Hurt Road

This week, I was invited to hear Mark Lee from the group Third Day at a breakfast.  His song, “Hurt Road” really “struck” me.   It seems Mr. Lee and I have something in common.

I’m not musically talented at ALL, so that isn’t it.  But both of us have been hit by trucks.  He was a pedestrian, I was on a bicycle on the 26 near the Banks-Vernonia trail.  I was attempting turn turn left into the restaurant, in the turn lane.  I was struck as I tried to make my turn from a truck behind me.  My body flew up in the air, my bike was trapped under the vehicle.  The driver pinned it to the fence in front of the restaurant.   My friend, now my husband, ran to care for me in the street.  

That accident changed everything for me.  The doctors weren’t sure I’d walk again.  They weren’t sure what my quality of life would be. My left hip disintegrated, my right was broken, my sacrum was broken, I had a five inch gash in my head. I had to learn to walk all over again.  I still have a handicapped pass hanging in my car for those bad days I can barely move.  

The song Hurt Road talks about times when life just hits us hard.   It’s not a truck for most of us, but things can hit us hard.  People we love die, or they leave.  Jobs don’t work out.  The economy can put great housing out of our reach.  We can have a health scare.  Sometimes, all our wishes seem like they are for nothing.  

In the end, all I lost in the accident has been given back–and then some.  The great jobs I was applying for at the time passed me by, but a great organization was born after that–Xpose Hope.  I have met some amazing people who have totally changed my life views.   I have been given an opportunity to serve a community I lived in when I was young.  

Sometimes, we have to walk down Hurt Road.  But this I know.  God has us, and sometimes, his dreams for us are greater than all of our little plans.  If you are ever walking down Hurt Rd and just want to talk, call us.   971-319-4413. 

And for now, here is Mark Lee’s song : Hurt Road

 

 

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Change of Seasons

10517564194_0be7f1c72f_o (1)The seasonal weather is upon us.  The leaves begin to fall off the trees, and they turn to crimson and gold.   They crunch beneath our feet, and the brisk air reminds us that the only thing that is constant, is change.

One thing that doesn’t change is how those of us at Xpose Hope feel about those in the adult entertainment industry.  We don’t just care in the summer, or when things are easy.  We care all the time.  We care when life is messy, when answers are more difficult and when we can’t offer any solutions.  Sometimes, we can only hold on with our friends and hope for another change of season.

Jesus is like that.   He doesn’t only care when we are doing the right things, or when our lives are totally on track.   He doesn’t care only when we fit into a mold, and he doesn’t only want to have a relationship with us when our makeup is perfect and our outfit on point.  Thankfully, he is truly a friend and he is there in our great days and our terrible days.

We hope to be that type of friend.  We hope that when we take calls where a dancer or bouncer just wants to blow off steam, but we have no good answers –that we can provide a compassionate ear.  We hope that when things are wonderful–when you land that modeling gig or your daughter graduates high school, we can say “congratulations” and you’ll know we are genuinely happy for your happiness.

Because even in the change…we are here.  With or without a spice pumpkin latte….

We Aren’t All About Women!

So, Xpose Hope, you know there are more than women in the adult industry right?

Of course!  There are those who identify as female, male, and even some who don’t identify with a particular biological sex.   Xpose Hope recognizes that the industry, and the world, is more than just female strippers. 

That is why we have a men’s team to reach out to the male strip clubs, both straight and LGBTQ.  That is why we love our drag queen friends.   Because simply, Jesus loves everyone. And so do we!

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You see, this is not new for the work of true believers.  In the book of Acts, chapter 8, an apostle known as Phillip happened upon an Ethiopian court official.  This man served Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, as her overseer of the treasury.   In those days, it was not uncommon for servants of royalty to be castrated, to create loyal servants without offspring of their own to want to see in power, so they would not ever overthrow the king or queen.   The Bible tells us this treasurer was indeed, a eunuch.  History tells us many, but not all eunuchs were homosexual.

So Phillip stops to talk to this man, because he sees he is reading the scriptures, looking confused.   Phillip begins to explain this scripture to the eunuch: “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he does not open his mouth.  In humiliation His judgment was taken away; who will relate his generation?  For his life is removed from the earth.”

So quickly does this amazing man believe that he sees water alongside the road and asks “Look! Water!  Is there any reason I can’t be baptized?”

