There is nothing more important to me than being a Godly example to my kids. My daughter Chelsie blogs over at www.chelsieantos.com and I wanted to share one of her blog posts on here titled "10 Things My Parents Taught Me."
10 Things My Parents Taught Me:
As many of you know, I was one of those homeschooled kiddos. I grew up being asked if I had any friends and people scratching their heads at my outgoing personality. (Homeschoolers generally can be pretty social. :) I'm now in my 20s, have my degree in Business, am married to the love of my life, and co-founded and help run the company Trades of Hope. I've traveled the country in a renovated camper, hiked mountains in Costa Rica, sailed on boats through Thailand, and work to partner with incredible artisans in countries all over the world to help end poverty. In 2016, we helped employ over 13,000 artisans globally.
I'm sometimes asked what things I was taught in my homeschooled younger years that helped me on my road in life. While learning the normal things like Math and English, my parents also taught lessons that I believe have been the key to the success in my life.
So, in thinking about this question, I came up with 10 lessons I learned from my parents, though there are certainly more. We are never by-products of our own, but comprised of the incredible people that have poured into us. My parents are the kindest, craziest, most full of love people I know and I am honored to be their daughter. These below lessons are things my parents were faithful in teaching me and living out for me, and I truly believe they can bring so much joy to your life.
1. Honor God & others, especially those in your authority
This is a lesson I'm still learning. Honor is putting others first and respecting their thoughts, ideas, and contribution to your life. As a strong willed person, honoring those who paved the way before me can be difficult. Bucking authority can be trendy. But I do think, in instances, we're called to honor and serve someone else's vision before we can be entrusted with our own.
Mostly because humility is learned in the submitting.
Not speaking ill of others, not putting them down in front of others, always giving credit when sharing another's idea, not calling people out or making them look bad, always thanking those who gifted you or allowed you to have a platform.
For me, honoring my creator is also so important to this. I do this through honoring the sacrifice he made for me on the cross and the life he has called me to live. When I honor God, honoring people is much easier.
2. Don't burn bridges
Don't cut off relationships. There will be those that wrong you and hurt you. Don't intentionally hurt them back. If we are consistently making poor decisions, angering others, and being vindictive, we will have no more bridges to walk over. Apologize often. If you could have ended a relationship better, do it. Don't wait. Life is full of endings. But we don't need to end things with drama, ill intent, and anger.
Learn how to end things well.
3. Stay physically & mentally disciplined for long term joy
This is something I hid from for a couple of years. I was tired of being disciplined, of saving money, of taking care of my body, my stress level, my actions. And though shirking discipline doesn't always show short term affects, two years later, I was a mess.
I learned that peace is actually found through the discipline to make choices for long term joy.
By doing my work on time and respecting my authority, I decide that my short term desire of wanting my own way is not more important than the long term joy of loving my job and having it love me back.
By being careful about the movies, books, and music I let my mind engage in, I decide that my short term desire for gratification is not more important than a mind that is at peace and free of violence, anger, and morbid thoughts.
By controlling how much I am online, I decide that my short term desire to engage and gain a following is not more important than sharing space and time with my husband, family, and those dearest to my heart.
Choosing discipline can be frowned upon, many mistaking this for not living in grace and not giving yourself a break. And while there will be moments of time we need to break routine and we will always need grace, choosing to control our thoughts, bodies, and minds can lead to happier and more peaceful lives.
4. Before making decisions & assumptions, especially out of anger, put yourself in another's shoes
It's easy to react to other people. But the key of leading anything is to become good at controlling your reaction and understanding that, though your emotions may be valid, the other person's feelings are probably very valid too.We don't live in a world of polar opposites. There is gray and being able to control our decisions and assumptions.... and then filter the perspective of another into them, gives us an incredible way to live in peace with others.
5. Choose to believe that your grass is beautifully green and that there is no other side
Positivity is the key to so much. I went through a very dark period in my life where I hated when people would tell me to "choose" joy. And I get that perspective, I really do. After trauma and pain, there is no real immediate solution in choosing. But what I found in dealing with trauma is that choosing is a slow thing and it hurts a lot more than we thought it would. I would go months without knowing if the choosing was working. Something that helped was eliminating social media for a while. I did this so I would stop focusing on what I had lost that others still had, and so I would instead focus on what I actually still did have. I wrote encouragement on my mirrors, on note cards all over my house, I repeated affirmations to myself, and I only put into my mind what would make me feel grateful. And over days, and weeks, and months, step by step, a little light dawned in my heart again.
