Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The heart of Noonday: Adoption

Adoption is expensive.

I have friends who are constantly fundraising to meet rigid deadlines.  I can image it is a daunting endeavor and not for the weak at heart.  The price tag along is enough to send some people running the opposite direction.

Adoption can cost anywhere from $10,000 - $30,000, and yes, domestic adoptions can be expensive, too.  Some families opt to invest in the health of the uninsured mom, so they cover her medical fees. Then, there are agency fees and dossier fees and referral fees and country fees and fees for things I don't even understand.

Families spend their paychecks to provide homes for children who they aren't even biologically related to, all in the name of LOVE.  

Adoption requires sacrifice.  After all, aren't we, as believers, also adopted by way of a loving God who allowed his Son to die so we could live?

Since November is National Adoption Month, I wanted to share how you can help Noonday Collection alleviate the financial burden for adoptive families.  Jessica Honneger, Noonday's founder, started Noonday as a means to bring her adopted son home from Rwanda.

Not only do your friends get to shop for super cute accessories, a portion of EVERY purchase goes toward adoptive families who are making a special home for an abandoned or unplanned child!

[ shop at www.elizabethbricknell.noondaycollection.com and select "Elizabeth Bricknell" as your Ambassador on the checkout page.  By shopping through my site, you're even helping me raise money to visit our artisans next summer! ]

As a hostess of a Noonday trunk show, you can donate your hostess rewards to benefit a family in the midst of their fundraising process.  Noonday will write a check for 10% of sales to help cover costs and the hostess gets the opportunity to shop at 50% off!

Do you know someone who is adopting who would benefit from some additional funds?  I'd love to partner with you to bring their child home.  All you have to do is open up your home and invite your friends to shop.  I'll do the rest (or find your local Ambassador to do the rest)!  There are nearly 400 ambassadors all over the country who would love to help.  Email me and I'll connect you: bricknell.elizabeth@gmail.com

Are you an adoptive mama?  You can host a trunk show, too!  
Plus, I've partnered with my friend Heather and she's graciously giving away my favorite Noonday necklace & a beautiful t-shirt to celebrate YOU!

If you are an adoptive mom or know someone else who is, "like" Heather's "Love is Waiting" Facebook Page and comment on the image to win the La Jolla Necklace (providing living wages for the poor in Ecuador) AND this Love is Waiting t-shirt!  (Retail value: $102)

Heather's shop, Love is Waiting, raises funds for adoptive families through t-shirt sales.  Aren't her designs lovely?!

Heather & other adoptive parents: I greatly respect and admire you.  You have much to teach me about taking care of people who are not "blood."  Thank you for the example you set; may I have the courage to follow your lead in my own journey.

Now what are you waiting for?!  Go enter the GIVEAWAY!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Our Journey: The Two Year Mark

I remember the date clearly:  October 1st, 2011.

We'd been married for two years and took a belated Anniversary vacation to Sun River for a quiet weekend away.  It was there that Paul told me he was ready to start a family.  It was there that we sat in the hot tub and dreamed together about our future children, prayed for wisdom in parenting, prayed for their future spouse, and cried tears of joy together that we were both ready to be parents.

We were ready to embark on the biggest adventure of our married lives.
We were ready to share our lives/home/families with another.
We were welcoming the challenge and the adventure.

Naive as it sounds, we were not ready for the waiting which lied ahead.

What I didn't fathom at the time or prepare myself for (who does?), was the time in which it would take for our dream to become a reality.  The "pregnant pause," if you will.

Two years of frustrating appointments and health complications.
Various approaches to natural medicine.  Acupuncture, chiropractic visits, a no-sugar diet.
Herbal teas and supplements.
Prenatal vitamins, ovulation predictor kits and an unreal amount of feminine products.
Prescribed medication.
Two painful, invasive procedures.  Blood tests which have yet to show improvement.
And lots & lots of waiting...all while teenagers within my community are having babies outside of marriage and I'm having none.

