Sunday, June 30, 2013

And the winner is...

As promised, the drawing took place today for the free scarf from Trades of Hope sponsored by . The winner is none other than Bob Hostetler of Indiana.
Tamara Walston

Congrats, Bob. I'm sure you will look lovely with scarf draped artfully around that fine, thin neck of yours. Just kidding. I would imagine your wife will LOVE it!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Win a free scarf!

Over the years, I have enjoyed home parties. You know the kind: a bunch of women gather, a representative lays out her wares (everything from kitchen tools to jewelery, to makeup and skin care products that promise a glowing, beautiful face), and the attendees pick, choose, and fill out order forms. I've been both a rep and a hostess. Back in the late 70's I made sewed crafty items and held my own little in-home selling parties. Years later, I sold for The Pampered Chef (TM) since I loved the products. But alas, I gave up because I didn't feel right about asking already financially-strapped folks to buy what they could probably live without. Yeah. I'm not much of a saleswoman.

Borrowed from
But every one in a while, a business idea comes along that grabs my attention. I found that in 'Trades of Hope.' Until about a month or two ago, I had never heard of this group. But then I came across a friend's post, Tamara Walston (, on Facebook which led to my expedition through her website. The picture she posted was a beautiful bracelet that was made out of cereal boxes! Intriguing. There were even earrings to match. Even better.

Turns out, women in Haiti make all kinds of jewelry by recycling cardboard boxes. But how do they get their product into the hands of women like me?

'Trades of Hope' partners with already existing organizations to find artisan woman all around the world. These woman are often from impoverished nations, raising children on their own, living in leper colonies, trying to escape the sex-slave trade, or exist in war-torn regions. There are even several products that come from woman in the USA who have been rescued from prostitution and given new beginnings.

And who is behind this company that uses an in-home marketing strategy? A couple of Christ-following Florida moms and their college-age daughters, that's who. With a passion for business and a desire to see woman become self-sustaining, 'Trades of Hope' began. It is not a charity or a not-for-profit organization. However, the artisans they buy from do not want charity. In fact, they do not need charity. What they need is an outlet for their talents and fair prices for their wares.

'Trades of Hope' help women help themselves. They send sewing machines to Haiti, chickens and goats to Africa, supplies to Cambodia, and more. They educate these struggling artisans and teach them valuable business skills. And then they buy what is produced for whatever the artisans asks, which is a fair trade price. When you hold that scarf or bowl or purse, you can rest assured that the hands who made it have been fairly compensated and are now more able to feed and cloth their children. In fact, depending on the country, the artisan women are making about six times more than they would if they sold only in-country!

I'm planning on hosting a party in my home. Will I buy something I don't absolutely "need"? Probably. But will I feel good about it? Yes. I have my eye on the metal "Hope" bowl. My purchase will help underprivileged women to support themselves and their families. The products will have a "story" to tell. And, it will be indirect confirmation to those Florida entrepreneurs that good business (i.e. one that turns a profit) does not have to be cut-throat and without mercy and grace.

'Trades of Hope' wants to get out their story and have supplied me with a beautiful scarf to give away to one of my readers. For the next week, the contest will be open. First, go to and browse around. Find a product you love or an artisan you want to help with a purchase. Then, please comment on this post and tell me what you love. I will enter every commenter into a random drawing on Sunday, June 30. (Be sure to check back for the announcement! I will need to get your address.) If you win, I will send you a free scarf made by one of these woman. The picture to the right is my own Trades of Hope scarf. It is beautiful and
Nepali aqua scarf
wonderfully crafted. You'll love it!

Please consider hosting your own party. If there is not a Compassion Entrepreneur ('Trades of Hope' company representative) near you and you want to earn some money AND change lives, consider signing up. But of course, if you have neither the time nor inclination to become involved in the business, you can always do what we women do best: SHOP!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lessons from Wal-Mart

If you're anything like me, I cringe just a little bit come May and June. Not that I'm a scrooge or wish not to be appropriately ecstatic at high school and college graduations. The dilemma is simply logistical: How can I give a gift that doesn't seem too, well, cheap? (Not much chance at giving a seemingly over-the-top gift, like a car or enough money that fills a bank account.) But there was one particular graduation announcement that required double-time thinking. What to do? What to do?

