Fair Trade Friday GIVEAWAY!!

ftf

Picture by Fair Trade Friday

Last week, in the fog of pneumonia, I told you about Fair Trade Friday. (I’m not being dramatic. It really was that bad!)  I explained how I was taking my first steps in becoming a conscious consumer. How I was taking on the big monster that is American consumerism. And starting with one simple yes to fair trade. I signed up to get a monthly box of items from the FTF club. Every month I receive 3-4 items from faith based non-profits that empower women from around the world. It’s one of the many things I love about this ministry. A powerful vision birthed from Kristen and Mercy House in Kenya. Check this video out to learn about their story.

They partner with many non-profits in over 18 countries. With the same heartbeat, these organizations empower women and communities, giving them the opportunity to work with dignity for themselves and their families. Organizations like Caring for Korah, “Korah is a community that sits on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia next to the Koshe garbage dump,”  and Village Artisan in Northern India. With passion, they set out to partner with struggling artisan communities in the area. “Sixteen years since the birth of Village Artisan, over 100 artisans are earning a living wage through dignified work in a caring community.” These non-profits are being run by indigenous leadership. While many their founders support and spread the word stateside. Lighting a fire under our bottoms and sharing their stories like wild fire!!!

So let’s get right to the point friends! GIVEAWAY!!! Free stuff. What. What. YOLO. You do only live once. So promise me you’ll go check out the FTF club. Sign up for a box or Earrings of the month. But in the mean time, follow the instructions on the giveaway and you might get a GORGEOUS picture frame from Village Artisan.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Seriously. I really wanted to keep this. It even matched my decor! But someone told me once, it’s better to give than receive. So there you have it! Tell your friends and family. Share this post and sign up for the GIVEAWAY. Click this link!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fair Trade Friday

Redeem consumerism

I am currently sitting in my bed with pneumonia. My upper respiratory bronchitis sinus infection has now settled into pneumonia. Fun right? Let’s just say it’s been a LONG couple of months of sickness for me. When I found out about joining the Fair Trade Blogging team I was so excited and had elaborate blogging schemes to talk to you about Fair Trade Friday so that you’d want to spend ALL your money there. I still hope you spend ALL your money but I am coming to you a bit more weak and simple. Kind of like offering up a couple loaves of bread and fish and praying God multiplies my efforts. Except its really like a bunch of crumbs because, well, pneumonia and raising 3 small children.

The idea of fair trade intimates me. Questions like where, who and how my stuff is made. Thinking about how transactions should be fair or mutual for both seller and the consumer. It takes extra brain and heart energy that most Americans don’t take the time to do. We are consumers. Consumers that do not care much for the seller. The idea of stuff has become so apart of our culture that the person making it often doesn’t even enter our mind. What are the conditions in which they make this product? Are they getting paid enough to sustain basic needs? Who owns the company and how much cut are they getting? What country is this being made in and how does that factor into this situation? And on and on and on. You see. Tiring.

I’ll be the first one to admit, I can over process things to the max. And all INFJ’s said Amen! But I think there is something here for everybody. Something to ponder about how we Americans, how we Christians do consumerism. It’s too easy NOT to think about the implications of our  stuff. Look around your house right now. I’m looking around mine. (It’s a MESS by the way) What if all the stuff you had came from fair trade. What if all the furniture and trinkets, and clothes and dishes and so and so and so on was made by a person you knew by name. What if you knew you helped empower that person. Or because of your purchase, you are helping them provide shelter and food for their family. What if you knew that you helped a mother feed her children and send them to school.

It can be scary to walk into something big. It can be overwhelming when you think about how your consumerism effects the world. But that is never a good excuse to not do something. Just because its big and scary. There is always a place to start. And this is my start. The Fair Trade Friday box and Mercy House are my start in connecting my consumerism to my heart and changing a women’s life. You can do a one time purchase or you can sign up to be a member for their fun boxes and receive different stuff from around the world every single month.

Here at the blog and on my instagram I will be sharing more about these organizations and their products. More importantly I will be sharing stories from women that are being impacted. Won’t you join me again? Share with family and friends. It could mean the world not to me but to them!

FFT box

Among the Cornstalks

cornstalks

I walked in numb. I was exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I had nothing left. Grace was floating me along without me even knowing it. This was the point where I didn’t give an eff. We had shut down the lifegroup we were leading. The facade was over and I was too relieved to care what people thought.  I  was too tired to give a rip. Perfectionism. It’s exhausting. I walked in that first therapy session vulnerable. I walked in with a mangled tangled ball of yarn and asked someone to help me make sense of it all.

