Friday, July 29, 2011

Batik Boutique

We're truckin' right along here on our search for socially responsible shopping options. Are you book-marking these companies?  Wouldn't it be the coolest to buy all our Christmas gifts from companies doing so much good?  Wouldn't Christmas feel a lot more rich as we follow in Jesus' footsteps...helping to set the captive free as part of the way we celebrate the birth of the ultimate liberator?

The next company I'd love to share with you is the Batik Boutique.  Although the company is new, I've known the owners for a long time.  Take a look at what they are doing in Asia to provide women some hope and a chance.


Noor was sitting on the floor in the government-sponsored apartment with her youngest child playing in her lap. Her husband makes just over $1 an hour, and in a city like Kuala Lumpur that’s not enough to make ends meet. She wants to do something to help them have enough food each month, but her optionsare limited because she takes care of their six young children. While she sat contemplating her situation, her sister-in-law knocked on the door.


Noor invited her into her apartment and then heard how The Batik Boutique is hiring seamstresses. Even though she taught herself to sew before she was married, Noor only had only made clothes. She called Amy anyway and within a few days she was trained and able to begin making some of the batik products. Over the next few weeks, she learned to make new products and worked while her children slept. Through orders we receive from our website, Noor provides enough supplemental income to have enough rice on the table and to pay her children’s school fees and supplies.


Not only is this business helping Noor with her physical needs, but it also gives her a chance to see how a business can be run following the principles of the Bible. This includes fair pay, treating people with love and respect, and helping the needy with such things as employment and donations from the company’s profit. Such a view into the lives of those who follow Jesus is rare for a Muslim like Noor.

The Batik Boutique is a new company offering women’s accessory and children’s products made from batik fabrics of Southeast Asia.

___________________________________________________

{{Batik Boutique Give-Away!}}

The Batik Boutique is graciously giving away one of their bags.  You can have up to four chances to win.  You can have one entry for each of the following:
  
1.  Comment and let us know what your favorite item is from the Batik Boutique.
2.  "Like" Batik Boutique on facebook.
3.  Mention what Batik Boutique is doing for women in Asia and provide a link to their website in a facebook status.
4.  Tweet about the Batik Boutique.

We'll have a drawing next Friday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This and Thats



This here blog is getting the shaft these days.  Kirby, Lynsey, and I have been sewing our faces off.  In a few short weeks, I'll head back to Haiti with a bunch of fun, funky ideas for our ladies to try at the sewing center.  My goal is to go back with a mock-up of each item.  I'm sure our wicked talented seamstresses will take one look at my "sewing" and be glad to show this white girl up.  I can't wait to see what becomes of all of these ideas once some Haitian hands touch these projects.

We're busy sewing, creating, and laughing our butts off.  Which means we're faceless and buttless I guess.  What a shame.

We're also busy doing all the last minute things that need to be done before Aaron leaves for the island.  So much packing.  My favorite thing.  Bleh. Pretty soon I'll be standing in the line at the grocery store buying months and months worth of cheese, lunch meat, and bacon.  Always entertaining.

Tomorrow we'll start a new giveaway. 

Today....

I loved the post (below) from Desiring God's website.  This sounds so much like our story, and what we tell people when they ask us how we knew if we were supposed to move to Haiti.  I think people are disappointed that we didn't have a vision or a dream or see a floating Jesus pointing to an island in our Frosted Flakes.  We didn't feel like we "surrendered to a call"...whatever that means.  We just read the Bible and couldn't really come up with a good reason for staying when Jesus clearly says go.

_____________________________________________________________

Don't Complicate the Missionary Call
by David Sitton

I was never called to be a missionary, nor was I drafted. I volunteered. No special call was needed. I chose to go; I wanted to go; I was compelled to go. And where I go is always determined by an open Bible and a stretched-out map of the regions where Christ is still unknown and un-praised!

I chuckle when I hear missionaries and pastors talk about “surrendering to the call” of ministry. I always want to ask, “After you surrendered, were you water-boarded, or just hauled off in handcuffs and leg irons.” Was it really necessary for you to be abducted by a heavenly vision before you would go into the work of the gospel?

The missionary call is not like a prison dog that tracks us down, sniffs us out, and hog-ties us for the nations. That is silly-talk and really bad theology. Nowhere in Scripture is a mysterious (supernatural) call a prerequisite before we can respond to the Great Commission. The opposite is actually true.