Ironically and unintentionally, we found ourselves at Sun River during the exact same weekend as we had been two years prior.  Two years ago, I would have fully expected we'd be with child by now -- if not in our arms, then at least in my belly.

Instead, we were still uttering the same the same prayer that has occupied our lips, minds, and hearts for the past 730+ days.

730 DAYS.

During that time, I have identified with the woman in the Bible who suffered from prolonged bleeding.  I could picture myself reaching out to touch Jesus' cloak as he walked by, believing in His healing power.  There have been moments where I genuinely, without a shadow of a doubt, believed the timing was now.  And I've been wrong over and over again.

I have identified with the persistent widow who prayed until the judge changed his mind.  I have found myself questioning why I still have to plead with God to give me the deepest desire of my heart when He already knows it all too well.

God is delaying the answer to my need which has caused me to consider how I receive God's silence.  Do I trust God in the delay?  Could I be right where he wants me to be, right now?

I've been reflecting on the story of Lazarus, thanks to some notes from summer camp.

Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, yet he stayed put for two days and let him die.  My finite mind immediately thinks "Jesus could have saved him!  Why did he put so many people through the misery and mourning of his death when He could've stopped it?"  Of course, Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, knows best.  It's the Sunday school answer and it's the truth.  There is always purpose and God is always right on time.  Even in my situation.

I am well aware that I am not alone in my journey of infertility, which is why I'm sharing about it on my blog.  It's a way for me to process and for others to identify.

In case you haven't asked lately or haven't known how to bring it up, I hope this is helpful. We could get pregnant tomorrow and I'd still be glad I wrote today.  I am growing increasingly more aware of the pain of delayed answers and know I can relate to some people better because of it, whether it's about wanting a baby or not.

I'm sad sometimes, and growing our family is on my mind every. single. day.  But I'm ok.  I really am.

I have the best husband of 4 years who believes FOR me when it's hard to believe for myself.
I have an incredible community of prayer warriors who are pleading my cause.
I have a business that has renewed my joy, purpose and calling and I am dressing up to go grocery shopping "just in case someone asks me about my jewelry so I can tell them about our artisans."
I'm making silly music videos with my 9th grade small group girls and winning awards because of it.
I am running 4 days a week with a friend.

I'm learning and growing and becoming.
And all the more ready to be a mom.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hosting a trunk show + Noonday Collection {GIVEAWAY}

UPDATE: Thank you for stopping by the Noonday Collection blog train and for partnering with us along the way to bring hope and opportunity to the oppressed!
The giveaway is closed and a winner has randomly been chosen!  Congratulations to Ellen G. for winning the Inca Steps Necklace in the color of her choice! For your chance to win something else, follow the links at the bottom of this post for giveaways that may still be open!

If I’m not talking about it, I’m wearing it. And if I’m not wearing it…I’m probably sleeping. 

And that is NO exaggeration!

That’s right: it’s Noonday -- the jewelry that has taken over my dresser, my husband’s dresser, the bathroom counter, the window sill above the kitchen sink and the guest room. 

It’s the most jewelry I’ve ever worn...at one time. 

(Instagram users, search the hashtags: #ambassadorarmparty and #ambassadorstyle right now!)

It’s also the biggest, most beautiful jewelry I’ve ever owned. 

It's the only jewelry strangers have ever stopped me about and I don't leave the house without it for that very reason.  Every compliment is an opportunity to advocate!


Our brand NEW Fall/Winter product line was just released with beautiful hand-knit alpaca scarves from Peru and hand-carved water-buffalo horn bracelets and necklaces from Vietnam.

Today’s stop on the blog train {34 giveaways in 34 days} focuses on the importance of TRUNK SHOWS.

With the Christmas season quickly approaching, I am more determined than ever to provide gift-giving alternatives so we can be a resounding voice this year in the marketplace...all over the world.  One easy, practical way you can amplify your voice this shopping season is to partner with your local ambassador and host a trunk show!

