Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Style: Fashion for Good

I love to design, create and make a difference.  There are so many ways to do that, and one that I love is companies who are empowering women across the world to design and create accessories which in turn give them a life of freedom while providing for their families.  I also love finding gifts that are unique and and have meaning.  One of my favorite things to gift is a product or "in honor of" knowing it makes a difference. 

Here's a few of my favorites, maybe next time you're on the hunt for a gift or shopping for yourself one of these will come to mind...

I purchased a necklace from their collection a few years ago and it is one of my all time favorites.  It simply goes with everything and can also be layered.  This necklace has also opened so many conversations to microfinance, empowerment around the world and other companies that I didn't know about.   They feature necklaces, bracelets, headbands, earrings and have recently launched a bag line.  31 Bits also features a wedding collection. 
From 31 Bits: "31 Bits uses fashion and design to empower people to rise above poverty.
That's right, people are being empowered through the fashion industry."

Wearing my 31 Bits + layers with a sweet friend, Tacey - Miss Tough Enough to Wear Pink, at the National Finals Rodeo

I found out about this company via a friend on Instagram, and again, was taken with the message and really loved the products.  Their products are also very reasonably priced.  B&B features jewelry, clothes,  handbags and totes and a Mommy & Me collection.  They also have a boutique if you find yourself near Palmer Lake, Colorado.  Stop in!  The necklace I purchased from them was Aztec Chevron necklace which is made in India.  I sponsor a child through Compassion from India and I felt like this was a double connection for me, especially when asked about this necklace. 

From Beautiful & Beloved:  "Beautiful& Beloved desires to make a simple path
for you to support individuals freed from slavery who are now empowered
to earn a living in a safe, clean and just way. 
Not only is our merchandise beautifully made and unique,
but each purchase will dignify a survivor of human trafficking
or living in extreme poverty… "

Of course this goes with my Camo shirt that I wore all winter long and might have snuck in a time or two this summer!
Layered up ... 31 Bits + Beautiful & Beloved
I first heard about FashionABLE because of their scarf collection and wow, they have continued to grow!  They still feature a huge collection of scarves, but have added bracelets that STACK, and I do love stacks and small leather goods plus a blanket for the home.  I have gifted several of these scarves and when you receive a product from them with a handwritten note from the creator, you can't help but think of that woman in her home creating a future for herself. 
From FashionABLE: " We are committed to long-term solutions to fighting poverty,
and our main focus is creating opportunities for vulnerable women. 
That means that your purchase creates jobs,
so that the women are not dependent upon charity,
but instead are a vital part of a developing economy."

Because of you, I am ABLE to....
I have sponsored a child from Compassion International for several years now and their annual Giving Catalog is one of my favorites for Christmas.  I have gifted money in honor of friends and family which has provided playgrounds for children, animals to create a business for a family and providing water well service to an area. They have so many options for giving! 
The Children sponsored in the Compassion program are given opporunity for education they wouldn't have received, clothing, food and medical care and they learn about Jesus.  The best mail to receive is a letter from my Child.  If you are looking for a way to give as a family or individual, continuous or one time, I would urge you to consider Compassion. 

Click to visit the Gift Catalog or to find out about sponsoring a Child!
My Compassion child who is now 13, wearing my favorite color and has a birthday on the 12th of a month. 
Only God can connect 2 strangers by chance like that!
Do something, for good!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Space: On the Water

I love the water.  In a boat, on a jet-ski (I realize this is a past time of the 90's), on the beach or by a pool.  One of my earliest memories with my family and friends is summer days spent at the Swim and Raquet Club, literally from open, through lunch, dinner, showers and until closing time we were like fish in that pool. 

Of all water, my favorite is on a boat.  And, fishing.  There's something about it.  I get lost in my thoughts in the vast expanse of water and the ocean.  The creation.  The number of fish in the seas.  The power of water. 