There is always someone that will seem to have a better life. But choosing to live YOUR life in the best possible way YOU can will physically and mentally change your life. Your body will become healthier, because light thoughts produce health. Your relationships will get better, because light attracts people. And you will feel that maybe, just maybe, your life is wonderful even when it's hard. And that those two things don't have to be at odds.
6. Be involved in community
Ryan and I traveled for almost a whole year in a camper, never staying in one place longer than 3 days. It was an exciting time, exploring the entire US, speaking for Trades of Hope, and getting to meet new people. But by the end of our trip, I was drowning in sorrow and grief from things going on in my life and in family. And I was so lonely.
I was also confused. Isn't it everyone's dream to travel and see the world? Maybe it is, but it doesn't always feel like a dream. What I realized was that moving every 3 days for almost a year produced in me no real roots or attachments to people. And we are created by God to be in relationship with others. It wasn't until we settled in one area and began intentionally involving ourselves with our friends that I began to heal.
God has gifted others with the balm needed to heal your wounds. You simply don't have it within yourself and I promise that you'll need them to teach you to hope and laugh again.
7. Be generous with your time, money, and knowledge
Every thing we have is a blessing. Every piece of wisdom and joy, every dollar, every possession. But I believe that these things are not truly ours and that we've been given them to help others. Be generous in everything you do. Give of your time. Give of your encouragement. If you are blessed financially, help others with it. If you are given something, start dreaming of how you can use this gift to help other people. This is one of the greatest lessons my parents lived out for me and it brings such fullness of life. Instead of guarding our 'stuff' and our knowledge, giving away freely also brings freedom to our minds and hearts.
8. Be creatively passionate in whatever you do, doing it with integrity and excellence
There's 4 words in this statement that mean something important:
9. Be a safe and balanced place for those around you
Balance asks us to lie within the tension of two thoughts. It asks us to guard our thoughts and conversations against extremism. That is not easy and requires constant conflict. The middle ground will always have this tension. But if we are to love all people, we must bridge the gaps in thinking and perspective and help heal divisiveness. This is not just about politics, but in relationships, in work, in groups of people. Don't be quick to take a side, but consider how you can instead stand in the middle to love and heal a divide.
10. Through empathetic learning, act and speak with boldness.
In a world where empathy and gentleness are so important, we can fear the power of boldness. We tend to lack the ability to be bold because we foolishly forget empathy and speak without asking for perspective. If we are to be bold in this way, we will certainly look like fools.
But IF we hold on to the responsibility of being empathetic, we will be gifted with the ability to speak with power and courage. In fact, not much difference can be done in the world if we turn down the moment to speak and act with confidence. Let your compassion and empathy for others motivate you to speak with boldness and conviction.
And choose to do it even when you're afraid.
Traveling to Asia's Brothels
While in Asia, I went to the brothels. The women I met were not women in a movie or a story, they were my sisters, they were my mother, they were my daughters.
I laughed with them about our children and we shared experiences. We had many. But then a "client" showed up and one of the young women went out back with him. I wanted to yell at him, at her, "NO, STOP! YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS!" But I was there to build relationships and offer LOVE and HOPE, not to judge.
It took everything in my being not to rip her out of his grip. But she had babies at home that were hungry and needed their bellies to be filled. I could help for a time but what about the other 100 women? What about their babies? Unlike me, these women had no education, unlike me, they had no choices. Unlike me, they had hungry babies.
But Trades of Hope is changing that! We are giving them a choice. The women in this picture have been empowered out of the brothels and they are making jewelry and learning new skills to give them a future and a hope and a way to fill their babies bellies.
The experience changed me and there is nothing more rewarding than knowing my work makes a difference. Join Trades of Hope as a Compassionate Entrepreneur or pass this on and tell a friend and bring HOPE and LOVE and fill some bellies!
Hands of Hope
These hands are what HOPE looks like today. I worked today with an artisan group who is restoring hope to exploited women in Asia. I was honored to have them make a special piece of jewelry just for me. I will treasure it, and I treasure them! They are beautiful and they too are learning to believe they are beautiful here in this warm, loving, caring and safe environment. The jewelry they make symbolizes the creation of a whole new life for them. Their lives were stolen from them by an industry that uses and abuses and then discards.
The journeys they have been on will make the strongest person cry. But there is such good in the world too! (And that makes me cry harder!) They have been rescued by a group that will not just look away! So now these precious girls are being empowered to change the trajectory of their lives forever.
They are learning skills that will open up doors they never thought possible. They all come in at different levels. Some are learning to read for the first time. Often only boys are educated here. This group that brings hope shared with me, "They don't dare to dream. Their dream was just survival. We want to get them to a place where they dare to dream." And Praise God, that is exactly what they are are accomplishing!