I sat week after week after week accepting my depression and anxiety. Surrendering to its limitations for me. Saying yes to the pain. To the anger. To the confusion. Hands open, I was ready to receive what it had to teach me. Sometimes you strip yourself down so much it can be scary to look in the mirror. What will you see being so naked? It was my weakness that gave me the courage to keep looking. Something so primal rose up. Some deep dependence that was placed in me from the moment of my creation sprang up. I was learning to trust God in the darkness. My weakness became His strength.

There was a turning point. When I began to give myself permission to untangle myself from others. I said a goodbye to my fake friends of expectation and perfectionism. My gift of peacemaking had been perverted to people pleasing. I learned to see the difference. I learned to do the difference. When those chains fell off, it brought freedom. I got to say Yes to who God made me to be. I discovered I feel deeply and it was ok! I realized I am a slower pace person.  Busy is my arch nemesis. I got in touch with my brokenness. And wholeness washed over me like never before.

I found an internal rest. I said a lot of no’s this past year. No that’s not me. No I won’t do that. It gave me the ability to feel the joy of a real Yes. Because I was stopped in my tracks, by depression and anxiety, I learned the art of stillness. I gave my body, my mind and my spirit rest. I was learning the deeper meaning of the Sabbath. I resisted the culture of production.

I allowed all that I believed about God to fall apart. Every part of me was broken including all the things I thought I knew for sure about Him. I’m still giving language to this mystery faith crisis. I am still trying to find ways to explain that I completely lost my faith. Some days all I could do was hang on to a mustard seed faith. Other days there was nothing to hold to. And yet here I stand, a year later with the biggest faith plant in my garden. Ready to give my whole life for the mystery of the Kingdom of God. To live out the radical love of Jesus. I had laid out all my no’s for Him. All my “I don’t understand” and “You don’t make any freakin sense.” On this table I laid out my truth. He said he desired truth, I took Him up on it.

So here I am. Days away from my last therapy session. Reflecting the heck out of my last season! Seeing hidden graces. Watching how God weaved my story together. I would have never chosen it. I would have never chosen the pain. Yet I am grateful for it. I found God amongst the rubble of my life. I found Him in my cracks and exposed areas. I found Him in my extreme darkness and physical suffering. I will spend the rest of my life discovering all the places He revealed Himself to me here. I can look back and say, it was good. It was horrible and painful. But it was good. I faced my fears. I faced myself. I experienced God in ways that are almost indescribable. I wouldn’t be who I am without that season.  I sat with the mystery of God and it changed me.

                   “when you let go, you grow still and silent. You learn to sit among the cornstalks. and wait with God.”                 Sue Monk Kidd

In Which My Body is Broken

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I waited a week and half to get the test results back. Anticipation of results that would conform what I already knew too well. That my body was broken. That no matter how much I willed it, my body was not working correctly. She said it was an autoimmune disease. Hashimotos. In which my bodies immune system begins to attack my thyroid. I didn’t let it sink it. I nodded accordingly. Asked a couple of questions. Listened as she went over the game plan. I made a mental note of the hope in her voice. That this would be a journey of healing. That some of the damaged could be corrected. Journey of healing. I’d heard this before. I am well acquainted with life looking more like a journey. My emotional health, my soul healing looked more like a labyrinth. Everything more connected that separated. It was now time to add the physical healing.

I wept the hour drive home. I have learned to not rush my emotions. To be intentional to feel every part of life. The joyful along with the sorrow. It was not time to pull myself up by my bootstraps. My courageous acts look more like weakness these days. So I wept. Like Jesus did for Lazaras. That this life has offered me a bit of death. That my physical body is not whole but in desperate need. I grieved for all the ways I have suffered these past 2 years. That I had made it to this day. And discovered a name to some of my obscurity.

Jon was talking about Jesus and Lazaras the other day. How if ever there was a moment when Jesus knew what was going to happen, this was it. The Divine made human, knew he would raise him from the dead. He knew the power of life he held. Yet he wept. He was moved by Marys grief. And He wept. Embracing the moment of weakness and sadness. Feeling the moment of Marys powerlessnes.  How can there be life if you’ve never experienced the sting of death.

Relief and thankfulness did not come right away. Grieving came first for me. Sorrow. My suffering has felt great these past couple of years. It felt right for my soul to experience sadness before the seed of gratefulness and hope could sprout. I am not afraid of my sadness or anger over my situation. It is a holy practice of sorts, to lament the broken on this earth. It is in these raw emotions that I have experienced Grace in such a deep way. To admit my limits, my need, leaves me with my hands open to the Divine. Lamenting has pointed me to Jesus and the Cross.