Did Phillip say, “Well, you have to leave your job” or “I’m sorry, eunuchs are not welcome?”

Nope.

He said, “If you believe with all your heart, let’s do it!” 

The man replies, “I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s son!”

So Phillip pulls the chariot over and baptizes the man right there.  This man, baptized on the side of a dusty African road, probably in a watering hole, is credited with beginning the Christian church in Ethiopia.

Because everyone is loved by God.  He created us all.  He came to reconcile us with all our hurts, habits and hang-ups to himself.  Because he wants to hang out with us.  He wants to do life with us.  And that’s it. 

And so, on a Saturday night downtown, you will see us pile out of cars—teams that enter into every type of adult entertainment club to say, “We love you.”  Period.  That’s it.  Not everyone wants to hear about God.  That’s okay.  We just like you all.  Some of us come from the industry.  Others just have grown to love our friends in the clubs.  We love to hear about their lives, to encourage them and to share about ours.  We love their talent.  We love their tenacity.   

So, a special shout out to these amazing clubs:  Stag (and Michael), CC Slaughters, Darcelle’s, Silverado, the former Embers!   We love you.  So does Jesus!  If anyone tries to tell you differently, they have totally missed the message of the one who came to love us all!

Even if…

People ask quite often…what it is like to run Xpose Hope?  What is is like to help so many men and women, to be there when life is hard, to love hard, and to see such amazing miracles?

It’s wonderful, and it’s horrific.

Because we can’t do it all.

This morning, we were reminded in a very tragic way that not every one we talk to can we impact.  Not everyone even wants to talk to us.   And even when we see someone in pain, they don’t always want to share that pain.   

We’ve had ladies who we sat next to, in the hopes that they would get a restraining order that would save their lives.  They later returned to their abuser.

We have had friends who came to us for help escaping addiction, and we have provided them with resources, prayer, uplift and love.  And yet, not all of them finish the program.  Many end up in terrible situations.  So clearly we can see that their lives are in danger, and we want to save them…but that is not what we do.   We have no power to save.   

This morning, one of our friends lost her life in a very tragic way.   This young woman was very dear to us.  Her smile could chase away a thousand dark clouds.  Her enthusiasm for life was contagious.   Her love for her kids, unquenchable.  

I watched her fight for her kids to be cared for by the medical establishment.  I watched her fight for her friends, and care for them.   I marveled at her ability to bounce back from situations most of us would find devastating.  

But in the end, we lost her…

And that …well there isn’t a better word for it, it sucks.  It’s not fair, and it’s awful.   

It makes you want to quit, and not help  anymore because you don’t want to endure the pain.  But then, along comes another woman or man from the industry…just wanting to chat.   And you realize…the power to save is all God’s and their own.   We can’t do more than be a friend.  To support.  To be there to listen, to offer resources.   

Because sometimes, life, inside or outside of the industry it sucks.   But if we can make better for even one person who just needs a hand to hold…how can we not?

Do we do it perfectly?  No.  We are imperfect.   We are only human.   But though we can’t do everything, we can do something… that is what friends do.

So when we mess up, or when life holds tragedy…do we still believe?  Yes.  We do.  Even if–because sometimes you win some, sometimes lose some.   Today, we are losing bad, and hurting bad.   And today…a little faith is all we have.   But it’s going to have to be enough.  Because if it were me, I’d want someone to hold out their hand and hold me.   

So we march on… even if tragedy comes.   But I’m thankful that God does hold our tears in his bottle.  Because it’s been a day for tears.   

Weathering the Storm(y)…

So yes, the Bend team and I stopped in to Stars Bend the night that Stormy Daniels was in town.  But, it really wasn’t anything new, although this reporter, who didn’t have time to ask us for the real story, seemed to think we had crawled out of the woodwork yesterday just for this visit.   stormy1

However, if the reporter would have asked, these tweets explain why we come.  stormy4stormy5

You see, this is the life of an adult entertainer.  To be looked down on by some in society, to be judged, to considered to be without value.   

You see, it’s okay  to call, as one person did, people in the field “whores”, because after all, a person without value can be treated as less than.  It’s okay to say she only needs a washrag or treat her as less than human.  

We at Xpose Hope are not okay with that. 

