Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

One of my favorite things about this time of year is getting to pick out Christmas gifts for the people that I love. Over the past few years, more and more people have begun to compile Gift Guides, which feature ethically-made gifts and/or small businesses that empower people who are oppressed and marginalized. Everyone from Sarah Bessey to Glennon Doyle to Ann Voskamp have published blog posts filled with links to businesses and causes worth supporting.

This year, I have done the same.

Here are a few businesses I believe in and who I am giving my money to as I buy my family and friends Christmas gifts which they will love and which will empower people instead of Corporate America:


Mercy House

My favorites:

How they empower & support women:

Mercy House empowers women in maternity homes in Kenya by providing them with a sustainable income through jewelry-making. When we buy the jewelry the women make, we help them raise their children into a brighter future!

JusTea

My favorites:

How they empower & support people:

JusTea makes fair-trade, ethically-made tea by hiring tea farmers in Kenya. So far, they have created over 200 sustainable jobs for working youth aged 15-24, whose work is often casual or not sustainable.

The Bud Co.

My favorites:

  • Sow + Dew Journal — This is a journal designed to help women live out their true identity in Christ.

How they empower &  support women:

The Bud Co. was created by two women who believe that women are at their best when they are living out of their God-given identity. Ashley and Shannon launched The Bud Co. with their mission “to equip the everyday woman to live her everyday in a manner worthy of the calling she’s been charged with (Eph. 4:1).”

(Plus, I’ll be featured in the Sow + Dew journal, along with dozens of other exceptional people you will definitely want to hear from!)

Do Good Shop

My favorites:

How they empower & support people:

Do Good Shop is a nonprofit, social enterprise marketplace whose proceeds “benefit vulnerable people who are escaping injustice & poverty through safe and ethical artisan employment.” Use your money to vote for ethically-made products!

Thistle Farms

My favorites:

How they empower & support women:

Thistle Farms employs women who are survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. They even go one step further and provide safe housing, sustainable income, and a community of advocates and peers. Support the farm to help them empower more women!

Starfish Project

My favorites:

How they empower & support women:

Starfish Project helps exploited women experience freedom, establish independence, and develop careers. 100% of proceeds are invested back into the goal and mission of the organization: to restore hope to exploited women and girls.

DoTERRA

My favorites:

How they empower & support people:

DoTERRA is the leading essential oils company in the world and is helping people revolutionize their healthcare by providing more affordable, natural healthcare options to families. By working with farmers around the world, doTERRA provides them with sustainable income to raise their families and support their community. doTERRA also provides sustainable income to their Wellness Advocates like me (and you!), who help get the word out about their amazing products!


I hope this list has helped you and you find that special something for all of your special someones!

What are your favorite ethically-made products and/or small businesses providing sustainable income to people who are oppressed and marginalized? Let me know in the comments section!

 

Five Truths We Need to Hear When We’re Depressed

Five Truths We Need to Hear When We’re Depressed

I am honored to be over at Pursue Magazine today talking about the truths we need to hear when we’re in the depths of despair.


The Psalms are full of times where David pleaded with God to relieve him of the darkness which threatened to overtake him. He talks about his heart growing faint (Psalm 61:2) and about proverbial waters of despair nearly drowning him (Psalm 69:1). And if we are honest: we sometimes feel that way too.

It’s comforting to know we are not the first ones to experience intense fear and anxiety in the depths of despair.

For us, it may look like…

pervasive sadness we cannot seem to shake.

deep apathy for things we used to love and find joy in.

sleeping much more or less than usual.

intense feelings of guilt or shame.

eating much more or less than usual.

 an inability to get out of bed some days.

Whatever it may look like, there are five truths rooted in Scripture we can cling to in times we feel like we may not survive the week, the day, or even the moment.