Don’t Wait for a Call

No aspect of mission is more bogged down with extra-biblical baggage than the “missionary call.”  The clear command of Christ “to go” should be, by itself, sufficient to set you on your way “into all the world. . . proclaiming the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). You can’t go wrong by trying to go. Trust the Lord to direct your moving feet. If you are convinced of your “call” to “stay”, this will only serve as added confirmation that you are right. Don’t fear the risk of ending up some place the Lord doesn’t want you. Too many already took that “risk” when they assumed a stateside ministry or vocation with no confirmation other than their own desires.

Dramatic calls to ministry are the exception. If you have it in your heart to go, then go. Then, lean on the sovereignty of God to get you where he wants you in the harvest. Don’t worry about “running ahead of God.” You aren’t that quick!

Try to Go

Paul tried to go into Asia, but the Lord wouldn’t let him. He then tried to go to Bithynia, but was “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” Still, he kept trying to go. I count at least six cities in Acts 16 where Paul tried to take the gospel. It was only then that the Lord gave him a vision of the Macedonian. He woke up the next morning and immediately headed for the regions north, having “concluded that God had called them to preach the gospel in Macedonia.

The heavenly vision wasn’t a “call” to mission, it was specific guidance for missionaries that were already going.

The point?  Don’t complicate the missionary call. Get radical with the going and God will get radical in the specific guiding.

David Sitton is the founder and president of To Every Tribe Ministries. David is a career church planting missionary who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea for 16 years, making first gospel contact with several headhunting, cannibalistic tribes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Many are the Plans in a Man's Heart

  post from Aaron...

Our plans often have a way of being interrupted and changed. The last few years seem like one major change after another. Our family has changed. Our jobs have changed. Even our country of residence has changed.

So it comes as no surprise that our plans for when we're returning to Haiti have changed as well. Our summer in American just got shorter. In less than 3 weeks we will all be back in Port-au-Prince.

Soon everything will change again. Our showers will get colder. The roads will get rougher. Our ability to drink good, whole milk and eat Blue Bell ice cream will be severely hindered.

How we spend our time will change.

Heather will return to working with the women at Heartline. The kids will start school in a new setting. I will begin figuring out what it looks like to train and disciple a group of Haitian young men while simultaneously trying to make sure that our house has enough electricity to keep our fans on at night so that my wife doesn't divorce me or smother me in my sleep.

Everything changes.

And in the spirit of change, I guess it's time to pull the plug on Mosaic Village.

The idea originally was to use that site to connect people in the U.S. with needs in Haiti. And in some ways we still want to do that. But we will do that primarily within the context of the needs we encounter through working with Heartline Ministries.  Having two websites is too confusing.

I mean, come on … our life is confusing enough as it is.

So I – Aaron – will start writing here occasionally… on Heather's blog. After all, if I have something important to say, it's way more likely to be read here than it is on the other site.

I have no doubt that Heather will still write most of what is on this blog, but I have every intention of posting on a semi-regular basis to keep everyone up to date on what's happening on the men's side of Heartline.

Mosaic Village. It seemed like a good plan at the time. But I guess it's like Proverbs 19:21 says:
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, 
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Now about this tattoo on my arm ... 

And the Winner Is...



Your feet will be so pretty!  Bekah, please email Cameron (cameron.crake@gmail.com) and let her know your shoe size, strap selection, and shipping information.

I want to extend a special thanks to Sseko for giving away a free pair of shoes on this here blog.

I also want to thank each of you for the way you spread the word last week about this amazing company.

I can't tell you how helpful it is to companies like Sseko when regular people like us share the story behind these kinds of companies.

Businesses trying to care for their employees and make products in a responsible way pay their employees more.  That's the bottom line.  Which means, the owners take home less money.  There isn't as big of a discrepency between the higher ups in the company and the ones making the products.  Which also means, there's not as much money available to spend on things like fancy advertising.

Want to make a difference in the life of the poor across the world?  Shop at places like Sseko, but also spread the word.  Do some of the advertising for companies like these.  It's that simple.

{{In Love with Sseko?  Proud of What They are Doing?}}

Want another chance to win a free pair of shoes?  Sseko is celebrating their second birthday with style.  Head on over to their "party in a box" section of their blog.

Any party orders placed before August 8th will land YOU, the host, a free pair of sandals and straps! You just have to reserve your party date, not actually host your party before August 8th.




