Tag Archives: world

give. shop. my birthday wishlist for others.

I enjoy a lot of things. Traditionally, my birthday has not been one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m immensely grateful for my parents who brought me into this world (and the amazing parties they have thrown for me), for every day I get to live and breathe, and especially for the abundant and eternal life God has given me.

My dislike of the birthday celebration boils down to two things.

1) I do not like to be the center of attention. This has been true since…well, even before that seemingly traumatic incident at Disney World when I was picked out of a crowd and serenaded. Oddly, I’m perfectly comfortable performing or teaching. Otherwise, please focus your attention elsewhere.

2) I just don’t like getting older. No, I’m not looking for the fountain of youth or hunting for hallows. It’s just that at age 6 I declared I was done growing up, and not much has changed. (I think I just loved life the way it was.) In recent years, I have learned to better cope with this fact of life (permission to hum a theme song granted). Still, I declare my spirit to be younger than I am in years.

Recently, I have decided that perhaps the best way to address these issues is by changing how I celebrate a birthday. With a new perspective, the focus can be shifted away from me and to leaving a legacy. 

I’m starting small. To celebrate this year, I have made a different kind of wish list. There are organizations to give to if you are the donating type and items to buy if you are the support-a-business type. What better way to celebrate life than to give or support these life-giving efforts.

Noonday Collection
My friend Paula is an ambassador for Noonday Collection. This past weekend I had an unexpected opportunity to hear from her about this business and see their products. What began as an adoption fundraiser for one family has grown to a fair trade business supporting artisans and their communities across the globe. If you like accessories of any kind, you can find something in this collection whether for yourself or as a gift.

My current favorites:
Brightly Wound Bracelet
On the Mark Necklace 

Video about Noonday Collection

Free Set
Freeset, another fair trade business, is committed to offering employment to those who have been enslaved by human traffickers and part of the sex trade industry in Calcutta, India. There story is best told on their website. Read their story and about their philosophy full of mercy and justice. 

My current favorites:
Teacup Tee
Farmhouse Bag  

Not Forgotten
Passion lights up a face like nothing else. Tyler, Allison, Kristen and any other who left a piece of their heart in Iquitos, Peru will light up like the sun when they talk about their boys. This began with a couple college kids keeping promises to some previously forgotten little boys and has grown into a non-profit currently building their first family-style bungalow for these kids where they will be loved and nurtured.

These guys periodically put on art and jewelry shows to raise funds (as they happen to be talented and have talented friends), but you can make a donation any time via the website. Don’t you want to be a part of breaking a cycle and building hope?

Video about Not Forgotten

Urban Purpose
Again, a couple people with a heart for sharing the life-changing power of God recognized a need and saw way to meet it. A few people partnered with them, volunteered with them, and ministered alongside them. Then a few more did the same. And a few more. Lives in need in the Birmingham area are being changed by the love and grace of God through faithful relationship building. Here is the idea.

Read more and watch the videos that tell their story. Urban Purpose is a non-profit supported by donations. Consider giving them a one-time gift or supporting them with an on-going monthly commitment.

Video about Urban Purpose

That’s the wish list for this year.
Happy Birthday to all!

P.S. If you decide to gift anything in celebration of my birthday this year, please leave a comment, send me an email, or let me know somehow. I want to be able to say thank you!


visit. shop. give. fashionABLE.

I have a new scarf that smells like coffee and honey.

A few months back, I had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia on a vacation with family.  Our list of places to visit and things to do was composed primarily of historical landmarks and travel book recommendations, but there was one visit I hoped to make even though it would be off the tourist path.

FashionABLE, a non-profit I shared with you a year ago, aims to create sustainable business in Africa and job opportunities for women. These women happened to be working a mere taxi cab ride away from one stop on our vacation route.

I could not pass the opportunity up. Kiely, the fashionABLE communications liason on site at the time, was incredibly accommodating. A couple emails and a set of directions later, my mom and I were breaking away for a quick tour.

As we entered the small compound, I was struck by the bright colors. The buildings, the thread, and even the smiles seemed to glow in the sunlight, like hope and redemption had become visible. In light of that, I’ll let these images speak for me.