What is a trunk show?
A trunk show is a gathering of women that helps create pathways out of poverty for vulnerable and oppressed families around the world. The artisans we represent handcraft distinct accessories out of repurposed materials like bullets, paper and seeds. Your ambassador will bring awareness to issues of poverty and injustice around the world by styling you and your friends with accessories that provide longterm change of sustainable income + hope!

I have had INCREDIBLE response within my community about hosting trunk shows. You know who you are: Thank you for trusting me and inviting me into your home to share.  Because of your hospitality, birth mommies are keeping their children, girls are receiving scholarships and food is on the table.  You are changing the world.

I understand the hesitation of not wanting to host.  Maybe you can identify with some of these, and perhaps I can help change your mind?

1) I don’t want to be a pushy salesperson.
I’m glad! I don’t either. I always tell my guests there is NO pressure to purchase anything. As you invite your guests, emphasize the awareness component of Noonday and invite people regardless of their intention to buy anything. Before I became an ambassador, I had never hosted a direct sales party, nor had I been to very many. In fact, most of my hostesses never have either!  It doesn't take much to convince them that this isn't your average jewelry party.

2) My house isn’t big enough!
Having a small house doesn’t disqualify you from being a rockstar hostess. If space is legitimately an issue and you have a larger guest list, consider co-hosting with a friend and using her home instead. Or, look into hosting it after hours at your favorite coffee shop.

3) I’m afraid I won’t be able to get enough people to come to make it worth your while.
Yes, we want to share Noonday with as many people as possible. However, even a small turnout can start a domino effect of awareness! I am telling you -- people I just met are changing their shopping habits because for the first time, they are understanding the importance of fair trade. It only takes one convinced guest to host a future trunk show and the results are exponential! 

Besides, a small turnout does not equal small impact! Check out these figures from actual trunk shows:
  • 2 guests showed up, yet she still qualified for $97 in free stuff after a few “no-shows” ordered. 
  • An inspired, motivated hostess collected over $800 in outside orders! She passionately shared her enthusiasm for Noonday’s mission and her friends jumped at the opportunity to help. Some of them were already thinking ahead to Christmas gifts, and it was only June!
  • A woman, whom I had never met, called me from her hospital room after her friend had dropped off a look book.  She did her Christmas shopping and placed a $600+ order! 
  • An adopting family’s support system rallied behind her and hosted five adoption fundraisers over five months, where Noonday was able to pay almost all the foster care expenses for her son while he was still in the Democratic Republic of Congo! 
  • One gal had never considered adoption until she went to a trunk show. God stirred her heart, and over the course of the next year, she had five adoption trunk shows raising $1000 to bring her son home from overseas! 

Don’t you see? Orphaned children and impoverished families are waiting for someone to use their voice on their behalf. Hosting a trunk show is one way you can use your voice! Do not listen to satan’s lies and disqualify yourself from this life-changing experience. Vulnerable people around the world are depending on us.  On me.  On you.
Your ambassador will coach you through the invitation process and help you think about all the people you encounter on a regular basis. 

Think outside the box: Your hair stylist who is always wearing funky jewelry.  (My hair stylist is my biggest fan!)  Your child’s teacher and parents from daycare or PTO or sports team.  Your favorite barista!

4) My friends can’t afford Noonday.
Most often, shopping fair trade means spending a little bit more money. It will probably mean buying less items less frequently and deciphering the difference between “needs” and “wants.”

Personally, this is a no-brainer for me. A screaming deal most likely means the person who made it was not getting paid enough for their work. I cringe when I see sale racks with rock-bottom prices of $3.98 for shirt. There is NO way that product can be made that cheaply unless an expense was eliminated somewhere along the line. Think about it: the fabric, notions and labor involved, not to mention overhead costs at the factory in which it was produced, and the cost to have it shipped to your local store, set up on a display by other employees and the operating expenses of the retail shop.  Someone is not getting paid fairly.  (Read my previous post titled: The Costly Bargain.)

