Monday, November 30, 2015

When You Don't Know What To Do

Towering double wide doors opened to the large common area of the church. The south wall was made up of ornate etched glass which allowed soft light to fill the space. My traveling companion was a beautiful, shy woman whose life had been defined by many unfair things. She would be the first to tell you how it had been a long struggle to live beyond her painful past.

It had been years since the death of my young husband and raising babies alone, and losing most every temporal thing, but I still nursed pain and grief, as humans tend to do.

She and I both knew God had more for us, yet we still walked around cupping the ashes of our life. Together we hoped this conference would offer something to help us move forward.

We inched alongside tables filled with books, as the crowd made its way toward the auditorium.

I ran my hand over some of the titles: Shadow of the Almighty,  A Path Through Suffering, and Through Gates of Splendor.  –They were like old friends. I felt as if I knew the author, even though we had only met on the pages of her books. She had lived a wildly brave life filled with all the elements that would make up an epic movie.

Epic as in, the measure and scope and far-reaching impact of her one life lived in faith, for the world to see.

Certain parts of her famous story included young love, tragic loss, and hard choices. These had captured my heart for her, along with the fact that she was left to raise her ten-month-old daughter after her husband was killed. I felt like that gave us common ground.

When I met Elisabeth in the pages of her books, my faith had fledgling wings.

Her words resonated in deep places, but her life was hard to understand. How could she and the other families truly forgive the men who had killed their loved ones. when the church people I knew, couldn't forgive small offenses?

And how could Elisabeth have loaded her little blonde-haired girl in a canoe, to live with the very tribal people who had made her a widow? That was crazy faith.

Elisabeth rarely said things that were easy to hear. Yet, I still loved to listen to her voice on the radio say, "You are loved with an everlasting love. That’s what the Bible says. And underneath are the everlasting arms. This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot." I wanted to believe her. I wanted to trust that God still did something beautiful with brokenness.

Somehow we were seated near the front of the venue where she was speaking. Elisabeth Elliot came out in a black dress that seemed too large for her. Her gray hair was swept up in a simple bun and she spoke with her distinguished inflection. An occasional smile revealed the space between her front teeth. She had not come here to impress anyone or deliver a flashy message.

At the end of her speaking time, there was a question and answer session. I couldn’t think of a single question for her that didn’t sound ridiculous and shallow compared to what she had lived.

The questions that were submitted covered topics of how to handle difficult people, jobs, and life situations.

Her answers could be summarized in the upside-down truths of the Bible such as; give to receive, lose to find, and die to live. 

And then there was an odd exchange between Elisabeth and her husband Lars.

It was his job to choose questions from the basket and after selecting one, he would place it in front of his famous wife. This had gone smoothly until the end. I watched as Elisabeth read a slip of paper and pushed it away, picking up a different question, which she read aloud and responded to.

Her husband gently slipped the rejected paper back toward his wife.

Again, she scanned the paper and pushed it aside, looking at her husband and shaking her head, “no.”

I was humored as they repeated this several more times. His nudging and her resistance.

Finally, with notable irritation, Elizabeth Elliot read the question aloud.

The woman who submitted the question held little back. Her husband had died. She described her bleak financial situation and how her faith was shaken. She had emotion-packed questions. "How can I go on?" "Where do I begin to pick up the pieces?" "Where is God in all this?" "What am I to do now?"

And this hero of relentless faith, who had endured seasons of great loss and lived through some of this life’s most difficult trials and uncertain times, simply stated: “Just do the next thing.”

Perhaps to some her answer would be cold and cliché.

If the brokenhearted woman had said that to me, I would have rambled on about how sorry I was to hear her hardship and agreed with her that life isn’t fair and maybe she should find herself a good counselor with the little money she could scrape together to work through the stages of grief.......

But knowing the depths of what Elisabeth had lived through––how she knew what it was to have eaten the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction––gave us all reason to let her simple answer settle down into our souls.

Years have slipped by since I sat in the third row of that auditorium. And my faith hero went home to be with the Lord this year.

But those five simple words, "just do the next thing." I've hung on to them.

What does that look like?

Just wipe the next runny nose.

Just change out the next load of laundry.

Just hum the next song of thanks.

Just whisper the next prayer.

Just speak the next kind word.

Just do the next gracious act.

Just leave the outcome of this complicated situation to God and do the next thing in front of me.

When I, "just do the next thing...." ––there is peace.