We know that once your name is in the national media, you’re under intense pressure.  You wake up every day with your name being tossed about and most of the reports are less than kind.  When you are in the the national media and you are in the adult entertainment industry, even more so.

But here’s the truth, that all our friends  in the industry understand.  Stormy, whose real name is Stephanie by the way, is a woman.   She was created by God with talents and dreams and abilities.  She’s a daughter…and she’s a mom.  She’s a friend.  She is a human being, and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect just because of that fact. 

Why do people love to hate?  We don’t know.  We don’t really get it.   But it clearly happens.   We don’t have an agenda, and we aren’t trying to get any of those in adult entertainment to join any particular church.   We want them to know they are loved.  Period.   

Many of them know this, but when you wake up each day with your name dragged through the mud…maybe it’s just a good thing to hear.

Welcome to Oregon, Stormy Daniels.   You are loved!

 

Victims…not!

A few months back, a dancer asked “Are these pity gifts or victim gifts?”  I was taken back…because I never thought of what we do as classifying anyone that way, or having any agenda but love.  (It’s my belief there isn’t enough love in the world today.)  But, when I look at social media, I can see her confusion.      Image result for #xposehope

Everyone seems to use the word victim today.  It’s all over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, in the press, and a lot of folks who come out of the industry are now calling themselves “victims” or “survivors.” Now not to demean those who choose this terminology, but  these are not words we use around Xpose Hope, and there is a reason for that.

We have team members with a past in the industry–strip clubs, massage parlors, prostitution and even trafficking (both sides, pimps and those trafficked.)  I wish I could explain the dynamic that exists at Xpose Hope, but those who have joined our team have never related to me or any of our team anything but a history in the industry.  Why not?  Because we see ourselves as the same people we were…people of strength and of values.  We are and were good friends, parents, sons and daughters, business owners.  And that is how we see the men and women who work in the industry today.

Many of us have experienced, like those we serve experience, both good times and bad during our time in adult entertainment.  We had friends, we had those we didn’t get along with.  We had scary times, happy times, times of sadness and we had fun times.  For those at Xpose Hope, that time is behind us.  But what is important to the members of our team is now and the future.  

Because every day has challenges, and every day is a new opportunity to reinvent yourself.  Jesus says that he makes all things new, and he does that every single day.  Every day I’m different.  I learn, I grow, I renew.  Life happens.   But I consider myself a strong woman.  I certainly don’t consider my friends in the clubs any less than that!

It’s spring now, and we are watching trees start to bud…to reinvent themselves.   That doesn’t mean the fall tree, with its lovely crimson leaves was bad.  It was just different.  It was a different stage in its life.  We never stay the same as humans, every day is a new day.

What is important to us about the now is that we have an opportunity to show love to our sisters (and brothers) who are walking in the life–that we are not separate from the life, we are still sisters.  We are able to give a ride late at night, drop by a hospital, just give a smile.  

We are honored that we get to do those things.  Thanks for allowing us to drop by and say “Hi.”   Thanks for your sweet notes on Instagram and FB, thank you for your blogs and hash tagging Xpose Hope with your gift photos.  Thanks for understanding that we aren’t there out of pity, we aren’t visiting out of a high place looking down, we are just dropping in to say hello to our sisters and brothers.

We love the amazing men and women we connect with.  You amaze us with your physical dexterity, your initiative, your  strength and talents.  We love you how you are, who you will be, and whatever you decided to do with your lives when you are 99 years old. Period. 

Damaging Our Witness…

 

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Recently, a very sweet elderly gentleman came up to me in a church after hearing about Xpose Hope.   He was apologetic for asking, but he explained that he had been raised that to go to places like bars, strip clubs, lingerie modeling businesses or to see drag queens perform would be detrimental to our “witness” as Christians.   “What if someone from the church saw you go into those places?  What would they think?”

I could tell he was truly curious, and didn’t mean to demean the work that I do.  So I chatted with him, and this is what I said:

“Do you remember in the Bible, in the book of John, there is a story of Jesus and the woman at the well?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Well, I liken what we do to that situation.  You see, Jesus was sitting at that well, a place men did not belong.  In that culture, the women would draw water and supply it to the men.  The well was a place for women to not only get water, it was a local meeting place where ladies met, chatted, and kept up with what was happening in the community. 

