A Tiny Dose of Great Faith

Hello all! It’s so nice to meet you here this rainy Monday. I have been struggling a bit over this last week as I caught a virus on top of my regular illness. This bug is making it a little more difficult than usual for me to get through the brain fog (so much so that I almost typed “brain dog”. That’s a new one!) So this week I am going to simply share a quote with you that I came across this week. I took a peak inside a book that I heard of from a woman working in human trafficking abolition and was touched by the sweet introduction written to reflect on important words like mentoring, faith, grace, and power. In the area of faith, this was tucked within their definition:

Faith is our assurance that there is a Divine plan of infinite love at work even in the most challenging moments, and that we are a part of that plan. Faith gives us the confidence to move ahead with vast visions in the face of enormous odds; it is an invitation to work in active partnership with the Divine in service of a better world. ~ Women, Spirituality, and Transformative Leadership

What sweet truth for our hearts today. Our faith in Christ is our substance of a relationship with Him that will wrap us in love and lead us in grace through our challenges, despite the enormous odds, and allow Him to use this for a greater good. Let’s rest in that truth today 🙂

{P.S. If you missed it, I added an extra post about fair-trade and made in the USA Christmas shopping last week! You can view it by clicking here or simply visiting my blog’s home page}

A Fair Trade / Made in the USA Christmas Gift Guide with Plenty of Ideas :)

I decided to sneak another post in this week in the spirit of the season 🙂 I’ve been thinking of some ideas for holiday-themed posts and have been so excited by a few that I just can’t wait to share with you! Since so many of us have started our Christmas shopping, I feel it’s the perfect time to talk about shopping fair-trade and American made. While a little challenging at times, it’s so well worth it. It’s a small way to make a big difference right where you are. Human trafficking is a cause so deeply important to me. The more I learn about it, and hear the stories of those effected, the more drawn I feel to give my heart to this cause in every way I can. One way that I found helpful is by being conscious of the origin of products. This sounds simple, but it can be a challenge in a day and age where so many items are produced overseas in dire working conditions. Years ago, I made the decision to eliminate any products I used that were tested on animals, and replace them with cruelty-free alternatives. PETA uses the term “caring consumer” and advocates cruelty-free products, and it’s stuck with me ever since. It’s so moving to imagine what graceful things would unfold if we were more caring consumers, and this is so true not only for animal rights, but for human rights, too. It can be a little difficult to find products made in the USA or fair-trade approved, but with a little time and patience (and even a little perseverance!), we can do it. This is a great way for you to make a difference no matter how ill you are. You can do it right from home, on your computer, in your bed or on the couch. It’s simple and effective, which are a great pair on an energy-budget 🙂

I made a little gift guide of products that were either made in the USA or are fair trade. Since I know how difficult it can be to find great products that are fair trade right off the bat, I thought it would be helpful to share these finds. Everything on this list is under $50, to make sure you get a great deal. The skincare products and tea are also natural, so they should not irritate chemical sensitivities 🙂 You can view each item by clicking the title beneath each picture. I linked them all so you could find them easily. So please, feel welcome to take a peak. I hope you find something for a loved one or maybe even something little to treat yourself with. Let me know what your favorite items are, and feel free to share any of your own finds! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

(As a small disclaimer, please keep in mind that I’m not advertising these items for personal gain or by request of these companies. It’s just for fun. Thank you!)

Sweet and Sentimental:

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Lisa Leonard Designs – Personalized Christmas Cottage Ornament – $24

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Lisa Leonard Designs – Connected Necklace – $42

{I discovered Lisa Leonard Designs through the website Incourage, and I’m so thankful that I did. Lisa is a jewelry designer that makes lovely and unique jewelry right here in the USA. She also has a fair-trade line. While some items can be a little pricy, you can receive 15% off by signing up to her mailing list, and she sends wonderful deals in her emails all the time! Certainly worth a look.}

Apparel and Swimwear:

For Her

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Modcloth – Seemingly Sew Top in Navy – $27.99

{I sure was amazed by how many items come up by searching “made in USA” on Modcloth. I think you would be, too! Pages and pages of clothing and accessories popped up upon my search. It’s definitely worth taking a peak at 🙂 }

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Fair Indigo – Ethos Paris Organic Pleated Front Fair Trade Dress – $49.99

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Fair Indigo – Pima Cotton Dress – $39.99

