Because We’re Women in a Long Line of Women {*UPDATED at bottom of post}

It wasn’t planned or anything, no more than you can get all your ducks lined up in a row —

no more than you can stop love from breaking free.

I just bent a bit on a December 11th, bent and swayed and prayed, and I had two babies on the same day, December 11th — two years apart. One early in the morning, 6:27 am, in the middle of a Canadian blizzard, and the other late at night, 11:45 pm, breaking into this world just 15 minutes shy of my Mama’s birthday.

I tell our Hope-girl this, “You came shy. You come from a long line of shy and breaking-free women.”

And there’s that figure of Mary, heavy with child and swaying there on the table, following this long line of road toward hope.




My first daughter and my mama, they come one right after the other, a day apart, 50 some years apart. And they grin over candles, one after the other, and there’s a long line of women who want something better for the women who come after.

“Your daddy couldn’t believe you were a girl.” I whisper it into her hair, enfold her close on the eve of her birthday.

“After a run of boys, that we’d have a girl.”

“And look at you now — long and lovely and almost as tall as your six foot Daddy.” And she laughs. She laughs like my Mama.


Hope, she laughs like Mama and like the women before her  —

Women who believe being a woman is a rising, a bubbling, an unstoppable thing that streams like grace, that womanhood is a holy hood of wonder that you pull up over sheer glory and wear like a veil.Our Hope-girl — she laughs like an unashamed hope.

I don’t need to tell her how her Father and I have laid in bed a whole string of years, her whole long life, talking of how you hallow the raising of a woman-child. How we prayed her skin and her soul would be hers, how no thief would slink in any dark to steal forbidden fruit, how she might always walk smile strong and unashamed.

We prayed because we know innocence-thieves and what has come before and we know she comes from a long line of women.

And we know sometimes you have to shatter chains.

Our Hope-girl, she wakes on her birthday.

Snow’s falling pure white. She’s smiling happy shy. That we would have a daughter.

And on the other side of the world in India, there’s another girl, Ashoka, and she’s first in a line of 10, nine younger siblings lined up behind her.




And Ashoka’s poor mama before her, she sees no choice but to Ashoka to an older man. Ashoka was 13. The maiden age of our-Hope.

And the husband’s mother sent Ashoka to the fields and boys were waiting there. They said that Ashoka had been sold to them. They said that they owned her. They said they could do with her whatever they wanted — and they did — and the shame bound her.

And when they were  finished with her, done with her, they wiped themselves clean of her and sold Ashoka to someone in Kolkata.

How in the world do we live in a world where you can sell a soul that just happens to have a body? Where a girl with one beating, unbound heart can be bought with bits of metal, chained to a man with clanking change in his pocket and hunger in his belly? Where a girl-woman can be had and lost and left — and Mary didn’t sway heavy to Bethlehem for nothing.

Ashoka, she says it as shy as Hope, “In Kolkata, I  saw girls sitting around and was told they were enjoying the fresh air.” Hope does that. Hope runs through rarified country air and she looks like the Farmer’s mother.

“But eventually I noticed there were a lot of men coming and going and I realized what was happening.”

Ashoka says it quiet. “It was about that time… my time in the line began.”

{To see women “working in the line,” view video above. (Blog music can be turned off at the bottom of the left sidebar?) RSS readers may view video here}

Ashoka, she stands in this long line of women, women standing shoulder to shoulder in an alley just around the world from Hope, women who have to sell themselves to survive.

And she’s a sister bought and she’s one of us waiting for a man to walk down the line and clank some change and take a bit of her .

I wanted to leave — but to survive so I was forced to continue working in the line.”

And Hope, on the morning of her birthday, she moves Mary closer down the line toward Bethlehem.

And in India, Freeset moves toward Ashoka, the bought and the broken women working in the line and Freeset‘s in the business of freedom — freedom from human trafficking. Freeset, this fair trade business that sews bags and t-shirts, that employs women out of human trafficking and soul shattering in Kolkata.

