is your favorite thing to do in or near Colorado Springs? Tell me in the comments!


Fall Semester Goals Check-up

So lately on social media I’ve seen a bunch of “last 90 days” or “last 100 days” challenges and maybe I’ve been living under a rock and they aren’t new but I like to think that I beat everyone to the idea because last month I shared my 6 Goals for the Fall Semester. I just finished week 6 at UCCS and the first full calendar month since the school year started will be over when this posts so it seems like a good time to check in and see how I’m doing with these goals.

  1. Find a bullet journaling rhythm that works for me I got about 2 weeks into September really loving bullet journaling and then slowly started using it less and less consistently. Once it’s set up it’s a really amazing tool but it’s a big time investment to get your month and weeks set up. I like that it’s adaptable because I’ve never found a planner that’s quite perfect for me and I’ve almost got my bullet journal spreads to exactly what I need but I’m still not sure if I’ll keep it up once the semester is over.
  2. Get the best grades I can in all my classes I have an A and 4 Bs right now. Junior year is turning out to be a lot harder than any other year of school and it’s been a struggle to keep my grades where they are but I’m pretty happy with how it’s going right now.
  3. Apply for the Compassion Internship The Compassion Internship application doesn’t open until November so no progress on this goal yet.
  4. Learn Adobe Premier Pro, Photoshop, and Lightroom Premier Pro has quite the learning curve. I’m pretty comfortable with Lightroom’s features but I’m still perfecting my editing process. I haven’t even touched Photoshop yet.
  5. Write to my Compassion Kids every month Its September 28 today and I have one more letter to write. Speaking of Compassion: Have you seen my fundraiser for Compassion El Salvador? It’s live for ONE more week! Check it out here!
  6. Blog twice a week Last week I only posted once but other than that I’ve had two blog posts (except for one YouTube video) per week

So far I think I’m doing pretty well! Hopefully I can keep this up for the rest of the semester!

What I Brought Back from El Salvador

Every piece of clothing has a story. From the farm where the fibers are grown to the factory where the clothing is sewn together to the retail store where you buy it so many hands and lives have touched and been touched by the clothes you wear. That’s why I love slow fashion. I love knowing that the clothes I wear benefitted the people who came in contact with them and I love knowing those people’s stories. On our last day in El Salvador, we went to a local market to do some shopping. While the experience was a bit overshadowed by meeting my sponsored child earlier in the day, that didn’t totally cancel out how cool the experience was.


I got to speak to the woman who hand embroidered this blouse. Knowing the stories of the people who made my clothes is amazing, actually getting to talk to them even more so.


These shoes were made in one of Compassion El Salvador’s income generation projects. Income generation is part of how the Youth Development Program is replacing the Leadership Development Program so that more students are able to continue their education after highschool. You can read more about it in my post Compassion El Salvador 2018 Day 1: The Country Office and Home Visits. Currently, the students are making the shoes entirely by hand which isn’t very scalable. If the centers could scale the production of the shoes they could break into wholesale markets, and sell internationally but to do that they need two machines that cost $20,000 each. When I visited the country office I was inspired to fundraise and help them buy these machines. It’s been a little while but it’s finally ready! I worked with the awesome Grace Rouse to design a tshirt and it’s available on Bonfire. I don’t know if we can get to $20,000 or $40,000 but I do know that I serve an amazing God who can do anything He wants.

I would so so appreciate if you would share this and buy one if the shirts and/or the mission strike your fancy! You can get to the campaign page right here!

Much love,