Another way to help is to place a blog button on....you guessed it....your blog!
Simply right click on the image above.
Save it.
 Go into your dashboard on your blog.
Add it as a picture in your side bar.
Easy peasy.  

Since I'm an obnoxious fan of Sseko and the ladies behind this company, I feel the need to say this:  I do not get anything for talking about Sseko on my blog.  I bought a pair of Ssekos with my own mulah last year.  I am obnoxious for free.  This company makes me insanely proud.  Who wouldn't want to tell everybody they know about something so beautiful and hopeful?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Farewell Magical Week

We celebrated 15 years of marriage by spending the last few days in Austin, Texas: home of all things weird. Aaron's precious (and brave) mother has been with our wild crew.  She has achieved sainthood in my heart this week.


Aaron and I stayed up late.  Enjoyed sleeping and "not sleeping."  Only ate two meals a day because we slept through the first one.  Aaron bought me a vintage owl necklace at one of the funkiest shops I've ever been into.  We visited at least 15 resale shops.  Spent 3 uninterrupted, blissful hours in Ikea.

Epic.  That's what this week has been.

When I'm wailing and thinking I just might die as the kids get older and move out, will someone please remind me of this week?  It was sweet to realize that Aaron is still my favorite person that ever lived.  That's a gift every marriage should treat itself to every 15 years or so.

Headed back to the real world...the one filled with laundry and grocery store shopping and four little boys that have made us better people with a lot to share with one another when those four crazies are hanging out with their grandma.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Responsible Consumerism on a Realistic Budget?



Don't forget about the Sseko sandal give away.  I know I've mentioned that there are a ton of different ways to style Sseko sandals, but I also wanted to add that Sseko gives you videos to watch online with step-by-step instructions for getting the style and look you love.  You can check out the videos here.  The one above is for the adorable braided beauty I'm sporting these days. 

Want another chance to enter the Sseko give away?  Simply go "like" Sseko sandals on facebook and then report back to us in the comment section of the give away that you became a Sseko fan.  Don't comment on this post.  All entries need to be logged here.  You have until Monday to enter!  Thanks for spreading the word about this fabulous company and these high-quality, adorable shoes.

Many of you have bought The Better World Shopping Guide and are truly trying to work through your personal spending habits and consider the people who make the products you purchase.  It can be overwhelming.  At first glance, choosing to buy products from companies who are striving to give a dang about their employees, the environment, and doing business on the up and up may seem incredibly expensive.  It will cost more.  Maybe buying the things we buy should have always cost us more.  Perhaps we've just gotten used to being able to buy things for cheap while someone else across the globe pays the rest of our bill?  But what's a family to do?  Sell a kidney or two?  How do we afford to make these sort of changes in the way we shop? 

I asked my friend Mandi to write a post about how to make these adjustments on a budget.  Mandi is one of the most joyful, precious, lover-of life kind of people I have ever met.  Be encouraged by her story!

__________________________________________

{{Guest Post by Mandi}}
Mandi blogs here at herban homestead.  
Check her out.

photo taken by our talented friend, Ryan Price

I am so thrilled that Heather has asked me to write a guest post about making the socially responsible products we use in our home and on our bodies affordable. I know that so many of us want to do the right thing, but we struggle to find room in our budgets to make that happen.

If youʼve checked out the “better world shopper” guide, you have seen brands mentioned like Dr. Bronnerʼs, Seventh Generation, Earth Friendly, and maybe even the clothing line Maggieʼs Organics. Youʼve probably noticed that trying to buy these items in the grocery store could easily double your grocery budget. Iʼm here to tell you that doesnʼt have to be the case!

I started buying naturally made cleaners and body items for my family about ten years ago. I was green when green was uncool, yʼall! I made this plunge initially for my familyʼs health and for the health of our planet. Imagine my delight when I realized that these brands were socially responsible as well! However, we were (and still are) on a youth pastorʼs salary. It was not easy to make these purchases a reality, but we were confident that they were the right choices for us. So I sought out ways to make them work.