So now, six weeks out, I am waking up to my own life. Feeling better every day. Embracing the Grace that is given in the moment. Not worried about storing it up for later but soaking it all up now. This moment right here. I find all I have capacity for is, today. And it seems to be a gift worth living.

The victory of resurrection requires the vulnerability of the crucifixion. Walter Brueggemann.

I lost my faith

i lost my faith

there are no quiet times. no new devotionals. im not listening to a sermon series. i drag myself to church most sundays. i have no fancy words. no cliche church words. i have looked inside. and i come up empty. there is just worship music. and there is this emptiness.

i see myself off the beaten path. watching others go by. running their own race. some walking slower. others buzzing by. i stand still. in the quiet. in the mystery. waiting.

i have untangled many lies of Gods character. i have run my finger across the broken parts of my own foundation. His life squeezed in. His mystery in my darkest parts. specks of christian culture sprinkled within my cement. man made specks imbedded in my “solid rock.” imbedded in my thinking and in my doing. i lost my faith. I lost my faith to find it. again. No prayers were uttered on these lips. I’d said them all before. read them all before. just groans and cries from my own soul. crying for healing. there is just silence. and there is this emptiness.

i am needy. no longer the false illusion of self sufficiency running through my blood.  i am in want. thirsty. hungry. dirty.

what would it look like for me to hand it over. my burdens. to replace them with light ones. to raise up my hands. give myself up. to take the cup to my thirsty mouth. to eat of life bread. what would it look like to rip up this old house. expose myself. my bottom self. to let my foundation be relaid. what would it look like to know my great need. to admit i lost my faith. just to find it again. what power can i hold when i just say it. say the name jesus.

im laying down my images of him. laying down your images of him. and im crying out with my heavy burdens to the name. i stand still. in the quiet cries. in the mystery. waiting.

Welcome to the Table

Table

I’ve never written about race issues. I have talked about it. I have cried over it. I have yelled and even cussed expressing it. But I have never written my words down. It’s like trying to get what’s deep in my belly out my mouth. And sometimes it feels hard. Jumbled, with a message that’s still developing within me. But I don’t have the luxury of waiting to work it out eloquently. Time is literally of the essence. So this may be messy. If you have never talked about race you will more than likely feel uncomfortable. That’s ok. Life is uncomfortable. You will live. So will I. If I’m misunderstood, or critiqued by you, for making everything about race, I will live. But this message cannot stay within the four walls of my home anymore. Justice never stays within four walls.

Come. Come in closer. Sit at the table. My black brothers and sisters are here. They have been sitting here for awhile. Waiting. Crying for you to hear. Some angry. My illegal immigrants are here also. Asking for your grace. Your understanding. Would you come and listen awhile? Would you leave your assumptions at the door? Maybe quiet your privilege a minute? Lay down your weapons of words? And just listen. Lean in and give ear to the cries.

These talks have been going on for some time now, my friends. Here’s a secret. When you are the minority you are extremely aware of it. You feel the differences immediately. It’s difficult for dominate cultures to know this. I understand. I really do. One visit to say, India, will remind you of this feeling. But you need to know this conversation is normal. It’s common to talk about race in our homes.

They. We. We want to express ourselves. We want to cry. We want to yell in anger and anguish. We want to tell you things are not always as they seem. We want to say we feel forgotten. That our struggles are misunderstood and forgotten. We want to say how could you possibly know what it is like to walk in my shoes. Unless you are a black man, how could you know what it is like in his skin.

Something quite holy happens when stories are told to open hearts. A name, a face, a story is now imbedded in your soul. This won’t be the end to injustices. But it may be a beginning. Maybe the words you hear will reach your heart. Then reach your feet. We are asking that you join us in this narrative. We are asking that you not believe the lie that racism is dead in America. We are asking that you listen. We are asking that you educate yourself. We are asking that you wake up from your slumber O sleeper. Time is of the essence.

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they do not know each other; they do not know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.

Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity. Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal. It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself… Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Story

story2

It snuck in first of the year. Looking back I had begun to believe the lie that I was all “better now.” Nobody wants to be around a depressed person long. And I had an internal timer that had beeped me back to “normal.” The old habits of suppressed emotions sprang back up. My comparison monster told me that everyone was normal, without much blemish, so I needed to be normal again. It was so subtle. So tricky, how your own thoughts tells you lies.

When you start to believe the process shouldn’t include sadness and anger, the urge to jump ship is strong. And a habit of not checking in with your own soul happens. You’re scared of yourself and what might appear.  You cover yourself with an artificial blanket of protection. Thinking that uncomfortable feelings will vanish in thin air. They don’t. When the intentional work of the heart quits being done, your heart becomes heavy. Overloaded with the junk of life.