{Fair Indigo is a shop that sells fair trade, made in the USA, and environmentally friendly items. A great shop to look around!}

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Rey Swimwear – Holly Swim Top with Removable Cap-Sleeves – $49.99

{I’m sure many of you have seen Jessica Rey’s video, “The Evolution of the Swimsuit”. Rey Swimwear is Jessica’s line of cute, modest, and made in the USA swimsuits. What makes them even more charming is that she names the suits after characters that Audrey Hepburn played. I find that so sweet. This one is named after Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m not sure if you can see it in this image, but this top has an adorable polka dot trim.}

For Him:

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All American Clothing – T-Shirt with Pocket – $10.99

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All American Clothing – Pull-Over Sweatshirt – $39.99

{All American Clothing is just what it sounds like — a store of all American made clothing!}

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PrAna Men’s Swim Shorts – $40.80

{PrAna is more of an active-wear store with a heart for yoga. If this is your style, you’ll love taking a peak around!}

Jewelry and Accessories:

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White Jasmine Earrings – $29.99

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Novica – Paisley Shoulder Bag – $24.99

{Novica is a shop that sells artisan made products. This site is filled with such lovely trinkets from jewelry to home goods to clothing to candles to decor and everything in between.}

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Fair Indigo – Imagine Jewelry Suga Drops – $25.90

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Dogeared – Sterling Silver Small Heart Earrings – $36

{Dogeared sells made in the USA jewelry. You can also find some of their items at Sevenly}

Yoga and Sports:

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Life Factory Glass Bottle – $22.99

{Life Factory makes BPA/BPS-free and phthalate-free glass water bottles that are manufactured in the USA and Europe. These are a great replacement for plastic water bottles that can be filled with harmful toxins. There are many sizes and colors available for men, women, children, and babies.}

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PrAna MikAyla Top – Poppy Floral – $33

{PrAna is a yoga and fitness company that is very conscious about the origin of their products and who manufactures it. I’ve seen “made in the USA” stamped on every purchase so far, and they do have a Fair Trade Collection.}

Beauty and Skincare:

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100% Pure Mint White Tea Skin Care Gift Set – $35

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100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip Glaze – $15 (Completely dye free! These are colored with fruit pigments. Very neat.)

{100% Pure is brimming with natural, made in the USA skincare, body care, and make up. They are truly wonderful.}

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Hurraw! Balm Vanilla Bean Lip Balm – $3.79 (Also available in many other flavors!)

{Hurraw! Balm makes sweet little lip balms with natural, fair trade ingredients right here in the USA. They’re also a beautifully generous and cheerful company that has been unforgettably kind to me.}

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Zoya Nail Polishes – $8-9

{Zoya makes just about every color of nail polish imaginable, and not only color, but every shade, transparency, matte, and sparkle, too! These polishes are toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP free and made in the USA.}

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Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava Perfume Roll On – $9.60

{Pacifica makes body soap, lotion, perfume, skincare, make-up, candles, and reed diffusers. They have some delicious scents!}

Notebooks:

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Rifle Paper Co. – Vintage Blossom Notebook Set – $14

{Rifle Paper Co. makes beautiful cards, stationary, notebooks, prints, and other lovely little things in the USA.}

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Night Owl Paper Goods – Peony Springs Jotter – $8

{Night Owl Paper Goods makes cards, notebooks, and even pencils in the USA.}

Tea:

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Republic of Tea – Be Well Red Tea – Get Gorgeous: Tea for Clear Skin: $4.50-10.50

{Be Well Red Teas are a collection of healthy teas. My favorites are Get Gorgeous (for skin), Get Probiotic (for digestive health), and Get Clean (for detox)}

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Tea Forte – Fair-Trade Lychee Coconut Tea – $6-15

{Tea Forte has many delicious fair trade teas! Just search “fair trade” on their website.}

Candles and Home-Good:

Good news! Yankee Candle makes their candles in the USA 🙂

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Pacifica Pillar Candles (shown in medium sized Indian Coconut Nectar) – $8-22

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Novica – Lotus Ode Ceramic Jar – $35.99

The Liebster Award

I was graced with the sweet surprise of being nominated for an award here on WordPress. Ignite Truth has nominated me for a favorite blog award, and just the thought of someone viewing my blog so kindly is a true gift all of its own. What a treasure! Thank you so much, Ted!

