Interviews and Things

Hello, blog friends. It's been a while. This season of life is not lending itself to blogging. I've found myself needing to live and process these days apart from the internet, and several other good and important things have been claiming my time and energy. I hope to be back sooner rather than later, but I don't yet know when that will be.

In the meantime, I've had opportunities to share about One Dress. One Year. in a few other places. Earlier this month, Brooklyn Lindsey shared her space with me, inviting me to guest post on her Justice Movement blog

My justice journey began with a walk to the mailbox. Beads of sweat trickled down my forehead as the Florida summer sun beat down on me. I was in middle school, and as I flipped through the stack of mail, I had no idea that my life was about to change.

At the bottom of the pile was a magazine for me. It was the July 2008 issue of Brio magazine for teen girls. The cover story was about Natalie Grant and what she was doing to help fight human trafficking. Until that day, I’d thought that slavery had disappeared with the civil war. I was shocked to find out just how wrong I was and just how many people were still enslaved. Continue Reading . . . 

I also got to share some thoughts about my year in the dress, Lyme disease, and the pressure to save the world at Elisa Morgan's Really blog.

Instead, my "failure" reminded me that it isn't my job to save the world. It taught me that my worth is not in what I do . . . These days, life looks a little different than it did in high school. About a year ago, I was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease. My energy is extremely limited, and I'm finding that it's hard to do anything heroic when I can barely get up off the couch some days. Continue Reading . . . 

Finally, several months ago, I was given an opportunity to fly to Canada and do an interview with 100 Huntley Street. (I also got to see Niagara Falls. In case the photo at the top doesn't convince you, well, let me just say that it was a good trip.) That aired a few weeks ago and is now online

Even Here

I didn't intend to go awol from the blog on book day, but, well, here we are. These months have been challenging health-wise, and while I'm not ready to come back to writing and posting regularly just yet, this piece I posted after Pentecost last year seemed appropriate for this season, so I thought I'd give it an update and share it again. 

It was Pentecost. I slid into an empty pew, the last of the evening light filtering through the stained glass windows. Exhaustion tugged at my eyelids. It was nothing new—it'd been a long time since I'd really had energy. But that night, I felt particularly worn out. Taking a few deep breaths, I willed my lungs to work as they were supposed to.

The service began, and I managed to pull myself to my feet at the right times, to follow along, to say the creeds and sing the hymns. We listened to the reading of the account of Pentecost. The sermon that followed was on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and it’s been rattling around in my head ever since.

He loves to rush in.

The disciples were waiting, the priest reminded us. They were scared and confused, and they certainly weren’t trying to conjure up some sort of spiritual display. Jesus had left. He’d promised a comforter, but they didn’t know what that meant. All they could do was what Jesus had told them to, so they gathered and prayed and waited.

It was then that the Holy Spirit showed up.

He loves to rush in.

The words lingered in the air as the priest moved on.

Even here? I wondered.

I thought about the fear and confusion, about the places where God seemed absent. Jesus had promised his presence, but then he’d up and left and I didn’t know what to do. Was that what the disciples felt? Sure, it was easy for him to say that he was sending a comforter. He was the one who was leaving. But what about the ones he left behind? The ones who felt lost?

He loves to rush in.

Rush [ruhsh]: to appear, go, pass, etc., rapidly or suddenly.

An element of surprise, something that’s out of our control.

Even in the places that feel hopeless and confusing, he rushes in.

Even when we are weary, he rushes in.

Even when we are alone, he rushes in.

It’s who he is.  

He loves to rush in.

He’s the one with the audacity to barge into the places where we’ve declared that he is not present. He sets up camp there, doing the work that only he can, the work that we sometimes try to tell him is impossible.

All week, I think about it. 

Even here? I still wonder.

But I’m reminded.

He loves to rush in.

Even here.

Photo by BrecklesCreative Commons

One Dress. One Year. (A Preview)

On Saturday, I got in the car and drove twenty-five minutes south. The Barnes & Noble website told me they'd shelved copies of the book early, and I wanted to see it with my own two eyes. There it was, sitting on the shelf just like a real grown up book. And I still can't believe it. 

