Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful I'm a Failure

I know it's the holiday season but I'll be honest, I'm just not feeling it (yet).

Bah humbug, anyone?

My life seems a little too chaotic at the moment to get into the holiday spirit. 

My house is a wreck. I'm yelling at my kids...because my house is wreck and if I step on one more Hot Wheel or Lego block, I may blow a gasket. 

My sweet Elbie rocking that jacket…and nothing else.
It seems my conversations with my husband lately are all logistical. "Who has the kids? Did you pay the rent? Will you take this to the Post Office?" And date night with real conversation - um, what's that?

I'm leaving for a 7-day mission trip in 9 days and haven't thought one bit about packing. Who needs clothes? I may embrace the way of the Haitian children on this trip…ok, maybe not.

For some reason, I CANNOT get to work on time lately and I'm up to my ears in half-finished "To Do" lists…for all three of the jobs I'm currently juggling. 

I look at my current state and feel like such a FAILURE as a wife, a mom, a boss, an employee, a family member and a friend. 

But I'm ok with failure. Really, I am. 

Because God is in the failures. The doubts. The insecurities. The overwhelmingness of life. He's there in the messy relationships. He's there in the difficult days when nothing seems to go right. And the pain of stepping on a Hot Wheel in the middle of the night? Yep, He's there, too.

Last night, I finally had all my email inboxes cleared out, all my Noonday Collection orders entered, had sorted through the urgent mail and I was just about spent from the day. But I reached over and grabbed my daily devotion book and Bible. I am so glad I did; this was the little gem God had for me in the exhaustion... 

"When I'm sinking in thoughts of inadequacy...I remember that my ability is not based on what I can do. My ability and strength come from the One who can do all things." 

While the reminder didn't change the fact that my house is still a wreck or that I was still late for work this morning, it did remind me that He's there with me in the mess of my house and sitting beside me as the officer walked slowly to my car (Sorry, Jeff!). It reminded me that I can have peace with my failures and don't have to put on like my life is perfect and all neatly put together. It's not and never will be. And if it were, I might not lean on Him every minute of every day...

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Lord, draw me close and let me rest in knowing the pain in my foot will subside and it's really not a big deal if I forget something on this trip. Draw me close and let me know that my failures are just more opportunities to let YOUR light shine and Your power rest in me. Draw me close and teach me to love the "perfect failure" You've created to walk in humility and fellowship with You each day…

So, bring on the minefield of Legos and the frantic packing hours before a flight…I'm ready. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Holidays Giveaway!

It's the holidays! Trees are being decorated. Cookies being made. Parties being planned. It's a HAPPY time - and I want to make someone even HAPPIER by giving them a beautiful piece of Noonday Collection jewelry to gift (or to keep!) for the holidays!

Wear as one long piece...
Each season, there is one piece that speaks to me. Its beauty, its story, its uniqueness - something about it just "gets to me."

This season it is the Braided Bullet necklace. From the minute we started getting sneak peeks, I had to have it. When I pulled it out of its cute little bag the day my samples arrived, I cried. I cried because it was every bit as beautiful as I had imagined and also because seeing each tiny little bead that was hand-crafted and then hand-beaded into those beautiful braided strands just got me. Thousands of those tiny beads to make each strand…it overwhelmed me. When it's discontinued from our line, it will not make it into the sample sale… sorry, friends.

...or double for shorter layers
For those not a familiar with the Ethiopian line from Noonday Collection, each piece is made from upcycled artillery that is collected by farmers in the war-torn country. The shells are melted and made in the various shaped beads of all different sizes that are needed to create the amazing necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The Ethiopian pieces are always my favorite because they are such beautiful reminders of God's presence in our lives; in the midst of the terrible circumstances He is there...there waiting to make beauty from our ashes. You can read more about our Ethiopian artisans here!

Each time I wear the Braided Bullet necklace, I love it a little more, and I find myself praying for the hands that made it throughout the day. Praying for her safety. Praying for her health. Praying for the health of her family. Praying for her to have HOPE in a future because she has dignified employment. And most of all, praying for her to come to know and feel the love of Jesus Christ in a real and meaningful way through her connection to Noonday Collection.

