Today I want to share with you my experience from this past weekend at our annual Trades of Hope Retreat. For those of you that are new to my blog, Trades of Hope (TOH) is an amazing company that empowers women out of poverty and human trafficking around the world by using fair trade to provide these women with a sustainable business. As a TOH Compassionate Entrepreneur, I get the privilege of telling the stories of our artisan partners while promoting and selling the handmade, artisanal goods they create. I was so lucky to learn about this company late last year when I was really beginning a new journey in my life. I had made the decision to step away from the classroom and was in the midst of rediscovering myself and what God’s new purpose for my life was. I had this vision of helping women to become better versions of themselves right along with me, which is why I began this blog. Shortly after that, I learned about TOH from the sweet parent of one of my former students who I had always admired. She has a great love for God and sharing his love with others and for fighting injustice. I knew if it was something she was passionate about, that it must be a good thing. When she asked me to consider becoming a partner with her on this mission, I began praying about it and asking God to make it clear to me that this is what he wanted for my life now. The more I prayed, the more I felt at peace and knew this is exactly where he wants me. Through TOH and my relationship with my sponsor, I have already made tons of growth in my personal walk with Christ and in discovering who I am now and what I want for my future. I know that God led me to TOH for a reason, and I know that he wants me fighting for the injustices in the world. All of those things were reconfirmed for me this past weekend at the retreat. To say that the experience was incredible is an understatement. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before.
I know that you are thinking that this is just another direct sales company or a huge multilevel marketing thing. While it is a direct sales company, it is so much more than that. It is about changing lives. It’s about sisterhood. It’s about building each other up. It’s about strangers who feel compelled to pray over you after hearing your story. It’s about families. It’s about fighting for injustice. It’s about confidence, positivity, and empowerment. It’s about God. What other direct sales company puts God front and center? There aren’t many. As I listened to leader after leader talk and insert scripture and prayer, it was like God was speaking directly to me. It was like he knew what my heart needed to hear, and he spoke it through these women. As each artisan leader or artisan spoke, I could deeply feel their pain and desire for a better future. I was heartbroken by some of the stories they shared, and it compelled me to fight even harder for these women and to share their stories with as many people as I can. God was present for me in that ballroom each day. He was present for all of us. I could feel him and see him in the eyes and heart of every person I met. It was so powerful.
I will tell you that this past weekend was not about the glitz and the glam. It was about the people and the sisterhood. It was about all of us as compassionate entrepreneurs and the artisans, the women whose lives we are helping to change and the ones that are yet to be transformed. It was about celebrating our victories and pushing us to step out of our comfort zones to do more. It wasn’t about seeing big A-List celebrities. The artisans and artisan leaders were the celebrities. They were the stars of the show. They are the ones that matter the most. They are the reason for this mission. Money isn’t the bottom line. It is not why I am a part of this. Instead the bottom line is fighting injustice. It’s about mamas being able to keep and feed their babies. It’s about ending human trafficking. It’s about providing education and breaking the cycle of poverty. That is what matters most. That is what makes this world better.
I certainly walked away from this weekend INSPIRED and longing to INSPIRE others. My heart was touched in so many ways by complete strangers who are now my friends. I know what God has called me to do and what plan he has for me in this new phase of my life. I have been called to serve, and I accept that mission with my whole heart. I found confidence to step out of my comfort zone. I found my people. Together we are Wonder Women fighting for HER, and together we can change the world.
Anchored and Inspired,