Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I have a passion for not cooking

I'm a people pleaser. I admit it. I like to help other people and I like to see them be happy. Because of that, I often find myself in stressful situations trying to juggle all my "yeses" at one time.

(Cue Jimmy Fallon's thank-you note music.)

So thank you, Lysa TerKeurst, for writing The Best Yes and teaching me that saying "yes" to baking goods for a fundraiser is not helping anyone. At all. 

You see...I am not a cook. I don't pretend to be - even after staying at a Holiday Inn Express. And I don't play one on tv. It's just not my gift. I know, I know. All you cooks out there are shaking your heads and judging me - "It's not that hard. Just follow a recipe, for the love." I hear you. And I see your heads shaking. And I'm ok with your judgement because I know cooking is not my gift, nor is it something I enjoy. Even slightly. (And now you're worried about the well-being of my family, right?)

And those who really know me, know that. They know I have a limited repertoire from which to pull things from and they really don't ask me to cook anymore. They offer up the "Will you take care of the paper goods?" option when planning get togethers - because cute napkins and plates? Now you're speaking my language. Or maybe a "Could you grab some drinks?" because that I can do also. And if I compliment them on something they've cooked, any instructive explanations are quickly prefaced with "It's so easy!"

I get it and I own it, people. 

So each year, our local church has a bazaar (and some of the white elephant gifts truly are truly bazaar!) and all the sweet ladies in our community bake their best cakes and pies and can their yummy fruits and vegetables. And I, well, I contribute nothing. They asked me to make cookies our first year in the FUMC Louisville family, and I'm pretty sure my sweet husband ended up buying them so he didn't have to listen to me cry about how no one bought my cookies. Bless him. Seriously.

Every few years, some new poor soul will get the task of calling all the church ladies and asking them to make something for the bake sale...and she -- because the "Do Not Call" sticky note next to my name has obviously fallen off -- calls me. There's the awkward moment where the people pleaser in me wants to shout "YES! I'll be happy to make some cookies or a pie or bake a beautiful cake!" 

And then reality hits. (Cue deflating balloon noise falling to the ground) 

The reality is that my sweet husband will likely be forced to hear me stress over what to make for several days before I throw together some list of obscure baking items to I have to find at the grocery store and then stress for a few more days about messing up whatever delicacy (I use that word with air quotes and eye roll inserted) I've decided to try before I FINALLY deliver said goods to the bake sale...only to have them sit unpurchased because people KNOW I don't cook.

So, as sad as it makes me because the proceeds of the Bazaar benefit MISSIONS, for Pete's sake,  I have learned to say to the sweet lady, "No, I just can't contribute to the Bazaar in that way this year." And, hopefully, that dear sweet lady will find that sticky note before next year so neither of us has to face that awkward moment again. Amen?

I own it. I cannot cook. And saying "yes" to helping with the Bazaar in this way would be beneficial to no one. But, I can do other things in my church family that are my best "yes" and don't cause unnecessary amounts of stress and strain on myself (or others).

I'm (slowly, and often painfully) learning what my best yes looks like and how to find JOY in saying "no" rather than being overwhelmed with guilt from letting someone down. It hasn't been easy and I sometimes slip up and a reflexive "yes" sneaks in before I can stop it.

Do you struggle with finding your best yes in similar situations? Are you able to say "no" without feeling guilt? Would love for you to share your suggestions!

Sidenote: The FUMC Louisville Fall Bazaar is Saturday, November 1 in the Family Life Center. There will be lots of yumminess - that I didn't make - so do swing by and check it out if you're in the Louisville area. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cutting Away the Nets...

Last year, our family took a (BIG!) step of faith. I left my full-time job at Mississippi State University and began working with Hispaniola Mountain Ministries as its part-time Director of Communication while also maintaining a half-time appointment at the MSU Social Science Research Center and being a Noonday Collection Ambassador. Busy, much?

It's been an amazing year - certainly not an easy one, but an amazing one! God has shown up BIG in our lives in ways that we could have never anticipated and could not have seen had we not taken that initial (and oh-so-scary) step. He has provided for us and we have never gone without.

And now, He's taking away the safety nets. We are out on the tightrope -- and the safety harness and nets are being cut away...

As of October 31, I am resigning from Miss State...completely.

I stare at those words and wonder how my hands could have possibly just typed them.