It was no wonder I began the month of February, love month as they call it, with a darkness I could not describe. And when I wasn’t in the dark, I was in the cage of anxiety. With the anxiety suffocating me more and more each day. And I told no one. Hiding has always been my death medicine. With this relapse came waves and waves of shame. I could not make my heart, mind and body do what I wanted it to do. “Be well!”, I would yell. But it would not. It could not.  I had forgotten that navigating the oceans of the soul is a process. A sometimes, long and painful process. Healing always comes with some sort of pain. If not, how else would you know you needed to be healed.

So I hid for some time in the dark rooms of my mind. The isolation and shame dancing around each other, choreographing a  number along my heart. I believed the lie that there is no goodness, no true love. I felt life will always be this dark. That maybe there was no light after all. I was convinced that if people knew the ugly inside me they would go running. So I walked around the world with my heavy coat of protection. And when I was in the comfort of my home, I’d crawl in bed and push the covers over my head. Hoping that sleep would make it all go away. Even if just for a little while.

And the day came when being a functioning depressed person is no longer real. The illusion becomes shattered when your husband has to stay home from work because you can’t get out of bed. Or when you’re up all night with a suffocating anxiety. My body began to ache because my emotions were proving to affect my physical body.

That is what it was like. My journey into depression.

My healing has come slow and intentional. I can’t afford to coast through life without paying attention to my own soul. And so I got myself back in therapy. And started learning to connect my emotions to my physical body through yoga. I spoke out my truth again and again and again. I made sure to ask for help when I needed. To set boundaries for myself. (I’m still learning that one!)

Depression is complicated. Layered. There are no simple answers to the complexity  of it. The light is a bit more than the darkness now. And joy has begun to spring up. I feel myself more days than I don’t. And grace. There is buckets of grace around here. Some days are still harder than others. But I am allowing grace to be knit into the fibers of my being this time. Remembering to be kind and show compassion to myself. To take deep breathes and hear the quietness whisper words of wisdom to me. Sometimes slow brings about the most change. The deepest change.

***I couldn’t find who took this picture. I found it on pinterest.***

winding road

winding road

This winding road that seems to lead to nowhere. This place of darkness, of thick veil over my eyes. This place of silence it seems. Manna for today. Just for today. Nothing more. Nothing less. This clinging to something substantial in thin air. Only to have it disappear once again. This place of wandering. Wandering. Wandering. Questions unanswered. So many unanswered.

This place where I’m losing hope. Losing sight. Losing the point of it all. This place I might crumble any day now. This place of loosing myself. This place of looking in the mirror without masks. This place of a million pieces floating in the sky not looking  to fit, to reconcile.

This place where self-discovery becomes endless. This place where pain and freedom become one. This place where hope isn’t rising but faith is re-defined. This place where past Story is embraced. Where His story is embraced.

This place of seeing Jesus. Really seeing Jesus. Where I embrace my broken humanity and find a Savior.

This place is a desert where a generation is dying off. So much needs dying off. This place of dying. And dying. And dying. This place where He resurrects . Again. and again. and again. This generation is me. And I am waiting. Waiting. Still. waiting. And he is transforming. Transforming. Transforming.

 

photo by:Jeremie Egry

Books! Books! Books!

photo (4)I love reading! But there might be one thing that excites me more and that is seeing what other people are reading!! I love the rabbit trail it sends me on when I find one book that leads to another book. So I have dedicated an entire blog post on some books that I have read this last year. My list was much LONGER but I figured people would appreciate a smaller, concise list that keeps ones attention. I also plan on doing a book list on self help and racial reconciliation. YAY!

One of the things that has created room for spiritual growth for me is to read authors who are not my denomination.  I think sometimes evangelicals think they are going to be the only ones in heaven. That we somehow have the market cornered on who Jesus is. That our heavenly neighbors will all be republican, evangelical, charismatic and white. (ok maybe I’m placing judgment on that last one!) I have been so refreshed to see Jesus in a new way by reading brothers and sisters that express worship differently then I do. Some might have views that are deemed more “liberal” but I have so much to learn from them! WE have so much to learn from each other. The church is big and she is beautiful.

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown TaylorI fell in love with Barbara Brown Taylors writing immediately! She strings some beautiful words together! This book goes through the spiritual practices and how they can be practiced every day. You will leave changed by the depth and simplicity of this book. You can also watch short videos here of her speaking.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah BesseyI found Sarahs blog a couple of years ago. She brings such beauty and truth as she dives into a sometimes “uncomfortable” topic of women in the church. It feels like you’re having coffee with your favorite (smart) girlfriend! I anxiously awaited the release of her first book. And It did not disappoint! For a every women and every man in the church this is a MUST read. It will change the way you view the dirty word “feminist” (I happen to not think it’s a scary word but I am a rebel at heart 😉 ) and send you questioning how scriptures about women are talked about in church. I did the ugly cry through the last chapter.