Today, March 1st, is officially book day. I think I'm going to spend my day walking around pinching myself. For those of you who preordered, hopefully the story of the dress will show up in your mailbox today. If you didn't preorder, you can find it on Amazon, Christian Book, and Barnes & Noble (or in real brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble stores!). You also still have a whole week to sign up to win two copies.

In honor of the release, here's an excerpt from the introduction. If you like what you read, you can click over to preview Chapter 1 here


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

When I was in middle school, I found out that slavery still exists. In fact, every morning, millions of men, women, and children around the world wake up trapped in a system of human tra"cking. Faced with the same bleak reality day after day, their dreams of freedom remain just that—dreams. I knew it didn’t have to be this way, but if anything was going to change, ordinary people, people like you and me, needed to get involved. So at sixteen, I decided to do something about it.

From January 11, 2012, to January 10, 2013, I wore the same black dress every day. It was my way of raising awareness about and money to help end human tra"cking across the globe. One Dress. One Year. For Freedom. It was a yearlong journey that I chose. People who are enslaved don’t have many choices, so surely I could limit my clothing choices for a year to help them be free. While my experience wasn’t nearly the same thing as what those who are enslaved face, it was a connection I could make to help others understand human tra"cking. I then asked people to partner with me by giving to one of six organizations working to end modern-day slavery.

Using the black dress as my primary piece, I added other clothing and accessories to create different looks, and each day I posted a photo of my outfit on my blog. By the end of the year, I’d worn that same black dress in 366 different ways—of course I would pick a leap year. I went into that year thinking I would do something big for God. I was going to raise $100,000 to help end the fight against modern-day slavery. My blog and my dress were going to change the world.

I thought The Dress Project would give me value and make me special. I wanted to prove that I was better than other people my age. After all, unlike many of my peers, I was thinking about important things. Sacrificing normal clothes for a year or talking about slavery or challenging others to fight for the same cause was supposed to make me important too. Instead, the year I spent in the dress changed me in ways I never expected. It taught me to pay attention to fashion, and it altered the way I see myself.

That year, the people who partnered with me gave $8,615 to International Justice Mission (IJM), Not for Sale, the A21 Campaign, Compassion International, Restore International, and Love146. The money was used to rescue people, provide them with rehabilitation services and legal counsel, and prevent human tra"cking in vulnerable communities.

I’d always been told that pride goes before the fall, but I think some of us fall harder than others. I didn’t come anywhere close to my fund-raising goal. Throughout the year I felt like I should have been doing more, but I couldn’t figure out what—or how. Nothing seemed to go the way I wanted it to. It didn’t make me feel better like I thought it would. Instead, the dress helped me see myself for who I was (and who I still am): a girl who needed to be set free from perfectionism and pride and guilt and the notion that I could buy my way into God’s good graces with my grand plans. I couldn’t. All I could do was hope that somehow, even when I felt unlovable, he loved me still. The beautiful part was that in my darkness and my doubt, God met me. He’s still meeting me. I’m sure your story won’t be the same as mine, but I bet if you look closely, you’ll find God meeting you too.

The Dress Project was a way that a high school girl helped raise money for organizations that are bringing freedom to people worldwide. During that year, though, I also discovered how much I needed the freedom God can bring. Freedom is for all of us, and it’s something all of us can be part of extending to others. But it is only something we can participate in when we know that we are loved, and that we are already free. 

Adapted from One Dress. One Year. by Bethany Winz with Susanna Foth Aughtmon, Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2016. Used by permission. 

Gifs, Gratitude, and a Giveaway (or, one week till book day!)

We are one week away from book day. (Wait. What?) In seven short days, the story of the dress will be in your hands. And, like any birth, bringing a new book into the world comes with a lot of feelings—feelings I don’t quite know how to express. 

I’ve spent most of the weekend dancing around my kitchen in disbelief. (This is what happens when my roommate is out of town. And also sometimes when she is in town, but that's beside the point.)

I'm so excited. I’m also terrified, but mostly I’m excited.

