Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Women & Their Work

Me in the earrings that started it all.
I wasn't looking for another job last month when I learned about the Entoto Project and Tesfanish. I wasn't thinking about Ethiopia very much, and I didn't even know there were women who could spin sorrow into hope, devastation into genuine beauty. I went to a good friend's home for a Noonday trunk show in May, and all I wanted was a pair of gold earrings. I got so much more that night.
As the Noonday ambassador, Cynthia, spoke on behalf of the company and its' artisans, she lifted up ropes of gorgeous metal jewelry and said that it was made up upcycled artillery from past wars in Ethiopia. Who knew you could take a weapon of war and burn it into a glistening bead? And then string that bead and a thousand others onto a line and feel the weight of artillery redeemed, death used for life, and display it on your neck as an emblem of hope? I didn't.
As Cynthia and I talked that night and I held the Bethe Rope and beaded bracelets in my hands, I knew one thing to be true. Here was beauty out of ashes. Here was redemption, tangible and weighty, shining in the palm of my hand. My heart leapt, friends! I know about beauty from ashes. How God can take a smoldering wick and fan it into a flame that could set an entire life ablaze.
Because I know that not having access to dignified and fair work can crush a person, I wanted to become an ambassador for Noonday, which means that I will stand up and tell the artisans' stories of hope and transformation and talent to other women and sell their jewelry in a market that will pay a fair and ethical wage to these artisans. I am thrilled to point you to the impact section of the Noonday website, where you can hear Tesfanish's bold and beautiful story. I plan on writing more about the Noonday Collection and what I'm learning about modern slavery and the way threads of redemption can be found in the darkest of places.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. Isaiah 58:10

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Unfading Beauty

Some beauty in our home.
I have a beautiful neighbor who is about 80. She is petite and agile and she is not above crawling under our dining table to chase my toddler, if he chooses to hide from her when she comes to visit. She comes every early afternoon, right around 2. Sometimes, I am waiting for her, brewing a fresh pot of coffee and attempting to clear a path through the Legos and Hot Wheels and Cheerios scattered across our wood floors. Sometimes I am rushed and busy, and I hesitate to answer the door when I hear her distinctive knock, but I always answer. My beautiful neighbor has dementia, and though she is well-loved and lives with her attentive family, she has managed, in the fog of a fading reality, to carve a new pathway in her schedule, and it leads straight to our front door.

Every day, she points to William's shoes that sit on our front porch (and that's where they stay because MUD) and lays her hand on her chest. "Oh! What I would give to go back to these days with my boys." If the boys aren't napping, she will pick up a book and they come running. William sits on the arm of the chair and leans against her and Joshua lifts his arms to her and says, "Hold!" She points to the pictures on the pages and they spend long minutes discussing the characteristics of Thomas and Percy and Edward and who is nice and who is a naughty train, and then she hugs them and promises to come back tomorrow. She tells me daily to sit still and love my mess because before I know it, they'll be gone.

My neighbor also raised two sons, one of whom died of MS several years ago. She talks about them often.  It seems mothering grows a strong and mighty oak in your reality, and though age and disease may break some of the boughs and prune the blooms from the highest branches, even the unforgiving hooks of dementia can't loosen its' roots from your memory. I don't know if I am much like her, but I do know she and I have something that has grounded our friendship. We both understand the value of recognizing the beauty that's around us.

And I do love my mess. And my wild and woolly boys. I haven't blogged in over a year. I've been having coffee with my neighbor, and raising my boys, and working with a group of women to talk about the Bible and God's glory and His character and what it means for us, and a whole slew of other things. But I have the desire to write about beauty and talk about it and hold onto it and I plan on writing about that here again, at least once a week. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Legos to put away.

Some more beauty in our home, though this one is not as refined.