Thankfully, Noonday Collection offers a wide range of products for the shopper on a budget (like me)! 
If you or your friends fall in love with a budget-buster piece, they can host the next trunk show and buy it for half price, or get it for free!

5) I love the mission of Noonday, but the products “aren’t me.” If you love the mission of Noonday, let that be why you host. You don’t have to love accessories to be a voice for the voiceless. Accessories are simply a platform to advocate, but it’s not why we do what we do. It’s ALL about the artisans.

If our artisans were knitting toilet seat covers to rise out of poverty, you better believe I’d still be encouraging you to host a trunk show – whether you were in the market for a cover or not. (knitted toilet seat covers would be way harder to sell, though.)

Chances are good that you have friends that love accessories or you have birthday/Christmas shopping to do.

6) I don’t have any idea how to a host a trunk show and wouldn’t even know where to begin Your ambassador will help you! You will be well equipped with a hostess document full of easy worksheets and tools to get your friends excited and your creative juices flowing. We supply the invitations and look books to hand out, as well as create a Facebook invitation or Evite. All you have to do is add friends to your guest list or plug in their email addresses.

As for the actual event, we bring the displays and jewelry. All you need is a tv and dvd player (if possible) and a table to let her work her magic and set things up. Sips and snacks are up to you. You don’t even have to make that new recipe on Pinterest. Seriously. Who doesn’t love chips and salsa, anyway?!

7) I’m too busy. I get it. Family time is sacred and weekends and evenings are precious! You don’t have to host right away; put something on the calendar for a couple months from now so you can plan accordingly. Consider tying a trunk show in to something you and your friends already do together instead of fitting in something “extra.”

Do you already gather together once a week for morning play dates? Invite your ambassador to your play group so she can set up her displays and tell artisan stories.

Do you have a small group/Bible study/book club? “Donate” a night to poverty awareness and let your ambassador do her thing!

Invite Noonday to your workplace during the lunch hour. Provide sandwiches and invite your coworkers to eat in.

Bring some meaning to your special event and throw a combined party! A “housewarming with a purpose” party. A “buy something for yourself for my birthday” party. (The birthday girl will earn a % of sales in free stuff.)

So, how about it?  Will you host?  Or find a friend to co-host with?
I'm offering a special incentive to anyone (within reasonable driving distance) who partners with me by hosting by October 31st.  *details below*  If you don't live near southwest Washington, I'd be happy to connect you with an ambassador near you.  Simply leave me a comment below!

I'm giving away one of my favorite statement necklaces today!  If you win this, I guarantee you will have the opportunity to share Noonday Collection with someone because they will ask you about your necklace.  You get to choose the color: coral or teal!  (It's made out of tagua seeds in Ecuador.) 
Retail value: $72


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Noonday Collection Fall/Winter LAUNCH + {giveaways}

Ana is a 25 year old entrepreneur living in Guatemala working full time weaving scarves while earning her MBA.

Bukenya, from Uganda, recently got married and is saving money to buy land to build a home for him and his new wife.

Olivia is a hard-working mother who once was on the verge of abandoning her beloved daughter at an orphanage.  Her life radically changed when she started rolling paper beads for African Style and now her daughter is at home where she belongs because her mom can finally afford to care for her.


Noonday Collection really is creating pathways out of poverty through dignified job creation for the world's most vulnerable and you and I get to be part of it!  Purchasing from Noonday Collection enables people to earn fair wages and empowers them to not only receive an education and go to college, but pull others out of poverty as well.  The vicious cycle of poverty is breaking with every accessory purchased.

Have you checked out the BRAND NEW Fall/Winter look book yet?  It launched yesterday and it's breath-taking.  Every piece is painstakingly crafted with so much detail and love.

Scarf season is around the corner and we've got you covered.  What better way to cozy up on dreary days, than with alpaca and hand-woven cotton dip-dyed using natural, ancient techniques?