I spent lots of time in prayer over this. Seriously! I was praying for wisdom over laundry detergent! I knew that God wanted us to be healthy and more socially responsible through the products we were buying, so I knew that He would guide us in the direction He wanted us to go. He laid out a doozy of a first step: sacrifice. I already knew that shopping the way He wanted me to was not going to work in our current financial situation. I also knew that my husband was not going to change career fields in order to increase our grocery budget. No, the work had to be done in our hearts. We were to sacrifice in other areas to make obedience a reality. So what did we do? We cut our cable. We drove cars that were paid for. We cut our eating out. And then the big one came- we sold our house.

After revealing His plans for our lives in the areas of health and simplicity, God directed us to sell our home and give away most of our possessions. We moved into the 600 square foot guest home of some of our dearest friends. We paid them a nominal amount of rent and soaked in the quiet of the forest we were living in. In that quiet God was gently revealing to us areas of our lives that needed to be scrubbed clean. We needed to learn the lesson of sacrifice, of self-denial. And guess what? Buying socially and environmentally friendly items was no longer difficult! We were able to shift our priorities to make these things a viable option for us!

After living in the woods for about a year, it was time for us to put our new found skills of simplicity to work in the real world! We are now living in a small town, in a house we own, and we are still on that youth pastorʼs salary (our take home pay is right around $40,000). We homeschool our two children, and are in the process of adopting our third. Our cars are paid for, and our mortgage on our 1500 square foot home has been paid way down. The only way we could do all of this is through that lesson from our time in the trees. Through sacrifice. We still do not have cable. We do not have fancy phones that can get the intrawebz in an instant. We buy most of our clothes and home items second hand. We donʼt eat out much. But we rarely feel the sting of sacrifice anymore. After living this way for 6 years now, it just feels like life. A life that is rich and full!

So the first step, the hardest step, is sacrifice. A lot of times in the Christian walk, doing for others must feel like sacrifice to ourselves. That is when the growth comes!

The second step is to find a buying co-op to join (or start your own!). I know what youʼre thinking! “Why didnʼt you start there, lady??? That sounds way friendlier than ʻsell all your stuff and move into a tiny house with all your kids!ʼ ” Well, I didnʼt start there simply because I didnʼt want to pass up the heart lesson and spiritual growth that is found in sacrificial living. Donʼt skip that blessing!

Now, onto that co-op. I have been running a buying club/ co-op through a company called Frontier for about five years. Through this co-op I am able to get all of my home and body care items for wholesale prices. Iʼm talking about a near savings of half off the suggested retail price.  I recently wrote a post detailing what I buy and how much I pay for each product when ordering from Frontier. Frontier is a wonderful company that not only acts as a distributor, but also sells their own line of spices, teas, and bulk herbs. They are committed to sustainable living for the farmers that they work with and for the planet.

Once a month my club members submit their orders to me out of the Frontier catalog. I input all of our information onto their site, and in less than a week I have boxes and boxes of people and environmentally friendly products in my home! I sort it all out and then my club members come and pick it up. It is so easy to do, and saves me a crazy amount of money. I canʼt imagine trying to buy these items at full price on the salary that we receive.

The third step I would recommend in making the switch to natural cleaners a reality is to make your own. It is a down right lie that we need 17 different types of cleaners to get our homes sparkly clean! Almost every cleaner in my home is made with some combination of vinegar, water and sometimes baking soda. Some people smell Pine Sol and think “clean!”. I smell vinegar and get the same happy reaction! Buying a gallon of vinegar costs me $3. The more vinegar I add to the water solution, the stronger the anti-microbial action. Want a straight up anti-bacterial cleaner? Spray straight vinegar and then spray hydrogen peroxide on top of that. Wipe up with a reusable rag and laugh your way to a cleaner potty as you are sticking it to da man!  You can even make your own laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent. Itʼs easy, and it works!

So letʼs re-cap. In order to make buying goods that are healthier for you, healthier for the worker that made your product, and healthier for the planet a viable option, we must 

(1) sacrifice
(2) find (or start) a buying club/ co-op
(3) make it our own dang selves!

If you want more daily tips on living in a natural home, please check out my blog. 

Helpful Links from this post:




Other posts in this series:

Caring for the Poor While Living in the Good ol' U-S of A?

Who Are the Poor?

Looking for the Poor 

Hi, My Name is Heather and I'm a Modern Day Slave Owner

Helpful Links

Barn Burning 

First, The Purging 

The Better World Shopping Guide 

More Really Great Shopping Resources 

Running Hard After Redemption 

Seeko Sandals



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Celebrating 15 Years


15 years ago today I was not clever enough to know that marrying you was going to be the best decision I've ever made.  I was 19.  Young.  Dumb.  With gorgeous legs and a soul full of dysfunction.