Continue reading this article at Pursue Magazine here >>

Glory Happening (in my kitchen)

I got it in the mail the week before we moved from our tiny, cramped one-bedroom apartment into our new three-bedroom house: a book full of the exact words my soul was longing for.

glory trees

We were moving from the little apartment Sarah had agreed to rent without ever even having seen it as she had tried to coordinate a move across the country two years ago. That apartment had welcomed me when I moved from the state I had been born and raised in to a new place, full of promise and hope, joy and love–and also of fear and too much expectation. Those walls kept me safe as I navigated a new job, new friends, new culture of the northeast.

And now, suddenly, we were moving into the house we had been longing and hoping and waiting and praying for.

Days before we moved and settled into this new, seemingly-huge space, I sat on the cold hardwood floor in the empty dining room and prayed for our life in this house. Pulling my sweater close around me, I took from my bag the book I’d just received in the mail: Glory Happening by Kaitlin Curtice. Her words were like a balm to my fragile heart in this tumultuous season and I soaked in them.

At the end of each chapter, there is a poem-prayer and I recognized it as I continued to read: these were the prayers I wanted to bless this new house with.

I began in the kitchen, where I believe life is lived best and where I am drawn most often. “Lord, help me to nourish people well here,” I prayed. I stood at the sink, imagining the walls painted yellow, and begged God to remind me here that communion is not only given at the altar. My voice joined Kaitlin’s as I prayed her words: Jesus, It will take us our whole lives and all of eternity to understand how exactly you came to be the bread and the wine–and our hearts beat together, yearning to know God more.

I moved to the living room and smiled at the thought of all the traditions we will begin here–Rummy, maybe–the ones that will remind us that, though the world is dark, we can be human to and with each other in this sacred space.

I slowly meandered the hallways, asking God to show us how and where and when to find rest and truth and peace.

I knelt on the floor of what was to become my study, my little space in the house to think and pray and read and write, the room Sarah insisted I use to write that book I’ve been talking about, and nearly lost myself in the hugeness of this dream. “Free me from a life ruled by fear,” I cried to Jesus as I flipped back to the chapter called Laboring, the one about hiding in our fear, avoiding the uncomfortable, and read Kaitlin’s words aloud, claiming them for myself: Lean us into our pain, lean us into our strength, lean us into spirit and soul and life.

In the basement, I sunk to the cold cement floor and begged God to show Himself to me even here, among the peeling paint and dust: Gather yourself into the corners of our homes, into the spaces we inhabit every day.

Tears welled in my eyes and my soul marveled at the ways I have found myself and God in the words of another woman in another state with another life story whom I’ve never met. I found her on Twitter and now she ministers to me in my living room in the evenings. Her words remind me that we belong to each other, all of us together, and I find Jesus in that realization. I want to tell her what she wanted to tell the people who ushered God’s presence through the written word into her own life: God speaks through books filled with prayers.

God is so good and His glory is everywhere–if only we can learn how to recognize it.


Glory Happening is out today! Find Kaitlin Curtice‘s first book here. (Trust me, you want it.)

Glory Happening

Jesus Called Christians to Be ‘Perfect.’ What Does That Mean?

Jesus Called Christians to Be ‘Perfect.’ What Does That Mean?

I am honored to be published over at Relevant Online Magazine today with an exploration of Matthew 5:48.


“Be perfect, or you’re a failure.” — Jesus

OK, obviously, Jesus never said this.

We know Jesus; we understand that He is God wrapped in flesh, kind and ever-loving. And yet, we often become paralyzed at the mention of one short verse in which we assume Jesus says just that: Matthew 5:48. It reads, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

How many times have we heard this? How many times have we wilted in defeat, knowing we will never reach this level of God-like perfection? And why would we think we should be able to achieve this? We have heard it preached all our lives: We are a fallen people. We are nothing without Jesus and can do nothing apart from God.

So, what exactly did Jesus mean? He, of course, knew that humanity is unable to be perfect as God is perfect because He is, you know, God.

Jesus understood, even as He uttered these words, that perfection is impossible for human beings.

This realization brings about the next natural question: Why would Jesus command us to be perfect when He knew it was impossible?

Continue reading this article here >>