Last weekend I made a quick trip to see some friends in one of my favorite places and got on the water for a few hours Saturday morning.  We were casting, and casting, fishing off the boat and nothing was biting.  I wasn't really even paying attention to my line, just letting the croaker hang out and maybe eventually something would bite.  All the sudden my line started running...I said out loud "I got something!".  Hilarious looking back on it.  That fish put up a little fight, we thought maybe it was a redfish, (I still have yet to catch a redfish and really want to!!) but, finally we could see it.  Nope.  It was a Jack Crevalle.  It took a few minutes to get it reeled in. 

Since I was caught by surprise, I needed help.  The reel needed adjusting, the fish was pulling my pole and I wasn't in good position.  We were in a little bit of rough water and I had to circle around the boat a couple of times while reeling in which was a balancing act. When we netted that fish, it wasn't a keeper, it was just fun to catch, snap a pic and throw it back. 

There have been times I caught a keeper.  Out wade fishing ... a little trout ...

And, offshore fishing, reeling in red amazing blue water...

Every one of these was different...the fish, the circumstance, the weather, the location, the fight...isn't that like life? 
Some days you feel like you just cast and cast with nothing in return.  Nothing even biting, or if it does bite, just steals your bait and takes off before you can reel it in. 
Some days you cast and can literally see right through the water as you're reeling up and know you have a keeper. 
Some days the seas are rough.  Some days they are calm.
Some days you're off by yourself wading in the water.  The line gets in a birds nest.  There is no hurry, you just work it out, try it again. 
Sometimes when you are on the boat and look in the water you see the jellyfish.  They are just waiting to sting you. 
Sometimes you look and see majesty of creation when a whale is so close you could almost reach out and touch it, but it is just out of reach. 

There are so many things in life we're fishing for...answers, people, places, jobs, relationships, money, travel, body, houses, cars, status, many times when we finally feel like we caught it, it's hardly worth snapping a picture and really should be thrown back.
Maybe you're like Jonah and buy a seat on the boat to escape or get away.  Only to be swallowed by a giant fish and later spit out on the shore still fighting what you were called to. He choose to take the longer and harder way to Nineveh.  "Ninevah" is a real place for each of us, the place we are called to but don't quite want to surrender to.  We think we can do it on our own.  We (I) get tired of waiting.  We don't want to forgive what has wounded us.  We would rather take the long road, than surrender.  Sometimes the long road seems easier because it is less painful, but only temporarily. Eventually we all end up getting spit out to Nineveh and that landing is rough. 
(Click to iTunes for Podcast Jonah - "What do we do when we don't want what God wants"
from Bayou City Fellowship 06.15.14)
I get lost in my thoughts on the boat and life's lessons.  At the end of the day....I want to be on the right boat.  I want to make sure my bait is carefully selected, that it is cast with good intention. I want to be intentional where I am casting my line.  I want to be patient when waiting on the right "fish" to bite, whether it is big or small, I want a keeper, not a temporary solution.

Fortunately the Creator of the seas and all its creatures created me. He knows exactly the waters to put me in. It is just a daily challenge to get in the boat or sit on the shore plotting my own plan and trust that no matter how deep the waters get, how rough the seas or how often nothing returns on the line, He is in control. 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Self: Little Things

I am a little things person.  The little things mean so much more to me than big things do.   If you know me well, you know the little things that matter to me. 

What are those things?  They can be simple or complicated, but they are not grand.  Some little things for me are...
  • Opening a door for me
  • Getting a handwritten note in the mail
  • Snapping a pic of something that reminds someone of me and receiving it in a text message with a fun memory described
  • Knowing that I love Dr. Pepper and stopping to pick up fountain cokes before meeting to leave for a road trip
  • A fun surprise like handful of glitter pencils because I love pens and pencils  
  • Turning up the radio because my favorite song is playing
  • When someone makes a known sacrifice for me 
  • Receiving a text message on a hard day that someone is praying for me
  • Alerting me of a sale (I do love a bargain) on a favorite item or store
  • Baking treats without nuts in them for me, maybe even a separate pan (thanks Mom!)

