I’m a Noonday Ambassador!

Exciting news that I’m finally getting around to sharing! As of a couple weeks ago, I am officially an Independent Noonday Collection Ambassador! For those of you that don’t know what that means, I will share below. But first, Noonday’s purpose-straight from their website:

We partner with talented artisan entrepreneurs to make a difference in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. By developing artisan businesses through fair trade, we empower them to grow sustainably and to create dignified jobs for people who need them. Together we’re building a flourishing world where children are cherished, women are empowered, people have jobs and we are connected.

As a Noonday Ambassador, I am a story-wearer and story-teller. Each piece of jewelry and every accessory that Noonday sells is handmade by someone, somewhere who has a life and a story that is being impacted by the purchase of that item. It is these stories of life change that I am so excited to share! In order to do this, I’d love for you to host a trunk show!

For your trunk show, you won’t have to do much more than help choose a date/time and invite your friends/family/coworkers/etc! I will help get you materials to send to your friends, I’ll come to you for your show (I’m willing to travel-within reason!), and I’ll bring with me fun samples for you and your guests to try on. At the show I will share a video and some more about how Noonday aligns with my passion for justice. The rest of the time is for questions, shopping, and conversation! It super fun and easy (I just hosted my own in May and it was a blast!)

I am so excited to learn more, meet new people, and explore all that God has in store for this new opportunity! So, if you’re interested in hosting a trunk show, I am hoping to have a bunch in August and September so let me know!! (For emphasis): Together we’re building a flourishing world where children are cherished, women are empowered, people have jobs and we are connected. If you are even an ounce excited about or interested in that purpose, then let’s do this!

Advertisements

June 9: The Lion

If you were made to create, you won’t feel whole and healthy and alive until you do. -Shauna Niequist

It’s currently 9:04 am on Thursday, June 9. I am sitting in my office at work coming up with a million and one reasons for why I don’t want to write anything. It’s been for months (a year?!) now that I’ve been avoiding my blog. What started with a ridiculous security lock out of my original site (+a lot of tears-long story) has now created what I’ve recently come to know as my “lion.”

My friend at work is an artist. At work she sometimes makes beautiful hand lettered cards (we have a lot of time on our hands here…), but at home she prefers to paint. A couple weeks ago she told me her art room has become her “lion.” Confused, I asked her to explain. She then told me about Annie Dillard’s book, “The Writing Life.” In the book, Ms. Dillard shares her concept of “the lion.”

“A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, “Simba!”

Now obviously here the author is speaking in regards to her expression of choice – writing books. But my friend took it and applied it to her art room (the analogy breaks down a bit, but the concept works). The longer she stayed out, the scarier it became to enter. She wanted so badly to face it, but like me, could think of so many other things she had to do that she would end up justifying herself further and further away- and so the tension grew. It came to a head when she was feeling so drained from her everyday she knew her only option was to face her lion. And so, one Friday she went home fully ready to tame the beast. And honestly, she didn’t that day. When I asked her about it Monday she said, “No, I got distracted and couldn’t face it. I knew you were going to ask…” BUT- accountability is powerful, and the lion would not have reign over HER pride rock. So she went home later that week and she painted. She came back to work exuberant and so excited from her time of creating! And her joy was contagious- she felt motivated to do her work, her homework, her internship, her friendships, her marriage, etc. She was filled, and overflowing.

It’s so interesting how things that bring us the most joy can end up as our biggest lions. Now, I don’t write books and I don’t paint, but I do love to write. I believe words have meaning, and were given to us for just that purpose. Over the past few months I have felt many leading nudges toward getting back on my blog and just writing- not so I could receive nice words from others, not for attention, not for Facebook likes. I was feeling pushed back to do this for myself- not selfishly, but because I know God uses times of expression to fill me. And for Him to use me to the fullest, He needs me to be filled. I feel joy and purpose and the Holy Spirit so connected/interwoven when I sit down and type words. I don’t know what it is- it just is. Don’t we hear ALL the time about how we need to slow down and make time for self-care and yada yada? I always think I’m listening to these pleas, but really I’m just hearing. Today I am listening because I can’t avoid it anymore. This week at work has been terribly boring and honestly, I just need something to do. So, I’m writing-finally.