Ashoka learns how to stitch together the pieces… to sew together bags. God made women to make products — not to be the product. And Freeset pays Ashoka not for what she doesn’t want to give, but for the gifts that God’s given her, sewing one jute bag at a time, recompensing her three times the wage  Ashoka would have  received in giving away her body “in the line.”

Freeset gives not only lessons in reading and writing, daycare for children, medical insurance and retirement benefits — but they offer each woman, Ashoka what matters most: an eternal hope.




And Hope has a sister in India and Ashoka says it like emancipation:  “I come to Freeset’s work – with no shame. I’ve given up the line.”

She smiles a brave, shy happiness: “I have freedom. I want to give God thanks. Jesus has taken me far from my old life. God has given me good things – health, peace, a good husband, good family.”

That’s what Hope asked for her birthday. Hope asks for several copies of that book that has a photograph of Hope’s own hands on the front cover, Hope lifting one shy lost bird up to the free air.

So I slip a few copies of Hope’s One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces into a bag — a Freeset bag. 



ann v frilly


A limited edition Freeset bag — only 1000 bags just like these.

1000 bags with that one bondage-breaking word that gives God thanks: Eucharisteo.

That one word that means my thanks will give.

That one word that means my thanks is a verb — it has feet and it goes and it gives.

That one Greek word that means my thanksgiving is really thanks-living. That means the communion service isn’t complete until I serve in community — until my thanks giving is the kind of living that is emancipating, that is freeing, that is releasing, that is resurrecting.

1000 bags that lets one plus one plus one become a THOUSAND FOLD miracle, each one of us becoming 1000 gifts and freeing 1000 women and carry 1000 proclamations of eucharisteo, grace, gratitude, joy, out into the world, that the rain of grace might cycle on, the Reign of God setting captives flying freeI am blessed, I can bless, this is happiness.

Hope herself  chose the words for the other side of the bag — The equation for figuring it out:

am blessed
CAN bless
= happiness

It’s what Hope and I did on the eve of her birthday, for all her sisters in Kolkata and for a long line of women, because we’re from a long line of women. While women like Ashoka sewed Eucharisteo bags in India, Hope handed me bookplates for One Thousand Gifts and the devotional journal and the DVD study and we signed it in ink, how God makes all grace and transfigures all for all freedom in Him.






And the signed bookplates and/or bookmarks of eucharisteo will be slipped into the first 250 limited edition Eucharisteo bags— sisters standing with sisters.

One $10 bag helps free one sister from the selling-body line in India — and leads one woman to give thanks to Jesus too.  Her voice joining yours: Eucharisteo … 

And there are women who believe that radical always begins right where you are, that we can be world changers because Christ’s changed us, that know the Gift born in Bethlehem came to make us into the gifts.

Women who believe that we are the daughters of Hagar and her God who sees, the sisters of Ruth and her God who Redeems, the women in the long line of Mary who become a dwelling place for the God who saves.

There are women who are part of a long line of women who break their sisters free from heavy chains.    




Rani 1


And Hope wraps her hair around hands, there in brightening light of her birth day…. her kneeled there in front of Mary going to Bethlehem to birth our Freedom-Bringer.

And she begins to braid.

Begins to plait one strand over another and under another, us all plaited together, long and lovely …. and a lifeline.






Limited Edition from Freeset, entirely for FREEDOM. 1000 Eucharisteo Bags. $10 and you help free a woman, a daughter, a sister, from being bought and sold.We’re  right there with you, signing on with you with these signed bookmarks or bookplates for the first 250 orders — signed bookplates and bookplates that can arrive in time for Christmas — the gift that keeps on giving and FREES a woman! What a gift for Jesus.

For Hope’s 14th birthday  — can we do this together? Together, you, me, Hope, us as a whole Eucharisteo community —

Will you be one of the 1000 women who are 1000 gifts that free 1000 women from the line!?

UPDATED: In 4.5 hours, you people all on *fire* for Jesus sold out all of the Limited Edition Eucharisteo Happiness Bags! Hope would love for you to join her on her birthday and be one of a world-changing woman by checking out Freeset’s other bags right here. Will you and free a girl in India?