 I did not go to school at Miss State, but my love for this great campus, its lively community, and its amazing people has grown deep over the years. The Miss State Department of Communication and the Social Science Research Center are filled with people who have encouraged me, challenged me and mentored me over these last 11 years... and ok, and some have driven me a little nuts at times, too! "Professor at Miss State" has become a bit of my worldly identity...and it feels oddly surreal to be walking away.

My heart is filled with hope and anticipation of great things to come with HMM, but there is also a little sadness. My job at Miss State was - at one point - my dream job! I loved the students. I had good colleagues. I was doing what I loved and had planned to do.

 And then I went to Haiti.

It turned my perspective - and honestly, my world - upside down. As much as I love Miss State, God is calling me to use the gifts He's given me in a new way. He's called me to support HMM with my gifts, my talents, and now, more of my time. The last year has been a difficult one for our growing organization and its Ameri-Domini-Haitian family. But I am optimistically excited and filled with great anticipation of how God is moving on the island and stirring hearts here in the US to partner with HMM in a number of ways.

The Waltons are now "all in" with a life in ministry. I covet your prayers for my family as we take these (scary and still a little shaky) steps. I am a planner and giving up my retirement and insurance plan is not something that comes easy for people like me. I need security and a plan for the future. But God is (oftentimes painfully) showing me that His plans and my plans are not always the same...but HIS plans are so much greater. 

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us,
 to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 
Ephesians 3:20

Do I know what the next year will hold? No, I have no idea. Am I fearful? I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a part of me that was terrified by this decision. My entire career path has been turned on its end and my 10-year plan (including early retirement, btw) - has been completely interrupted. What that does to a planner-type personality is not even right!

But I know who holds my future and who has forgiven my past. I know my God is a God of truth and is a promise keeper. I know if He has called me to it, He will strengthen me, provide for me and never leave me alone. I can be confident in His promises...

Please pray for our family as we transition to this new situation, specifically for financial provision and peace as we move forward. We have been blessed by an amazing group of praying family and friends as well as those who have supported us financially through giving to HMM and supporting my Noonday Collection business and I am confident that God will continue to provide.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 
In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 
Jeremiah 29:11-13

NOTE: If you would like to partner with us financially through a gift to HMM or by purchasing Noonday, use the active links above!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Parenting is HARD, Y'all!

Parenting is hard, y'all. Like crazy hard. And there are no cliff notes, cheat sheets or short cuts. There's no borrowing your friend's notes who had the class before you...because Lord knows, the test is going to be different. Parenting is the cramming-all-night-for-days-at-a-time-and-praying-something-sticks-for-test-day kind of hard. We've planning for the boys' college funds, but it might also be wise to start putting a little aside for therapy because I'm certain I'm messing them up somehow. 

NOTE: Now would probably be an appropriate time to apologize to my own parents for all the pain and agony I caused them growing up...who am I kidding - that I'm still causing them!

Seriously though. Parenting is probably the most difficult thing I've ever done...and my boys are just seven and four. For goodness sakes, we haven't even hit the teen years. And I think one thing that makes parenting so difficult is that there is no end. With a project or a task or a renovation or whatever else it is you're tackling, there's an end. A clearly defined moment when you can step back and declare (hopefully, triumphantly!) "IT IS FINISHED!" But I think we'll be parenting in some form or fashion until we reach those pearly gates. 

And I'll be honest, there are moments when I think I can't possibly answer one more question or pick up one more toy or match one more pair of socks. My fruit of the spirit basket is just plain empty, y'all...and it feels like the off-season for all things fruity. I can't possibly intervene in one more argument or explain why it's not ok to leave  dirty dishes in the sink one more time. Wait - that last one is for the "Marriage is hard, y'all!" post! #loveyouhoney

But then - in the midst of the chaos and crazy - God moments happen. There are little glimpses of heaven in their smiles or their laughs or the kind words they say or the compassionate acts I am blessed enough to see. They happen when I least expect them and oftentimes I miss them until later when I'm falling into bed reflecting on the day. But they are there.

A few nights ago, we were herding our little buffalo to bed - and well past a respectable bedtime for a seven and four year old, mind you. I had been "working from home" <insert hysterical laughter here> with the boys most of the day. We'd been to eat dinner where their table manners and overall behavior left much to be desired. And then - just because I am totally insane and like to torture myself - I thought a "quick" trip to pick up a "few things" at the grocery store would be a good idea. Oh my stars! By the time we reached the checkout, I was ready offer them to the next person who commented on "how cute" they were. I'm kidding...mostly.

