Monday, August 18, 2014

More Than a Necklace {Noonday Collection Giveaway}

Welcome aboard the  Noonday Blog Train!   If you are riding along and came from Mattie's, I'm so glad you're here.


It's been about four months since I started as a Noonday Ambassador.  Although this investment was a tad impulsive in nature,  the journey actually started 3 years ago in Ndola, Zambia. It was during my time there that my heart was turned toward the distinction of charity versus education and self-reliance.  It was then that I realized that well intended charity can sometimes cause more harm than good. 

Noonday Collection uses fashion and design to create economic for the vulnerable. But what does that mean? What does it look like? What exactly IS Noonday?

Noonday is expanding the marketplace for talented artisans and craftsmen.

Noonday is bringing women together to use our purchasing power for something outside of ourselves.

Noonday is advocating for women's rights in the workplace.

Noonday is rebuilding lives after the destruction of a  natural disaster.

Noonday is providing dignified jobs and futures lived in the light.

Noonday is allowing women that are HIV+ to purchase their medication and keeping their families together.

Noonday is empowering the shamed and outcast.

Noonday is writing stories of transformation for survivors of genocide.

Noonday is relieving the financial burden of adoption through Fundraising Trunk Shows.

Noonday is helping adults with special needs find independence

Noonday is creating reliable, sustainable work that allows parents to pay for education, food, shelter and healthcare.

Noonday is more than a necklace. 

Enter to win a $25 Gift Certificate to shop online so you can wear their stories! Ambassadors have linked arms (and blogs) to share our favorite pieces, artisan stories, and giveaways this month in a blog train!  You can enter Friday's giveaway HERE and there is another giveaway on Tonight's HERE

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Today is our 3rd Anniversary.

After our wedding, I took the cards with the vows that we wrote to each other, a little worn, a tear drop smudge on mine, and framed them.  They hang on the wall of our room, in a shadow box with the dragonfly pin that was on my bouquet.

I remember toiling over the words that I would write to him, the perfect words that would capture the giddy excitement, the agape love that we shared, and the fear of how we would face the unknown.

I remember holding his hands at the alter, distracted by the lip gloss stain on his suit that I had left after kissing his shoulder when I finally reached him. We were both a little shaky and anxious to hear what the other had written.  He went first...

I love you. Your smile, your laugh, the love you have for life, and the light you shine on me every day; there are not enough words to say how thankful and how blessed I am. With this covenant, from this day, until the day I leave this world, I vow to love you with everything that I am, to be the man and the husband that I am mean to be. I will love, honor, encourage, and inspire you. I will listen, I will hear, I will shower you with affection. I will love you on the good days, and love you double on all the others. I promise to be your best friend, your one true companion. Here, I give myself to you, you and no other. Mind. Body. Soul. Forever, Katelin. I am yours. 

and then me...

David James,
I promise and covenant, before God and our family and friends, to walk alongside of you as we build this life together. To share in all that God has in store for us. To cherish you and set you apart, to be faithful and true to you, always. To love you in weakness as much as in strength. I promise to gently care for your heart and your mind and give you a firm place to stand. To face moments of despair as fearlessly as moments of success. And most of all, I promise to uplift and support you in becoming everything God created you to be. I will love you with all of my heart, body and soul, every day as long as we both shall live. 

I treasure these words and I'm so glad that we decided to write our own vows. I think one of the biggest challenges and blessings that marriage brings is the need for vulnerability, that invitation for someone to see those innermost parts of us and trusting one another to handle our fragile spirits delicately.  I love that we started our marriage with vulnerability and openness.

Thank you, David James, for your words. For sharing and living them out every day.  I love you, for all my days, no matter what.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Noonday Collection: An Exciting Announcement!

I have some exciting news to share. I've recently joined an incredible company called Noonday Collection. Here's an  excerpt about their mission:

"Noonday Collection uses fashion and design to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. We offer stylish accessories of uncommon value handcrafted by artisans from around the world who receive a fair, living wage for their work. Many of the artisans come from destitute situations and purchases enable them to provide for life’s basic necessities. Through fun trunk shows and an inspired social selling team of ambassadors, we are enabling women to join our story...What is more? A portion of the profits of sales will help place an orphan in a forever family."