And to know that all I have to do, is the next thing––it makes waiting on God a doable thing.

That friend? She and I were able to see a woman who allowed God to be God, in her life. And she gave us some practical advice on how to live that out.

Elisabeth Elliot made this anonymous poem famous. 

At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven that,
as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.

And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’
Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.

Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.
Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Do the next thing.
-Source Unknown

This post is in memory of Elisabeth Elliot. 1926-2015

She had a profound impact on many and I'm grateful to be one of those many.

Do you have a faith hero?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Heading Home

We didn’t plan it.

Cancer unfolded like it does for most everyone.  A single appointment. A phone call. An unsolicited path that takes you to places you didn’t want to travel.

It certainly wasn’t the first detour in my life. I suppose it won’t be the last.

This pilgrimage has taken me on long stretches of desolate highway. Both literally and in other ways.

In the beginning, the actual commutes were frequent and filled with barren miles and hours to think about life and faith and what is really important to do with the few years that are given to walk all of that out.

We were pushed to step out of our small town and comfortable home and journey to the city where my surgeon, oncologist and a team of professionals uses the newest technology and protocol.

For us, things in the city seemed to be in extremes. The sheer numbers of people. The rushing and hustle even while they ate or shopped. In traffic, there was either a complete disregard of speed limits or four-lane highway traffic creeping along, taking an hour to move a single mile.

The buildings towered and stretched out in confusing layers of rooms and doctors and tests. Yet they acted as if I were the most important person they would see all day.

I began to settle into this new edge, grateful for life and time with my husband.

We found ourselves enjoying the time, just us together. We stayed in great hotels and ate cuisine that isn’t available where we live. We walked streets with outdoor cafes and quaint shops and found our way to the rooftop cafe where they make guacamole at your table and serve fire-roasted fajitas that make all the senses come alive.

Much of the landscaping features amazing art and well-manicured flower gardens, all dotted with fountains, waterfalls, and small bridges which arch over trickling man-made streams. No matter where we visit every scene is laid against the stunning backdrop of snowcapped mountains.

These last five years have changed me and therefore, it has changed us. 

There were some things I knew in my head before that I wasn't actually living.

For starters, I was living as if life would always just––be.

The sun-will-rise-tomorrow and I-can-live-today-however-I-please, kind of thinking.

I went to church. I might even talk about God. However, I wasn't wholly sold out to what God was and is doing. And what He is doing is reconciling people to Himself through the love He demonstrated by sending His son, Jesus Christ.

Before this detour, I don't believe that I really loved people like I should. And while this is certainly still true, now my heart sees people differently than I did before.

I'm more convinced than ever before, that prayer is at the heart of real transformation. There is something about coming to grips with the fact that humans came from dust and will return to dust that makes dropping to my knees feel like the right place to be.

This season has settled issues I didn't even know were issues, in how I love my husband. Seeing how he was in it for the long haul, no matter what––has brought a sweetness to our marriage that I could not have understood when we nervously repeated the words, "...for the better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health..."

Because no one plans, on getting worse or poor or sick. And for that matter––old. 

If history is any indication, at best I’ve lived the better two-thirds of my life. If I live as long as my mom did? I've got seventeen years left to travel in this one body and live this one life. All I know is that the last seventeen years went by too fast.

No, I don't know what age I'll live to be, but I know that this body is a fragile vessel and this world is not my home.

Cancer taught me how to number my days. The New Living Translation of Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

This journey has brought me some wisdom and a new resolve.

It's like I've been given a second chance to write a better ending to my story.

God has graciously invited me to become more of who He intended me to be all along. Because that's how He is. God invites us to join Him in what He is doing in the world around us, instead of us just being around in the world. 

He has made me more and made me less.

More tender. More loving. More focused on what is really going to last.

Less hurried. Less tangled in what this world says is important.

I've learned how great things and change doesn't happen in my comfort zone.

It seems like every time we travel this desolate piece of  highway it happens. We enjoy the time but are always ready to turn the car toward home.

So for hours, we drive.

We might talk about what we've seen and done or what the days coming hold when we get home. Sometimes we drive in happy silence, grateful to have time for our minds to be lost in our own thoughts. But as dusk settles over us, and the final leg of the journey still lies ahead, we get restless.  

We have to reset our focus and our intent. We find ourselves looking for something that will give us a boost of energy for the final miles and sometimes we turn up the volume on the music. Mindless coasting isn't enough to get us home.