Thankfully, I was able to sneak away to run a few miles before the sun went down to recompose myself as we made our final approach toward bedtime. But by the time we actually started toward the bed, everyone was in a funk...and I do mean EVERYONE and I do mean FUNK.

I finally got Riley into bed. He could tell I was exasperated...he's smart like that.

Riley: "Mom, I don't want to cuddle tonight."

Me: "What? Why? Are you pouting because you got in trouble?"

Riley: "No...I just don't deserve to get to cuddle."

<Insert mama's heart breaking here.>

What an amazing moment to teach Riley what GRACE looks like...to cuddle that sweet baby boy until he pushes me away (because he's starting to do that now, you know). And to let him know that no amount of terrible table manners, smart-mouthed back talking or bullying his little brother could make me love him any less or want to lavish any fewer cuddles on him. Cuddles at bedtime are an act of love - of me expressing my love for him - and his behavior doesn't change my love for him (just my blood pressure!). Cuddles are the good stuff that end a long day and make all the yuck and the craziness from it disappear. Cuddles are the unspoken "I love you" that we all need sometimes. Cuddles are the bomb, y'all.

The really cool thing about that moment? If I feel that way about him...isn't it mind blowing to think about how much more our heavenly Father wants to pour out His amazing and unconditional love on us? Overwhelming to think about the joy He finds in giving us fantastic blessings - undeserved blessings?

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 7:11 (NLT)

So bring on those cuddles, sweet Jesus! Wrap me up in Your arms and let Your grace wash over me when I've been a terrible mom/wife/daughter/sister/aunt/friend/person in general. Let me know that YOU still love me - even when I don't deserve it. Cuddle me until I am secure in Your love and know You are sovereign over all the yuck and are working Your blessings into my mess in Your time. Thank you, Lord, for these wild little boys...and for the lessons they bring.

Oh, the parenting lessons! They are really God lessons...perfectly disguised in little boys with no manners or concept of acceptable voice volume.

Has God given you a lesson through the little people in your life? I'd love for you to share it in the comments!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Good bye for now, dear friend...

Tomorrow (July 24) will be two months since my friend, mentor and boss, Tim Dortch, passed away. In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday he was giving me a hard time...about everything. And other days, it feels like a million years since I've seen his grin or shared a laugh with him.

If you never had a chance to meet him, I'm sorry for you. If you did have the pleasure, you will likely never forget him, and his passing has left a hole in your heart as well. 

Tim with Madam FoFo, her daughter and grandson.
This precious baby has hydrocephalus; Tim was instrumental
in coordinating the initial treatment of his condition.
I met Tim in June 2012, on my first trip to Haiti. I'll admit, my first thought was, "Are you kidding me? Is this guy for real?!" He was like Larry the Cable Guy and Billy Graham rolled into one person. Let that soak in for a minute...

And as I got to know him, I came to understand -- yes, he was indeed "for real." He was for real about enjoying life and laughing with friends. He was for real about his love for his family and his pride for his daughter. He was for real about loving people and pointing them to Jesus Christ. He was for real about living a life sold out for his Savior -- a life that looked absolutely crazy to most people. 

He took chances to help people, often putting himself in harm's way. He learned new skills to bring relief to people seemingly forgotten by so many. He often adapted the American way of doing things to accommodate culture and produce the best end result to help the greatest number of people.

But most of all...he just loved Jesus.

And because he loved Jesus, he loved people. His passion for the people of Haiti and the Dominican was contagious. Countless Americans have traveled home from that beautiful place ready to sell the farm and move to the Island of Hispaniola to do just what Tim did naturally...love God and love people. 

Tim's FAITH was an amazing witness to everyone he met. He lived it daily. His choices reflected a belief in a God bigger than we can imagine. Until I met Tim, I'm not sure I truly understood what faith LOOKED like...how it acted...how it responded to scary choices.

I remember one specific phone conversation with Tim about a year ago. I was wrestling with the decision to leave my academic appointment at Mississippi State and take this leap of faith to partner in ministry with HMM. I confessed my fears to him about "giving up" my benefits and my retirement and taking a significant cut in pay...as well as my fears about fundraising for the salary for my new position on the HMM staff.