15 years of laughing, mocking, hugging, waking up next to you, hurting you, being hurt by you, babies being born, seeing the good parts and the awful, shameful parts...there were times when I didn't think we'd make it and times when I would not have made it without you by my side.
 


You're not perfect.  Neither am I.  How can something be healthy and strong when the main ingredients are broken and frail?  Maybe that's why this seems so miraculous.

We have our feisty sides and our selfish sides.  This thing we've had going here is like a masterfully written composition...happiness...sadness...pain so deep and far reaching...yet beauty and redemption woven into every measure.


15 years ago today I was not clever enough to know that marrying you was going to be the best decision I've ever made.  Thankfully someone was.  To Him be all the glory forever and ever amen.

 







My legs have changed (that sucks), but my answer would have still been "yes" if I was reliving this day 15 years ago.  I love you, Aaron.  Thankful for every moment...every memory.

Now let's mock all of those old pictures above.  Ready, set, go.  Give me laughter, people.  It's my favorite gift.

Help us Make our Maternity Center a Reality by Simply Voting



Heartline has a chance to receive a $50,000 grant.  All we need is more votes.



$50,000 is a lot of money.  If we win the grant, we're one step closer to building our maternity center.


Although most of our ladies deliver their babies naturally at Heartline under the care of the midwives, there are times when there are complications.  Finding a hospital for our ladies, in an emergency situation, is rarely easy.  We've even been known to barter our way into a hospital using baby formula. Our heart sinks when we realize we must send one of our ladies to a hospital to deliver her baby or that we can't give a newborn the care they need, so we must seek outside help.  Our ladies and babies are valuable to us, and it matters to our team if they are treated with dignity, respect, and professional care.  We can't always guarantee those things if we have to transport them in an emergency to a nearby hospital.


Our goal is to build a maternity center where we will be able to handle all of those emergency situations that require us to load up our precious women and babies and drop them off at the front gate of a hospital.  We would love to keep our ladies with us, where they know their midwives and doctors, and feel safe and comfortable giving birth.




If the women and children at Heartline have stolen your heart, will you please take half a second and go vote for Heartline here?  You go to this page, click on "vote" and you're done.  So easy.

Can I ask another favor?  Will you help us spread the word?  We think we have a pretty decent shot at winning this thing, but that can't happen unless we all work together and spread the word.  Will you advocate for our ladies and babies today by asking your friends/family/co-workers/churches/sports teams/school organizations to vote for Heartline?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hudson is Three!





How are you three today?

Hudson, you are adorable, wild, and wiley.

You keep us laughing, on our toes, and at times, you make me doubt my salvation.

All the areas where Haiti hasn't stretched us, you have child.

You are strong, fast, curious, determined, and 
you fill our hearts and our home up with rich life.

You are adored, doodle-pants.
We're deep-down grateful to be 
a part of the story God is writing with your life.

Happy Birthday!
We love you precious boy.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Sseko Sandals and a Chance to Win


Guest post by Cameron Crake.
Cameron Crake is the beautiful, brown-haired American in the back row.  
Cameron spent a lot of time at our house when she was in college at Texas A&M.  
Love this girl, and I'm incredibly proud of the work that 
she and Liz (the blonde-haired owner) do at Sseko.  
Aren't all these women lovely?

“Where does my stuff come from?” This was a question that I hadn’t really considered until about two
years ago… I would read the labels every once in a while and see the “Made in China” or “Hecho en
Mexico” label on my newly purchased items, but I never stopped to think about what the life of the
person who made my stuff was like.

Until I did…. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it... My head was constantly swarming with
questions like: What are their working conditions like? Do they have kids? What are their hopes and
dreams for the future? Do they even enjoy what they do? These questions plagued me because I
realized that I didn’t know where most of the things in my closet come from... So I started seeking some
answers and trying to find a better way.



Around that time I started interning with Sseko Designs- a “not-just-for-profit” company that gave me
a glimmer of hope. Sseko sells leather sandals that are handmade by Ugandan women who recently
graduated from secondary school, and aspire to go on to attend university. By working with Sseko,
these young ladies are able to earn money for their tuition and receive an education that is not often a
possibility for a young girl growing up in a war-torn and male-dominated country.