I feel inspired and empowered by these women and artisans around the world that now have an income to provide for their families and hope for that future. I'm grateful to the opportunity to contribute to this movement.

Noonday is not a charity. It is not a a multi-level direct sales company that has financial benefits for recruiting a team.  The more we sell, the more we can buy from artisans from Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, India, Ecaudor, Peru, Guatemala, Vietnam and Refugee Co-Ops in the US.  It's about dignified job creation, advocacy for the oppressed, and telling the stories of the vulnerable. 

Have you heard the phrase, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime"?  I believe that there is a right and wrong way to help our brothers and sisters in need. When we simply send money, or pay to go on short term mission trips, we create a mentality of reliance on our handouts, and helplessness, and destitution to those we want to support.  So much of developing country poverty is based on education and sustainable income.  When we train and teach skills in that same population, they feel empowered to provide for their families.  Think of the pride that you feel when you earn your paycheck and can pay for the things you need and want.  That's what we want to instill in people like Jalia, and Embemebet, and Sidhama, and Carlos, and Astrida.  That is why I'm an Ambassador.

Do you want to join me? 
Host a Trunk Show and invite your friends to use their purchasing power to change the lives of these incredible artisans.  Listen to their stories and know that you are making a difference.  You can also choose to host a trunk show that is a fundraiser for an adopting family.  Noonday Collection started as an International Adoption fundraiser.  I'd love to tell you more about how you can help your adopting friends and family.

You can also shop online.  I always remember that every piece of hand-crafted jewelry, every scarf, every accessory sold is fair and dignified income for families in need of food, healthcare and education. 

I want to thank you in advance for your support. The mission and vision of Noonday means a lot to me, and I'm really excited to start contributing.  Leave a comment and include your email if you're interested in hosting a show!

Happy Easter to you and yours. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Words From My College Apartment

I was going through an old Gmail account and found some old pieces from a Poetry 101 class at JMU.  I've written previously about the peace that I've found in putting creativity down on paper, so I thought I would share some of that with you...

Self-Portrait as a Painting

If I was a painting,
Frozen on glossy eggshell white,
Dulled and muted by gallery light,
How much would you pay for me?

Eyes of green olives,
And skin, thirsty sand,
The bending strokes of my body blended with imperfection.
Hang me above your mahogany bed.

In the silence of a soaking rain,
Dress turned transparent, my hair, a jungle-gym slide,
Arms outstretched and reaching.
I’ll tell you about how I used to dance.

And in the still
Of your companionless room,
A twinkling piano will play
And you’ll wish I was
More than just a picture you bought.

Lost Boy
A Sestina

This blue eyed boy waddles forward
Down the beach, as concerned parents watch.
His lonesome footprints so tiny carve stairs 
In the sand. He’s gone adrift
Like the jellyfish, lying dead, a pink balloon
Deflated. He pokes at it curiously with his finger.

Sandy and wet, he slowly brings the slimed finger
To his nose, inhales, and continues forward
Along the shore, long with towels like a hot air balloon.
Not concerned that he’s alone, he looks up to watch
An airplane. It’s droning roar floating as drift-
Wood on a wave. He makes his way down tide-made stairs.

Spying on Pop-pop

He’s reading in his vanilla ice cream chair.
(That’s what I call it, I’m seven.)
His tortoise-shell glasses perched on the tip of his nose,
While Doublemint bubbles expand and crack.
He hums along to Kenny Loggins,
His voice swallowing the melody
That sweeps the house like a warm southern wind.
Dinner’s almost ready.
The butter shushes angrily as Nana slices it into the saucepan.
Startled, he looks up from his book; I’m caught.
“KateyBaby!” He welcomes me onto his knee,
and quickly I must leave
my fortress of dolls and bears
To climb up to him.
He asks for a concert from his world famous flutist or
Maybe just a song from choir, only a verse.