The little things begin to add up.  They are my language.  They build friendships and relationships.  Ultimately it is because I know that person really knows me well.  They have taken time to get to know me and what matters to me and they act on it. I try to do this in return. 

But, sometimes in life we let the "little things" go unnoticed that we want, we think God can't be in the "little things", He's got much "bigger things" to worry about.  I was recently reading Mended by Angie Smith and this spoke such truth to me...

He can make the waters part.  No problem.  That makes sense to me. BIG hands.  Got it.
He can resurrect His dead Son from a cross. He is God after all. 
But can - and does - He wrap those same hands around the "little things"?
<insert whatever little things you feel like is too small for God>
Are there places in your life where you think, "God wouldn't care about this.
He's got too much on His late to try and figure out how to help me through this day."
As much as I trust in Him, believe He is Who He says He is, and welcome the opportunity to praise Him, there are moments when I think I might have fallen off His radar because He
is busy, you know, saving the world and all. 
The truth is ....
There is nothing too small for Him to care about. 
(Mended, Ch 9 - The Sea and the Scarf, pg 48-54)
And, I started thinking. The little things matter most to me.  That's because they usually come from people who know me really well.   Can't know little things if you don't know someone well. 
Who knows me better than God? 
No. One. 
Why in the world wouldn't the little things matter to him?!?! 
They do, they matter greatly to him.  I have been reminded of this over and over as I have faced what sometimes seem like big challenges to me, though when I compare to other sufferings in this world, I feel they can be insignificant.  I have to remind myself, He cares Angie. 
He cares about the little things, the details, every one of them. They might seem little to you, or little in comparison but that doesn't de-value them.  Let them go, stop trying on your own and bring them before Him.  There is such freedom in doing so and trusting that His hands, the same hands that created the world and part the seas are at work in the little things & details for me. 
One of my favorite Bible teachers Christine Caine said "Small things in the hands of a big God can make a big difference". I pray you can lay your head down at the end of the day and remember, enjoy the little things, believe God is in the details and in the little things because one day you look back and realize they were the big things!
“. . . if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, NKJV)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Style: Uniform

I was talking to my niece this Spring on the phone.  She is into clothes and definitely has her own style and puts together outfits on a regular basis.

Niece:  "Gigi, what are you wearing?"
Me:  "Black soft pants (read: yoga pants) and t-shirt."
Niece:  "Oh, I know your tight pants (read: running leggings) and green shirt"
Me:  "No, different today"

That's because she knows my winter uniform ... running leggings, half-zip or hoodie and flip-flops or (faux)Uggs depending on the weather. 

For example: 

But, now it's summer and that means the uniform has to change.  Nike tempo shorts and Hanes v-neck tshirts.  If I'm headed somewhere that AC is subject to be set at sub-zero temps I add a hoodie.  I keep it fancy.  However, my nephew told me "Long sleeves don't go with shorts". 

And, the laundry pile pretty much looks like this every week. 

If you don't have a stack of white Hanes v-necks, you should.  They go with everything and are perfect for workouts, weekends and lazy days.  Before you cast judgement, there are other white T's for occasions, and the JCrew Vintage T is a favorite.  But, back to matters at hand, Hanes T's are cheap, bleachable, and make great rags when they are done for.  

This summer has a new piece to the uniform. Cut-offs.  I've hunted for cut-off shorts for a long time, but I think I have found a couple for this summer that are going to be in hot rotation and don't judge if you see them a lot, they go with everything.  And, for all the expensive cut-offs in the trendy stores, just take yourself to Target or Old Navy for  great pairs under $20! 

They can easily go for day or night as well!  And, yes, there I am again, violating my nephews rule, long sleeves and shorts, PLUS a scarf!  Summer time!! 

So, whatever it is that you love and feel comfortable in, make it your signature, your uniform!