When I first starting working with Sseko, I would speak at promotional events about Harriet, Betty, and
Mercy…. These girls who were halfway across the world, making the shoes that were on my feet, and
going to university because of it.


But now I know them.

Ten days after graduating from college, I moved to Kampala Uganda to work full-time with Sseko
Designs. It’s been over a year now, and it has been an incredible experience to see up close the way that
a company like Sseko changes the lives of its employees.


Of course there is the most obvious change that takes place through employment with Sseko…. For our
university-bound girls, that means making their educational dreams a reality. It means that Susan can
become a teacher, and Betty can become a surgeon, and Lea can become a social worker.

But Sseko also cares about the well-being of its employees down to the day to day stuff... In fact, one
of my favorite parts of my job has been establishing programs for the personal development of our
women: health seminars, personal finance plans, typing lessons…. I get to sit down across from a woman
and hear about how she wants to not only fund her own university education, but also help pay for her
younger siblings school fees… I get to watch a woman turn on the computer for the first time in her life,
and explain to her how a mouse works and where you place your fingers when you type…. I get to listen
in as a health care worker teaches our women about the importance of hygiene and clean water.

What I’ve seen in this company is a deep, deep love for the women that it employs.


So when you buy a pair of Ssekos, you’re not just getting a fabulous sandal.  Your purchase is going so
much further than that. It’s going toward opportunity, dignity, education, empowerment, and love for a
handful of women in Uganda.

You can purchase a pair of Ssekos online OR you can participate in a little raffle we have arranged for
Heather’s readers!




{{Win a Free Pair of Ssekos}}


Here’s the deal: You write a blog about Sseko, tag us in a Facebook status, or tweet about us within the
next week… and then you report back to let us know what you did through a comment on Heather’s
blog. Participants will be entered into a raffle to win a FREE pair of Ssekos! Tagging us in a Facebook
status counts as one entry, tweeting is also one, and writing a blog will count as five entries. One week
from today, we’ll announce the winner. So let the games begin!

From Heather...

 This is how my Ssekos are tied right this very minute.

One of my favorite things about Sseko sandals is that it feels as though you get several pairs of shoes from just one purchase.  Not only can you buy different colored straps and change them out in your sandals, you can also tie your shoes in many, creative, unique styles.  Go check out all the ways you can style your Ssekos.  I can't decide which one I love most.

Other posts in this series:

Caring for the Poor While Living in the Good ol' U-S of A?

Who Are the Poor?

Looking for the Poor 

Hi, My Name is Heather and I'm a Modern Day Slave Owner

Helpful Links

Barn Burning 

First, The Purging 

The Better World Shopping Guide 

More Really Great Shopping Resources 

Running Hard After Redemption

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Burlap Stockings

I got this idea from hgtv, and then realized my sister-in-law is friends
with the lady who designed this stocking for the article.  Small world.

I recently scored 20-30, giant, authentic burlap bags at a garages sale for $1.  $1 for all of them.  Not $1 each.  When the lady told me the price, I was thankful I have such a great poker face was too caffeine deprived for my face to react quickly.  $1 for all of them?  Are you kidding?  Burlap is totally bangin' these days.  I don't know what this lady was thinking but I quickly paid my dollar, grabbed the bags, and ran for my life (it took two trips to get them all to the truck).

One of the things I've been trying to do while I'm here in the States is look for lots of cool ideas the talented sewing ladies at Heartline can reproduce.  I have no idea if we'll end up selling any of the items I've been playing around with through the Haitian Creations website, but it's been fun to try out new ideas with fabric...particularly burlap.  Once I made one stocking, I became obsessed with creating an entire stocking family...one for each of us.











This one was made out of burlap and a tea towel.

Four down, two to go.

Will you do me a favor?  If you have a very favorite purse or bag...one that you adore and wish you had 14 more of the same kind, will you leave a link to it?

If you have any ideas for creative projects that use scrap fabric, will you post a link to those as well?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Running Hard After Redemption

 photo credit:  Troy Livesay

Hopefully you've checked out The Better World Shopping Guide or the free online information from Free 2 Work.  When shopping, these are great resources to use to make informed decisions considering the power we wield every time we pay for the products we purchase.

These guides have been helpful for me to know how best to shop when I find myself at a grocery store or retail store.  What's most exciting is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you've been around here very long, you've heard me say this before...