Spruce up your wardrobe with a statement necklace.  You will certainly turn some heads and with every paid compliment, YOU get the opportunity to share how your purchase creates jobs for people living in poverty in Uganda, India, Ecuador, Ethiopia, etc.

From leather, upcycpled artillery, precious stones and cow horn, earrings are an easy way to add a pop to any outfit and strike up a conversation while you stand in line at Target, the post office, or at work.

Noonday Collection is known for its "arm parties."  That's code for layering, stacking, mixing and matching bracelets.  The more, the merrier!

Zip on over to my website and start making your wish list.  (Christmas isn't too far away, you know!)  If you're on a tight budget like me, your list is bigger than your bank account can handle.  Do not be discouraged...partner with me to host a trunk show by October 31 and be entered to win $100 off your order!  Leave me a comment below or send me an email to book yours: bricknell.elizabeth@gmail.com

Additionally, check out these {generous giveaways} sponsored by Noonday Ambassadors around the country for your chance to win a piece or two for free.  Each day will point you to the next day's giveaway...for the next 34 days!

Two giveaways are currently open, starting here with Krista's blog from yesterday, and linking to Alicia's blog today.

August 28:  Krista Box- www.thegirlwhosaidyes.blogspot.com 
August 29: Alicia Hale- www.raisingalittlehale.blogspot.com 
August 30: Stephanie Nunes- www.nunespartyofthree.blogspot.com 
August 31: Natalie Perry- www.perrysplate.com 
Sept. 1: Laura Walton- www.runningwithpurpose.blogspot.com

Welcome aboard the Noonday Blog Train.  Enjoy the ride that changes lives!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Costly Bargain

The mound of clothes on my bed horrifies me.  I really need to hang them up and do laundry instead of scooping them to the foot of the bed so I can climb under the covers at night.  But that's beside the point.  I'm horrified for reasons beyond my messy room.  I just checked the tags of 20 or so articles:

Made in China.
Made in Pakistan.
Made in Hong Kong.
Made in India.
Made in Vietnam.
Made in Taiwan.
Made in Guatemala.
Made in Thailand.

I'm afraid I've been ruined...again.

First, it was my awakening to the billion dollar sex-slave industry where women (even men) and children are bought and sold for sex and money.  This has me alarmingly aware of my vocabulary, the movies I watch and the jokes I once tolerated about "pimps" and "sluts" and "prostitues."  I have a heightened awareness for those lacking safe, viable economic options who are forced into prostitution simply to care for their children and feed their families.  I weep over movies like "Taken," and "Pretty Woman."  I have an affinity for products made by women who have escaped the industry.  I began purchasing thoughtful gifts and advocating for these ladies every chance I could.  I claimed the phrase "with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility" as my own by genuinely trying to use what I've seen to educate others.

Much to my dismay, I was blind to a different type of slavery until this year.  I've been bragging about bargains and relishing in my comfortable consumerism for far too long.  And I'm embarrassed to admit I've justified so many of my purchases.

I have found myself uttering the following:
At least it was on sale.
Others have more.
We have a small house, so I can't have thaaaat much stuff.
I have less than *insert more fortunate person's name here*

So, when I started working with Noonday Collection, I just had to change my shopping habits.  Especially after reading article upon article about the factory collapse in Bangladesh.  The factory that produces cheap clothes for American consumers, catering to our "Is it on sale?" shopping mentality.

Here I was, made so aware of people working in SAFE working conditions, creating AFFORDABLE things, that tell BEAUTIFUL stories of hope and redemption through Noonday Collection.  In between placing orders from customers and advocating for families living in poverty, I was drowning in my own heap of corruption and consumerism evidenced by the pile on my bed.  Not to mention, crying over images like these:

 Here, family members cover their noses from the stench of death as they try to identify corpses recovered from the collapse.

 This woman was recovered ALIVE after 17 days of being buried in the rubble.

This couple was found dead, embracing each other in the rubble after the factory collapsed.