So, here's the deal. I'm giving one away December 15 and will ship it out to the winner December 16 - just in time for Christmas gifting…or wearing yourself for all the holiday fun!

How can you win it, you ask?

1. Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each time you share, you'll get another entry into the drawing. Be sure to tag me in the post(s): @LauraRWalton on Twitter & Instagram and Laura Richardson Walton on Facebook (just "friend" me if you need to). 

Not sure how to "share"? Just copy and past the URL from your browser into your status box. The link will become active automatically and you can add your comments about the giveaway.

2. Attend a trunk show - or shows! - between November 25 and December 15. If it's not one that I'm hosting, no worries! Just snap a pic with your sweet Ambassador and tag me in it on any social media.

3. {Shop with a Purpose}. For every $25 spent between November 25 and December 14 at one of my trunk shows or online at, you'll get one entry into the giveaway. **Be sure to select me as your Ambassador at check out so I will receive a notification of your order!**

You can do all your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your couch in your fuzzy slippers this week AND be entered to win the Braided Bullet necklace AND give amazing gifts that are truly changing lives to all the special ladies in your life this Christmas. That's WIN-WIN-WIN in my book! :-D

4. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@LauraRWalton) and follow this blog if you're not already (just hit that button to the right)!

It's that simple! I'll do all the work with tracking entries - and YOU could win this beautiful necklace!

Be sure to share - and share often - to increase your chances of winning…

Happy Holidays, dear friends!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Recap of Weeks 4-6 & The Final Week of "7"

Well, life happened. Actually Noonday Collection happened, if I'm being honest. Lots of amazing ladies learning how to use their shopping power for good in the last month = not a lot of time for much else. But I'm ok with that (and hope you are, too!). 

But here are the recaps of Week 4-6 for Jen Hatmaker's "7" Experiment going on in my life…

WEEK 4: Media

I stink. That is all.

This was my actual post to our Facebook group about my media week "sacrifices"…

I'm pretty sure this will be worse than food week...
Giving up...
1) TV
2) Pinterest
3) Vine/Snapchat/YouTube/Vimeo/blah, blah, blah 
4) Instagram & Twitter - other than Noonday and HMM posts (no scrolling)
5) know the exceptions.
6) book/iBooks - Bible and Jesus Calling only
7) Limited radio. I am driving to Arkansas with Eli or I would go completely.

Oh my word. I want to cry...I'll trade all that for Dr. Pepper. 

Several days later…I admitted my failure and acknowledged I am entirely too "connected" and even addicted to the connections, if we're being honest. My job(s) rely heavily on social media and although I included the work caveat in the list, I got sucked in and then couldn't look away. By Thursday, I was scrolling through Facebook like nobody's business and "liking" and "commenting" like a champ. 

Media Week = FAIL

Week 5: Waste 

The point of this week (I think!) was to become more aware of our wastefulness and find ways to recycle, upcycle and otherwise reduce the damage we're causing to the earth. I'll admit, I struggled getting excited about this, my friends. We do a lot of things in our lives because we're busy and it's convenient…
So, this was also pretty much a fail, although I did remember to recycle some of my Dr. Pepper cans from the week. Hold habits die hard, people. 

This really takes a family effort and we're just not there, people. We do have a composting plan we're going to work on through the spring and hopefully have ready to implement in time to plant a few tomatoes and maybe a few other things that will grow well in containers…and without much attention…because I can't keep a house plant alive so why I'm considering gardening, I'm not sure.

And I am going to devise a plan for the recycling. *Note: We don't have the luxury of pick-up for recycling, so it can get a little messy hauling cans across town.

Waste Week = FAIL

Week 6: Spending

Ok. I was really hoping this would be my rebound week after two weeks of completely bombing the experiment. The premise is to only spend money in seven places for the week. That sounded soooo simple. Until noon on Monday when I realized I had already spent money at FOUR places NOT on my list. 