There was a time when my Christ-following life could have been summed up by saying I was constantly on the look-out for things not to do.  Don't lie.  Don't cheat.  Don't cuss.  Don't say mean things.  Don't be lazy.  Don't, don't, don't, don't.  If you hang out with Jesus at all in the New Testament, who claims to be just like His father in heaven, you find out really quickly that Jesus didn't walk this earth simply telling people what not to do.  Yes, He gave warnings.  Sin was obviously serious to Him, and He was real quick to teach that sin leads to death, it's never productive, and ultimately robs us of the life that Jesus came to give.  A rich life.  An abundant life.  Jesus called Himself the way..the truth...the life.  He talked an awful lot about the Kingdom that is coming..the Kingdom where our true citizenship resides..a kingdom that is mind-blowingly different than this earthly one.

The New Testament writers followed Jesus' example.  Their letters also contain warnings, but most of what they seem to pointing out is that there is an enormous amount of life out there, and Jesus wants us to run after it.  Seek Justice.  Seek righteousness.  Set our minds on what is good and pure.  Clothe ourselves with compassion.  Care for the world.  Love people out of the torrential love that has been showered upon us through the gospel.

So how can Jesus' teachings...His nature...the life that He's calling me and He's calling you to be about penetrate our shopping?  How can Jesus redeem this area of our lives like He's busy redeeming all things?

Sure, we could make a long list of things not to do.  We could make a lengthy list of companies to boycott.  We could become people obsessed with "what not to do" by becoming people obsessed with "what not to buy."  Would we have missed the point?  Yes, warnings are good.  Steering clear of certain companies may be necessary.  But where is the life?  Where is the good that God is calling us...beckoning us...encouraging us to find?  I want to run hard and wild after that.  Don't you?

What if instead of "not doing something" we started "doing something?"  What if that "something" was trying to find companies who are doing what we all want to be doing, finding companies who value what we want to value and then supporting them?  What if we use our voices to advocate for them?  To advertise for them?  Brilliant minds all over the world can argue all they want about whether there should be sweat shops or not...and all day long they can say that taking sweat shops out of poor countries only hurts the poor more.  Maybe they are right.  Maybe they aren't.  I'm no global economist.  But this is one thing I know for sure...if more of us support companies who are treating their employees with fairness and who value the people that work for them, those companies can expand.  They can employee more men, more women, more fathers, more mothers.  I'm just crazy enough to believe that when believers run hard after what is good and right...when we put our money where our mouth is...that we can kick a lot of the darkness found in this world in the pants.

Next week I'm going to let some of my favorite companies share with you, in their own words, what it looks like to run a business where making a difference in their employees lives is as important as making a profit.  Companies who not only make incredible products, but who are doing beautiful work in the lives of the people that make the products they sell.  These are business men and women who have set up shop across the ocean, using their business skills and artistic ability to set captives free.  They have inspired creativity and ingenuity in some of the most oppressed people in the world.  Isn't it lovely to sit and think that within the slums of this broken world God's hand...His mark...His image is there.  Beauty is there.  Hidden.  Waiting.  That's a miracle.  Doesn't it sing loudly of a good God who is at work making all things new?

Each company is run by someone I personally know.  I know-them, know-them.  In real life.  I know their hearts.  I love their products.  I can't wait to share their stories with you.

One of my favorite ways to live out God's heart towards the poor is to support companies who value their employees.  I love the opportunity to vote for things that are near and dear to God's heart...justice for the poor...freedom for the helpless...hope for the destitute.  These companies are producing high-quality products by people whose lives are being changed...cycles of poverty are being broken...they have been offered hope, a chance, and dignity.

I'm excited to share these stories with you.  I'm also thrilled that each company is giving away one of their products. 

"God does not want us to merely give the poor perfunctory help, but to ponder long and hard about how to improve their entire situation." -- Tim Keller in Generous Justice

Other posts in this series:


Caring for the Poor While Living in the Good ol' U-S of A?

Who Are the Poor?

Looking for the Poor 

Hi, My Name is Heather and I'm a Modern Day Slave Owner

Helpful Links

Barn Burning 

First, The Purging 

The Better World Shopping Guide 

More Really Great Resources

And The Winner Is...



I actually know the winner, and will send her book with our teachers because they go to the same church.  Enjoy!

For those of you interested in buying The Better World Shopping Guide you can get it here from the Trade as One blog for under $10.