He chuckled a little and asked, "Are you gonna take it with you to heaven?" 


"God is calling. Whatcha gonna do?" 

Silence...and then tears. 

His gentle way of calling me out was painful and humbling...but so needed. Friendship is like that sometimes. The perfectly timed call. The perfect words spoken. The kick in the seat of the pants we need to get going.

Tim Dortch was a good friend. 

While I was only blessed to call him "friend" for a short time, he made an eternal impact on me and countless others. I cannot imagine the loss his wife and daughter and other family and friends who have had him in their lives for much longer are experiencing.  

The hole is big. And the pain of loss is deep. It feels like it's never going to end. 

But I am grateful for the peace that comes in knowing Tim is rejoicing now. He is undoubtedly rigging things in heaven with ridiculous amounts of duct tape and teasing all the angels relentlessly. I pray he is pleased with the progress HMM is making as we work to carry out his vision for the Promised Land in Haiti and for the ministries in the Dominican. When I get frustrated or tired or just wonder if what I'm doing is having any impact for the kingdom, I think about Tim and his legacy...and I just keep on keepin' on. 

I am certain my dear friend heard those precious words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" as he entered those beautiful gates May 24, 2014. Until I see you again...
Tim Dortch, Anse-a-Pitre, Haiti : December 2013

Friday, July 18, 2014

Twice as Nice : My Two Favorite Recipes

If you know me or have been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I'm not  a "foodie." The closest thing I've ever done to blogging about food is pinning recipes I will never take the time to learn to make -- or likely couldn't find the ingredients to make -- to my "Yumminess" Pinterest board. The struggle is real in the kitchen, people. #mypoorhusband

So this post is BIG. For me to blog about food really means one of two things...

1) The world is ending. 

2) These recipes are EASY. 

You're safe to assume the the answer is 2, dear friends.

One of the greatest things about being a Noonday Collection Ambassador is that you get to party like a rock star. And by "rock star" - I mean, eat lots of amazing food several nights a week that you didn't have to cook. Let's take a moment and just give a huge shout out to all my hostesses who have ROCKED the food for your trunk shows! 

So, as we approach a new season of Noonday trunk shows as well as the kickoff of college football season and then move on into the holiday season, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share two of my favorite recipes. And by "favorites" - I mean, they taste delicious and require minimal effort.

Up first is a spicy little number that my sweet friend and hostess Leah Ledford introduced me to this spring. Thank you for the extra five pounds, sister friend!

Mexican Dip
1 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 cup of sour cream
1 can of refried beans
1 can of chili
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 cups of Monterrey Jack cheese

Mix first five ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Stir until blended. Pour into greased 13" x 9" greased baking dish. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350* until cheese is melted and turning brown (approximately 20-25 minutes). 

Serve with tortilla chips. 

WHAT?! It can't be that simple! Feel free to mix things up...get CRAZY and use chili without meat or maybe even try the Mexican blend of shredded cheese. You cannot mess this one up!

Next up is this sweet little combo that fools you into thinking it's healthy because it has "fruit" in the name and you are directed to serve it with fruit (apples are my favorite!). Do not, however, be fooled my friends. Big "Thank you!" to my friend and hostess Dr. Kristen Turner for introducing this delightfulness into my life just before swimsuit season.

Caramel-Heath Fruit Dip
2 blocks of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 jar of caramel topping
Heath topping (near the chocolate chips on the baking aisle)

Mix cream cheese and brown sugar. Top with caramel. Sprinkle with Heath topping. Serve with fruit or graham cracker sticks. 

Shut the front door! It's sinful how delicious this is and how easy it is to make it. You've been warned...but feel free to thank me later!

Both of these are super quick, don't require a lot of ingredients and are great for bunko, tailgating, girls' nights, Noonday trunk shows (hint, hint!) or any other gathering of people who like to eat delicious food. 

Again, I'm no foodie, but I do "delicious" and I do "easy" well! Enjoy, dear friends!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Us!

VBS Story Time partners, June 2014
It's only seems fitting that this be my return-to-blogging (cough, cough) post since my last post was about my Nooniversary...in March. I guess there's just something about anniversaries that seems to make me nostalgic and maybe a bit weepy...ok, most things make me weepy, but try to stay with me. 