Here is my post in the FB group outlining my plan for the week…

So, here we are. Next to last week. It's spending. I've already spent money at four places since yesterday morning - none of which were to be on my "list."

Today is a new day, so here we go:
1. FUMC Louisville
2. Walmart (ugh)
3. Wherever Kelli and I have lunch tomorrow (her pick)
4. Noonday (strictly business, of course!) 
5. Water bill is due - wherever that goes
6. Little Caesar's (just keepin' it real, peeps! It's going to happen (at least) one night this week!)
7. Leaving room for another "oops!" here…it's going to happen.

* Note: I intentionally paid all the bills early anticipating this week. Is that cheating?

I won't make a second list of all the places I spent money that weren't on that list, but let's just say my hopes of rebounding and avoiding a third FAIL in a row were dashed by Wednesday.

Spending Week = FAIL

Week 7: Stress

I was really hoping this week might involve a getaway weekend to the beach with my "7" ladies - it only seems right, yes?

Not quite. I/We will be observing seven pauses throughout the day (and night) with specific prayer focuses and verses (will post those in a later blog for those interested in trying this at home). 

The Night Watch (midnight)
The Awakening Hour (dawn)
The Blessing Hour (midmorning)
The Hour of Illumination (noon)
The Wisdom Hour (mid afternoon)
The Twilight Hour (early evening)
The Great Silence (bedtime)

For those who know me, morning is not exactly my "best" time and I am one of those people that has trouble going back to sleep once I'm awake…this week may be painful.

But the alarms are set and here we go…

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week 3: Possessions...Oh, and I Survived Clothes Week

Clothes Week is over! I may never wear either of the t-shirts from my 7 again...especially the long-sleeved one since I pretty much lived in it Days 4, 5 and 6 thanks to the cold front that arrived midweek. 

And I may or may not have worn my towel wrap for several hours one day waiting on my clothes to come out of the wash...

What I learned:

1. I do have something to wear...despite my constant complaining in the closet when I am trying to get dressed. It may not be the most fashionable thing or from "this season" but I have enough clothes I could wear something different everyday without repeating for a month...or two. That's disgusting and it will be changing. 

2. My children have more clothes than they will ever wear in their lifetime and certainly before they out grow them. Thankfully, I have been blessed with hand-me-downs and we try to reciprocate with others by passing along the things that no longer fit. But seriously, how many dress shirts do little boys need? There are only four Sundays in a month. Geez. 

3. Jeff has a lot of gray t-shirts, but this really not about him...yet! 

4. Yoga pants are an essential part of my wardrobe.

5. I have way too many accessories (Exclusion Clause: Noonday Collection). Thankfully, God provided an opportunity to purge most of those in an positive way. A dear friend is working with a women's group in Burkina Faso and will be taking gently used jewelry to them in a few weeks as "happies." I unloaded almost all non-Noonday pieces and can't wait to see those beautiful smiles!

6. It takes a long time for jeans to dry (see first paragraph). 

7. I am blessed. I am blessed. I am blessed. That is all. 

Jeff has asked me several times what "the point" of all this "7 stuff" was. That's hard to answer, because I think it's different each week. Food Week (in all it's misery!) was about realizing and facing excess for me. Clothes Week (yes, again with the excess!) was more learning to be content with less...with fewer options. Do I really need seven black (almost identical) shirts to choose from?! 

NOTE: I will admit here that I did suffer "bracelet withdraw" after Day 2. Noonday gals, can you feel me on that? #armparty

Clothes Week for me was also about being grateful. Grateful that on most days, if I "want" to go buy a new shirt or new shoes, I can...with very little thought for "Do I 'need' this?" Thank you, Lord, for the blessings. 

And finally, Clothes Week was about wants vs. needs. And that's where I am...learning "need" from "want" in a way that will allow me to stop spending so much time and money on "wants" and hopefully, redirect new shirt/shoes/bag money and energy toward things with more impact. Blah. As a lover of cute clothes, shoes and bags, that was painful to write...and will be even more painful to implement.