  1. Weaving, observed with the right eye, begins to look like a dance.
  2. Finishing off the ends of a scarf.
  3. Getting ahead by drying a good amount of dyed thread in the sun before rainy season begins.
  4. Kiely and me. Thanks Kiely for hosting us for a few minutes and allowing us the privilege of seeing this good work first hand.
  5. Look for this tag as you shop.
  6. This is the beautiful Feleku. You, too, can learn Feleku’s story. (By the way, Emily Maynard wore the scarf named for her this past season on The Bachelorette.)
  7. Scarves in the shop. You can buy items like these online.
  8. Spinning wheels.
  9. I’m fascinated by the looms and tools – shuttles, bobbins, and thread.

I enjoyed learning a bit about weaving and the business side of things, but I particularly enjoyed hearing more about Women At Risk, a partner organization of fashionABLE. Women At Risk is a rehabilitation program for former sex workers. The program provides these women with counseling, teaches them skills and trades, and helps them find employment.  After our tour, we shopped in the modest storefront where they were selling not only scarves, but other items made by women who have come through the Women at Risk program.  I selected a couple of bars of scented soap – milk and honey, and coffee – and a unique scarf made while teaching techniques.

In an effort to handle these items with care and get them safely home, I wrapped the soaps in the scarf. Yesterday, I pulled my scarf out of my closet and noticed the scents still linger.

The fashionABLE fall line was introduced today, and if you browse their lookbook (which I highly recommend) you may just see a few of the scarves on the looms in the photos above. I intend to order one myself.  Select one for yourself and order now! I doubt it will smell like coffee and honey upon arrival, but you can wear it knowing faces of the women’s life changed by this effort and your purchase.

Don’t forget to check out all things fashionABLE on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


watch. abide with me.

I need a forum to express something. Since I don’t have a soapbox to stand on in Speaker’s Corner, I am turning to this blog of mine that has been on accidental hiatus. At the moment, it comes in handy.

If you are just joining me here, please note that I have loved the Olympics for as long as I can remember the Olympics. This basically means that since the moment Mary Lou Retton vaulted a perfect 10, I’ve been hooked.  Or perhaps, it was even before that, when my family stood on a sidewalk in Birmingham, AL to cheer on the passing torch relay runner. And every 2 years (yes, I love the Winter and Summer events) I give 2 weeks or more to Team USA.

As with most events, sport or performing art or concert, my favorite moments are the first moments. Everyone is full of hope and expectation. I know. It’s entirely too diplomatic of me when the point of a competition is to discover the fastest, strongest, best. But as a spectator, I cannot help but sense the excitement of every competitor. I hope for them all. The Olympic Opening Ceremonies is the ultimate and literal parade of that anticipation.

I love the Opening Ceremony for more than its display of expectation. The host of the Games opens my eyes to a culture – familiar or foreign – and I learn something. Admittedly, the Ceremony can get long. To those who make this argument, feel free to get a snack or work on a project. This only happens once every couple of years; let us enjoy it.

On Friday, I signed off social media early in the afternoon to avoid spoilers. I turned down invitations to viewing parties, in part, to ensure I would hear the back-story of each flag-bearer from Bob Costas. And I watched the cast of volunteers display some of the contributions Great Britain has made to the world.  Giant Casper-like baby and my unrealized dream of an ensemble performance by Adele, Leona Lewis, Emeli Sandé, and more aside, I believe the show to have been a good one. It is the broadcast that bothered me and continues to with each passing day.

I am not so naïve to think that we could air this ceremony uninterrupted. In fact, I’m incredibly appreciative this week of the fact that sponsors have made it possible not only for the team to get to London but for me to watch the events practically around the clock. This is not my complaint.

I do not expect commentary to be perfect. I expect it to be informative most of the time and entertaining some of the time, yes. But not perfect. This is not my complaint.

I even extend grace to the producers who continually chose the tight shots of choreographed “Brunels” in top hats (see link to ceremony guide) over other pieces of the action, mid-range, or wide-angle shots of the show. Perhaps there were technical difficulties.