One girl who has been rescued shared with me, "I feel my value and worth started the day I came here. I have confidence now that I can do something else and make beautiful jewelry. I have a home." Please be praying that our customer base will grow and they will understand the journey and stories behind each product and that Trades of Hope can grow in Compassionate Entrepreneurs so we can partner with this group and make an impact so they can bring on more girls who need love, a home and to learn to dream!
Experiencing brothels in asia
I am here in the brothels of Asia and my heart is both broken and filled with hope! Trades of Hope has begun working with a group here that rescues girls out of these brothels. Sadly, girls as young as 9 years old. The group has safe houses that the girls can go to find love and hope! The working age girls are given the opportunity to make jewelry and in the process, they learn how to read and write and they can get certified in things like Photoshop and MOS (Microsoft).
This opens doors for the girls that they never dreamed possible. Most of them have only gone to school up to 2nd or 3rd grade because of poverty. Many times families don't see the need to educate girls, as it is the boy child that takes care of the parents as they get old. They actually have a saying in this area that translates to say something like, ”to educate a girl child is to educate someone else’s child.”
These girls have suffered so much abuse and rejection from a very young age. They say that they only dream of survival and the brothels allow them to eat and have a roof over their head. “Now they dare to dream for more.”
We fell in love with this group’s mission and heart to change lives and show God's love. I got to spend time with these beautiful girls and hear their stories of pain and triumph. It is an honor that they would entrust their stories to Trades of Hope.
The artisan group has a vision to help so many more girls out of the brothels so they reached out to Trades of Hope, knowing our home party model will get their story and jewelry into the hands of so many more people. So we are humbled to share their stories and their jewelry with you soon through Trades of Hope!
We brought presents of mascara, earrings, and candy for the girls from our Compassionate Entrepreneurs. We also had a nail painting pizza party with them. It was amazing to spend time with them and know that we can make a HUGE difference in the lives of so many more girls like them!
Thank you for supporting women in poverty and around the world through your purchases, hosting home parties and being a Compassionate Entrepreneur! It truly is life changing! Who knew that jewelry, scarves, handbags and home décor could do so much good!
We are looking for women in the USA to become Compassionate Entrepreneurs and help us rescue and empower more girls out of the brothels in Asia and around the world. You can make an income while helping a woman make an income at the same time. It is a beautiful dignified partnership! (We do not share the girl's pictures, names or location to protect them from the pimps, government, and shaming.)
Traveling through asia
Lots of tears today from both pain and joy as we listened to the heart wrenching stories of women being rescued out of the brothels in Asia. They are finding healing and true love through this amazing artisan group. They offer them counseling, a shelter, a job, and schooling so they can have a future. I'm so blown away by the special people I got to meet today. I'm so excited that we will be carrying some of their jewelry at Trades of Hope. To protect the women I cannot share pictures or names but know that your purchases are saving lives!
What are you afraid of today? Fear wrecks so many days. I love this saying and have found it to be true: "I have faced many fears and few have come to pass." Whatever it is, God has it. Trust him, lean on him and seek him about it. Does that mean that it will all turn out the way you want? Maybe, maybe not, but he can take the biggest messes and make them beautiful when we take it out of our hands and put it into his. Praying for you today!
Insecurity will Destroy you
God is all about relationships and the enemy is all about destroying relationships. It's usually pride that ruins relationships. We want to look good, be liked, be appreciated and for people to see our value. And we want "our" way and think it's the best way.
Sometimes we sabotage relationships by trying to manipulate situations to get our way and to look good to others. That usually backfires and we look bad and it causes a mess!
Have you ever tried to manipulate a situation to get your way? What were the results? (No one wants to admit they've done this and sometimes we wrap it in a lot of "Good Reasons", and we don't see it until it's too late.)
I've learned its always better to assume the best about others and assume they think the best about me. Even if it's not true, it can change the situation and that person.
And letting others shine is more important than getting credit. (Although, my insecurities do creep up and I still struggle with this.)
My heart breaks when I see relationships ruined because of our stupid insecurities! So our challenge is to be honest about our insecurities and when we get upset look and see, is our pride the reason? And if it is, deal with it and don't let it bubble out and ruin relationships. Praying for you (and me) about this today.
We had our Inspire, which is Trades of Hope's annual retreat. It was amazing to have that many passion filled, not willing to settle for mediocre, bold, courageous women in one room. I am so proud to have every one of them as part of Trades of Hope. We are starting schools, rescuing women from bond slavery and brothels. We are changing the face of poverty because through our Compassionate Entrepreneurs.
We can make a diffence right from where we are by shopping, hosting or joining!