Thanks for nothing, Jen Hatmaker. I thought we were friends. 

So, this week is about POSSESSIONS. Nice transition, right? The challenge is to give away 7 things each day. I actually started a little early with last week's clothes week, but I'm making great headway in (finally) cleaning out our garage. Who knows, we might actually get a car in it before the week ends...novel concept, right?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Week 2: Food Week is (ALMOST!) Over...Let's talk Clothes

I'm naive...or maybe just stupid. I did not anticipate how difficult last week would be. It was very "enlightening" (Read: painful!) to say the least. It has really made me rethink my relationship with food. I eat to cope. I eat to celebrate. I eat poorly...period. I drink way too much Dr. Pepper. And I spend way too much on junk that is neither good for me nor makes me feel better...past the few minutes when I'm eating it. 

So after last week, this week doesn't seem that difficult (again, maybe I'm stupid). I'm actually looking forward to it - there will be very little time spent thinking about what to wear and I won't ridiculously stand in my closet lamenting over having "nothing to wear." 

It's fairly simple: Seven articles of clothing for seven days (undies and one set of pjs are a pass.). 

NOTE: Our group has also made exceptions for gym gear, swimwear and family photos thus far...we're a kind group of women, really. 

Here are mine:

1. Dressy black pants 
2. Black skinny jeans
3. Green top
4. Grey V-neck sweater
5. Long-sleeved t-shirt
6. Short-sleeved t-shirt
7. Animal print flats & grey Converse (per Jen's example, these count as 1)

Noticeably absent from my yoga pants. I can do this. I'm going to think of my black skinnies as being like my yoga pants. Yeah, right.

Also noticeably absent is a coat. Wednesday could be difficult. Thank you, Lord, for no soccer games that night and only indoor activities. 

Two additional Clothes Week stipulations (for me):

1.) I will also be getting rid of seven articles of clothing each day. I have not decided where they will go, but I will be bagging up seven things to - at some point - give away

NOTE: If you know of a charity or organization or family that could them, please let me know!

Count them...Yep.
That's 7accessories, folks.
2.) I'll wear (ONLY!) one accessory per day - each hand-crafted in a different country. While some folks might not think this is a big deal, my fellow Noonday Collection gals will completely understand that this is going to be difficult...possibly more difficult than only wearing seven articles of clothing for seven days, if I'm being honest.

Regardless, the country from which my daily accessory came will be my prayer focus for the day.

So, there it is. Clothes Week. Let's do this...

NOTE: I'm writing this in the waning hours of the (cursed) Food Week. I may be sitting in my kitchen floor at midnight eating cheese cubes, but I did not cave for seven days. Don't judge.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day Four: The End is in Least the End of This Week!

It's Day Four of Food Week in the Seven Experiment. (Read this post for the back story!).

No one's died or been rushed to the hospital for an IV drip from lack of energy. Although I did momentarily consider acupuncture yesterday for this headache...momentarily.

For the most part, I think we've all turned the corner and are embracing what we're learning about ourselves - good or bad. But, dear friends, don't let that fool you to think there might not be seven lovely ladies standing in their kitchens staring into refrigerators and pantries at 12:01 a.m. Sunday...ok, maybe that's just me. 

Results thus far (in addition to the previous notes):

1. My friends are funny. I wish you could be privy to the dialogue between this amazing group of ladies - so encouraging of one another and so real about their struggles. Suffering together has definitely been a great relationship builder for us.

2. Granola bars without chocolate taste like cardboard. No further explanation needed.  

3. I've lost 5 lbs in 4 days. So, this might sound like I'm bragging or a good thing, but it's really more of a slap in the face about the excessiveness in my diet. My diet would send a nutritionist into the fetal position and make him/her regret their career choice. I'm pretty sure I've eliminated between 2,500 and 3,000 (EMPTY) calories A DAY with just seven things...pretty sure that's more than I'm supposed to eat TOTAL each day. 

