Saturday, September 29, 2012

Noonday Collection

When you satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
Your night will become like the noonday.
Isaiah 58:10
I am so excited to share with you about Noonday Collection.
I am friends with a sweet teacher, Erin, who is an ambassador for Noonday and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing a product.  Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to help spread word about a company who has the goal of helping others.  I learned more about these sweet people and was blown away.  I couldn't wait to blog about it!

Noonday Collection is centered around the passion for helping oppressed people in countries of the world where sustainable income is hard to come by or nonexistent.  The company was founded by Joe and Jessica Honegger, who, after visiting Uganda and decided to adopt internationally from Rwanda, began selling fair-trade, artisan-made goods in Austin, TX to raise money for the costly adoption process and help support the Ugandan people. This was the first Noonday Collection trunk show- an opportunity for women to gather, purchase jewelry, accessories, and other items made by artisans in other countries, and advocate for women and children.

Now, Noonday collection sells a variety of {gorgeous} items made by Artisans from Ethiopia, India, Uganda, Peru, Rwanda, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Madagascar.  They are sold through ambassadors who style friends at their own trunk shows or through online orders (more info at the end!).  Because these are fair-trade items, Noonday will "pay their artisans a living wage in advance for their products. This means they are often getting an average of 4 times more than others in a similar line of work. By purchasing their items, we enable them to continue to grow their businesses and create sustainable income opportunities for them and their community."  Watch to see a clearer picture of what they do and who they help:

Noonday also advocates for the adoption of orphans.

Noonday advocates for orphans by:
  • Providing jobs for Artisans that create a pathway out of poverty for families. A stable income means a family is less likely to abandon their child.
  • Help families raise money for their own adoptions. They give 10% of trunk show sales directly to the adoptive family when they host a trunk show.  These can be domestic or international adoptions.
  • Aside from donating 10% towards qualified adoptive families, Noonday Collection also gives towards orphan care and prevention.
I have known several people who have chosen to adopt.  Their stories are beautiful, regardless of the road that led them to pursue adoption.  As exciting as it can be to start the adoption process and begin the paperwork and home studies, the financial burden adoption carries can be overwhelming.  One thing I love about Noonday is that, with every sale and trunk show, they have the opportunity to minister to two different families- those in other countries that are able to earn fair-trade wages to support themselves and their families, as well as those who are pursuing adoption and can benefit from financial help to bring their child home. I plan on hosting a show for a friend of mine who is currently in the process of adopting and couldn't be more excited.

Noonday strongly encourages hostesses who want to donate their rewards to adoptive families to do so for a friends or find adoptive parents in their local community.  Walking with someone closely during their adoption process brings such support and can really make a personal impact for both parties.  This personal connection helps to share the vision and passion behind Noonday, and makes room for meeting all kinds of new friends surrounding the family's adoption.  And, what joy for the hostess to finally meet the child they helped to bring home!

Added bonus- this stuff is gorg.  My friend, Erin, sent me the Ancient Ways Necklace from Noonday to review:
This piece is handmade in Ethiopia using recycled nickel, copper, and bronze melted down from previous war weapons. Most of the artisans who created the pieces in this particular set are HIV positive and receive health care and literacy training in addition to job training.  I received it in a little sewn pouch and thank you note, wrapped in a bubble mailing envelope. 
I absolutely love it.  I love wearing it, knowing someone who was in need was helped by this company and can support their family.  I love that I can pray for that person and ask that the love of Christ surround them and their families.  I love that something such as a war weapon from this country isn't a war weapon anymore.  It's around my neck as a beautiful piece of jewelry, made by the hands of one of God's children.
And, I just think it's gorgeous.  
It's heavy.  Not in the I'm-going-to-take-this-off-after-work-as-soon-as-I-get-in-the-parking-lot kind of heavy, but the type of heavy that means it's of great quality.  It's the type of heavy that tells me it was handmade.  It's the type of heavy that reminds me that, although we are never promised a perfect, easy life, the heavy burden of providing for a family has been lifted from someones shoulders somewhere in the world.  I like that.  I wear it with joy.

