Three or four times a week I wake to a 5:00 am alarm, crawl out of bed and drive a couple miles down the road to work out with my buddy Krista. We hate the early morning part but we love the talking part. We both have two kids in college and one still at home. The weights and cardio are secondary to our conversations about parenting and marriage and aging and health and everything in between.
But mainly we talk about Cambodia.
I’ve known Krista since we moved to Kansas. We have created quite the book of stories.
Her superpower is being resourceful. She knows how to make the thinnest of shoestring budgets look like a million bucks. She drives a 1965 red mustang her husband restored. She can do cool stuff like grow real food from tiny seeds and then put that food in jars and freezers. She knows how to make sausage from scratch. What? I thought only store people with skills did that.
One time we hopped up in the bucket of a tractor her granddad was driving so we could pick apples from the treetops. In the rain. Then she showed me how to make homemade applesauce and apple butter.
When I barely knew her, she called up and asked me to bring a turkey to a potluck. And I did because you gotta respect a sista’s boldness.
I’ve watched a story unfold in Krista’s life over the past 5 years. It is so her that I have to celebrate by sharing.
In 2011 she and her minister husband attended the Catalyst conference in Atlanta. Through this event, God turned her heart upside down and began to stir a passion for social justice issues, specifically the impact of small businesses in third world countries. She heard Katie Davis speak and read her whole book out loud in the car to her husband on the way home.
She began to educate herself and her family. Researching companies and the connection to modern slavery led to a huge shift in spending habits. Her family decided to spend 40 days eating only the foods their Compassion sponsored children ate, mainly rice and beans. They developed a World Market at their church to help support fair trade businesses as well as educate the community. But she still felt restless, called to something yet to be found. Looking around locally, she began to volunteer in Joplin at Rapha House, an organization that provides safe homes for those trafficked and exploited in Cambodia.
After months of helping at Rapha (in the least glamorous role possible) details converged and doors opened. A background in fashion design, the ability to sew, and newly awakened passions all combined with a divinely timed partnership to birth a business she named Hepz.
Hepz offers clothing made by women of Cambodia. Its mission is to provide fair wages to marginalized individuals giving them the power to break the cycle of poverty and create ripple effects within their community.
Hepz is taken from the Hebrew name, Hephzibah, meaning, “I delight in her.” Isaiah proclaims this new name over Israel in reference to their restoration as a nation by Yahweh.
Krista is sinking in to her story and it is pure delight to watch. I’ve never known her more content and joyful, even though she is working her tail off. She’s traveled to Cambodia twice in the last year, meeting with these beautiful women, choosing the fabrics and doing one new thing after another.
This did not happen over night. It has been a gradual leading, a step by step obedience. Seasons come and go as well as the work assigned.
Krista’s story is the essence of what I shared earlier this week. Knowing yourself and the work you’ve been given, trusting God with the details and doing your creative best. It makes for the best stories.