When We Were On Fire by Addie ZiermanI also found her blog and later picked up her book. She chronicles her life growing up in the evangelical church and her journey into depression. I loved reading her story. If you grew up in evangelical culture circa 1990’s, this will make you laugh and shudder at the same time! I soooooo connected to her doubt and cynicism. And her journey to real faith with imperfect followers. It was also a bit of healing for me as I looked back on my own journey. There is a lot of talk about my generation leaving the Church. Most often than not I think for good reason. So I think her story is so important if we are to continue to grow as Jesus people! The church is battered and bruised but she has such beauty.

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk KiddIf your heart starts racing when someone talks about feminism. Or rage begins to fill up your body because you think women who are feminist are all going to hell.  I would venture to say this is not the book for you! I found this book fascinating and powerful! So much I only got half way through it. I needed to put it down to digest the first part. It’s one of those books I could read over and over again. I see it like a big juicy steak that you might need a lot of time to sit and chew, to get all the goodness out of it. This is a story about her journey into womenhood. Not the one society creates for you. Not the one the church says over you. But the identity that Mother God imparts to us as women.

When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk KiddI don’t think I can explain how much this book impacted me. It holds a really special place in my heart. I read this book during my first round of depression last year. It changed so much for me. How I viewed God, how I saw myself, and how I viewed transformation. It’s just an amazing book! The spiritual act of waiting is so counter culture and exactly what spiritual transformation is about!

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne LamottUmm need I say more. This is Anne freakin Lamott people. If you have never read one of her books, I’d say start here. She will make you cry and laugh. Some of her other books that I love are: Bird by Bird and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. ALL of her books are fantastic. If you like writing, READ BIRD BY BIRD.

Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit by Luci ShawThis was such a beautiful book to read. Luci Shaw is a poet and her words nourish the body like only a poet can do. I was interested in reading this book because the arts really draw me to the presence of God. But I have often times been disappointed that Christians sometimes like to create art in boxes made of right and wrong. She says, “Faith informs art and art informs faith.”  Side note: I am REALLY thankful we are a part of a faith community with AMAZING artist. It’s an incredibly talented bunch. They are painting the world with colors that look like Jesus!

Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Doyle MeltonI don’t know what to say. Glennon is hilarious! Her transparency is contagious. And her wisdom will disarm you in 2 seconds. You can’t help but it eat up her words! You can check out her TED talk here. She also has a pretty sweet blog.

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” by Kathleen NorrisOne thing I love. Liturgy. And one thing I hate. Laundry. This is a small book but when you open it up gold falls out. Seriously! It’s a beautiful book that connects you to God’s presence in the mundane of life. The beautiful repetitive work of laundry and cleaning will feel like a full body prayer to your creator after reading this book.

hangover

 hangover1

And I’m still trippin over my vulnerability hangover. I threw the door open and let you in. But things got cold when I realized you could come and go as you please. See my imperfections. See my ugly. You could put together ideas about who you think I am. I could tell you about my fears and you might say I need to pray. Tell you about my questions and you might question my faith. Say shit and you might want to clean my mouth. I said things that might make you uncomfortable. I took the shot glass of vulnerability and later felt the effects.

Hangover..

I hang my head down. Slam the door shut. But I’m still shivering. Because my fears. Insecurities. Shame. They don’t feel warm and cozy like they use to. There’s no life here. I’m alone in my self-made house. And its foundation made of sand is quickly sinking.

So let me get up real quick. Walk out into the sun. Lift my face to the warmth of it. Drink a tall glass of everlasting, thirst quenching water. Let me stand up straight. Take a deep breathe. Open my hands up to the weakness I feel. Fix my eyes on that grace filled  strength. I’m not done letting you in yet. And maybe I’ll trip over my vulnerability again. Maybe I’ll skin my knee showing you real. I’ll tell you about my wounds and my scars. I’ll be honest about my imperfections and my ugly. And maybe you wince at first glance. But keep looking because there’s redemption here.  Grace. Sanctification. Red that turns to white. Cause I’m working out this salvation. And I am being made new again.  New again.

I did not come up with the phrase “vulnerability hangover.” All props goes to Brene Brown who’s book inspired this thought. It was exactly how I felt when I started owning my story and being vulnerable. Her work and books on shame were LIFE CHANGING for me. Check them out if you dare! 

photo by Flickr