the least likely place to feel worldly secure

Where, would you imagine, is the last place in the world you could feel secure?

A fashion trade show in Las Vegas, teeming with the fashion conscious, industry hungry, ladder climbers, perhaps?

This is a very legitimate “least likely place in the world” if you find security by way of comparison. There are beautiful people everywhere. Literally, we’ve spent the last 3 days looking across the aisle at American Apparel models parading around in front of their 8 foot poster likenesses in all their ‘made in the USA’ glory.

If you go down the hall or up the stairs to the big times, it’s even crazier – where the largest global market week for contemporary fashion earns its title.

Everybody’s got a limit and I think I just hit mine like a brick wall. I’m not a fashion conscious, industry ladder climber and I can still feel like 15 years old around people who are.

But, guess what? Sitting right smack dab in the middle of the least likely place to feel worldly secure (with my TJ Maxxed top and my thrifted jeans and my plump petite size), I’m the same amount of self-confident.

I’ve done a lot of people watching these last couple days. I’m sure people have done a lot of watching me too, but I didn’t really notice. There is a point, in the wee hours of 6 am, where I shrug at the mirror and say, “It’s not going to get any better than this” without too much fight. But often, in all my watching of fashion comings and goings this week, I would start to smile a little bit (hopefully underneath my facial expression, but I can’t promise that).

I would smile because even if I always feel 15 around people who are supremely fashionable, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel less accepted or less approved or less loved.

Isn’t that magical?

Worth is not negotiable. Approval is not a trend. Acceptance is not a fad – not for this girl, anyway.

I already have the approval of the most important audience and I did absolutely nothing to gain it. Not a single thing. It’ll shock me every time, but maybe this week more than others because it feels like people try so hard to gain worth and approval and acceptance.

I smile because this day is full of reasons to rejoice and worrying about what I eat or drink or wear or buy is a big distraction to that joy.

Tomorrow, I’ll get off the plane in Brooklyn and call it home for my weary, vagabond feet. I’ll figure out the trains and maybe someday soon stop living out of a carry-on suitcase. I’ll find a local deli and make friends with the neighbors. I’ll people watch on the corner and join the massive morning commute. I’ll put one foot in front of the other and every footstep will take me in the direction of something new. I will shake off the distractions of “all other things” and smile because of the first and best thing.

I can’t think of a better/worse place from which to set sail, because I’m not really leaving from anywhere and that can really confuse an identity. But, not this girl. Well, that’s what I’ll keep preaching to myself.

I am approved, accepted, and loved because God approves, accepts and loves.

He is gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He is steadfast and certain. He is kind and patient, tender and just. He is my rock and fortress. This is my Lord who gives me identity, wherever my nomad feet roam and whatever my little hands do.

This is my Lord and my security.

the human referral effect

Today, I put on my über hip (but less than hipster) tortoise shell glasses with the confidence of someone who needs corrective lenses and wears them with style. Just to be clear, I think glasses for fashion only is silly and a waste of money. If you do have to purchase glasses, then making it a fashion statement is a bonus. But why am I talking about fashion, which is so clearly out of my realm of expertise?

Because I bought my glasses online at Zenni Optical – which was WAY cooler than Factory Eyeglass Outlet, where my parents would take us to get glasses when we were growing up. Here’s the cold, hard fact: glasses are crazy expensive! You could pay up to $400 for glasses and that was $350 above my parents’ price range. You might assume I’ve really moved up in the world and am able to buy a $400 status symbol, but I haven’t. Actually, $400 glasses are about $375 above my price range and I’m now very thankful for those extra dollars my parents were able to spend on “any pair with the yellow sticker, sweetie.”

I heard about Zenni Optical from my friend Tina who heard about it from my sister, who googled cheap eyeglasses and then told everyone about her experience. It seems fake at first – almost like a really horrible practical joke because the price for a pair of sweet, hip lenses from their website is as low as $6.95. I know, I didn’t believe it either.

But then they arrived in the mail and you couldn’t pay me to NOT advertise for them. People would say, “Oh, your glasses are so cool!” and I’d always touch the corner, real studious like, and say with a shrug, “Oh, these? $12.00.”

No one believes me at first, but eventually I get them to write down the website and promise to look it up for themselves. At $12, you can afford to buy 2 or 3 pairs just in case one breaks. And, if you lose a pair, you just skip going to the theatre and you’ve evened things up for your wallet!

Zenni has since really snazzed up their website and have a feature where you can virtually try on glasses to see how they look on your face.


I haven’t ordered a pair in several years, but I still get excited at the idea of someone else getting a good product for a good price.

And why all this about my glasses?

Because I read this article about the human referral effect in Forbes magazine that highlights another eyeglass outfitter who is committed to giving quality for a fair price. The author of the article, Alexander Taub (Iowa native, btw) talks about his Warby Parker purchase and the chain reaction of referrals that followed.

Bottom line: we like to point people in the direction of something wonderful… and not just the possibility of something wonderful, but the guarantee of something wonderful.

I love this idea.
I love that humanity is a fan of guaranteed wonderful things and that we want other people to have guaranteed wonderful things too.
I love that the human referral effect happens and that it happens so often and that Forbes magazine is taking notice.

What I wonder is if eyeglasses are the only thing we should be sending down this highly effective human pipeline. I wonder if this human referral effect is being extremely under utilized.

I wonder what would be the best thing for humans to refer to one another?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

movement madness

A little while back, I mused my frustrations in this blogpost about the fashion of movements these days.

I rambled on about the ultra distracted, rarely committed, highly energized generation we seem to have become. Our obsession with trends, revolution, and being a part of something “bigger than ourselves” with buzzwords like “countercultural” is a thin veneer. Sometimes, the “make a difference” slogans and painted posters in picket lines advertise self-promotion instead of a cause. We are deathly afraid our lives won’t matter, so we join the loudest crowd, learn their clever chants, and march in their lines, hoping our existence will amount to something.

It scares me to think about what will happen when the fad passes… when it is less trendy to identify with the broken and hurting in our world…

When we realize the $80 shoes aren’t that cute and we’ll never meet those barefoot kids. When we realize how awkward it is to wear a shirt that has the words “sex” and “trafficking” in bold letters.
When we realize the chants we are shouting actually require us to buy less, have less, and give more.
What happens then?

I’m not always this cynical, but I want to ask these questions of myself and our generation because I am concerned. I’m not worried. I believe the Creator of the universe has a plan to restore all of creation and that plan cannot fail.

I am concerned because we are given a very clear, very serious command to respond (not just with angry outbursts and clever marketing) in a very human way to the needs we see in this world (Isaiah 58).

I hope we can understand that at the end of the day, after all the cause-claiming blogs have been written and all the cause-supporting merchandise has been sent, that caring for the broken, the hurting, and the needy in this world is first and foremost a human responsibility. We can give up on t-shirts and recycled bags or move on to the next fad, but let us not lose sight of what is most important…

If the roots of our motivation reach deeper than trends to the rich soil of God’s heart, we will see that responding to the needs of the broken is not a cause…

it’s a lifestyle.

Just so you know I can be optimistic, too, here are some links that I think encourage the right kind of movement:
Love in Stereo
Nomi Network
Dalit Freedom Network
Gospel for Asia
International Justice Mission
Strategic World Impact