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Here I am, Lord, but could… you maybe send her?




2023- goodness, in a year that Styled with Strength truly only “existed” for 5 months, it is difficult not to look back on August-December and feel like it was a lifetime and a blink of an eye all in the same. 


For everything that I pictured SWS to be or look like inside this scrambled ADHD brain of mine, God continues to show me that this was always truly His plan to begin with, and He continues to reveal the hurting and broken places we are meant to reside and bring joy into. 


But they are the places I never expected: 

Places Like: 

  • Navigating repair plans for broken door frames/cupboards: helping families close chapters of places they weren’t safe enough to return to

  • Advocating for mothers and collaborating with Social Services and school care teams to not only keep kids with the safe parent but that while it appears to be a simple “just gotta dump the loser” answer, the mental health of a survivor is far more complex. 

  • Holding space and coordinating resources for families who have lost a loved one to domestic violence 

  • Struggling with property management companies to understand an abuser’s sole goal is to make the survivor fully dependent on him, which looks a lot like poor credit scores, eviction notices, and a lack of job history to support their new path forward. 

  • Seeking a digital volunteer to ensure that we can retain ring video recordings and limit an abuser's access to every digital component of a survivor's life. 


Day after day, it seemed like I was walking into a room I had no experience in and felt a little like Elle Woods on her first day of law school (yet in yoga pants and Amazon slides). But, with each room, there was often (and almost always-) an incredible woman in that space ready to join us in this work. So, how does what feels like the closest I’ve been to being obedient to God’s path for my life also feel like the scariest and most challenging season? 



Fear. Worthiness.


You see, despite its appearance on the outside, I was living in the biggest season of letdowns and disappointments I had yet to endure in my life in 2023 (and I here I thought I entered into the new year as a badass…😉)


These seismic shifts of support systems or safe places had all but given me what felt like a “thanks but no thanks” when it came to my gifts or even the person that I was becoming and my desire to step into what I felt God was truly calling me to do. But the enemy often hits us where we feel safest to deter us from the mission, doesn’t he? How could this possibly be the right choice if it felt like everyone I had in my corner during hardships before weren’t willing to step into this alongside me?


The narratives in my brain sounded like this:


Fear:

  • It’s been ten years. I don’t particularly want to remind my abuser that I still exist

  • What if starting a retail store in the middle of a financial crisis does the opposite of supporting the mission and instead drains it?

  • Do I really want people to know the depths of that chapter of my life?

  • What if the security, success, and, most of all, stability I had created for my family was lost by these choices?


Worthiness:

  • What makes me qualified to build something that doesn’t exist?

  • What if people are afraid to talk about these things with me?

  • I’m not a trauma expert (apart from living it and healing from it)

  • Fargo is a vast community of incredible organizations with all the best leaders and resources. Who the heck do I think I am to try?

  • But I’ve gained 15 pounds

  • I have only ever worked for someone else; what if all the past success was because of good timing or their leadership and not mine?


And so I hid.


For the majority of the summer, the shop curtains were closed, and I paced an empty space, trying to will my heart to step into this, to feel confident in the mission, and to ask people to join me.


But God continued to intervene.

He tested my limits.


From news crews, incredible businesses, and organizations to journalists, every time I said “thanks, but no thanks,” He was just as persistent. And every time, I had to, for lack of better words (get over myself) and face it.


Why?


Because of her.

  • the woman in danger who doesn’t think that anyone could possibly understand the hell that she is enduring at the hands of her husband.

  • The woman that seems to have it all together.

  • The woman that is staying up late to check her husband’s phone, only to find another affair (and know she’s in danger if she even brings it up)

  • The woman who left her career because he was the breadwinner

  • The woman who can’t leave because she knows if she’s not there, the abuse will go to her children.

  • The woman who is married to the “world’s nicest guy” that gets drunk and slams her into the wall.

  • The woman who has never had her own checking account


For each of those moments, my prayer was the same: “Lord, please just let this uncomfortable moment bring us one”


  • One woman who chooses differently.