The main thing I need you to know is that when a 20-year-old publishes a book, it’s not because that 20-year-old is exceptional. It’s because people with far more skill and experience looked at that person, saw potential, and decided to invest in it. I get to share the year of the dress with the world because of an agent who relentlessly believed in the project, a co-author who put so much time and energy and thought and sweat into shaping these words, and an editor who thought it was a story worth telling.

I can’t believe that I actually get to do this. And it never would have happened without the incredible women I’ve worked with every step of the way. The writing itself was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. There were, of course, mornings that I woke up convinced that everything I had to say was garbage.

As much as I need words to process the world, writing them is frustrating. Especially that many in such a short time. But thanks to Susanna’s hard work and patient encouragement, not to mention the many friends who talked me down off a ledge time and again, the book has been written and edited and edited and edited. And, well, here we are, just days away from the release.

(Yeah, I’m kind of freaking out about that.)

There’s another group of people, though, that I need to thank: YOU! For those of you who have been around since day one of the dress project and cheered me on every step of the way, those of you who have reminded me that my words matter, and those of you who are new around here, just stopping in to see what all of this is about...

To let you know just how grateful I am, I’m giving away three pairs of signed copies of the book—one for you, one for a friend. Enter by leaving a comment on this post telling me who you’d share the extra copy with. You can get two extra entries by subscribing to my blog and sharing the post. Just let me know in your comment if you do either (or if you're already a subscriber). The contest closes at 11:59pm EST Tuesday, March 8th. Winners will be chosen by a random number generator and notified by email. 

And if you're interested in pre-ordering a copy, you can find links for that here

One Month and the Beauty of Ordinary Days

One month. One month until the little blue book that is the story of the dress releases into the wild. And I could not be more excited.

A week ago, I stood in front of a group of Trevecca students and talked about the project and the book and all the things in between. I held the bound pages in my hands, read aloud the words that Susanna and I agonized over. But even then, I couldn’t really believe it.

March first closes in and yet life carries on, every bit as beautiful and monotonous as ever. Book talk days are also laundry days and homework days and Craigslist deal days and cooking days and reading days.

With the release looming, I feel like I should be kicking into high gear, writing things and doing things and running around making sure that everybody knows that the book is coming and they can buy it. (By the way, have I mentioned that it's up for preorder?)

And I am doing some of those things, writing a few guests posts and getting ready for a couple of interviews. But the day-in and day-out of this season is slow—slower than I expected. There are moments when I wish for a little more excitement, but as I’m settling back into life at school, I’m learning to see how rich the quiet can be.

When I rush, I feel fragmented, like I’m leaving pieces of myself all over the place. The rhythms of these days are putting me back together again, teaching me what it is to become whole. Yoga and bedtime routines and cooking and reading and homework and class and coffee dates and bright yellow tea kettles, all of it so ordinary and yet so beautiful.

I get lost in my own life sometimes, wanting everything except the moments in front of me. Somehow, in this big, wonderful world, I get bored. I scroll through miles of social media posts, always on the lookout for something new. Something fancy. Something to shake me from my apathy.

In all the mess and the noise, I forget to open my eyes and see the things around me.

Perhaps that is the greatest gift of this change of place, eyes open to see the goodness that feels so new. These days are different, yes. There is a book coming into the world that has shaped me in ways I can’t even begin to explain, and I’m so excited for you to read it.

But in the midst of all of that, I’m doing my very best to pay attention to the gifts these days are full of. Not just the big, obvious ones, but the little ones. Snippets of Wendell Berry poetry on my desk, dancing in the kitchen, the relief of a made bed and a folded basket of laundry.

I’m trying to listen to the things that make me come alive, learning to be present to this life I’ve been given. I’m not very good at it, but I want to get better, to see these days as meaningful not because they offer important things, but because they are.

So here we are, a month away. And I suppose what I really want to say is that I don’t have much to say right now. These days seem unremarkable. But I am so grateful for them, for four more quiet weeks of sinking into my place before this story finds its way into your hands.

And I hope this little book sparks a few conversations about the places God has called each of us. Because sometimes they are big and dramatic places (see: wearing a dress for a year), but sometimes they are places of quiet faithfulness, places that seem mundane.

May we learn to see the beauty in both.