Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A New Stamp in the Passport

** This is the most exciting, yet difficult, post I have written in a while. Exciting because I have wonderful news to share, but difficult because of the great care I want to take in giving credit where credit is due.**

About 1/3 of the amazing Noonday Collection team.
So, last weekend I traveled to Austin (Texas, that is!) for Shine 2015. For those who do not speak Noonday Collection Ambassadorese, this is our annual conference and celebration. It has taken me several days to process all the things, and I'm just finding time and energy to make a feeble attempt at putting it all into words. 

To use the words "amazing" or "unimaginable" do not even begin to describe these days in Austin! I am so incredibly humbled to be one very small part of this group of world-changing women who not only empower one another in their businesses, but who are also working their boo-tays off around the United States to make life a little mo' better for thousands of talented artisans living in vulnerable communities around the world. 

As many of you may have read or heard me share at Noonday Collection trunk shows, I joined the Noonday tribe almost two years ago as a way to steady my heart and keep me from selling the farm and moving my family to Haiti. It has truly become an answered prayer in so many ways as I am seeing and hearing the difference my sales are making in lives around the world...Haiti included. 

Love these ladies who braved hours
on a bumpy bus, tarantulas, crazy
heat and so much more with me traveling
in Haiti and the DR in October.

Traveling to Haiti in October with a rock star cast of Ambassadors, hostesses and customers to meet Renal and the other artisans in the Haiti Design Co-op was amazing! Hearing from Moon, a seriously amazing Indian woman who is currently serving as President of TARA Projects, and more from Daniel and Jalia, the couple who runs the Ugandan company, African Style, that makes our paper bead pieces, has me ready to roll in 2015. Their stories about the hundreds for women who are being empowered through their employment by Noonday Collection's partner artisan groups makes me even more passionate and want to be even bolder (you've been warned, friends!).

Melissa Russell, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at International Justice Mission, spoke courage over our group and challenged us to be BOLD in our "ask." She advised us to play over the conversation with Jalia or Moon or Renal or any of our thousands of partner artisans as to why we couldn't ask someone else to partner with us through purchasing or hosting...

These two women who inspire me BIG TIME!
Laura Choy, our #2 in sales for 2014 and
the best roomie ever, and Jessica Honegger,
who leads this movement with
fierceness and grace!

"I'm sorry, Jalia. I didn't ask my friend Susie to host this season because it was just so awkward for me, and I just was too afraid she'd say 'No.'"

Wow. That's a hard pill to swallow, my friends. So again, you've been warned, and you better have some great reason when I ask! ;-)

(Or, don't wait for me to ask. Contact me TODAY and let's get your show on the book or head to my site now and purchase a piece that speaks to you!)

So, I was super excited to learn this weekend that I have qualified for an all-expense-paid trip to meet more of our partner artisans this summer! What the what?!!

New passport stamp coming in 2015 from one of the following:




EEEK!!! Yes, please! That's just nuts, y'all! 

But here's the part I need you to not to miss.

This accomplishment is not about me.

It's about the dozens of women who have opened their homes to their friends, family, colleagues and neighbors - and maybe even complete strangers - to allow others to join this movement. It's about a small YES here in the US that has huge impact for children around the world whose parents now have sustainable employment and hope for a future. Congratulations to my rock star hostesses for being a part of a Noonday record - 59 trunks shows in 2014! Y'ALL ROCKED IT AND THANK YOU!

It's about friends far and near who wear and gift Noonday likes it's their job! They wear the stories of these women who've been empowered to leave abusive relationships. They wear the stories of children who have HOPE through access to education. They wear ethically made jewelry because lives matter. Congratulations to all my amazing customers for being a part of record-breaking sales in 2014! YOU ROCKED IT!

My Noonday Collection "Board of Directors"
It's about my own personal tribe - some nearby, some far away but most of whom are also in the above two categories - who have loved me well during this past year. They have talked to me on long drives to help keep me awake. They have encouraged me when I was feeling overwhelmed and strung out. They have spoken truth and HOPE into my (thousands of) doubts and insecurities. They have traveled to Haiti with me and loved with reckless abandon there. They have connected me to other friends who have become hostesses and customers. They are my people, my tribe, my constant support - and they deserve much applause and many "thank yous!" as well. 