It is also not surprising that Jeff is not here to celebrate with me since about 70% of our anniversaries have been spent either with the youth group on their summer trip or apart because he was with the youth on their summer trip. Get home soon, honey! We have some celebratin' to do!

Ten years ago today, I married Jeff Walton for better or for worse in a little hilltop chapel in Gatlinburg. And if I'm being honest, there has been a fair amount of both over the last decade. It's not all rainbows and unicorns here on Walton Mountain, people. When you take two people in their late twenties who are both as stubborn and set in their ways as we were and then put them in a (very) small house together for the first time - as in EVER because our entire dating relationship was long distance - there are bound to be "a few" disagreements.

But Jeff has helped bring about or create some of the most amazing moments of my life. So, today, we'll focus on and celebrate those. In honor of our 10-year anniversary, I give you my... 

TOP 10 FAVORITE MARRIAGE MOMENTS (cue music from "The Waltons") 

10. That time you almost died (Stay with me, people!). That two-hour drive to Tupelo frantically trying to keep up with the ambulance, followed by a week spent quarantined in the hospital together, was truly the first understanding I had of "in sickness and in health." Staph infection is serious, people. I am so thankful to have no worries that when I get old and senile, we'll either be old and senile together or Jeff will be happily wiping drool from my mouth. It's a pretty picture, right?

9. Monday cleaning days (I miss those, by the way!). During an especially hectic time for me at work, Jeff took a few hours every Monday and cleaned our house. It might not sound very romantic to you, but to this tired mama who wanted to come home and enjoy a few hours with her babies, a clean house was the BEST gift he could have been given me. I'm grateful to be married to a man who "gets me" (Don't bring me flowers to set out in the midst of chaos and disorder. Can I get an "Amen!"?).

8. Watching Jeff coach our boys' various sporting adventures. There is something about a man who is willing to coach three-year-old soccer that just gets me. I want to pull my hair out just watching those little munchkins run around aimlessly. I am so grateful for his enthusiastic love for our boys.

7. My one-year anniversary present. Most women have big expectations for that first year. I mean, you have year-old wedding cake to eat so you might as well go big on everything else, right? Me? I got an inflatable swimming pool...and I loved it! We lived in a house without central heat and air, and I was working from home frantically trying to finish my dissertation...nothing better than a little dip in that pool mid-afternoon. My man gives good gifts, ladies. Be jealous.

6. The weekend getaway to Chattanooga (obviously pre-children!). I loved the freedom of that weekend - no agenda, no plans - just spending time together hiking and talking and laughing. That will always be one of my favorite vacations.

5. Hearing my husband preach the Word (even if he did stay up all night waiting on it to be divinely delivered to his brain and transferred to his fingertips). There is something amazing that happens to his heart when he preaches that I love seeing. The sermon he delivered the Sunday after the tornado hit our little community will forever be my favorite and a constant source of encouragement for so many.

4. Experiencing Haiti together. Seeing Jeff love people I have grown to love so dearly made me love him even more deeply. Watching him paint precious little hands for craft activities and sing silly songs with a classroom full of children makes me fall even more deeply in love with him. So thankful to be living on mission with him...

With Eli, January 2010
3. The birth of Eli Benjamin Walton. Oh, sweet Eli! He is truly the child I believe Jeff's parents (ok, and maybe mine!) prayed for when Jeff was a child. Eli challenges us on just about everything and has shown me that Jeff has levels of patience that I didn't know were possible. Love the boy...and love Jeff for his ability to parent him with more patience and grace than I can muster at times.

2. The birth of Riley Ellis Walton. He made Jeff "Dad" first and created for me a million new reasons to love my husband as I watched Jeff care for this precious little life (and me!) in those first few months. Jeff tolerated my crazy first-time mom issues all while doing his best to give me rest and recovery time. Watching Jeff change his first diaper might also be in my Top 10 funniest parenting moments (for another post).
1. Walking down the aisle in that little chapel in Gatlinburg. There was no anxiousness or fear (I was probably just young and naive!) - just an excitement about our future together. I knew I wasn't perfect and neither was he, but I knew we were perfect for each other. Awwww. 

So, there you have it. The ten years of our marital bliss summed up in one fairly concise blog post and a few photos. The late night hosts would be so proud!