That's how I'm feeling about the days I'm living. As if there is an urgency to press in. A need to adjust the focus on what is truly important. A longing to shed more of what will be lost when this life is over and an urgency to do more of what will last.

This week. In the busy days that are hushed compared to the season that is coming––I am so thankful.

Thankful for the countless blessings of health and people and the sheer abundance I enjoy in this life.

But this holiday I'm more aware of this journey I'm on and how the road will someday lead me to my real home. Until then, I want to press into living these days well.

So tell me?

What detours has life taken you on?

How has God rewritten your story?

What is pressing on your heart as truly important today?

A song to turn up loud?

Monday, November 16, 2015

About Rockets and "Rawrs"

The advertising may have slightly, completely exaggerated.

The photograph on the box displayed a shimmering jet stream shooting from the cosmic rocket that was being propelled into outer space, bursting past planets and ring-like orbits on its way to the firmaments of heaven.

This same box claimed in bold print, "This rocket experience could be life-changing and would inspire all young scientists."

This may have led to unrealistic expectations. 

I personally knew little about formal physics before last Monday. That whole, thing about, "an object at rest will remain at rest, or an object in motion will keep moving in a straight line unless a force come to act upon them?"

What I have pondered, is why Isaac Newton had such an odd hair-do choice and carried the title of "Sir" in front of his name instead of Dr. or even plain ol' Mr.

A bout of laryngitis was the other problem I had on this rocket launching day. I didn't feel terribly awful, I just couldn't talk. Not having a voice was a complete inconvenience to me, but to the six littles in my house, it was the best day ever.

I had no idea, the joy and freedom small children could feel when the only adult in their life could only speak an occasional raspy word. To which they always replied, "What?"

In hopes of establishing a working survival sign language for the day, I called a huddle. It turned into a bad game of charades. Thumbs up seemed like a perfect way to say, "Yes." Thumbs down would obviously be the opposite.

The problem with sign language is that people have to pay attention to the one who is silently waving their hands around.

So I had to find a rhythm in listening and just being present. 

It was profound.

With only a small amount of hushed coaxing, the seven, six, five, four, three, and one-year-old kiddos became a rocket launching team. It seems appropriate.

They took turns doing the different tasks of preparing the launch pad, loading rocket fuel (baking soda and vinegar) and filming the results. My little man Max, and his favorite-toy-ever were in the center of it all.  He loves dinosaurs, but calls them "rawrs." Max and his "rawr" were the search-and-rescue duo for rocket parts. I found myself amused.

The smallest girl was happy to run the perimeters making gurgling toddler-like noises. All of which I may have noticed because I wasn't messing up the noise level with my own voice.

After coming to grips with the reality that their rocket would never actually make it into orbit, they problem solved, why the rocket would lift off and fall over on its side compared to the times it lifted higher and flew into the yard.

What they figured out? Less was actually more. Less baking soda plus the correct amount of vinegar gave the most success.

Maybe physics is important.

They did this again. And again. And again.

The six of them laughing and working together. Me without words, admiring them.

We were winning at life.

As an adult, I get caught up in the daily, mundane, routines and forget to be fully present in life. Or I'm multi-tasking when I should be paying attention to what is the most important and currently happening.

As I wordlessly lived that beautiful, busy day, I felt an increased urgency.

I long to fully embrace the short time I have with the people God has given to me to share this life with. I can't do that with my face buried in my social media or any of the other one thousand ways I can be distracted.

With and for my children and grandchildren. Yes!

I want to live in real-time, loving my husband with all my heart, living life with an open heart, pursuing God's heart. 

But I want to hear and notice the cashier at the check-out, the waitress in the restaurant and the person that came in late to slip unnoticed into the back row at church.

In a season that has increased awareness on the word, "thanks" and "giving" and "thankful living," I want to be focusing in on loving every soul that I have the privilege of coming in contact with.

I long for people (like you) to know that we are really all in this life together. Every soul is sacred. Every day spent cannot be refunded.

It's a noisy world and often times––things gets lost in that noise. I get lost in my own noise.

This all comes down to living wholehearted and present.

This week I've been holding on to what rockets and "rawrs" and silence have shown me.

How most of the glossy advertising of the world is a distorted non-reality.

How too often I have unrealistic expectations of just about everything.

How having a voice, speaking words, sharing words is a solemn gift that I need to appreciate, but being present without words is often all that is needed.

How being a mac and cheese flinging, nursery-rhyme singing, non-scientist-like women is a beautiful gift.