And to think THIS reality is behind most of the clothes on my bed, whether they were produced in Bangladesh or not.  I am part of the problem and I am so not okay with that.  My spending and bargain-hunting habits have contributed to a corrupt society of "saving money" at the expense of 1000+ deaths.

My shopping habits have been frozen.  I'm petrified to purchase anything that was made from forced labor, yet I know I can't and won't be able to avoid it all.  I'm second-guessing my new camera purchase (happy birthday to me)... and I'm almost sick when I think about the hands who made it and the working conditions in which it could have been produced.

I don't know about you, but I can NOT keep buying what I've been buying without knowing it was ethically produced.  The tension I'm facing is moving me to a place of action which is what I implore of ALL my friends and family members.

I read this article from Relevant Magazine when I first learned of the collapse a month ago and it's haunted me ever since:
Evangelicals are excellent at organizing boycotts and protests, or, in the case of Chick-fil-A, massive showings of ideological and consumer power. But it seems that Christians are slow to speak clearly and loudly against atrocities like this one. Evangelicals once attempted to boycott Disney for offering health benefits to the same-sex partners of employees. But with Disney items found in the rubble at Tazreen (it is a small world, after all), will Christians speak up? Will they to leverage their considerable cultural and financial capital on behalf of those for whom families now grieve? Does the professed Christian faith of the Walton family cover the fact that their everyday low prices are tainted with the ashes of the poverty-stricken mothers and fathers who produce them? Does it simply sound too risky for evangelicals to insist upon laws and upon consumer habits that protect the life and the flourishing of the already-born, whether within our borders or across the globe? Have evangelical political commitments become so circumscribed that we cannot discern, much less name, the moral outrage of poor people dying so that rich people can become richer?
If those Bangladeshis were all still in their mothers’ wombs they would have been deemed worthy of concern by evangelicals in this country. However, by being born they disqualified themselves from such consideration. 
We must advocate for the lives and flourishing for all people at every stage of life, including those to whom we've outsourced our jobs. This isn't just being globally aware or even mindful. It's simply decent. Simply Christian.
Where are we, Christ followers, in these factories?  Are we shopping the sales and feeding the demand for cheap labor and blue light specials?  Or are we using our voices to speak up for the voiceless and demand a better way?  There are 27 MILLION people working as slaves today.  That's more slaves than at any other time in history.  That number alone should make us abandon our old spending habits

I commit to spending the year leading up to my 30th birthday (and beyond) on behalf of the oppressed.

Spending less, giving more thoughtfully, advocating more passionately.

We, as consumers, and ESPECIALLY as Christians, have a responsibility to use our purchasing power for good.  Where we spend our money communicates our values in the marketplace.  If we continue to spend money on things that are produced by forced labor, we are devaluing our brothers and sisters and saying that our saved pennies are more important than their spent lives.

It's not going to be easy, but most important things aren't a breeze and this is something I'm committed to wrestling with from here on out.  I hereby commit to:

  1. Buying less.  I am struggling to draw a line between wants and needs.  Our consumeristic society blurs these lines and I am going to fight it.  I definitely do not need anything that was made by slaves.  As it is, I have 50-some slaves working for me based on what is already in my humble abode.  Gross.  How many are working for you?
  2. Purchasing second-hand clothing/shoes/etc.  Used is better than new because, if only by a little bit, it keeps me from perpetuating the corrupt industry by demanding new things.  I vote every day with every dollar I spend, because how I spend my money communicates my values.  
  3. Refusing to buy new clothes unless they are fair-trade certified.  This calls for drastic measures at Target... so I've already created a detour to avoid the Target clothing section because their stuff is so tempting...and so cheap.  See the problem?
  4. Publishing a list of fair trade resources to encourage others to purchase ethically produced items.  (I already have suggestions for clothing, prescription glasses, and gifts.)
  5. Encouraging the church to evaluate our spending habits. I'm talking fair-trade chocolate at Halloween, ethically-produced summer camp t-shirts, etc.  Imagine what this could communicate to our kids and our families and the WORLD.
What is it going to take for us to speak up?  We cannot wait for another collapse, another fire, another... Are you with me?