4. I eat to cope. Yesterday was a rough day for a number of reasons and it was all I could do not to pop on in to Sonic and grab some mozzarella sticks and a LARGE Dr. Pepper (at 8:30, mind you!). I put my pajamas on as soon as I got home to prevent an outing. Whatever works, people. I know my limits. 

5. I miss cheese more than Dr. Pepper. Yes, I just wrote that. 

6. I need change in my life...and food is only the beginning. I'm not sure where this is going, but if you're curious, just hit that "Join this site" button to the right and follow along to see what God does with this experience. For now, I know He's moving me to purge the excess and teaching me that I deal with stress and failure and difficulty in ways that are in direct opposition to His word.

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. 
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 
Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

Next week is clothes. Originally, I thought this was going to be my tough week, but I'm pretty sure it will feel like a piece of cake after this week. We'll be wearing only seven items (in a myriad of fashionable combos, I'm sure!) for seven days. I'm actually looking forward to the simplicity - pretty sure it will come down to a daily this or that decision (In case you're wondering, under garments and pjs are freebies). Working on that list...

My life is full of excess. I didn't need this experiment to admit that, but I think God is using this to reveal excess in areas I wanted to hide or others that I wasn't even aware of. I hope over the next seven weeks, He can help me restore balance and reestablish priorities that are HIS - not my worldly wants. 

Are there areas of excess in your life? What would balance look like for you?

Monday, October 14, 2013

An Ode to Jen Hatmaker

Oh, Jen. I know we could be best friends if we lived closer, but right now, I'm wishing I had never read your book or heard your name!

I read Seven: The Experimental Mutiny Against Excess this summer and it rocked my world. Since diving into it, I have been purging things from my cabinets and closets (and secretly from all the toys my boys just haaaaddd to have) for months. But, friends, this just got real.

I began to talk to two dear friends a week or so ago about "doing" Seven...maybe not to the 30-day extreme that Jen did (I mean, she IS Jen Hatmaker), but at least taking baby steps. We've now grown to a group of six (we really need one more crazy girl to join us to make it a complete seven!)!

So, five of my sweet (Read: craziest) friends have come on board to do this thing with me. We're doing seven days instead of 30 but we're doing it, nonetheless. We have reserved the right to repeat a week, if necessary.

Food is first. We started yesterday. I chose to "give up" seven things while most everyone else chose to only eat seven things. I felt like "giving up" things would be more beneficial for me (from what perspective, I'm not sure. Blah.) since these seven things make up, well, 90% of my daily caloric intake.

It's Day Two of Food Week; if someone came near me with a Dr. Pepper right now, I might attack them. You've been warned.

Here they are:

1. Dr. Pepper
2. Chocolate
3. Cheese
4. Candy
5. Chips
6. Sweet Tea
7. French Fries

(Don't judge. I have serious vegetable issues, people.)

When I told my dear, sweet, and oh-so-supportive husband, he said, "Can you just eat those things?" After receiving "the look," he responded with, "Really? Dr. Pepper? I think you should reconsider this."

So, here I am, almost 48 hours in and here's what I've learned thus far...

1. I drink waaaayyy too much Dr. Pepper...says the girl popping Aleve because her head is pounding.

2. I eat a lot of junk. It's really amazing I'm not fatter than I am.

3. I am resistant to change...especially when it involves cutting cheese out of my life.

4. I am ungrateful and selfish. Seriously. Instead of focusing on the millions of options to stave off my hunger (options my five sweet friends do not have!), I've been focused on what I CAN'T have...this is pretty much the story of my life.

God has poured out blessings upon blessings on me and my family. Yet, I continue to chase after what I can't have...what I WANT that will "make me happy" instead of being grateful and appreciative for what I have already been blessed with.

And herein lies problem. Just like with food, in my life I am constantly wanting more or something different or oftentimes, things I don't need that are - more often than not - bad for me. I have found myself constantly trying to fill any void in my life - the void can only be filled by daily and deliberate time with Him - with junk.