What if ordinary is what is sacred and God is the One who adds the extra to it?

The time is short. We aren't going to live forever. Just look at the dinosaurs.

One more thing that Sir Isaac Newton said?

"Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, 
and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things."

I'm beginning to think I like this guy.

This week maybe you would join me? 

Where ever we are, may we be all there. 
- - -

- - -
The days are fleeting. Grab hold of the moment friends.

And 5 seconds of sheer joy?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Every Day Heroes

Across the hustle of the busy restaurant, I noticed a petite woman sitting alone at a table for two. Her face was set straight ahead, lips pressed, while she cupped her water glass with both hands. Dark hair brushed the top of a white pin tucked blouse. It had been a half century since I last saw her. I remembered her soft her voice and how light streamed through floor length lace curtains in her Sunday school room. My favorite story was about the boy David and how he had faith to pick up a stone to take down the giant. The first tremors in my heart being awakened to Jesus happened in her class. When I glanced back her way, the place where she had been sitting, was empty. It made me wonder if she knew. Did she even have an idea that she made a difference? From looking at her, she didn't appear to feel like her life mattered.

Hebrews 11 has a long list of people who didn't see the fruit of their lives while they walked this earth. And those heroes of faith still haven't fully realized their impact, because it continues to unfold in history. Sometimes it helps to capture just a glimpse of the bigger picture, but I missed the opportunity to encourage her. It has made me think of others who've been like arrows in my life. Just living their lives, doing big and small things. There are of course countless women and men who have had an impact. But here are a few women that showed up on the scene at just the right time and kept me from thinking life was hopeless.

- - -

I was completely uncomfortable coming into her home to sit with the group of women gathered there, but the atmosphere soon melted away most of my fears. Their common bond was obvious, but not exclusive. Their laughs were deep and frequent. In the center of the table was an extravagant cake. I can’t remember what kind, I just know I’d never tasted one like it before or since. The woman who made the dessert had a great name like, “Corky,” and she was a writer.  I wanted to be her friend, even though I didn't write. Everyone talked about Jesus as if He were more than a story in the Bible. As if He were right there pulled up to the table with us. It wasn't long after that my life was turned upside down, but that day, I got a glimpse of women who loved Jesus, with elbows on the table, licking frosting off the edge of the platter. Thank you, Cherlyn Wahlgren. Thank you for being an awesome neighbor and for making a place at your table. Thank you for praying for me and for telling me how my life reminded you of Job. I had to read the chapter to find out who he was. It's still not my favorite chapter. Yours was my first women's Bible Study experience. It was a bit like the cake that was served. Savory and sweet and welcoming and tangible and memorable. Your hospitality may have been an everyday small thing to you, but it mattered in a very big way. 

- - -

She always sat quietly in the back row at church. I can’t explain it, but I invited myself to her house. She fussed over our lunch while I walked around her home looking at the things hung on her walls. Some were pictures of her family and some were canvases she had painted. Her husband had lost his short battle with cancer. Together they had served for decades on the mission field. Her modest home held reminders of their tender and beautiful story. We decided to study the book of John together. I talked her into reading to me in Spanish. She was reluctant, but agreed and it was beautiful. We took long walks and she opened my eyes to the detail and beauty all around us. Thank you for being open to sharing your life with me, Pauline Tallman. When you told me you were moving, I sobbed the ugly cry, my entire way home. For selfish reasons. It is a reminder to completely embrace the seasons we have with people. Our time together was a mix of mentor, friend and you gave me the nudge to start writing. You, the woman who was in the middle of writing a trilogy. Who can even say that? Your faith proven by fire encourages me still. {{Te Quiero.}} Forever.

 - - - 

When I met Janet, I was completely over what I knew of church and religion. (And all of heaven was applauding.) In fact, if it had been up to me I would not have walked into the building where she was the Pastors wife. That first Sunday, our family filed into the service fashionably late, with all our defenses drawn. But Janet Walker is the kind of woman who naturally disarms all pretense. She's like the super-hero of mercy.  She has eyes to see those others might pass by. She moves toward the broken and the shattered.  One day, she asked me to lead a Bible Study for women. I remember the script that ran through my head. The words were so clear that I may have actually said them out loud.  “If you knew how messed up I am, you would not be asking me to lead women in a study." Most likely she did know how messed up I was and she still asked. Bless her. She provided a sacred place to grow and learn and step my foot on the path to so many things. She saw in me what I could not see or believe in myself. Before knowing her, I didn't know that grace could reach that far. Thank you for your tender, beautiful life. Every little thing you do matters.