It’s God’s heart for His kingdom to come through His people here on earth. We are weak, but when we connect with Him, He becomes our strength! That’s what happens for me when I write; and for Carrie when she paints, and my husband when he plays his guitar, and you when you use your gifts. Therefore I’m challenging myself today. I want to keep listening, to keep facing the lion, to keep trying to balance the everyday with the things I need to add to connect with God more. And I know I’ll inevitably let the lion(s) back in; but thankfully I have sweet friends who I know will hold me accountable to Jesus- who I imagine will in turn yell to me, “SIMBA!”

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

February 28: Dreaming

So, this blog has been sitting in my drafts since September 26, 2013. Today I remembered it, edited it a bit, and decided it was time to post it. I’ve been getting in the habit of dreaming lately. I hope you’ll join me! -E

During my time at Impact School of Missions, we talked about our life dreams. This specific class was both inspiring and motivating and it highlighted something I’ve needed to do a little more of- dream with God. Here are some highlights:

First- Why dream? 4 main reasons:

  1. Dreams cause you to step out in faith and watch God do what only He can- the miraculous.
  2. Dreaming with God causes dissatisfaction with the natural life. You are a supernatural being designed for supernatural living.
  3. When we believe in supernatural living- that empowers our dreams and only causes our dreams to get bigger and better.
  4. We have gifts, talents and a destiny to fulfill our dreams. When you dream, you realize you were designed on purpose, for a purpose. (Romans 11:29, John 15:16)

Second, I’d like to pass on a really cool summary of a book called The Dream Giver. Sandra shared it with us in class, and I found a link to a copy on the internet. Read it! Then I encourage you to write down your dreams. Make note of them so that you can watch how God divinely weaves them into a reality- but it’s important to remember that His methods are higher and greater than our understanding. So don’t get caught up in expectations, and just follow the Dream Giver where He leads. When we co-labor with God to pursue our God-given dreams, He can and will provide, and it will be evident that He is the author of our story.

Blooming Dreams-King Rama IX Royal Park December 10, 2013

February 21: Yesterday’s Sunrise

I recently joined a bible study on the book of Revelation with my friend Taylor. It’s a witty/hilariously lead study by Beth Moore who brings down the house with her passion and humility. Our challenge for the entirety of the study (and beyond) is to wake up every day and say “Lord, reveal yourself to me today” (and to be open to that happening!).

The first week was so fun. Our culture dramatically under-spiritualizes the world we live in. So, to turn against that and acknowledge the Lord’s presence was just a face-palm-why haven’t you done this every day of your life-eye opening experience.

We’re into week two now, and I just wanted to share one of the little things that has happened.

Yesterday I woke up super early (6:15..) to nanny for the day. I got up, prayed that the Lord would reveal Himself to me, then got ready to leave and forgot about my prayer. The ‘polar vortex’ fully woke me out of my half-asleep trance as I walked out to my car. It was gloomy out. Just all grey and freezing and I had a long moment of, “God WHY do I live HERE??” (I had many of these this week). I weaved through the neighborhood to get to the main road, turned to face east, and my stomach lurched as I saw just the tiniest blip of pink/purple striped sky. TINY. Little. Hardly there. By the time I got to the house and got out to try and take a picture the sky was bright enough that it was hardly visible.

The stomach lurch was so strong though-like all my emotions had decided to give a quick pound up to my heart…and take me to Thailand.

I lived on the top floor of a seminary there and every morning there was a different, beautiful display out our kitchen window. I soon discovered that there was a ledge big enough to sit on if I just climbed onto the counter/out the window (sorry mom and dad). So I did. I watched the sunrise so many times. Even if just from inside the kitchen, it was impossible not to look out. But here, I’m rarely awake early enough to see it. Except yesterday I was and unexpectedly God made me really notice it.