  • One woman who sets up a coffee date or swings by the shop to (buy a gift 😉)

  • One sister that encourages her loved one to give us a shot.

  • One employer who discovers someone on their team might be in danger.


I’ve always been a bit of a straight shooter, and it’s often come from my fast typing and grammatically-errored notes app or by blurting out an honest truth, that doesn’t sit well at every table.. So it’s crucial that I show this hidden battle and invite you into something that looks really brave but has felt like the exact opposite internally.


Because you see, Styled with Strength isn’t about me, it’s not about whether I look fully put together in the daycare drop-off line or if I always have the right words that are polished and perfect for the situation. It’s about all of you, and from the bottom of my heart; I truly hope you know that Styled with Strength is yours, and I not only want to open up the curtains, but I hope you’ll even ask for the door code to make it your home too.


I’ll continue to work through the narratives and the fears of inadequacies that are deep-rooted but I’ll be honest, this community doesn’t happen without you, and it most certainly won’t happen without the biggest support system in Jesus continuing to guide and light the corners we are needed.


So while this may have looked like my Isaiah season of saying, “Here I am Lord, send me,” there’s also been this little addition I’ve snuck in,


 “but…are you sure you don’t want to send her?”


I’m sure He’s been waiting for me to realize it. I

’m sure he’s been waiting for me to ask him to help me fill in the gaps of what I’m capable of and what this season of life requires of me. 

I’m sure he’s been practically shouting: “Have confidence in me, and stop trying to build it within yourself!”


And so, with a humble heart, I thank you for loving me in this season, for sticking with SWS when you weren’t quite sure “what we were up to,” and for being the community that knocked when I had the drapes closed.


And so my prayer has shifted, and I hope you’ll consider it as an invitation:


“Here we are, Lord, send US.”

Because we are ready.

Because we aren’t perfect.

And most of all because she needs us.



Here’s a brief snapshot of what’s to come! 

What is on the horizon for Styled with Strength in 2024: 

  • Shop: Continue to expand shop hours with trained advocates to meet women and provide space for a cup of coffee to simply listen and eventually navigate safety planning, resources, and new beginnings. 

  • Education: The work begins with knowledge- equipping leaders and family members with the best resources to support their loved ones who may be experiencing violence is something I continue to see the space for and hope to grow with an incredible team of teachers with open hearts.

  • Launching: She’s Safe Here Certified Employers 

  • Community Building: An abuser desires to have total and complete control of her; we disrupt this narrative by showing what a true community looks like, one without gossip, comparison, judgment, and just authentic care for one another. 

  • Strong Women, Strong Stories- Confidential Space to hear someone else’s experience and meet other survivors 

  • She Belongs- Women Leaders & Businesses coming together

  • Confidential Survivor Mentorship- 

  • Mocktail Meet Ups 

  • Family Dinners 


Ways that You Can Support and Join Us: 

  1. Join the Styled with Strength Volunteer Community

  • From writing thank you notes to dropping off housewarming baskets to a mama who has reached safety, you are needed and welcome! 

Sign up to join the Styled with Strength Point Community Here: 


  1. Shop!

  • I know Amazon is fast and Target Drive Up is a Breeze- but truly choosing us just one time for your purchase instead, shifts the work we are able to do in incredible ways! 

2.Share & Introduce! 

  • Did I mention that we’re the new kids around here?! Our approach is unconventional but truly requires an entire community effort; if a name/business/organization comes to mind that you think would be a great fit to resource share, introduce us! 

3. Give Financially 

  • The Styled with Strength Foundation is an official 501(c)3 organization- Yahoo!  


I am so grateful for you, no matter how you found us I hope you know today that your support from a facebook like, volunteer sign up, donation, or store order has truly kept me going and reminded me that this work is necessary and vital to our community. 


I can’t wait for what’s to come and I am so lucky that you’re here alongside me. 


JJ 

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