Happy Anniversary, Jeffrey Paul Walton! I love you to the moon, around it 57 times and back again. You're still perfect for me (but if we don't get the anniversary trip booked soon, there might not be a 20-year anniversary...just sayin'!) #pickadate #pickalocation

Do you have a Top 10 favorite marriage memories? Would love to hear how long you've been married and some of your favorite memories!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Nooniversary! {Spring 2014 Blog Train}

In just a few weeks, I will celebrate my "Nooniversary" ….and WOW! What a year it's been! 

As a Noonday Collection Ambassador, I have had the privilege of meeting so many amazing women at trunk shows all over the Southeast who love The Lord and who are incredibly passionate about making a difference in an often overwhelmingly dark and disappointing world. I have grown to love many of my Ambassador sisters as dear friends--from Montana to Texas to North Carolina and back to Mississippi. I am grateful for a network of poverty-fighting, injustice-hating prayer warriors…who are also great conversationalists during long car drives to trunk shows! 

I have learned so much about our great big world…including a much-needed brush up on my world geography (Why didn't I pay more attention during that class? Don't answer that, college friends!). As I have educated myself on where the countries are, and more importantly the conditions in them, my heart has been broken…and my worldly American spirit has been humbled. While I have only traveled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to experience these conditions first hand, I am certain the bleak conditions and hopelessness I have seen and felt in those two countries are very similar to that of the countries where our artisans work to make our beautifully crafted pieces to support their families and contribute to the economic growth of their communities.
Guatemala artisans use looming &
dyeing traditions passed 
down through many generations.

It's no secret that I love Noonday and its mission. I love seeing the impact that YOUR purchases have made in the lives of our artisans...but if I'm being honest (which I really try to be!) there are nights and days when I just don't "feel" like Noondaying (Yes, it's now a verb, too…we're going google status, people). There are nights I'd rather be curled up on my couch with my sweet babies or on a date with my handsome husband…or sometimes, just anything else. 

Then I think about my Haitian and Dominican mama friends who often have no idea if they will be able to feed their families or when that meal might come. They pray to God to relieve their suffering, heal their illnesses, protect their children and provide for their needs…and they BELIEVE He will! 

But what if - just IF - my sweet mama friends (and millions of others like them) had jobs they could count on? Not a "go-to-the-market-and-hope-my-goods-sell" kind of gig...but a guaranteed income because the demand for their products was so great! What if they could lay their heads down at night under a roof with no leaks and know there would be food on the table tomorrow for their families? What if they knew their kids would be at school learning to read and write and make a better way for themselves? What if they knew they could afford medical care when their children got sick?

Oh, the joy and peace it could bring!

Peruvian artisans work on our new
jewelry line.
So, on those days and nights when I'm really not feeling the Noonday vibe - I go. I go and I advocate. I pray for that day when my mama friends around the world will have the same peace I have about my children's care and their futures. I drive my Facebook and Instagram and Twitter friends crazy with my posts (sorry - not sorry!). I get outside my comfort zone and and ask more people to host parties. I drive 8 hours in one day for a 2-hour show. I check labels before I purchase to make sure I'm spending my money on things that empower and protect.

Sham is a talented Indian artisan who is 
changing the way women are treated in
 his country - at home and at work.

I have come to understand that each piece sold makes a difference. A difference for one mom. One dad. Many children. A larger community. Each piece of Noonday sold gives HOPE to one mom. One dad. Many children. And their larger community.  

So if you see me on March 24, be sure to wish me a "Happy Noonivesary!" And if you've purchased Noonday in the last year or hosted a show or shared a post or connected me with a friend or family member that hosted a show….THANK YOU! 

Thank you for joining a movement to punch poverty right in the face and bring HOPE to so many! 

To help celebrate and say "THANK YOU!" to so many who've been a part of this journey, I'm giving away a party…an ARM PARTY!

Comment below with your favorite Noonday piece from the Spring 2014 catalogue and/or share this post to be entered to win all this loveliness!
Giveaway ends Friday, March 7 at midnight!

And don't forget to check out yesterday's post and giveaway from Cara and stop by and see what Lydia has to say (and giveaway!) tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's been a minute...

It's been a minute since I've had the time (or energy) to crank out any coherent thought pattern that might resemble a blog post. Holy busyness, Batman!

A couple of updates...