It was a long time ago already that I was there. That the Lord showed me a million things that I don’t have the capacity to fully comprehend. That I fell hard in love with the people there. But yesterday God showed me that blip of a sunrise. As if to say,

“Remember this little blip of your life where I was so faithful?”

Yes. I remember.

“I’m the same as I was then.”

And so I was encouraged by a little pink/purple sky display to start my day. And it was small and huge at the same time, and it spoke directly to me.

February 13: To my siblings+those who desire love.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. That being said, I’m guessing your responses to that were something close to one of these:

“Oh, what a romantic day it will be.”

“Stupid, commercialized, hallmark holiday”

or “you mean, GALentine’s day!”

And honestly, I can get behind all of those statements. Tomorrow: I will be romantically in love with my fiance; I will still not be a fan of the ridiculously over-hyped holiday; And I will celebrate the amazing friendships I have with women. But, this post isn’t really about any of that.

A few years ago as V-day came and went, I wrote a post on the love I believe in (if you really want to, you can read it here). However, this year I have some thoughts about what I know love is not.

Everyone’s favorite topic (on social media, on blogs, on the radio..) lately seems to be the cinema release of Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s like everywhere I turn there is someone with an opinion about this movie. I, too, have plenty of opinions on the premise of the movie. But here, I just want to share some things that I believe are relevant.

In January of 2012 I was first told about the realities of slavery, manipulation and abuse between human beings in this world. I am talking heart wrenching evil happening in countries on the other side of the world AND in our backyards. Things happening that are quite literally the opposite of the love that I believe in. As my eyes/ears/heart were opened to this I began to notice it more. Sexual assault on my university campus, trafficked girls stuck in the psychological trap of prostitution right here in Wisconsin, girls who believe men when they say, “this is the best way I can show you I love you,” so they willingly give in. These are real people, real individuals, who are not only not receiving love, but their experiences are causing them to build psychological firewalls that prevent them from accepting it.

I lived for 3.5 months in a country where boyfriends and husbands would allow the women they “loved” to sell their bodies for cheap sex. As long as they were making money, it didn’t matter to them where it came from. This is a culture so deeply woven with inferior views of women, the economy-booming sex industry, and lust that I don’t have nearly the time to go into it all now. But, while I lived there I learned so much about a culture’s impact on the minds of the youth who grow up in it. It significantly drives their beliefs, activities, and view of relationships. This is SO important to realize.

I have three younger siblings. In August, I will gain three more. Six siblings ranging from age 10-20. They (and I) are learning, living, and experiencing life in the 2015 American culture. This is a culture where a Valentine’s weekend book-turned-movie release depicts, “a glaring glamorization of violence against women.” (Amy Bonomi, chair of HDFS at Michigan State University, as quoted in the New York Times). But this is not all just about a movie. This is about the culture- many cultures, in fact. Far too many people who glamorize and romanticize things that are not love. So, I need to make some clarifications. Specifically to my six siblings (Maggie, Taylor, Nick, Gretchen, Luke and Noah), but also to whoever might be stuck believing some of these culture lies that so easily creep through the media into our beliefs- because our culture affects us. And I want you to know how it may be affecting us negatively.

1. Manipulation is not love. It is not loving. No part of a relationship or encounter where you find yourself compromising your beliefs/morals/values is a relationship founded in love. No matter what the other person/people say.

2. Abuse is not love. It is not loving. No part of a relationship or encounter where you are abused (emotionally, physically, psychologically) is a relationship founded in love. No matter what the person/people say.

3. Be weary of our culture. It has great things. It often promotes our independence, our capabilities, our human rights- but it also often wrongly romanticizes things that are not love.

You have access to true love. You have access to a relationship where you feel uplifted, cherished, and accepted as you are. You have access to a love where as you receive it, you can’t help but pour it back out. You have access to a love that is eternally committed to you. You have a Holy God who loves you in this divine and perfect way. You have access to this love because God SO LOVED YOU that He sent His son to die for you.

So, please don’t accept things that are not love. You (every person reading this) already have access to the real thing.