- - -

The woman who has consistently challenged me by the way she lives her one lovely life is my cherished friend Cherri Putz. We met because of food. Weird I know. Specifically bread. That could be a story by itself. Two decades later, I am profoundly in love with Jesus and she has helped me on that journey. She has a beautiful freedom about her that has a contagious effect on a soul.  That is what I needed to see lived. Not to hear about, but to see and experience the power of a changed life, impacting others to live out the reality of Jesus in this life. We have also shared adventures and the deepest secrets of blueberry shakes and tips for homemade bread. She has been a mentor, a friend, a confidant, and encourager. And when she prays it's like the sky spills over and rains grace.

- - -

You may not find their names in the top 100 of whos-who. But right where they were, amid the daily stuff, these women opened their doors, pulled another chair up to the table, threw arms around my neck and looked past what they could see on the outside, to invest in something eternal. It sounds daunting. But as I scraped macaroni and cheese off the last small plate, two of my granddaughters came into the kitchen, discussing how they wanted to play dress-up. One wanted to be a Princess and the other said she wanted to be a Hero-girl.

"But I don't know what a hero-girl does," said the Princess.

"They do small things to help people," answered the Hero-girl. 

My granddaughters already understand a truth that people have been teaching me for years.

"Do small things with great love."

Can you name some of the people that have impacted your life?

Have you let them know?

Monday, November 2, 2015

How To Buy Once And Give Twice

It’s the second day in November (okay you probably know that) and the holiday shopping season has officially kicked off.   

I wrestle with the reality that I will be part of this buying frenzy, even though no one in my family needs more stuff, just for the sake of more stuff, to fill our homes and closets and garages.

I want Christmas to be a sweet time. I want to give thoughtful, beautifully wrapped gifts and to focus on what really matters. 

Doing the important things like, eating handcrafted cookies, sipping hot chocolate piled high with real whipped cream, while the whole family gathers around our artificial tree.  

The astounding truth is, last year over the few weeks between right now and Christmas, we Americans spent almost 500 billion dollars. This year, sales are expected to be up by 3.7 percent. 

That is a lot of buying. And presumably a lot of giving.  

This report from ABC News makes a bold claim: if we each spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs.

If buying, "Made in America," could have that kind of impact on our economy, the implication is of course that much of what we purchase from big-box stores is not American made. The problem with this is as deep and wide as the pile of money we spend on stuff, but ultimately when our stuff is cheap, someone was not paid a fair wage to make it.

I've heard of buying fair-trade products and purchasing from socially conscious vendors. I shared this woman's heart for it here. But have still been unsure how to move in that direction in a tangible way.

Then my friend Cherri mentioned how her family was seeking to give gifts from only fair-trade resources this year. I loved the idea, and after a few months of letting the beauty of that to settle over my heart, I wondered how to take this super-sized subject and shrink it down to do-able thing?

Well, I want you to meet someone who is quietly, beautifully showing me how to step off the path of just, "buying stuff" and moving toward, "intentional purchasing." It's a subject that could easily be explored every day until Christmas Day, but today, we are going to peek at how we can say YES to small-business owners and aspiring artisans. In doing this we can actually wrap our arms around the world and allow our purchases to impact the lives of those we love, as well as the lives of those who crafted the gifts.

Win. Win. Two for one. Buy once and give twice.

Meet Sara. She is a  "momtrepreneur," who makes exquisite, handcrafted items and is also a Noonday Ambassador. 
Sara is modeling a necklace from the Noonday Collection
Sara shares her heart about the how and the why, behind this idea of fair-trade and using our dollar buying power to count in the bigger scheme of things. Keep reading. Her words touched me to tears, and I believe they will bless you too.

From  Sara:
"The poverty that runs rampant in 3rd world countries obliterates the kind of opportunities most of us have in America.  The consequent break-down in social structure serves to further the devastation, with people in power abusing those without.  Unethical working conditions are accepted, even expected, as men and women will do whatever work is available when there are hungry mouths at home.  At varying degrees, this could mean unfair wages, unsafe work environments or even modern-day slavery as seen in sex trafficking.  

In contrast to the popular idea that money can solve this issue, it's becoming clear in recent years that no amount of money in the world can get to the heart of the poverty crisis:  a lack of dignity.