Haiti is still on the map...and in my heart! I just returned from 11 days in Haiti and the DR! I can't believe the progress that HMM is making with the Promised Land compound and within the community of Anse-a-Pitre. When I see the change in the children and I hear many of them speaking English, the tears well up before I can stop them. I am blessed beyond imagination to be just a small part of it! Next trip: May! Excited about this one because I get to share it with my sweet husband and many members of my own church family! We will be gone May 25-June 2 and covet your prayers as we minister to the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic through providing medical and dental care, adult bible studies and VBS-type activities with the children. 

The Noonday Collection spring line has launched! My March calendar is full with shows hosted by fashionable, world-changing women who are becoming advocates for thousands of artisans simply by opening their homes, whipping up a few of their favorite snacks and sharing lots of laughs and fun with their friends. Seriously. There is nothing easier than hosting a Noonday show - and you get FREE jewelry and accessories. If you haven't hosted - or attended - a show, you really need to get in touch with me soon! I have a few spots left in April and I'm booking shows in May, too, if you want in on the fun!

I am still CHOOSING JOY daily in 2014! One of my oldest (as in longest friendship!) friends sent me the perfect daily reminder (which just happens to look amazing with all my Noonday goodness!) and there have been moments when seeing this message on this beautiful bracelet have steadied my thoughts. Moments when CHOOSING joy wasn't the easy choice...it would have been easier to whine, pout, scream and/or cry at the circumstances. I (really!) wish I could say it was getting easier, but there are days when I feel like Satan tries even harder to make choices other than JOY more appealing...and there are definitely days he wins. 

I am thankful I am drowning in a sea of forgiveness and grace when I take my eyes off the Giver of Joy. 

So, there you have it - in three short paragraphs - and update on the last month.

Well, that's not exactly true...

There's these two guys.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Choosing JOY in the flood…literally.

"I chose joy. I choose joy. I choose joy."

These are the words running through my head as I'm standing in my rain boots watching my dear, sweet neighbor tromping through our pitch-black yard trying to find the cut-off for our water in the freezing cold. You see, the rain boots were necessary because at some point in today's warm-up, a pipe burst in our utility room behind the water heater and water was shooting out about 5 feet from the wall. It's then shooting into the garage because I had opened the door, of course, when I arrived home from a 12-hour day to find water pouring from beneath said door and streaming down our driveway. Before the opening of said door, it had been damned up behind said door…slowly leaking under the wall into our laundry room. 

"JOY. I CHOOSE JOY"( Now they are audible words coming out of my mouth and I'm wondering in my neighbor thinks I've lost it, but they are my mantra.)

Oh, and let me mention here that Jeff is currently out of town (thus my sweet neighbor tromping through our yard) and has been since Sunday morning. So, it's been four days of (wo)manning my jobs, his job and taking care of the boys. #exhausted

"I CHOOSE JOY, dadgummit !"

To add to the context of my already stellar frame of mind, upon arriving to church tonight I am greeted with the news that the youngest of my strong-willed boys has had an "episode" with one of our amazing children's ministry volunteers. He decided a seat belt was not necessary today…despite FOUR YEARS of wearing one every time he was in a car. #youretryingmypatienceboy

"I CHOOSE JOY!!" (as I drag him to the bathroom to "discuss" this situation). 

I've heard it said that when you pray for patience, God sends circumstances to test your patience. Now, I don't know if that's biblical or not, but just in case - I quit praying that prayer about the time Riley turned 2. 

As I sit here rehashing the events of the night over Double Stuffed Oreos and a Dr. Pepper (#comfortfood), I'm trying to figure out if this principal could also apply to my prayer for JOY. Maybe God just wants to see if I'm serious about this thing in 2014 or if I'm like all those folks cramming into the gym right now because they've resolved to lose weight this year…

Of course, I've also been reading Job in my daily quiet time for several days. I'd like to believe that I've found favor with God and that He and Satan are dueling it out over me. Like Job, He's given Satan permission to test me and try me… Ok, that's unlikely, but a girl can dream.


After turning this no-water-don't-flush-the-toilet ending to our day into a "camping adventure" - complete with teaching the boys how to bath and brush their teeth with bottled water - we finally made it to bedtime. Eli chose to read from his picture Bible tonight and you'll never believe the first words of tonight's story -- 

"And after the flood…"

First words out of Eli's mouth?

"Mama! Just like in the garage!" 

Yes, baby. Just like in the garage…and laundry room…and mudroom. 