And lest I forget, the three most important boys in my life are the most deserving! My husband is the rock star! He has juggled ball seasons and homework and bedtime routines many a'night with our two rowdies alone. He has made displays and even tweaked them last-minute to make my life easier at shows. My precious boys who make my heart swell with pride when I hear them tell people about "the jewelry mama sells because it helps people" and my oldest who can probably tell you which country our pieces are from faster than I can! They get the credit...because they sacrificed most. Thank you for being patient, and "getting it" with me!

There were lots of people that asked me this weekend "How do you do it?" and many were probably met by awkward and uncomfortable facial expressions and attempts at humorous diversions because here's the thing...

I don't.

All these people described above are the ones who "do it." They get my heart and most importantly, they get Jesus' heart for the poor and the oppressed. They want justice in dark places, too. They want a world where children are cherished, women are empowered, people have jobs and we are connected! So, they wear and host and advocate. And many wear and host and advocate again and again and again. They are my rock star, kick boo-tay tribe, and I couldn't do it without them. 

Amen and amen.

PS: If you were one of the ones that asked that question or some form of it, I'm really sorry. I'm so awkwardsauce sometimes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Did You Say "Root Canal?"

Root canal. 

That word has always made me just a bit queasy. Right up there with "colonoscopy" in my book, friends. And I'll admit it: Going to the dentist is not on my list of favorite things. No offense to all my amazing dental peeps out there! You guys keep doing your thing! <Insert fist bump>

So, when I had this filling done a while back, my dentist warned me that it could become a problem. It was deep filling and close to a nerve. He told me I needed to be aware of it and if it became an "issue," go ahead and schedule an appointment with an endodontist. 

Well, the thought of a root canal just about sent me over the edge...and that was nearly a year ago. 

I just kept thinking I could "fix it" with better oral hygiene. You know? DO MORE or DO BETTER than I had in the past and the pain would just magically go away.

And when that didn't work, I just started chewing on the other side. Because if I can't fix it myself by DOING MORE, I'll just avoid it. Right?

Right. Until two weeks ago when the pain brought me to tears and has several times since. The pain got so bad that I "may" have sent texts on New Year's Eve to two dear friends in the dental world (one of whom was halfway between Mississippi and Miami to watch the Orange Bowl - #HAILSTATE - and the other of whom was trying to enjoy his few days off in his deer stand!). 

"So, just when might you be back in your make this THROBBING PAIN in my mouth stop, dear one?" 

Thankfully, one was able to (and kind enough to!) call in some meds to get me through until the post-holidays, and I could schedule an appointment with the nicest endodontist in the world. Seriously, if you have to have a root canal, this guy's the guy!

But I started thinking this afternoon as I dozed in and out of medicated consciousness in the pre-school dismissal quiet of my house...this whole tooth thing is like so much of the sin in my life. 

There's a little (Ahem. Ok. It might be big) crack in some area(s) of my life. I take the quick fix knowing there's probably going to be trouble down the road. I start (frantically!) trying to "fix" it myself...I can take on one more thing. Go on one more mission. Find one more person to help. Start one more project to "fix" the hurt and the pain. 

And when that doesn't work, I just avoid it altogether...Nope, that doesn't hurt. Not me. All good in the 'hood over here. Sensitivity when you get close to it? Nope, nothing to see here, folks. 

But you know the thing about this tooth? None of the brushing or flossing or sensitive toothpaste or whatever helped, and chewing on the other side probably just created a whole new world of issues for the other side of my mouth (I love a Milk Dud, friends!). I couldn't fix it...the problem was just too big. 