Yeah. This week is going to be big for me. I've already found myself face down in prayer asking for strength not to eat a bag of potato chips several times...and it's just Day Two.

So, my dear friend Jen, you've got me. You've got me started on a path I don't really want to go down, I'll be honest. But I'm here and I've got five amazing friends here with me willing to let God have His way in our lives and with our stuff.

Let's do this...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Learning from the Past

In "The Lion King" (one of the greatest movies of all time, btw), there is a scene in which Simba realizes he must stop running from his past and return to his community. It goes a little something like this...

Simba: I know what I have to do. But going back means I'll have to face my past. I've been running from it for so long.
[Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick
Simba: Ow! Jeez, what was that for? 
Rafiki: It doesn't matter. It's in the past. [laughs
Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts. 
Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the from way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it. 

Lately, I've been reminded of my past in some good and some not-so-good ways. Good in that I serve a merciful Savior who has never given me what I deserved...and bad in that Satan continues to use the guilt from my not-so-stellar past to create doubt and insecurity in my faith and most recently, in my call to mission work in Haiti.

Twenty years ago (which is really not all that long ago!), I was a very different person. Sure, I claimed to be a Christian. I wore the t-shirts and was in church every week. I even worked at Fellowship of Christian Athletes camps as a counselor and won Star Camp at another summer camp (I might still have that medal. Just sayin'.). 

But my life was about ME - about momentary gratification of the flesh. I was all about whatever I could do to enjoy the moment. Looking back, I am grateful: 1) to be alive and 2) that my God is a God of mercy and grace who - for some reason - will NOT give up on me. 

My past is marred by years of excessive drinking and partying and ultimately culminated in a failed marriage. My past is not exactly something I am proud of. In fact, I feel a lot like Simba some days and would really like to just run from it - block it out and pretend it didn't happen. I know there are people who knew me then who are SHOCKED that I have become a missionary and soon-to-be preacher's wife (some probably shocked that I'm still alive, if I'm being honest!).

And while I'm still no saint and fall on my face daily (see previous post), my focus is different. It's not about me anymore - it's about Him. And I pray that in some way, others can see God's forgiveness and grace in my life...that if He can use me in His kingdom, He can use EVERYONE! That if He can forgive me for my blatant disobedience and obvious waywardness, He can forgive ANYONE of ANYTHING! 

Satan is the author of lies and creator of doubt. He likes to bring up my past...often. 

But God's mercy is new every day. He's forgotten about the sins I have left at the alter (so many times I'm starting to annoy Him with them, I'm sure!) and will be faithful to forgive me for the thousands more I'm still to commit. As Brennan Manning writes in The Ragamuffin Gospel, "I have been seized by the power of a great affection." 

I will never understand how God can forgive us for our mistakes (even the ones we make time and time again) but I am so grateful He does. I will never understand why He hasn't given up on me and just said (in His best gangster accent) "Forget 'bout it!" but He hasn't...and I truly believe He won't. He will continue to relentlessly pursue me - even in my waywardness and ungratefulness. "Oh, how He loves us all!"

"He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." 
Psalm 103:12 (NLT)

What a beautiful promise! Can you embrace it and let the past remain in the past? What will you learn from it?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

On Being The Cleavers

Until recently, I kind of had this idyllic idea of the lives of those in ministry. I imagined the households ran and the relationships functioned a lot like The Cleavers. You remember Ward and June, and their mannerly and oh-so cooperative boys, Wally and "The Beave"? In my mind, husbands and wives communicated openly. Children were well-behaved and mannerly, even in their mischief. Parents talked in loving, even tones to their children...

...and then it hit me. That's US. We are "the family in ministry"...and we are so NOT The Cleavers.

We're impatient.

Our boys are...well, "active." I'll just leave it at that.

We raise our voices too often (See previous two statements). 

We don't always get up early to have our quiet times. 

We frequently make poor decisions about how to spend our time and oftentimes, our money.

We don't communicate well.

We're snappy and sarcastic and sometimes just downright mean to one another.