If you are interested in helping someone provide for their family in an oppressed area of the world, know someone who is in the process of trying to adopt and would like to host a trunk show to help them with the costs of adoption, or just like gorgeous jewelry and accessories, visit Erin's Noonday Website.  You can browse the collection, as well as click on the yellow tabs to read more about how the collections are made and how trunk shows work.
If you live in the Kansas City area and would like to host a show and have Erin come and style you and your friends, send her an email at ecnoonday(at)gmail(dot)com.  On top of being sweeter than sugar, this girl knows style.  You will have a blast with her!
If you have questions, leave a comment and I will steer you in the right direction to get that answered.  Now, go shop!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Will Carry You

Daniel approached me a few weeks ago about going to get a special devotional to help us specifically cope with the loss of our baby.  We usually work through devotionals together, doing them on our own throughout the week and spending time in the evenings taking about what we've been learning.  Most Christians can probably call to mind verses that deal with the Lord's healing power, but we wanted something more than that-we wanted to be soaked in God's Word as it pertained to our pain.  We went to a local Christian bookstore and settled on Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg.  It's so hard to work through, but it is giving us tangible means to grieve and I have faith that the Lord will use it to produce fruit.
While we were there, in the section I thought I'd never have to browse, I found a book called I Will Carry You by Angie Smith.  I'm not an avid reader.  I don't read slowly, nor do I find difficulty with comprehension.  I would just much rather be actively doing something, crossing off an item on my ever-growing to-do list.  I'm not seasoned on how to pick "a good one", so I do what the world tells us not to-I choose books by their covers.  This one was appealing to me because it had a picture of a baby being held in her momma's hands on the front.  It was taupe, which seems to always catch my eye, being a lover of neutrals.  It wasn't published in a microscopic font type and was only 215 pages.  It was non-fiction, with a few pictures peppered inside.  I'm a stalker extraordinaire, so this book screamed my name. 
Oh, but I am cheap.  I have the same mindset about movies-why spend money purchasing a movie that you will only watch twice a year when you can rent it?  Why buy a book I will read once, when I can rent it?
Aha. To the library I went... and conquered.
Book in hand, I read all 215 pages, front to back, in about 4 hours. 
While it grieves me to know women have lost children, it relieves me to know this:  my pain is real.  It's okay to feel this way.  I didn't lose "it".  "It" wasn't taken away because, well, God must have known it would have been a useless child anyway, as if something were wrong with "it".  "It" wasn't a beta number or pink line. 
My child, my sweet baby, was knit by my Maker in the womb (Eh, tube?).
My Maker wasn't surprised by the life of my child, or the pain of my heart.
My Maker is the same Redeemer that rose from the grave, saved me 7 years ago, and walks with me now.

Grief is a funny thing to try to understand.  No two people grieve the same.  I feel as though the world tries to rank pain, as if it were important to tell people that their pain isn't nearly as deep as the next person's.  Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith, who sings for the Christian band Selah.  She and her husband miscarried their first, had a rough pregnancy with their twins, had another, and then became pregnant with a child that was found to be"incompatible with life" at 18 weeks gestation, having not formed several organs and without functioning kidneys.  They were advised to terminate their pregnancy, but chose to carry their daughter and allow God to glorify himself through their pain and even perform miracles.  I wish I could say that this sweet baby was healed, but she wasn't in this life.  Throughout the book, they talk about their grieving process, the questions we ask God in these situations, and the way we praise him and scream out to him to be revealed.  They talk about what it was like to have to bury their child, to live life without a baby that occupied so many of their dreams.
As I read this book, I kept thinking, "These parents have gone through so much pain. This is real pain. Why am I grieving? I didn't have to see my child's lifeless face. I didn't have to bury him. I didn't have to carry him". But, as I kept reading, I heard a steady voice: I carry your pain. You've burried your dreams. You carried him. I've seen your child's face, and he is alive, because HE is alive.

My favorite parts of the book were those explaining the life of Jesus through the eyes of a barren mother, specifically the story of Lazarus.   Lazarus?  Um, that was a HE.  He didn't lose a child (I guess that we know of).  Jesus raised him from the dead. Yeah, I get that.  But this is when Mary and Martha called to Jesus for help.  This is when Christ wept. I'm sure I've heard this interpretation before, but it didn't mean then what it means to me now.