The Liebster Award, or “the favorite blog award”, is an internet-based award that is given to bloggers by other bloggers. In Germany, the word “liebster” has the same meaning as “favorite, beloved, or dearest.” This award is primarily given to blogs that have less than 200 followers. That way, it helps the blogger with being more known to the world as well as giving the blogger the opportunity to learn about more amazing bloggers.

Here are the questions I was asked:

1. What motivated you to start writing?

My motivation to write lies in my love for God, my love for people, and my love for words. I believe there is much power in words, especially to relate and encourage both the reader and the writer. It’s therapeutic and artistic all at once! What a gift!

2. Are you working on writing any books, if so what about?

I’d love to write a book someday! That is such an exciting hope and dream. But as of right now, I am not working on one.

3. If you could travel to any place in the world, where would it be and why?

When I am well enough, I’d like to travel to China or a neighboring Asian country. I value the beauty of the country and people, but also feel drawn to them for service work, especially in human trafficking. It’s also one of my most treasured dreams to a adopt a child someday, and Asia is on my heart for that.

4. If you could write for any magazine which would it be or would you start from scratch?

I’d like to write for an inspirational magazine or a health magazine, but I also wouldn’t mind creating one that encompasses both those topics with the help of some wonderful writers 🙂

5. When life is rough what do you do to find some peace in the storm?

I spend time with Jesus, sharing my grief and accepting His loving kindness. Spending time reading my Bible brings comfort and healing to my every ache and pain in this life. I also find peace and comfort in spending time with family and friends, having heart to heart talks, and spending time out nature, and helping others. I also find tiny treasures like inspirational books, cozy clothes and blankets, and warm tea soothing. There is so much good to focus on. Gratitude is key.

6. Who would you most like to meet, past or present?

This is a tough one! There are so many wonderful people I’d love to meet. I’d like to meet Mary Magdalene most of all. It would be so incredible to hear her stories of Jesus, since she loved Him and experienced His grace so profoundly.

7. Who do you admire in today’s world?

I admire those who love, believe, hope, and endure in the face of despair. People who allow pain to deepen their compassion, and darkness to brighten their inner light, and facing trials to deepen their character and fuel their faith. I especially admire those who use their lives to love and serve others, starting a ripple effect. The perfect example of this kind of person is my dear friend Kathryn, God bless her 🙂

8. If you could change one thing in the world, other than world peace and hunger, what would it be?

I’d like all the world to know Christ personally and have an open heart to His grace and the beauty of His teachings.

9. Sunsets or sunrises and why?

Both are lovely, but I think there’s a special peace to ending your day with a sunset. I like to reflect, and think sunsets are perfect for that.

10. Were you ever told that you could not achieve a certain goal and did it anyway?

I don’t think I was ever audibly told that, but my illness likes to tell me that I can’t achieve things every day, and with God, faith, and creativity, I still do 🙂

Here are my nominees for the reward:

First, I’d like to renominate Ted at Ignite Truth, and my sweet friend Carly at All For Him. Both of these bloggers write about Christ in the midst of trials with differing illnesses, and I’m inspired by both of their faithful writing. For the remaining places, I nominate:

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My CFS Life

We Are Gospel Girls

Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals

A Univeral Love

1 Timothy 4:12

Finding My Inner Courage

Someone’s Idea of Luxury

Congratulations! You are all such wonderful writers and I am truly inspired by your faith, authenticity, and openness. You are truly generous. You do not have to accept this award, but please accept the acknowledgement of your great work. If you’d like to be removed, please let me know and I will kindly take you off. Here is a guide on accepting your award!

Here are my questions for you:

1. Is there a specific cause or ministry you feel passionately drawn to? If so, what is it, and why?

2. What is your favorite book? (You are also most welcome to share your favorite quote from that book!)

3. If you could share only once piece of advice and encouragement with aching hearts in the world today, what would it be?

4. How would you describe the person dearest to you?

5. What is your favorite season?

6. Which year (or season) of your life has had the deepest impact on you as a person?

7. What traits do you admire most in others?

8. Who inspires you?

9. What do you feel especially interested in? Whether for personal interest, studies, or hobbies.

10. What is one of the most valuable lessons your illness has taught you? (If you are not chronically ill, what is one of the most valuable lessons a personal struggle has taught you?)

You are also more than welcome to answer these questions if you are a reader who is not on the list! I’d love to hear your answers 🙂