Maggie, Taylor, Nick, Gretchen, Luke and Noah- I believe each of you deserve nothing less than a relationship founded in true love. And I hope you come to know/ believe that for yourselves (if you don’t already). I love you. -E

Engaged

On August 2, 2014, my sweet boyfriend of (almost) 2.5 years got down on one knee and asked me if I would love him forever as his wife. So of course, when I decided to start recording sweet moments of life on my blog, this was a must for me. The most special day with the best guy and best people- all thanks to our God who so graciously gives us tastes of the unfathomable love He has for us. Just all around the sweetest memory I have so far.

We started the day with breakfast together, had a late lunch at PF Chang’s, saw Guardians of the Galaxy, then headed over to Tenney Park to kick off the evening…and the pictures will tell the rest! A HUGE thank you to Ali Geisler and Nana (Pat Sweeney) for capturing the day in pictures. Another HUGE thank you to our parents/families, who made our day even more special by throwing the best party. And a final HUGE thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us and make us feel so incredibly loved and cared for. I’m just so incredibly grateful for every single part of this day and love reliving it through these pictures. ENJOY. -E

(pictures to come when I have time to transfer them…you can always hop over to the original post!)

A new category

A little over a year ago, I was sitting in my kitchen at my beloved slanted apartment with my roommate Ali. We were eating a 1504 signature meal (black bean tacos) and were enjoying each others company over a candlelit dinner (we’re romantics).

Our other roommates were gone, so it was just the two of us talking about who knows what. Eventually Ali spoke aloud something along the lines of, “I’m happy. This is one of those moments in life where I just feel so happy to be here.” YES. I loved this. After a rough year, my dear friend was giving life to words that were so true. And because she spoke it aloud, I too found myself realizing how significantly happy I was just to be doing exactly what I was doing. I grabbed my camera and took a few (unfortunately blurry) pictures just to preserve the special time together with full intentions of eventually writing a blog post about it. Here I am, over a year later finally writing things down-but with altered intentions. I originally thought I’d just share something about the uniqueness of friendship and the moment we shared- some one-and-done post that would be encouraging and uplifting for me to go back and read some day. However, over the past few months I’ve been really thinking about what Ali did that night. Simply by verbally giving life to her happiness, the feeling seemed to grow. It became more real to her, and was brought to my attention where it became more real to me. Our daily joy is purpose from the Lord, but our moments of happiness are sweet blessings as we pursue that joy. So, I’ve decided to start a new category on my blog where I record these sweetmemories. This way, my happy evening with my roommate will be recorded, and so will so many other moments and memories to come. They’ll be encouraging and uplifting for me to go back and read some day, and will all be stored in one place! I already have my next post planned- stay tuned for a super special post about August 2, 2014… -E

September 8: Whirlwind

So much is changing. I’ve entered fully into being a “post-grad” (whatever that means), a lot of my closest friends have moved away, and I have moved from 4 years of downtown life into a beautiful apartment in suburbia (Waunakee). For years I have watched my older friends transition out of college and into the “real world” and have heard about how difficult it is-but how great it is too! And now here I am, in the midst of my own transition, trying to grip the reality that change is, in fact, hard.

I’ve gone through change before. I can’t fully remember it, but I know I went through a hard time when I first came to college. Finding/making friends is difficult! But my most recent experience with change was, honestly, not that hard. Last fall I went to a foreign country, had to make new friends/family, and lived there for 3.5 months- and it all seemed easy (thanks to Jesus). I never looked back. I was so incredibly comforted by what God was consistently doing in me and around me. So in thinking about what could possibly be different from one year ago, I’ve come to a realization that I often think about, but never truly deal with. In Thailand, I was fully expecting God to show up and do incredible things (which He did!)- but here, in America, I’ve lost sight of the God of the Universe who promises to be equally faithful in my life here as He did there.

Hebrews 13:8 says

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

He is the same- in transitions, in season and out of season, in Thailand and in America, He is the same. It is me who changes. My faith wavers. Sometimes I feel a need to be fully dependent on Him (and reap the incredible blessings-all for His glory!) and sometimes I’m super comfortable where I am, and think I can handle everything on my own. Sometimes I’m ready and willing to take God at His word, and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I believe God for the impossible, sometimes I don’t.