When I told friends I was having the procedure done, several of them said, "I had no idea you were hurting so badly." Yep, that's another important thing for dealing with it myself: Suffer in silence. That's how I roll. Because to admit that I'm hurting means I need help, and that I'm not capable of taking care of things which means I'm admitting weakness...and ultimately, failure. And well, that just stinks.

But finally, the pain became too much. Too many tears and sleepless nights (and my husband would likely add "edginess"). I had to take it to the one who could fix it. Clean out the hurt and the pain and the bad stuff that was causing the problem...and fill it with something else.

And that's where I am with some junk in my heart right now. I need to take it to the One who can fix it. Let Him clean out the junk, fill it with something better and helpful, and then let Him cover it with GRACE and FORGIVENESS to protect it from letting the junk back in and completely destroying my heart. It's not going to be an immediate will take time. I'll likely have some discomfort and have to keep it in check to make sure it's healing properly. But it's time to take it to the One who can fix it...too many tears and many sleepless nights...

Maybe it's the meds, but that's what I've got for you on this experience.

It's #SHARE2015, friends. Get ready. It's about to get real.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


It's that day. That day in the year when we all seem focused on resolving to be better, do better, do more, eat less, spend less...whatever. And here I sit in front of this stinkin' screen resolving to "blog more." Not because I think people need or really even enjoy what I write, but because it's cathartic for me...and it's way cheaper than therapy. We'll see if this too will fall by the wayside along with my resolutions to lose 30 pounds and eat healthier...

So, for the last three years, I have begun praying for God to focus me on a word as the end of the year approached. A word for me to focus on throughout the upcoming year. A word to help me grow in an area of my life that needs refining.

2013 was the year of FAITH. A year that saw me walk away from a job I loved and had worked dang hard to have. We're avoiding any reuse of that word for a while.

2014 was the year of JOY. A year of making the conscious decision to CHOOSE JOY in all circumstances. A year that saw half of my little town (including dear friends and church family!) lose everything on April 28 as a tornado ripped through our community. A year that took me to the poorest country in the world five times to experience unimaginable circumstances. Um. Maybe this whole word thing is not all it's cracked up to be.

Third time is a charm, y'all. 2015 is it, and God confirmed the word SHARE as my word over the last week. This past Sunday in my Sunday School class, we were talking through what to DO with the Word and one of those things was SHARE, and Bro. Mike's sermon encouraged us to embrace grace - for ourselves and others - in the coming year. It had been the word on my heart and this was the confirmation I needed.

2015 is definitely the year of SHARE.

But first things first. I've struggled a bit with differentiating between GIVE and SHARE. So I went to the wisest and smartest person I know...that handsome guy I get to call my husband (brownie points, indeed!). We talked through it during a few of the 1,467,823 minutes we've spent in the car together over the last week traveling for the holidays and here's what we came up with...

I baked you a pie (Just hang with me, people. This IS totally hypothetical because you and I both know - I don't bake pies!). I could deliver the pie to your house and walk away, and you can do with the pie what you wish. Or, I could baked a pie and invite you over to share it with me. I'll make coffee or hot chocolate or maybe we'll just drink water with it since we've both resolved to eat healthier this year. Regardless, we'll chat for a bit over the yummy pie I baked (It's my blog, I can take creative liberties, people!) and enjoy the pie TOGETHER.

SHARE: to grant or give a share in; to partake of, use, experience, occupy or enjoy with others; to have in common.

Now don't go thinking I'm going to be delivering pies all over the place in 2015, but I do think God is urging me to slow down and enjoy life WITH people more. I have a "slight tendency" to be "a little" task-oriented and focused on completion of a task and moving on to the next thing on the list. What if I slowed down and enjoyed the process of the task? What if I shared in and learned to enjoy the experience of getting there...instead of just pushing to get there?

Maybe I'm way off. It's only January 1, and God may take this whole SHARE thing in a totally different direction. I guess we'll see as 2015 goes on. I'm diving into The Word today to explore some scripture about sharing and can't wait to SHARE what I learn (See what I did there?).

Did you choose a word or theme for 2015? What are your plans for the year? Would love to hear what you're planning for the year!