Not only that, the woman who approached was a Samaritan woman.  No Jewish male in good standing would ever speak to a Samaritan woman.  She was unclean, she was of little value.  This would damage his reputation.  It could affect his standing in the church.

Yet, there he was, sitting at the well, and then conversing with a woman who had some issues.  She told Jesus some of them, and he told her that he knew the others.   

About the time they were finishing up, his friends showed up.  They asked him “Why in the world are you talking to THAT woman?”

I’m sure they were thinking to themselves “You’ll damage your authority and your witness to the people!”

Jesus didn’t care.   Jesus loved that woman.   He loved her no matter her nationality, no matter her social status, no matter her occupation.  He just loved her.  He wanted her to know that.  He wanted her to know that he would give her living water, and after that, she’d never thirst again.  And you know what?  She believed him.  She recognized him for what he was.  And she told her friends.

My new friend nodded at me, he understood.   

It’s about love.  What we do is all about love.  It is not about filling churches, or changing occupations.  It’s not about an agenda, or changing minds.  It’s about loving someone because when I was in the industry, I would have liked to have someone come and just care–care about how my week was, and to like who I was because I’m a human. Not because I could do a lap dance, not because I’d listen to their issues, but because I mattered.  To visit for even a moment with someone who just cared, should I need them to, would have meant something to me.  

Not every dancer wants to see us.  Not every drag queen has time to chat.  And that’s okay.   Because we don’t have an agenda other than caring.   

Can we help? Yes. Do we come to the hospital, and have we helped with food?  Yes. Have we gone to court in support of our friends? Yes, and we’ve dropped into jail. But we do that because we care, not because we want something.  We want to support every member of the adult entertainment industry in their choices in their lives when they need support.  When they don’t, we are happy to smile and hug–if they want a hug.

And if others decide look down on what we do…who think we are “damaging our witness”… that’s okay.  Because we don’t do this for adoration from the religious community or for applause.  We do it quietly, one night a month, because we care.  That’s it.  And because, we like hanging out at the well.  We’ve met a lot of friends this way.  We treasure them.  

So every second Saturday, you’ll see us out there…destroying our witness perhaps.  Making friends for sure!

Scandalous… Christmas

So there she was, Mary, a young woman of between 12 and 14 years old. Trying to give her version of the truth to those around her.

“No really, an angel told me I was pregnant.”

“An angel? Mary, really…”

“He said that my baby would be the Savior.”

“She’s either seeing things, or she’s a liar. Either way, Joseph should just rid himself of her.”

Poor Mary.

You see, the story didn’t match the expectation. Mary was expected to marry Joseph, and after the marriage, they would produce children. Clearly, Mary had not waited for the wedding.
And a Savior? Well the Savior of the nation of Israel was going to save them from the centuries of oppression they had endured. He was going to rule the nations. Certainly, the Savior that God would send wouldn’t be a baby, incapable of even caring for himself. The Savior was to come in power and authority! He was going to overthrow the Romans, he was going to set right the injustices!

And there sat Mary. Perplexed, perhaps ashamed, and at the bottom of the social ladder.
Much like Rahab before her.

Rahab was Jesus’ great…great…great… (many greats later) grandmother. And Rahab—she was a known prostitute.

Used by men, distained by women, and provided no hope to climb out of her surroundings to a place of social standing. There was no safety net in the Jewish society for a woman in the sex profession.
And yet…who is listed in the lineage of Jesus Christ in the gospel of Matthew? Mary, and Rahab.
In fact, there are a lot of men and women in the Bible who were far from the societal expectation of perfect behavior. And these men and women changed the world. They cared for others, they loved the unloved, they followed hard after God.

Today, one of my closest friends who has a past in the industry, she fell. And she fell hard. She was confined to a cell, and she was knocked down by society from her job loving people to a place of contempt. She was then mistreated, because after all, if you aren’t perfect, you don’t belong. Right?

Wrong. Because none of us are perfect. In the Bible, Sarah didn’t have the patience to wait on God to give her a son, so she told her husband to sleep with her handmaiden. GASP! And yet, Sarah is the mother of the Jewish nation.

God knows we have to live in this life, which is hard. He knows that we are going to do really well some days and really terrible other days. He knows we might be homeless for a while, or maybe we slip back into ways we have left, or maybe we even go to jail. Paul spent time in jail. He was considered the father of the modern non Jewish church!

