4.16.2014

the little market

It's no secret that I adore LC - her style, her line of clothes, her books...and especially her simplicity and desire to promote and create sustainable products and support local businesses. So when I stumbled across her newest partnership to create The Little Market, I was thrilled. After emailing with Hannah, I am thrilled to share with y'all about this precious organization that I am such a fan of.

The Little Market’s mission is to build sustainable partnerships with artisans in developing countries, by connecting them with customers through an online marketplace. We seek to empower women artisans to rise above poverty and support their families.Our handmade goods showcase the artisans’ traditional skills and their dedication to preserving their artisanal techniques.  We source all of the artisans’ products ethically and practice fair trade  principles. We acknowledge the interdependency of people around the world and our responsibility to help others.
The Little Market works with artisan groups in developing countries around the world providing design insights and guiding the artist to showcase their skills to a broader audience.  The work is funded through earnings from the sales of their fair trade and locally made products. The goal is for the market to become "a global community that can come together to combat poverty, empower communities, and create social justice." Amen to that. Through all of my travels, one of the things I have loved the most is seeing how each culture differs and and how the traditional ways have been preserved. Art, jewelry, bags...I could go on about the treasures I have brought home that uniquely define so much more than the "style" of the country they belong to, but rather the heart of it. 
Some of my current favorites from The Little Market are the pieces below. I'm thinking my birthday is too far away to wait for some of these beauties...
and I cannot wait for this beauty to come out!
Currently, they feature a variety of items from the countries below, and are taking artisan applications as well:
Bolivia
Ghana
Guatamala
Kenya
India
Mexico
Nepal
Peru
Senegal
South Africa
Tanzania
Tunisia
I love what Lauren & Hannah are doing and that the people who have crafted these incredible pieces are able to showcase their beautiful works of art. So as summer is approaching, why not gear up for those vacations and dinner parties with a few items from around the world and support these wonderful artisans from across the globe?
Join in with the Little Market via social media:

And be sure to check out their founders as well:

(Hannah is on the left & Lauren on the right)
and follow along with them on twitter: 


Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I simply adore companies who are looking to support fair trade and make a difference and I fell in love with The Little Market. I mean, how could you not? Adorable products, wonderful founders, and supporting fair trade and local sustainability in developing countries. Go and visit The Little Market, and the artisans they are supporting, you will be glad you did. All pictures are from thelittlemarket.com and were used with permission from Hannah.

4.09.2014

The Discipline of Prayer

One the things I am seeking to increase in my life is continual, meaningful, and fruitful prayer. This Beth Moore devotion has certainly helped to guide me in that area and has even prompted me to put it on my 30 before 30 list. Prayer is one of the most powerful disciplines, and I am encouraged that it is something we can share together in community regardless of the distance between us. Won't you join in diving deeper into prayer this week?
Most times I tend to wait until I have the time to pray. As if going through my busy day and putting everything else first I will somehow magically have the right amount of time leftover to pray. How ridiculous when you put it that way? I love how Martin Luther puts it... "I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer." Can you imagine? THREE hours in prayer? When I was a freshman in college and had ample amounts of free time (when I certainly should have been studying) I would sit in my dorm, put my headphones on, and dive into prayer with my phone on silent. And every single time I felt so much more at ease and in connection with my Savior. But life happens, and of course when choosing between activities, my prayer life was always put on the back-burner much to my dismay. I was disillusioned that I could always do it later...

While we often view prayer as solely our way of petitioning our requests to the Lord; of selfishly asking Him to bless us with more or crying out when we feel as though life is unfair. And often times our motives for prayer are more for ourselves than for being in relationship with God (James 4:3).  John Wesley suggests us to not only remember, but to believe, that "God does nothing but in answer to prayer". All things in lives should be lifted to our Father. Our desires, our requests, our joys, our heartbreaks. As the seasons of our lives change, so will the nature of our prayers. The most comforting thing is that "God always meets us where we are and slowly moves us along into deeper things." As our hearts change, ours prayers will morph as well. He will draw us, with every conversation we have together, closer towards Him, and further in depth of knowledge, grace and his mercy. Lest we forget that "we must never wait until we feel like praying before we start praying for others." He will mold our prayers as we speak them, and hears us as we lack the words and groans are all that we can produce (Romans 8:26-28).

Does it even make a difference? We ask this when the answers we've received are not what we would have chosen. Or when there seems to be no answer at all. Jennifer Rothschild does a wonderful job of reminding us that God is just, not fair. And though sometimes the sick aren't healed, the wicked aren't punished, and the faithful are rich, He CAN and does certainly answer us in miraculous ways each day and yet all the while some people may contribute miracles to a mere coincidence. But what if we remember that coincidences occur much more frequently when we pray? Yet "many people who emphasize acquiescence and resignation to the way things are as "the will of God" are actually closer to Epictetus than to Christ." Rather, as His will is done here on this Earth and in our lives we are reminded that "certain things in history will happen in history if we pray rightly. We are to change the world by prayer." And indeed change it we can! If you have ever heard anyone say to change the world, you must change yourself, they knew more about prayer than they were letting on. Prayer allows us to acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness. Before we can go out and love others with grace and mercy, we must seek cleansing from the Lord. And we must ask before we can receive. It is available to us, we need only to ask. Through prayer,and repentance, we are transformed. We will continue grow the deeper in not only our relationship with God as we journey further in our prayer lives, but we will be more equipped to grow in relationship to those around us. 
Learning to Pray
So how then are we supposed to pray? There are many forms of prayer. While we are all learning to pray, and there is no such thing as the perfect prayer, we have a wonderful example in Jesus of how to pray (Matt 6:9-13). "Perhaps the most astonishing characteristic of Jesus' praying is that when he prayed for others her never concluded by saying 'if it be thy will'." It is wise of us to remember that it will be God's will regardless of the outcome. We might be tempted to think that unlike Jesus, we aren't lacking sin and are far from blameless, however, we cannot wait until we are perfect or have everything straight before praying - that will never happen. "We must hear, know and obey the will of God before we pray it into the lives of others." Before we can even start to intercede for others, we must first be in conversation with God, centering our focus on him, and practicing the discipline of meditation. We must first open our ears - we must learn to listen for His guidance.