We struggle with temptations...and the guilt from sins when we give in.

And that's just the half of it, people.

When Jeff decided to start seminary and work toward becoming a full-time minister, I'll be honest, I panicked. I am NOT preacher's wife material. I'm opinionated and speak my mind (READ: I struggle with the "submissive wife" role). I'm loud (and some might add obnoxious). I take on too much and forget things too often. Just pray for his churches now, people!

Ministers (and their families!) are not perfect. They flawed human beings with a sin nature just like everyone else. The life of full-time ministry is not glamorous or easy. It's busy and chaotic and for us, often feels like a game of tag - "You have bible study and I have the kids." TAG. "You're it. I have prayer group and you need to feed the boys." 

I feel like we often meet ourselves coming and going - and now that we are BOTH in ministry, well, we're just hanging on and praying our kids make it to school some days. 

We are not The Cleavers, and honestly, we don't want to be. We make mistakes, own them and then, try to learn from them. Our children act up, and we discipline them in love to correct them and (hopefully) grow them into Godly young men with a passion for bringing others to Christ. As a couple, we argue and fight too often and don't make time in our lives for date nights often enough. Outside our home, it's not much better. We frequently hurt others (albeit unintentionally) and often miss many opportunities to help because of our own busyness and preoccupation with self. 

It's not easy and it's certainly not getting easier in our household. Our boys are getting older...and so are we. (Blah...that's for another post.) 

In short, our lives are pretty much a mess.

BUT (and here's the most important part!) we know that our God will sustain us through the rough times. He always has and His promises assure us, He always will. In the chaos, I cling to John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. 
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

He continually turns the mess that is our lives into something beautiful and this chaos will feel like a blip when it comes to spending eternity in heaven. Until that time, we must work hard to ensure that everyone we know will be there with us. We must carry His message of HOPE and MERCY to the ends of the matter how weary we get in doing so.

And just for the record, we are NOT The Cleavers.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

5 Fall Favorites...and 1 For Free!

It's finally here! After months of teasers, weeks of waiting and days of anguishing over ordering my samples - the Fall 2013 Noonday Collection launch has arrived! I'll be honest - it's felt a little like giving birth at some points in the process.

To kick the season off right, I'm GIVING AWAY a pair of my new favorite earrings! Not only am I giving away free loot, 34 other Ambassadors are also GIVING AWAY GOODIES on their blogs starting with the launch and throughout the month of September! These ladies know how to get a party started, right? 

Check out these lovely ladies (and their giveaway goodies) who kicked us off Aug. 28 (and just go ahead and follow their blogs while you're there - you won't be disappointed!):
Here's the rest of this week's line up:
So, after a week of playing dress up with my new samples, I've settle on these as my Top 5 (This was like picking favorites among my children after the painstaking process of deciding what to order, btw). The item names are links to the website if you want to just go ahead and add them to your shopping cart, too! wink, wink!

My Top 5 Favorites

5. The Tushabe Necklace. Handcrafted from paper beads in Uganda and accented with beautiful polished horn pieces, these lovely layers of mint and blue are simply swoon-worthy. I can't wait to dress this up or throw it on with a fun Piko shirt. Simply perfect. Price: $62
Tushabe Layered Necklace (*Backordered*)
The Tushabe Necklace
4. The la noche Bracelet. Oh, the bling it brings! (Confession: I catch myself singing "I feel pretty...Oh, so pretty" when I'm putting this one on.). This beauty is hand-beaded in Guatemala and is the perfect accessory for a night out...kind of makes me want to schedule a date night soon (also looks great with our Water Drop Prism Earrings). Price: $38.00
La Noche Bracelet
la noche Bracelet
3. The Paisley Filagree Earrings. The dainty dazzlers are quickly making it up the ranks as my go-to gold earrings. I love the detail and that they are 14 kt gold plated. Hand crafted in India, these lovelies are helping our artisans rise above the slums through dignified jobs at a fair and ethical wage. Price: $46.00
Filigree Paisley Earrings
Paisley Filagree Earrings
2. The Braided Bullet Necklace. This amazing piece is made in Ethiopia and brought me to tears when I opened the box. Thinking about the labor involved in making this beautiful piece of jewelry from what began as weapons of war...well, it takes my breath away. Price: $98
Braided Bullet Necklace
The Braided Bullet Necklace
1. The Metallic Pearls Earrings. These are the perfect everyday earrings! A complement to just about every necklace I own and also a great statement all by themselves, these are hand-crafted in Ethiopia from upcycled artillery. These beauties will be your "it" earrings (and there's a bracelet and necklace to match!)! Price: $34.00
Metallic Pearls Earrings
Metallic Pearls Earrings
CONFESSION: What I love about being a Noonday Ambassador isn't really the amazing jewelry and's really the stories of the artisans who make the beautiful pieces. The stories of hope, of redemption, of survival - and knowing that my purchases and the purchases of my customers are helping write those stories.