So don’t watch us. Because we might screw up. In fact, we probably will. We might say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, we might find ourselves at the bottom of a trash heap. We may not live up to the expectations of those we serve, the church, or ourselves.  Look to the Christmas baby, Jesus. He was perfect, and he is perfect, and he loves you and me in our imperfection. And maybe, whisper a prayer for us, that when we get knocked down, we have sisters to help us back up again.  Because THAT is what the Christmas story is all about…and why Jesus came.

And he still thinks we are amazing.
Merry Christmas

A Step Ahead

FootMassage_lg (1)You know, there  is a lot of truth in the idea that an army wins battles through its feet.  And every dancer knows just how important his or her feet are! 

I wish that I had known when I was working that the damage I was doing would keep me up writing blog posts at 4 and 5 am due to the pain in my feet.   Don’t make the same mistake I did and overlook your feet because they aren’t your money maker—in reality, they are, and they will be most of your life.  Even if you change occupations, you’ll need to stand in most careers for at least some period of time!

Women often wear six inch or higher heels, and those just destroy our delicate arches.  And all dancers are on their feet all day and night long!

So what can you do to care for them?

First—unless your club requires you not to, move to a lower heel.   They can help to make your legs look more feminine, and they will add years to your pain free life.

Then, trust me, learn this one lovely word: Massage.   Massage can work on the plantar fascia and help it to relax.  It won’t cure what ails you, but it will make it easier to live with.

Podiatrists are your friend.   Start early on with a great foot doc, and do as he says.   If heels are part of the requirement for your job, what does your doctor recommend the other hours of the day?  Should you wear inserts?  Perhaps you’ll have some exercises prescribed.

Change shoes often.  Take a few pair to work, and switch them out.   Even though they might all be tall, giving your feet even a slight change can help.  When you are home, have at least two pair of great shoes with good arches. 

Don’t go barefoot.  This sounds counter intuitive, since all you want to do is get out of shoes after a shift.  But we have to remember that dancers are in a terrible shoe for 6-10 hours at a time (sometimes more!)  Your foot needs that good solid arch and some cushion the rest of the time!

When you exercise, choose something low impact.  You get enough impact on your feet at work.  Try swimming or cycling, and let those feet rest while the rest of your muscles work!

Watch the reviews of the places you get pedicures.   Be sure the shop is maintaining sanitary practices.  The last thing a dancer needs is an infection in her feet or nails!  Blech!  No time for that!

Soak your feet in Epson salts, they make lovely ones now that smell of lavender, and use a good sports cream to warm them up. 

Love your feet, they are the only pair you’re going to get!

Betty is a what?????

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What is an ordination… and why does it matter?

Ordination is a very large word that means someone is being placed in the position of pastor.  That is what happened to the founder of Xpose Hope.  She became a pastor.

Many pastors preach sermons, and lead churches.  But not all pastors have that job. 

There are visitation pastors, and they just visit the sick and the shut-ins.  They bring communion, they pray, they provide companionship.

There are youth pastors, who work with teenagers, and children’s pastors who work with young children. 

Some pastors lead organizations, like Xpose Hope.

But why does Xpose Hope need a pastor? 

Some of the girls we work with need help because they have found themselves in the system.  They are incarcerated or in treatment programs.  They need a friend, a leg up, someone to care.  When a member of our team goes in to see them, if that person is a pastor, she can assist with basic needs items. She can also often have better access to the woman, without affecting her family visitation.

It’s also easier to gain access if a girl has a need like prayer before a surgery, or to assist her in finding social service options when those needs exist. 

Doesn’t that cost a lot?  Hiring a pastor?

It could, and perhaps our organization will be large enough to pay a pastor.  But for now, Betty will be doing the same thing that she has always done, at the same pay….Zero dollars.  This ordination was requested and granted just to serve the folks in the industry better.

Because that is what it is all about…we exist to show love.  Period.  That’s what we do.  We don’t want anything in return.  If you need a friend, that’s what we hope to be.  A hand up when things are difficult.  When life is not fun.  Or someone to rejoice with you during times of success and celebration. 

Some in the industry don’t want that, need that or like it.  But others figure it’s always good to have friends who care. 

So our founder was ordained…she’s a pastor. But she’s still the same person, and we are still the same organization. 

Now, if we could only afford a church “secretary!”  Well, we can dream, can’t we?