My husband says I'm a "connector." He says I'm incapable of separating a product from its origins. For example, when I learned that most of our chocolate comes from the efforts of child slaves, I was immediately incapable of eating anything but fair-trade chocolate. Ditto for coffee. I can't un-know.
And when I hear about women all over the world struggling to make ends meet, I can't stand idly by. I've been to third-world countries and held the hands of women who, just like me, want their children to grow up to be strong and healthy. Women who, just like me, want to put healthy dinners on the table every night. Mamas who, just like me, kiss their children good night and pray over them. Sisters who, just like me, want to stand on their own two feet.
And here I stand, in the world's richest country. A woman with resources at my fingertips. I have a choice. I can ignore, close my eyes and pretend I haven't seen. Or I can say "Not on my watch" and do something about it.
While charitable donations are helpful, handouts don't impact generations. Employment. Sustainable incomes. Empowerment. Those things, however, do.
I've blogged about The Noonday Collection before. I love their jewelry. It's beautiful. But honestly, jewelry doesn't make me excited. I'm not even really a jewelry person. I love that the Noonday Artisans earn sustainable wages. Their employment crafting jewelry enables them to feed their families, purchase medication, educate their children. You know... just like me. That brings tears to my eyes. And when I wear my Noonday jewelry, I get to continue to share the story. When someone says, "I love that bracelet." I can say, "thanks! It was made by an HIV+ woman in Ethiopia. Her connection with Noonday helped her gain access to medication and make a new life for herself, free of stigma" You know, so she can stay alive. That's heck of a lot cooler than "thanks, I got it at Target."
This isn't to ease my conscience. It's not because I want to "do good" in the world. It's because Jesus has showed me how to be great. He has told us how to lead joy-filled, abundant lives: by being broken, by serving the forgotten and oppressed, by loving others, by putting the needs of others above my own. Those are the things that draw me closer to God, that make my life amazing. God loves me so much that I can't stop that love from flowing out onto others.
And one of my dearest friends has just become a Noonday Ambassador. I am thrilled to host her first trunk show. Want to stand with us? Join us as we say:
Not on my watch will mothers be unable to feed their children.
Not on my watch will I enjoy my comforts while my sisters struggle.
Not on my watch will fellow humans go without life-saving medication because they don't have the resources to pay for them.
Are you local? Come to my house on February 28th at 7 pm. We'll drink some wine, enjoy some dessert, and learn more about Noonday. You can purchase some jewelry while you're at it. Wear their stories, then share their stories.
Are you faraway? Check out my friend's Noonday page and purchase some jewelry that makes a difference! Make sure her name is selected as Ambassador and please write in my name under "Trunk Show!"