Lazarus was sick.  He was on the edge of death.  Mary and Martha came to Jesus and told him that "the one [He] loves is sick" (John 11:3).  They didn't come to him and beg for him to come heal.  His disciples were the ones who questioned him because Jesus chose to stay put for a few more days, a time that surely would have seen his passing.  Mary and Martha trusted that Jesus knew what to do next.  They didn't order him around or tell him to heal their brother.  After being questioned by his disciples, Jesus tells them that he was glad he was not there to heal Lazarus, "so that you may believe" (John 11:15).  I don't believe the Lord doesn't heal, on purpose, so that we experience pain, as if we are being punished by a cruel, uncompassionate God.  I do believe he allows tragedy to happen in our lives so that we believe that he is capable of doing His will (without us telling him what that should be) and He is glorified.
Fast forward to the tomb of Lazarus.  When Jesus arrives to Bethany, Mary and Martha take him to the tomb and are weeping.  The bible tells us Jesus wept.
He knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and call him to come from the tomb.  Why would he cry?  Why would he weep?
Because his daughters were broken.  Because they couldn't see what He could.  They didn't know their brother would stand before them, alive again.  He weeps for me because I can't see what He can.
The bible also tells us that this Mary was the same Mary that poured perfume on the feet of Jesus and wipes his feet with her hair.  My bible says this nard was worth a year's wages and, by reading the reaction of everyone there, you can tell that is was a lot (it was a pint, my bible says!  That is 60 ounces.  Know how many ounces in typical perfume bottles? Two ounces. That's the equivalent of thirty bottles of perfume!).  Mary annointed Christ just days before he was crucified.  Do you know how often people bathed back then?  Not a lot (again, thirty bottles of perfume!).  The book clarifies that his is total speculation, but perfume that potent and expensive would have lingered for weeks, on the feet of Jesus and in the hair of Mary.  Imagine:  Mary, torn and broken at the death of her friend, her Savior.  Running from the cross, through the streets, to her home, to her safe place.  The perfume of worship, filling the air.  How much I want to be that.  How much I want to be a perfume to the Lord in the midst of my suffering.

Hebrews 4:15 says "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."  I don't serve a Lord who doesn't know how I feel.  I don't serve a Savior who doesn't care for my empty arms or broken heart, for God lost his own son.  He had to see his child's lifeless face.  He had to bury him.  He had to carry him through life, knowing full well that his Son would take on the sin of the world.  He gets it.
And, yet, he cares.  He more than cares:  He redeems and loves.  He comforts.  He soothes us with peace.

Selah wrote and performs a song called, "I Will Carry You".  At first, I thought, "well, this kind of applies to me, but I didn't really carry my baby".  But, then I heard Him say again- you carried him.  And I did.  I couldn't choose to carry him longer than I did.  But I carried him for 6 weeks.  I carried him while he was here, and now we carry him in our aching hearts until we see him again.
The lyrics are below the video.  My favorite part is the second verse-where Christ says he's shown pictures of time beginning, and walks her through the parted seas.  No One can love her- or him- like He can.  There were so many things Daniel and I wanted to do with our baby, with our son, with our daughter.  We wanted to worry about dirty diapers and feeding schedules.  We wanted to be up at night.  We wanted to have bath time and go on vacations.  We wanted to laugh and kiss and hug.  We don't get to do any of that.  What we do get to do, however, is worship the King one day, for eternity, while holding that baby in our arms.  Hallelujah.

 Selah - I Will Carry You lyrics

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there`s a greater story
Written long before me
Because he loves you like this

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the one who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the one who's chosen me
To carry you

Sweet Baby of ours, we will always carry you.
Love, Momma and Daddy

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Christ of Joy and Sorrow

My Lord, my Christ, is Lord of all.  And, in Him, I rejoice.

Sorrowful, yet always Rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10)
Sorrow was beautiful, but his beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shinning through the leafy branches of the trees in the woods. His gentle light made little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss of the forest floor. And, when he sang, his song was like the low, sweet calls of the nightingale, and in his eyes was the unexpectant gaze of someone who has ceased to look for coming gladness. He could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to him.
Joy was beautiful too, but hers was the radiant beauty of a summer morning. Her eyes still held the happy laughter of childhood, and her hair glistened with sunshine’s kiss. When she sang, her voice soared upward like a skylark’s, and her steps were the march of a conqueror who has never known defeat. She could rejoice with anyone who rejoices but to weep with those who weep was unknown to her.
Sorrow longingly said “We can never be united as one.” “No never,” responded Joy, with eyes misting as she spoke, “for my path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom when I arrive, and songbirds await my coming to sing their most joyous melodies.”
“Yes, and my path,” said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the dark forest, and moonflowers, which open only at night, will fill my hands. Yet the sweetest of all earthly songs-the love song of the night-will be mine. So farewell dear Joy farewell.”
Yet even as Sorrow spoke, he and Joy became aware of someone standing beside them. In spite of the dim light, they sensed a kingly Presence, and suddenly a great and holy awe overwhelmed them. They then sank to their knees before Him.
“I see him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His head are many crowns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. And before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness. I now give myself to Him forever.”
“No, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “for I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of terrible agony. I also give myself to Him forever. For sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy I have ever known.”
“Then we are one in Him” they cried in gladness, “for no one but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.” Therefore they walked hand in hand into the world, to follow Him through storms, and sunshine, through winter’s severe cold and the warmth of summer’s gladness, and to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.

From Streams in the Desert by Charles E. Cowman
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