Isaiah 58: 6-12 
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I have never loved you more.

"He cheated on me."
I received this text on Valentine's day, just days away from our impending double date. 

I doubted her at first.  He's a God-fearing man, a dad, a church volunteer, a life-long Christian.  He comes from a solid family and has an amazing, beautiful wife.  How could he?

Fast forward several months and the you-know-what was still hitting the fan.  A story that would have been "bad enough" to begin with somehow kept getting worse.  Pornography, prostitution, flirting, affair(s).  Lying and cheating.

Since then, I've learned even more stories of how satan is wreaking havoc on marriages.  Some are friends, some are friends of friends.  All are Jesus-fearing, heart-broken, devastated wives, reeling from the reality of sin.

News of recent brokenness left me speechless.  And then another.  And another.
The story is similar.  A father, husband, leader...a Christian.

I sat at the kitchen table, stunned at the news of another.  Tears burning with anger and sadness and disbelief dripping hotly down my cheeks.  I swallowed hard and stared forward, memorizing the colors of the vibrant painting hanging over our table.

Paul fidgeted.  He'd known for a while about the shambles of this particular marriage, and just broke the news to me.  Still, I sat.  Frozen with emotion and questions.  Wondering how this could happen to them.  Paralyzed with fear and doubt.

I feared my own relationship with the man sitting beside me.  The one who also loves God, serves in church, has a solid family, has integrity.  The man who chose me.  If these other men could keep such filth hidden, absolutely secretive, for so many years, could I, too, be blindsided by my own partner-for-life?  If I've learned anything over the past year of other's heartache, it's that no one is exempt from the devil's schemes and temptation.  No one.  Not even my pastor husband or me, the pastor's wife.

Knowing full well that our marriage is not off limits from the evil one, I squeaked out a question ridden with sincerity and fear: "how do we keep this from happening to us?"  

A handful of times over the five years we've known each other, my husband and I have confessed pieces of our past to each other.  Little things and big things.  All things, that when kept as skeletons in our closet, keep us from being perfectly unified in marriage.  This was one of those times when a skeleton came out.  Not a skeleton of cheating, but a skeleton nonetheless.  Sin lost its power and significance as it was brought into the light.  Shadows of guilt and shame disappeared as the power of Truth broke chains of bondage.

Still, I sat.  But this time there was more than a lump in my throat.  I choked out sobs and coughs and hurts and choked on love and mercy and grace...and freedom from the power of sin that would no longer hold me or my husband prisoner.

We embraced, holding each other tight, as though we were squeezing satan out.  His sorrow, humbleness and repentant heart gave way to a fierce love for my husband.  Overcome with deep love and affection for the man who just bared his sole, an overwhelming peace and joy consumed me.  I spoke confidently: "You want to know something?  I have never loved you more than I do right now." 

He looked at me and blinked.  Insta-tears pooled in the corner of his baby blue eyes. "How is that possible?" he whispered.

It's possible because I'm made in the image of the Divine and He speaks the same Truth to me.  Over and over again.  How many times have I wondered how my husband could love me?  Filth has flowed from my mouth.  Annoyance has coated my words and actions when something doesn't go the way I wanted it to.  I "harumph" and give him "the look." 

Not to mention the filth in my heart.  The greed, selfishness, covetousness, doubt and comparison I harbor inside.  I doubt God's goodness.  I doubt His timing, His truth, His plans for me.  I make time for a zillion other things and not for Him, the Lover of my Soul.

And when I'm full-to-the-brim with guilt and shame and complaints and pity parties and grumbling, I tune my ears to my Father's voice and hear: "You want to know something? I have never loved you more than I do right now."

Will you join me in praying for our husbands?  Pray for purity, honesty and protection from the evil one.  Pray they would fight temptation and not give in to the devil's schemes.  Pray that their eyes would be fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of their faith.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I feel alive.