I CHOOSE JOY. I choose joy in this terrible messy moment. I choose joy because I have sweet neighbors willing to brave the freezing cold to help me stop the flood. I choose joy in having praying friends who lifted prayers and offered beds and showers and homes to us. I choose joy because I'm typing this in the comfort of a warm home tonight (albeit without water) and my boys think this "adventure" was fun. 


Amen and Amen.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Choosing JOY in 2014

For the last few years, I've selected a word for the year - a word that will be the focus of my spiritual life and (hopefully) allow God to reveal something new to me in that area of my life. Last year, my word was FAITH. Oh, how God tested and proved Himself faithful in the craziness of 2013! 

This year my word is JOY.

A few weeks ago, Jeff preached in our pastor's absence and although I'm privy to his amazing wisdom and biblical knowledge everyday, there's something about hearing him preach it from the pulpit that makes his words resonate a little more. His sermon was on JOY…and it really got to me. Am I truly joyful when things aren't going my way? Do I try to find my JOY in things, people, accomplishments or other things? (Don't answer those questions, Jeff!)

The thing that resonated with me most from his sermon was this:

 JOY is a CHOICE while happiness is based on our circumstances. 

When we have JOY, it comes from The Lord…not the acquisition of the latest gadget or a pretty new dress or great pair of shoes or finding the perfect shade of lipstick or even because my kids are (miracle of all miracles!) getting along and being agreeable. We must choose JOY daily, hourly and sometimes, in every minute of the day to feel peace and contentment in our lives. Even in the difficult, the miry muck and not-so-fun parts of life - JOY is a choice to trust a God that ALWAYS wants to give me His best…NOT what I think is best, but what He knows is best. 

For 2014, I will focus on choosing JOY in all circumstances…
  • I will choose JOY in my MARRIAGE. My marriage is not perfect, but it's based on a commitment to one another and built on the ideal of service…serving through the various ministries we are blessed to be called to be a part of and serving each other daily. So, despite the dirty dishes in my sink (daily!) and his tendency to procrastinate (about everything!), I am grateful for a Godly husband who loves me and our boys more than anything. I CHOOSE JOY.
  • I will choose JOY in my CHILDREN. My boys are amazingly sweet (most of the time!) but they are very active. Because we are juggling so many other things, I often lose my temper and have unrealistic expectations for their behavior. They are kids; they are not perfect…and neither am I. I will remember how quickly time is passing and stop to play with them more often. I will color more pages in their coloring books and snuggle at bedtime longer. I CHOOSE JOY.
  • I will choose JOY in my JOBS. I am blessed to have not one - but three jobs that I love! While balancing the responsibilities for three careers gets hectic, I am grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love…and even get paid a little for it. And am even more grateful that all three jobs give me the opportunity to daily pour into the lives of others - to share what Christ is doing in my life and the hope that comes from a relationship with Him. I CHOOSE JOY.
  • I will choose JOY in my SERVICE. Confession: I am a people pleaser and saying "No." is (very!) difficult for me. I will not overextend myself and allow the chaos that quickly becomes our family life to "steal my joy." I will borrow the words from Lysa TerKeurst in 2014: "Thank you for asking me. My heart says yes, yes yes, but the reality of my limited time leads me to say no." I CHOOSE JOY.
  • I will chose JOY in my FRIENDSHIPS. I am blessed to have many wonderful friends…some that go back to elementary school days and some that God has brought into my life in the last few months. Again, thank you, Lysa TerKeurst, for the great reminder in a recent devotional - "Real love pursues authenticity rather than chasing acceptance." I will focus on being the kind of friend who gives real love - with no expectations or stipulations. I CHOOSE JOY.
  •  I will choose JOY in my Savior. All too often, I find myself questioning things that are happening around me. "Why did so-and-so do/say did? Why did that happen to him/her - he/she is such a good person? What did I do to deserve this?" But Scripture is clear…
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joyFor you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has the chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
James 1: 2-4 (NLT, emphasis mine)

So, bring it 2014. I'm ready. I'll be clothing myself in His Word daily (also a 2014 "resolution") and joyfully facing everything you bring my way. Be it good or bad or somewhere in between - my heart will continually sing the praises of the ever-lasting love and unimaginable faithfulness of a loving Father.

"I will be filled with Joy because of you. 
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High."
Psalm 9:2

Do you have a word for 2014? Would love to hear what YOUR focus will be in the new year!