Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fasting From More

I'll never forget the day God put Noonday on my heart. I had viewed the website a million times and created a wish list for my husband. The beauty of the handmade jewelry caught my eye and the faces of the beautiful people who made them tugged at my heart. This was my first introduction to Fair Trade and it rocked my world. My heart pounded with excitement at the thought that my choice of where to spend my money held the power to change someones life.

One day something happened though. Something deep within me longed to do more than just purchase from fair trade companies...I wanted to BE A PART OF IT. But Noonday scared me and I pushed against becoming an ambassador for a few months before I ever mentioned it to my husband and friends. You see, one of my GREATEST struggles is the love of money. Anyone who knows me is probably laughing because y'all know my family of four is crammed into a one bedroom house with one car and a savings account that gets depleted every time we need groceries. The truth is though, the love of money has NOTHING to do with how much you possess. Shopping for me has always been a hobby whether it's browsing through stores, perusing the internet, or dreaming it up in my own head. I may not have much stuff, but my tendency is to let stuff have a lot of me. So when God impressed on my heart a way for me to promote shopping and make money of my own for the first time in 4 years, I was scared out of my skin. As soon as I said yes and submitted my application though, God gave me the disclaimer. NONE of my commission was going to be my money to spend. I would cover the cost of my samples and gas to get to and from shows, but every penny left was meant to help other people. Friends, that first check I ever received was over $400 and very tempting! It left my hands as quickly as it came into them though and the chains of money began to break around my heart. Making money, but not spending it became normal as 12 months went by and we never took my check and had fun with it. God didn't stop there though...the love of money goes far deeper than spending.

A few months ago, the poverty crisis really started weighing heavily on me and I delved back into researching the philosophy behind fair trade. My research un-earthed article upon article about consumerism and the way the global market is the key to ending poverty. Teaching people to work a trade and then paying them fairly for it is changing entire villages. Children are able to go to school, women are free to get out of prostitution, men regain respect for themselves and others, and the quality of the actual product rises! The consumer will be paying a higher price for something, but gaining a better product, thereby not needing to purchase the same quantity as before. With my husband's permission, I began adding a few things to my wardrobe and even found fair trade shoes and makeup! The quality blew me away and I was filled with passion to speak out about our need to change the way we shop in this country.

Along with my passion though, grew that tiny seed of what I have termed the "more disease". We see it everywhere from the toddler who mumbles "can I have another" with her mouth full of a cookie; to the mother who gets a full night's sleep while praying for another one tonight; The girl who loves her new shirt so much that she returns to the store to buy it in a few other colors; and the lover who tells his wife, he can't wait to enjoy her again. The constant need for more fully steals our ability to embrace the moment we have right now. This reality stopped me dead in my tracks as I was pinning fair trade outfit after fair trade outfit on pinterest last night. Although, I wasn't pining away for any of them, I was feeding the monster within that always thinks of more.

Jesus tells the people in Matthew 6:25, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"

While Jesus is encouraging people here not to be anxious, I think the statement encompasses obsession as well. Weight loss, fitness, healthy eating, clothing, anti-aging, and the like all point to an obsession we have with getting more and more and more. I see it in my daughters...and I see it in myself. God has placed a burden on my heart to do a fast from anything that leads me to want more. Beginning on February 13th (the beginning of lent), I am committing to fast from all shopping and pinning on pinterest. I am rallying my family and closest friends to keep me accountable to savoring the moment rather than thinking or talking about what's to come. My passion for Noonday is stronger than it has ever been before and I will continue to do trunk shows and speak out about fair trade. My heart however will be fasting from feeding the worm of desire that thrives on the more disease. God has given me a passion and a voice to speak out on this issue, but He needs to prune my heart first.  If you'd like to join me, let me know and we'll do this together and if you'd like to remember me in prayer, I'll love you bunches. If you are interested in changing the way you shop, leave your email address and I'll send you a list of awesome fair trade companies. Thanks for reading friends!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Shopping With Heart

I was 15 years old, sitting on a plane, returning home, and bawling my face off. I had just spend two weeks serving in Brazil with Compassion International and had come face to face with raw, horrific, poverty. I held children covered in filth who lived in mountains of trash that would never see a day past their 10th birthday. I walked hand in hand with children who longed to go to school and yet would never see the inside of a first grade room or feel the luxury of a fresh sharpened pencil. I looked into the eyes of young women longing for freedom, but had only one vocation for their bodies to pay the bills with, and I was crushed under the hopelessness of it all.

When people say that Americans have no idea what it's like in third world countries, they are speaking the truth. Even if the fiscal cliff takes us places we never thought we would go, Americans have something that every single third world country lacks and that is hope. America was born out of a vision that came from hope. We dream and plan and work together to make life better and easier.

While this is a wonderful thing in our country, we are at a place in life where it's time for us to extend this to other countries. We have a gift we can give those who are struggling and it begins with hope and a dream and is executed through the power of money. You see every time we make a purchase we are giving the support of our hard earned income not just to gain something for ourselves, but also to pay the person who made it. This is not something we think about since we are so far removed from the makers of our products. Most items we purchase are made in mass quantity at a factory overseas. The reality is that almost every one of these factories mistreat the people making the products and underpays them if paying them at all. Poverty will never be eliminated unless we start paying the person producing a product rather than the company in between the worker and consumer.