My heart is being stirred and I'm being awakened in new ways.

I'm in a season of growth.  Studying "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan has me longing to be obsessed with Jesus and less obsessed with being comfortable.  I want to consume less and give more.  Instead of praying solely for protection, I want to pray for whatever will bring me closer to Jesus.  Whew.  That's a tough one to ask for and I'm hesitant to ask for it because of what it might look like.  My first thoughts evoke tragedy and heartache.

I'm also reading "Radical" by David Platt.  Two chapters in and I'm hooked.

My heart is being stirred in new ways and I feel at peace in my current community of friends.  I laughed so hard after last week's Bible study and drove home (at 11pm) with such JOY in my heart.  We tried on hand-me-downs and giggled.  A lot.  We got carried away and stayed too late; my husband was already fast asleep by the time I got home.  The next morning, I bounced (literally) into the kitchen, excitedly recounting my tales of the night before and told Paul: "Last night was so much fun.  I have friends here."

My new business with Noonday Collection is thriving.  I'm joining a movement of world-changers and trying to do my part with what I've been given.  People (friends and strangers alike) are making informed purchases while advocating for the poor and it is humbling and invigorating, to say the least.  Noonday has come to Renton, Longview, Newberg and Beaverton.  And it's coming soon to Hillsboro and Grants Pass!

I am even at peace with my health.  While it's been a frustrating 60+ days of less-than pleasant issues, I am experiencing some relief.  I'm hoping for answers following my surgery on Friday afternoon (a hysteroscope & DNC).  At the risk of sharing too much information, descriptions can be found on Web MD, but are not for the faint at heart.  I am struck by how trivial this procedure is in light of what is happening around me: friends fighting cancer (again), marriages failing, bombings in Boston, etc.  God, do what you need to so we might draw closer to you.

For me, feeling alive is doing my part to change the world: living intentionally, allowing God to shape my deepest desires, inspiring others to become world-changers.  It is also sitting at a coffee shop on a sunny, spring afternoon with music in my ears and words at my fingertips.

What makes you feel alive?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Noonday Collection

I'm elated to announce my new endeavor as a...
Noonday Collection Ambassador!

"Noon-whaaa?" you ask.  

What began as a fundraiser for the founder's adoption, Noonday Collection quickly grew into a social enterprise for women around the world.  Noonday is a company that provides sustainable income to artisans in third-world countries by employing the impoverished and underprivileged.  Artisans make (all by hand) the most beautiful necklaces, scarves, bags and home goods.  Each item is on-target with current fashion trends and colors.  (Our Spring Line has lots of similarities to Anthropologie. No joke.)  

The purchase of these goods provides a platform to shed light on poverty and social justice issues in developing countries.  Each artisan receives a fair, live-able wage according to fair trade standards.

Scarves are hand woven by women in Guatemala.

Paper scraps are turned into beautiful beaded necklaces in Uganda.  Women are being sponsored to go through sewing school in Rwanda to earn a living.  

Farmers in Northern Ethiopia supply local bead makers with artillery shells discovered on their lands following former war conflicts.  Village artisans melt down these shells to create delicate beads.  The beads are sent to a mountain tribe of women who live with HIV, who create incredible jewelry.  Remnants of former weapons of conflict are now upcycled pieces of redemption, as women begin to be defined by their handicraft rather than their disease.

This clutch was crafted by young adults with special needs from underprivileged communities in New Delhi with recycled VHS tapes.  The special artisans in India are provided vocational training as part of their overall development in order to inspire their creativity and help prepare them to become self-sufficient in the future.
As an ambassador, I get to advocate for these artisans by telling their stories and selling their goods.  God has certainly orchestrated these details according to His perfect timing.  I've been praying for an opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless in the next steps of my career, and this is it!

I'll be sharing more within the next days/weeks/months to come... and maybe even a Noonday merchandise giveaway, too!