I don’t play anymore, my flute
Collects dust like his picture on the table.
But I can still sing.
Tell me what to sing,
and I'll sing it. 

I miss seeing and thinking about the world this way.  I'm going to start dedicating more time to being still and sharing the words that come from that silence.  Other writers out there, what prompts you to pull out a pen and notepad, or a napkin, or glowing screen? 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Word for 2014: Enough

I'm sitting at the local Barnes & Noble, waiting for my skinny carmel macchiato to cool, and listening to a woman learn to speak Italian as she stumbles through verb conjugation with her tudor-friend.  And frankly, I'm regretting wearing these ankle-bearing flats, because this window is freaking drafty. It's been a while since I've stared at this blank screen, knowing I have things to say, but doubting that I'm saying them the right way.  I relate to this woman next to me, as I write and rewrite this continuing story. I ask for the same grace her friend patiently gives to her because it's about to get real vulnerable up in here...

...These past few days since New Years have been really reflective and cathartic for me. I closed 2013 with a hard heart.  I remember displaying all of the Christmas cards that we received from our friends and family and feeling like I had nothing to show or tell about the past 365 days. Certainly, it was a year in the in-between. No life milestones met, no promotions or new passport stamps.  Scrolling through Instagram and Facebook filled me with bitterness and caused me to believe that my life wasn't enough.  That I wasn't enough.

I was reading through my previous post after six months, and while I still believe that there is truth to those words, they were also really telling of where I was in my life at the time.  I hadn't been to church in I don't know how long, I wasn't spending time in God's Word, I wasn't serving in any way, I wasn't worshipping with anyone or spending time in devoted prayer.  No wonder I had become a cynic! I still believed in Jesus, but there was such a void in my spirit that I couldn't make out any light in the world or in myself.  I wrote and spoke words that made me sound like God and I were BFFs, but those were things I thought I should be writing and saying.  But it wasn't real life.  So, after a lot of mom - talks, and anxious hours trying to sleep, it occurred to me that I had trained my heart to doubt that God really had a plan to give me hope and a future. I had a deep fear for what my future looked like. I didn't trust Him.

I read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts last year.  I read it, admired her lyrical writing and her ability to empathize with the reader, and when I finished it, I set it on my bedside table, where it collected dust until January 1st, 2014.  There was something different this time. All at once, I knew that the reason my year felt like a complete waste was because I had been filling it thinking about all that my life wasn't, rather than looking up and seeing God's constant love and grace at work.  I wasn't letting myself see the good.

My whole life, I've struggled with not feeling like I was enough.  The things I accomplished weren't enough, my broken body wasn't enough, my personality and all my quirks weren't enough.  I couldn't love myself because all of these things added up to a person who had been measured and found wanting.  Despite the love of my parents, my family, my friends and my husband, I continued to tell myself that I was unloveable.  And after growing up in youth group, being on the CRU drama team at JMU, and being a youth leader, I am just now realizing that people like me are God's specialty.  This is what He lives for...and ultimately, what Jesus died for. I finally get it.  I am enough because Jesus and his grace is enough.  Every day, He fills in my holes with his holiness.  With his wholeness.  

In doing a some research, I came across Judah Smith, who is a Pastor at City Church in Seattle (although he sounds like he came straight from the Bible-Belt south).  If you're looking for a guy who gets grace, I recommend you give this sermon a listen.  Trust me on this one...

I have a lot of soul work to do this year, rebuilding this heart of mine.  I know it takes time for the snow and ice to melt.  I know I tend to impulsively jump into things and then give up after a while.  I don't want to give up on this. He never gives up on me.  I want that light to come back. I know it will. And when the dark comes, I'm gonna break out my handy dandy headlamp until the sun comes up.

Ok...This crappily insulated window is turning my feet blue and I'm getting the "When will you insomniac-hipsters just go home" eye from the barista. Hubby got me some mountain man socks for Christmas and they are calling my name!

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