And while I myself could sit in my American home typing on my foreign made computer resting on my foreign made couch and try to explain the concept of fair trade and the opportunity to change the lives of individuals, I've chosen instead to let me dear sister give you her thoughts. She lives in Bangkok, Thailand...home to thousands of sweat shops and a prostitution capital of the world. I pray your eyes are opened and your heart stirred to be a part of a movement...a movement that has ripple effects farther than we could ever imagine.
When Beth told me that she wanted me to help her write a blog about the issues women face around the world, I felt very inadequate to do so. Living here has opened my eyes to how complicated the issues are. For example, before I moved to Thailand, I would have thought that any woman who was given the choice to get out of prostitution would take it. Now I know that the issues run deeper. She might have been brainwashed or be on drugs, she might have nowhere to go, she might have children to support, she might be completely rejected if she ever went back to where she was from (or might not even be able to get home if she doesn't have a passport). Helping women is more complicated than I thought. I went to a party to support a ministry here that helps women get out of prostitution. They told how much it would cost to support a woman and her child per month. It was extremely low, just over a hundred dollars. I wanted to just give the money. But then I realized that what they wanted me to do was buy something the women had made. They can't survive on handouts. Having a job and a trade and doing something is a key to creating a new life for themselves.
Another thing I've realized is that cultural beliefs really influence the issue and those are very hard to change. How do you explain to someone that prostitution is wrong when she sees it as a chance for a way out--she might marry a rich foreigner and then support her family for life (this happens enough to make them think it works). This can be discouraging, but I remind myself that ONE person at a time--ONE heart at a time is the focus. And, that the gospel is powerful and everlasting and changes people and cultures. When I get sad and overwhelmed about it, I just try to focus on Jesus' love--how His love can change anyone.
We are on the cusp of an amazing movement...and we have the opportunity to use the power of our money to support people and help them make a long lasting change! Noonday Collection goes into countries and does THIS VERY THING. We offer sustainable income for people, through their work. We buy our products directly from them rather than paying them a percentage which means they are getting paid far above what they would get anywhere else.

When you make a purchase through Noonday, YOU ARE CHANGING LIVES. As a thank you for reading today's blog and wanting to make the change to impact the world, I am offering one of our best selling scarves as a gift to one lucky winner. Just make a comment about how you plan to make a change to purchase more fair trade products and the winner will be chosen at random before midnight January 5th.

          To see the full collection of what Noonday offers visit me at:

                                                                        Thank you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Meeting People in their Messes

Christmas is dawned a new year...and yet I cannot shake the theme that ran through my head during the entire advent season. Images of what a true manger looked like coupled with the mental picture of Christ bent over washing His disciples feet created a running thought of Jesus coming down to meet us in our messes. As if the humility of the Christ child lying in a dirty feeding trough isn't enough, we then see Him dwelling with fishermen, prostitutes, and homeless people. None of these were privy to regular bathing and clean fingernails. When He healed the sick He chose not just to speak the words, but to touch them..and His touch was what drove deep beyond the healing of their bodies and healed their lonely souls. Now contrast that with today's culture where super sized bottles of Germ-X are on every counter in every store, bathroom, and size. They are even sold in travel size containers with handy accessories that allow us to ward off illness in style! I'll be the first one to laugh at myself with how I practically bathe my children and myself in it every time we go to the grocery store. I'm that crazy mother yelling "no don't lick that!" and "Olivia don't touch your lips so much!". Shamefully I am also the one who sees a sick friend and rather than reaching out, I run the other way and throw a "get well soon" over my shoulder to them. Funny...Jesus came to meet us in our messes and I spend my time avoiding them. And it doesn't end with illness...what is the natural instinct when we hear that a husband or wife has been unfaithful? We might have pity on the spouse that was cheated on, but what about the one who created the mess? Or what about the person in church who we avoid at all costs because they don't understand boundaries and if you say hi, you can forget being able to pry yourself away for an hour? Mangers are messy places where animals stick their germ filled faces to feed, feet are messy appendages that come into contact with dirt, and filth, and carry pleasantries such as corns and warts. Fishermen smell like....well fish...prostitutes carried the aroma of their lifestyle, and yet I believe the pride that keeps us from meeting people in their messes smells far more foul to our Heavenly Father than anything of those scents. So what's to be done? How do we swallow the pride that keeps us clean and neat and make our way into the messes other people are wallowing in? I think the answer can be found in Matthew 18:3 where Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Then Jesus goes on to say in verse 4 "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Obviously Jesus sees in the hearts of children something that adults truly lack and I think it can be narrowed down to they way that children love. Yesterday I had the privilege of getting one of the worst flu's I have had since I was a child. It came on fast and left me hugging the toilet for a few hours. No matter how hard I tried to get the girls to stay in the other room, they kept running in to hug me, rub my hair, give me pictures they had drawn, and lavish kisses anywhere I would let them. Not once did they hesitate to show affection due to fear of contracting the illness that ravaged my body. It didn't phase them when I said they needed to stay away because mommy didn't want them to get sick. They pushed past my pride and worry and met me in my mess. In doing so, I caught a glimpse of the very face of Jesus Himself as Love came down and hugged me...and kissed me...held me in my messy state. No wonder Jesus said that children are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. They lack the well groomed self preservation we adults adorn ourselves with. They lack the carefully nurtured worry we have spent years cultivating. Children aren't afraid of is one big mess to them...and they don't know anything but to love all through it. I have always said that I am a visual/tangible learner and yesterday was proof. The visions of Jesus, the One who meets us in our messes became so real to me and I don't want the lesson to end there. Old habits die hard so you will probably still see me with my hand sanitizer hanging from my key chain and my bottles filled with anti-sick promises in my medicine cabinet, but my prayer is to be drawn to messes rather than afraid of them. I want to be like my daughters and reach down with hope. I want to be like Jesus and love the unloved. I want to be the one people call when they have no-where to go, not to gain a pat on the back or walk away feeling good, but because that is what love reach out when it costs you meet people in their messes