Short-term missions and monetary donations are wonderful and I do not discourage this way of giving; but to be cliche; in order to perpetuate the "teach a man to fish" ideal we need to encourage hard work and fair wages.  

Noonday Collection has been built upon this intention.

Noonday partners with businesses in developing countries who have the same vision.  Many small businesses dream about growing and expanding to be able to employ their fellow countrymen, their neighbors and relatives.  They don't lack vision, talent or intelligence.  They simply lack a large enough marketplace.  

That's where Noonday Collection comes in.  They don't employ any artisans or businesses; instead they partner with them through design, collaboration or even no-interest loans, giving that small business the tools it needs to grow itself out of it's own limitations. 

One of my favorite examples of this is the story of Jalia and Daniel in Uganda.  They were the first business that Noonday partnered with, and really, how it all started.  They hired 10 people to complete the first big order to send to America and now they employ over 300 people in their community (through both daily employment and contractual training, if you will).  This year they watched their dream come true when they opened an on-site daycare, offering FREE childcare to their employees.  This is unheard of, and it literally bring tears to my eyes just typing it out.  

They are the longest-standing partners with Noonday and the rest are in varying stages of this same intentional model.

Noonday partners with businesses in 12 different developing countries.

Noonday Collection is a member of the Fair Trade Federation which means, in their business dealings they adhere to a high moral and ethical standard.  But they go so much further than that, truly working toward and desiring to restore dignity to a broken social structure and impoverished communities.  They are literally changing the world, and every trunk show is an opportunity to create a marketplace for these artisans and an increasing demand for handmade, fair trade products in the US.  This furthers their job security and connects us all across the world.  It's just beautiful. 

Purchasing handmade and fair trade items creates a sense of responsibility and awareness.

When I wear a handmade scarf, I can think about the possibility of it being woven by a young mama in Guatemala.  When I wear pieces from Ethiopia, I love knowing that they are made from melted-down artillery from their own fields.  The redemptive story of beauty from ashes is tangibly strung around my neck.  

This vision is catching, and certainly Noonday is not the only company to be making waves.

Here is a company that promotes Fair Trade and Made In The USA companies.

They have a long list of well-researched companies that meet their standards.  

I am not familiar with everything on this list but here are a few I know of or am interested in: In the slums of Guatemala there is a shoemaker named Otto and he employs and trains men and women coming out of gang situations.  They make shoes.  AMAZING shoes.  You can read more about the company and about the founder. (an American.):

(My mom has at least 2 pairs and I think it may be 3 now... )

Elegantees is a socially-responsible company that employs women who are coming out of the sex trade.  Finding ethical employment is ESSENTIAL to maintaining their freedom from that life.

I just ran across this Fair Trade kids clothing brand yesterday and I am itching to peruse it:

If you like luxury plus minimalism, this company is for you:

Another way to shop intentionally is to shop second hand, either locally or from online companies like

Part of the journey is simply being aware.  Less "buying" and more "intentionally purchasing".  If that makes sense?  

As far as gifts and holiday purchasing go, I LOVE the concept that by one purchase I can both gift a friend AND support an artisan or maker.  

There are tons of handmade items here in the US, too!"  


In addition to being a Noonday Ambassador herself, Sara has a beautiful blog: 

Sara loves to make natural products and encourage people, especially mamas, about options to adopt a simpler and more pro-active lifestyle. 

She hand crafts products that are made in small batches, with quality ingredients. I can personally testify that they are amazing.   

She is having an open house this Friday.  She will feature pieces from the Noonday Collection, as well as Made in the USA and handmade, hand crafted items as well.  

If you live in my area and are interested, contact me and I will hook you up. The beauty of this, is how you can choose to stay at home in your most comfortable clothes and shop.

These pictures are some of Sara's favorite pieces from the Noonday Collection. She does have an eye for style doesn't she?

Photo courtesy of Noonday Collection
Photo courtesy of Noonday Collection

- - -

The following photos are of some of Sara's handcrafted products. 
The healing salve is amazing.

So, this is just a small primer if you will, to fair-trade purchasing. A tiny peek into the why and some resources to get you started in the how.

What if this year we all made a slight shift in how we use our purchasing power to bless those we care about and invest in others at the same time?

That really is giving twice with a single purchase.

And remember. There are only 52-ish days of Christmas shopping left.

Do you have resources to share as we embark on this season of buying and giving?

What if this year could be different in how we bless others?

I would love to add your ideas to this list of resources!

© Rhonda Quaney