This is not a foreign reality to me- it’s a human reality that I often overlook, but need to deal with. This world continues to spin whether I decide to or not, but the truest of joys comes when I remember to choose to be fully dependent, ready and willing to take God at His word, and believe in Him for the impossible.

God will do incredible things through me when I am dependent on Him- all for His glory.
God is faithful to be taken at His word.
God can (and will) do the (seemingly) impossible.

These things are true of God every day! It’s just whether or not I turn to Him- despite the whirlwind of life transitions and change around me- ready and expecting His faithfulness in return.

That’s where I’m at today, and I’m hoping to (by His grace and strength) continue to be- ready and expecting this new season of life to be full of the joys He has planned.
-E

Isaan//Breakthrough Thailand

While in Thailand, my fellow intern (Kylie) and I had the opportunity to take a weekend trip up to Isaan to hang out at one of the branch-off ministries of Servantworks called Breakthrough Thailand. The ministry provides mentorship for at-risk teenage girls while promoting family unity and community development. I encourage you to click on the hyperlink above and read more about Breakthrough and the incredible things they are doing in the lives of 13 teenage girls, their families and the community they’re living in!

You’ll see pictures below, but the landscape was unbelievable. When we got there we went out to see the (mostly) harvested rice fields as well as the sugar cane crops that were a few months from being ready to be harvested. The building and the village were both so fun to see, and so unique. I especially love the center’s motto- “Together we grow.”

We just so happened to go up on the weekend of the rice harvest. To celebrate the harvest we went out for dinner with the staff members and the girls plus some friends. We hopped into a pickup truck- 2 adults and 2 kids in the front seat, 3 adults in the backseat, and about 15 girls packed into the back of the open pick up truck. No safety laws here! We went to a restaurant where you cook your own food over a fire and it was delicious. Then we headed over to a mini Loi Krathong celebration at a nearby town. It reminded me of fair grounds- amusement park lights, tons of food and balloons, and a lot of teenagers. A lot of people followed the Buddhist traditions of the holiday by sending up their wishes and prayers via lanterns and candles. The celebration raged on with fireworks that were shot up between buildings and bursted into flame right above our heads. When I felt sparks coming down I asked one of the girls if it was safe to be shooting off fireworks so close to people. She responded with a laugh and said casually, “No probably not. People die sometimes.” Oh sweet relief, only sometimes! Living for the thrill I suppose. After being stopped by a couple groups of teenagers who wanted pictures with “farang” (foreign) girls, we all packed back into the pickup truck and headed home.

We were given the unique opportunity on our second day there to spend just a bit of time learning how to harvest. The village members were encouraging and laughed with us as we struggled. The coolest part was that we were in the field with members of the whole village who had joined together to help finish the harvest-even if it wasn’t their land. It was truly a blessing to be a part of it! We didn’t stay out long though- we were slow and were probably more in the way than anything.

I so wish we could have stayed longer and spent more time with the girls, but just the short time was enough to see how faithful God is to people who surrender their lives to Him! Enjoy the pictures. -E

(pictures to come when I have time to transfer them…you can always hop over to the original post!)

Children of the Well

I’ve been home for almost 2 months now, and I’m finally getting around to posting pictures! First up: kids.

During my internship, I had the incredible privilege to spend my mornings (and some afternoons!) with the children of the women at The Well. What a beautiful experience it was! The Children’s center or “Baan Dek” was where I learned the majority of the language that I acquired, and I got to form relationships with these sweethearts. In the mornings we had worship and prayer then did some activities and played. In the afternoons, I got to hang out with the older kids who were so much fun too. We even took them on a field trip to see “Planes” at the movie theater and then went to Swenson’s for some ice cream. It brings me so much joy (and tears) to look through these pictures. They certainly captured my heart with their sweet faces and energetic personalities. So, hopefully they make you smile (at the very least!) Enjoy! -E

(pictures to come when I have time to transfer them…you can always hop over to the original post!)