Cheyenne is my niece. She is bright and beautiful and just had a college diploma handed to her in May. But she did it the hard way. Cheyenne brought a little girl into the world a year ago tomorrow. Most would have thrown in the towel. But not Cheyenne. She beat the odds, staying in school, parenting exceptionally, and already has the first course of her masters degree completed. My hat is off to her!

I spent a lot of time thinking about my gift to her. Of course, I was a day late and a dollar short since I was not able to attend her graduation celebrations. Nonetheless, I decided on a letter and a string of gifts. This is what I wrote:

Dear Cheyenne,
 I am really sorry that circumstances prevented us from coming to your graduation. You are to be commended for your hard work, focus, and perseverance. That being said, you have earned rights to a really terrific graduation gift. However, the rub is this. I couldn’t think of anything that was fitting. Everything was either too cheap or too expensive. So I got to thinking. (Dangerous, I know.) And what I settled on was rather. . .well, untraditional. Hope you don’t mind.

As I waltzed myself through Wal-Mart, I got to thinking about all the life lessons that could be reflected in some of the products. Hence, you are getting a smattering of things, none of which, quite frankly, have much intrinsic value. However, I hope what will not be lost are those principles that the items represent. So, here we go. Read each statement and then open the corresponding gift.
Life is beautiful. You are living proof of that. On the inside and out, and reflected by your daughter, your life screams out grace and mercy, humility, perseverance, and that sweet, sweet aroma of Jesus. Savor it.  
Wall decal
You are planning to be a teacher. Wonderful. You’ve been standing in line for this wild ride for a long time. While you’re waiting, I’m sure many thoughts cross your mind, just as they would if you waited for the terrifying but exhilarating first drop of a monster roller coaster. So while you wait, use these journals to jot down your ideas. Some of them are bound to be good. The other ones may provide comic relief once you’ve been in the classroom a few years. “What was I thinking?!?!?!?!?"

In some cases, having a thick skin can be quite advantageous. If you’re a rhino, for example, few things will be able to penetrate that thick hide. Therefore, Rhonda the Rhino can choose not to pay attention to the bird sitting on its head or the insects trying to bite and sting. You can do likewise. There will be some who annoy you, perhaps even aggravate or disrespect you. Ignore them. Just go about doing what you know to be right and just and true. And while you’re at it, keep that thick skin smooth and beautiful with a little exfoliating soap. Thick hide or not, sometimes we need our rough edges smoothed out to give us that soft, beautiful glow.

Clean heart. Clean mouth. And a little brushing never hurt anyone.

  If you make a mistake, clean it up right away. Don’t wait and let the stain set. But remember this, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Ps 103:12)

  If it seems to be raining in your life, you have two choices. A) Stay inside and mope or B) Get out your umbrella and have a dance party. The latter will lift the mood.

 Sometimes a girl just has to have a little bling. Decorate a tee and remember, “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more” (Ps 71:14). 
Sorry. Didn’t think to include the tee.

Dream big. Do big.

____ happens. (You know what I'm talk'n about.) When it does, put a fresh spin on things.

After ________ happens, wash up real good (at least a 20 second scrub with soap and lots of friction per the CDC). . . then kick back and eat some chocolate.

If________ continues to happen, go with it. Flash folks that winning smile of yours!

No matter what, keep your head in the game and a hat on your head.

When it’s all said and done, keep calm and carry on.

We love you, Cheyenne.  Congratulations on your accomplishment!
Gary, Rebekah, Caleb and Seth (Although we all know the males in the group had nothing to do with this gift.)

A walk in the park and a pink finish line

By the time I finish most races, I've figured out at least the first paragraph of my post-race story. This was one of the few where the ...