Monday, April 13, 2015

When Shopping Equals Love

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Not long ago I had the opportunity to attend "Party with a Purpose," which was the beautiful idea of Lina Sutton. Those who came had the opportunity to sip coffee with an option to purchase beautiful handcrafted gifts, (some of which I may have kept for myself.) It was a relaxing time to gather with friends, laugh, and impact the lives of people around the world. How often does that happen all at the same time? It has opened my eyes to simple ways that I can link arms with ministries who are doing a great work of loving God and people. Lina also has a sister, whose family is in the process of adoption, a subject that my heart is so tender for. So, I asked Lina if she would share with you and I pray you will love what she has to say as much as I do.
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We recently celebrated Easter, where we were reminded of the good news, that through Jesus not only can we have a relationship with God, but this relationship changes every aspect of our lives. I think sometimes in our desire to live for God, we focus on the big things, but can overlook the seemingly small, ordinary ways that He wants to use us. I Corinthians 10:31 (NLT) says “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. Romans 12:1 in the Message puts it this way. “Take your every day, ordinary life –your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life– and place it before God as an offering”. 

I’d like to add shopping to that list.

Growing up in a missionary family, I've long been exposed to the needs around the world, both spiritual and physical.  About two years ago, I realized that although I didn't have unlimited finances for giving, I did have an untapped source–my shopping! Specifically in the area of buying gifts. What if I used the money I was already going to spend, but chose to buy products that also went to help people who had urgent needs?

I had the idea of having a “Party with a Purpose” where I could share with others how their dollars could make a difference. I decided to purchase items that people could reimburse me for so they would have the opportunity to see items first hand and shipping costs would be shared. My sisters and mom agreed to help and we invited other ladies to attend. The goal was to “motivate others to acts of love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). I bought items from four different organizations that I had grown to love, that are doing a great job of caring for the poor, orphaned and widowed in a practical way.
I got jewelry from Amazima, a ministry in Uganda that feeds, educates and encourages the orphaned, poor and vulnerable, bags from Freeset, an organization that provides freedom for women from the sex trade in Kolkata, India, and cards and journals from Ten Thousand Villages , a non profit that works with disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries. 

I also purchased coffee from Just Love Coffee, a fair trade company that donates 5% of all their profits to help with clean water projects in other countries and allows families in the process of adopting to raise funds through having their own store front.  My sister, Lissa, and her family are in the processing of adopting a child from Ethiopia, so I purchased coffee through her family’s store front. There are a lot of coffee lovers among our family and friends, and this has been a great way to support and encourage the Zuñiga family as they go through this long and sometimes difficult process!

We recently had another party, this time a family friendly open house. Women may do the majority of the shopping, but making our dollars count is something we can all do! We included a wider variety of products and three more organizations: Mercy House, a ministry in Kenya for pregnant women and their children, Pacha, a Hastings, NE., business that helps with social issues by promoting better standards of hygiene in developing nations through the Raise the Bar campaign and W.A.S.H., and The Reach Boutique , a ministry of Countryside Christian Church in Kearney, NE.

Having a party with friends is a simple thing that anyone can do (and I hope you will!). Besides helping others around the globe here are a few of the fun things that God did through ours: The church we attended began using Just Love Coffee, God used the party as one of the things that led to some friends becoming foster parents, and my sister, Liza, was able to share about the different organizations with her bible study group. The Zuñiga family now has more people encouraging them in their adoption journey and were also helped with adoption expenses. Through the coffee sales and donations by those that attended our most recent party (thanks to everyone who gave!) they have exactly what they need for renewing their paperwork next month!

I love how the gospel changes everything-even our shopping! Don’t discount the everyday things in your life, you might be surprised by how God can use them.
(Lina Sutton is pictured (far left) along with three of her sisters. They are all wearing some of their favorite fair trade accessories.) 

Lina is a wife and mother of four, seeking to use the ordinary to honor God and help others. You can contact her at

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**We would love it if you would want to use your everyday life to impact others with your shopping! Please feel free to ask questions! If you are interested in being part of the Zuñiga family's adoption journey you can purchase coffee hereJust Love Coffee, or donate directly to their paypal account, at

Thank you for using your everyday life to make a difference.


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