It has become almost cliche Christian jargon (especially in the South) to say "I'll pray for you" in conversation but how often do those words slip from mouths so quickly and ease from our minds just as fast? "Usually, the courage actually to go and pray for a person is sign of sufficient faith." We must take courage to follow through and lift those prayers up to the Lord through the compassion that comes from being in relationship with others. Compassion is not an obligation it is a desire. Prayer is not an obligation it is a desire. Our hearts should break for what breaks the Lord's heart. We should be moved to pray for those who are hurting or are in need because we are move by compassion for them as children of God, not in obligation to check it off our ever growing to do list. "We begin praying for others by first quieting our fleshy activity and listening to the silent thunder of the Lord of hosts." We seek His wisdom, His mercy, and pour out the contents of our hearts with faith yes, but with compassion. Frequently our lack is not of faith when we fail to pray, but of compassion. One of the things I love most about what Richard says about prayer in this chapter is that even encouragement can be a form of prayer. So often speaking God's truth into others in conversation can cover them in prayer, despite no one's eyes being closed or hands being clasped. "It is not prayer in addition to work but prayer simultaneous with work" that we shine the light of Christ to the world around us.

The Foothills of Prayer
"We should never make a prayer too complicated." YES. In a world where everything seems to have a right and wrong way to do things, and an every growing list of step by steps, we can't turn prayer into something we must make mechanical, technological, or too difficult when it's really quite simple at the heart of it.
Truly, all prayer is the ability to have openness, honesty, and trust which "mark the communication of children with their father." Because after all, that's exactly what prayer is - a conversation between a child and the Father. We are called to have faith like a child and I believe this is especially important when it comes to prayer. In our prayers, we should visualize his power, picturing His healing, mercy, grace, etc. at work in that situation as "imagination often opens the door to faith."

So perhaps in reality after all of this you are still holding true to the fact that your schedule simply won't allow inordinate amounts of time to be set apart and alone to spend in prayer - I hear ya. But remember, we can pray wherever we are. In the office. In the car. In the shower. You get the idea. Richard mentions what he calls "Flash Prayers" and what have also been described as breath prayers, and focuses on the idea that in one breath you can pray over a situation, always being alert to the needs surrounding you (Ephesians6:18).

So the next time you think "I'll pray for them later" say it in that very moment using these examples as a guide:

When someone in your office or the store looks tired or sorrowful:
God, put your hand on that person and lift their spirit. Comfort them in their need and help them to rest in You.

When you’re feeling stressed or frustrated:
God, don’t let me get too frazzled. Help me to remember that You are in control and help my response be one of grace. Help me to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit and take deep breaths. Remind me of your peace and help me to be still.

When you read about tragedy in our world:
God, with your abounding love, bring comfort and peace to those who have been affected by this.

When unexpected bad news hits:
Lord, help me to make it through this. Help me to move through this with dignity and courage. Help me in my questions and my disbelief, and guide me to lament and grieve without turning from You.

And remember when you feel as though how on Earth could your tiny prayer make even the slightest of difference that "units of prayer combine, like drops of water, make an ocean which defines resistance." I echo the plea of Archbishop Tait, crying out that "I want a life of greater, deeper, truer prayer." 


How can I pray for you? How can we pray for one another?

4.07.2014

The God First Life {Review}

As you all know quite well, I love a good book and I love to share what I've read! I like to expand my views and branch out to topics or genres that challenge me - especially when it comes to my faith.  So when a few weeks ago I was approached to review this book, and I was rather excited to see what it had to say!

The God First Life by Stovall Weems caught me with the title immediately - our camp motto was FIT (First is Third: placing God first, others second, and yourself third) - so I intrigued. 

I like how the book is structured; it's broken down into categories that help us to focus our lives on putting God first and how that changes those areas of our lives, creating within us something NEW.



New Priority
New Family
New Life
New Freedom

Scripture is a prominent part of each section, and each chapter provides practical application of how exactly to put God first in our lives. I enjoy this book because it draws people in with the "principle" for a purposeful, fulfilling, spiritual life - putting God first but it fleshes out some great ways to actually do that, that may not have otherwise picked up a book for spiritual growth. Another great part is at the end which encourages all believers to be a part of community to grow in their faith, rather than simply "going it alone." He calls these the New Testament Commandments, are encourages being active in your local church. He talks of mutual ministry, spiritual gifts, evangelism and discipleship, and encouragement and fellowship as being necessary components to the God First life and that without others these areas cannot flourish.

I would really recommend this to new and seasoned believers alike as there is something to take away regardless of where you happen to be in your faith journey. It's a great quick, practical read that points to centering our lives on our Creator & King before we move into any other area. 

Check it out for yourself over on Amazon and get your copy today! There's also a study guide & DVD that would be great for small groups & bible studies to use!



How do you 'uncomplicate' your life by placing God first?


Disclosure: I was contacted to do this review, and received a copy of this book to do so. I was not financially compensated in any way for this post, however. All opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.

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