My disappointment is over what could be called a simple edit – a 6-minute piece following the message typed by Tim Berners-Lee, “This is for everyone” omitted from the NBC broadcast. “Abide With Me,” a hymn linked in history to the sinking Titanic and royal weddings and to sport in the UK, was beautifully sung a cappella by Emeli Sandé while dancers with choreographer Akram Khan performed a work depicting a struggle with mortality. The heartfelt lyrics, written in 1847 by Henry Lyte at the end of his life, ring so relevant.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;

shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.

Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;

in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Ironically, NBC decided this portion was not for everyone. In fact, it seems their only response to inquiries for a reason has been that it was tailored for and American audience. I beg, wholeheartedly, to differ.

Regardless of the direct, indirect, or accidental tribute this paid to the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London, this piece could have played an important part in the grieving process for the American audience that empathetically reacted to those attacks and most recently suffered great and inexplicable loss in Aurora, CO.  I learned long ago that mourning turns to dancing. “Abide With Me” was yet another example of how we grieve and celebrate, a reminder of how those who have gone before make us who we are now.

In my opinion, isolated and different though it may be, this was not a simple edit, but the denial of a gift for the American audience. I will not quit watching the games. I will still cry and cheer and laugh and cringe with Team USA and with NBC. I would just like to know the real answer to the question, “why?”

I’d like to thank BBC One and Deadspin.com for sharing this skipped segment of the show. Cheers!

Watch it HERE.

By the way, if you were completely baffled by elements of the Opening Ceremony, here is the official Opening Ceremony Guide, which explains in detail the significance of seemingly disparate ideas.

If you have read this far, thank you for tolerating me. Now you can continue your Olympic viewing schedule.


give. shop. not forgotten.

It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned this special organization, so if you remember Not Forgotten, but still haven’t read up, here is yet another chance. I am especially excited that Not Forgotten has undergone some great growth recently and is looking forward to seeing some dreams realized in the near future. This is your opportunity to be part of it.

“Not Forgotten is an organization that is compelled by the love of Christ to provide for the physical, educational, and spiritual needs of impoverished, abandoned, and oppressed people of the world so that they may improve their quality of life, find salvation through Jesus Christ and be empowered to affect change in their communities.”

Visit their spiffed-up website for more. (Or read my past post here.) Better yet, come tomorrow to the Birmingham Art For a Cause event, benefitting Not Forgotten, and hear the story straight from those whose passion and love started this whole thing.

BIRMINGHAM ART FOR A CAUSE
SILENT ART AUCTION and ART SHOW
Thursday 11.03.11
7pm – 9:30pm
Historic Cahaba Pumping Station Museum
4012 Sicard Hollow Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242
(click here for a map)

I should also mention that there are a few products available for purchase contributed by yours truly. Don’t miss a great opportunity to get started on your Christmas shopping with the confidence that your making a difference.


shop. give. fashionABLE.

Much to my grandmother’s chagrin, I have never been a “jewelry person”. My ears aren’t pierced. And honestly, when it comes to accessorizing, I just don’t.  On those days I force myself to wear a necklace or bracelet, the pieces usually make their way into a pocket or purse by the end of the day due to annoyance. Bags and shoes, on the other hand, own my closet. Then, in college, I learned the value of a scarf. Scarves have now joined the rank of shoes and bags and are my favorite (often only) accessory.

Today, while listening to Ellie Holcombe’s new EP (which I highly recommend) and exploring her website, I read the word “scarves” and compulsively followed the link to FashionABLE.

This is what I found:

I just can’t resist these beautiful scarves that enABLE these women to…

be confident.
feel dignity in [their] work.
send [a] son to school
.

FashionABLE is a new (almost one year old) project by the founder of The Mocha Club which has been around since 2005. Check out their efforts as well to understand how this nonprofit aids in the creation of healthy and sustainable living for so many who are capable but caught in a vicious cycle.

As fall approaches, temperatures drop, and the holidays approach, keep these products in mind. Giving these as a gift would mean giving so much more!

P.S. Find a retailer near you: http://livefashionable.com/all-retailers/ or order this Friday and get free shipping: http://livefashionable.com/2011/08/free-shipping-friday/!


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