When I became an Ambassador last March, my goal was to book one show a week and if I made money, great! It would help me save for my next trip to Haiti. But now that I have seen the impact the sustainable income crafting our products provides for our artisans and how they are able to afford the basic necessities of life...I want EVERYONE to buy Noonday!
This image pretty much says it all...and the fact that it came from our Haitian artisan group  makes it even more special for me. Your purchases give HOPE...HOPE for a better tomorrow for the artisans and their families and ultimately, their communities. 

So, check out the new line. Find your favorite(s) and then enter the giveaway for one of mine! You can enter once a day and add extra entries by sharing this blog post and commenting on it. A winner will be selected September 9 (check back to see if they're yours!) 

And let me know if you're interested in hosting at trunk show - YOU can become a part of these stories of HOPE by creating opportunities for others to hear their stories. 

And be sure to stop by and see Amy at tomorrow! She has a $50 voucher up for grabs!

Shop with a Purpose!
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Don't miss the train!

It's a blog train...with giveaways!

See? As Eli would say, "I todeja." (AKA: "I told you.")

You do NOT want to miss out on the goodness that will given away over the next 34 days! The fall Noonday Collection launch is tomorrow and 34 rock star Ambassadors are sharing their blogs, their hearts and their favorite Noonday pieces with YOU!

Bookmark this page and check back daily for the link to the day's featured blog. Not only will you love the freebies - you will love the hearts of the women who will be sharing! Follow their blogs (and enjoy the freebies) and be ready to be inspired by women who've said "YES!" to God and whose lives reflect obedience to Jesus' command to "love the least of these." From adoption stories to fair trade fashion insights to mission experiences, these women are the real deal (Not sure how I managed to squeeze my way in, honestly!)!

Here's your line-up for the month-long inspirational freebie-fest! ENJOY!

Aug 28 Krista Box : Aug 29 Alicia Hale : Aug 30 Stephanie Nunes : Aug 31 Natalie Perry : Sept 1 Laura Walton : Sept 2 Amy Armstrong : Sept 3 Cara Coleman : Sept 4 Lilly Neubauer : Sept 5 Cynthia Coppinger : Sept 6 Kristine Shafer : Sept 7 Desiree Thompson : Sept 8 Carmen Jonas : Sept 9 Amanda Cobb : Sept 10 Liz Sanchez : Sept 11 Kristan Roland : Sept 12 Tesney Davis : Sept 13 Aimee Bell : Sept 14 Annette Miller :
Sept 15 Brandi Mendenhall : Sept 16 Wynne Elder : Sept 17 Jenna Beaugh : Sept 18 McCall Aldridge : Sept 19 Emily Hays : Sept 20 Lindsay Chambers : Sept 21 Elizabeth Bricknell : Sept 22 Heather Keehn : Sept 23 Katie Eller : Sept 24 Candace McArthur : Sept 25 Jennifer Arnett : Sept 26 Emily Tilsen : Sept 27 Sara Mixon : Sept 28 Melonie Grover : Sept 29 Carrie Glanzer : Sept 30 Debra Rice :