Thrifted Pinterest - Who?

I have a new obsession.  I just started watching Doctor Who, and haven't been able to stop!  It appeals to my nerdy side, and I can't get enough.  It also inspires some DIY's, like mimicking one of the main character's, Rose's, open-shouldered tee shirt from the beginning episodes:

See, isn't it a cute update to a basic tee?  I had a grey tee I had gotten with a referral credit from ThredUP, and with the help of this tutorial, re-vamped my shirt.  It paired great with a new skirt I recently found, and I went all-out with the accessories to complete my 'updated hippie gypsy time and space traveler' look.  Now, if only my closet were bigger on the inside like the Tardis!

Outfit Details:
Tee: free via ThredUP
Skirt: thrifted, $4
Necklace: Payless, $2 (clearance, old)
Bracelet: don't recall (old)
Sandals: Sseko Designs, $55
Grand Total: $61


(This is written in response to a thought-provoking message given at my church by Matt Mooney of 99 Balloons.  If you have a chance, you should take a listen!  In place of Fair Trade Friday, which I would usually post today, I felt like this needed to be shared.)

The girl in the middle is my sister, Teresa.

There was a time, when I was younger than I am now, that I would not have publicly claimed her as a sibling.  I used to be an angsty teenager that loathed being related to someone so obviously different.  I was focused on that lofty goal of being accepted by my peers, and her disabilities, and the stares and comments that went along with them, were in my way.  Before I accepted Christ’s love and redemption, I was a selfish being.  I still am, but He is continually wreaking havoc on my old nature in order to bring me closer to Himself.  In his love, he gave me an opportunity right after I accepted Him to beg her forgiveness for my unfounded anger when she passed away a few years ago.

My sister came into our family when she was six months old, after being violently shaken by her birth parents.  Her brain had been damaged, and so as her body grew, her brain remained stunted at an infant’s level.  She relied on a wheelchair, as her legs and left side were paralyzed from the trauma.  She couldn’t see or speak, but retained light perception and her hearing.  She needed constant care, which my parents lovingly provided for the two decades of her life.

I wish I could say that despite my childish distaste for growing up as the weird girl with the weird sister, everyone else we met was more understanding.  Quite a few people were, and offered loving support to my family.  However, there were the people that stared.  There were those that wondered very openly whether we were wasting our time.  My dad shared a story once of some elder in one of our churches who asked, in so many words, “Why bother? You could stick her in a home, since she doesn’t even know what’s going on anyways.”  My mother would often stay home from church, since Teresa was apt to make loud, inopportune noises during the service, and mom didn’t want to be a bother.

As Matt mentions in his message, those church services, the meetings where the body reconnects with God and each other, were not complete without Teresa in attendance.  Every part of the body (whether human, or church) is essential.  Take away one part, big or small, and the whole structure fails.  As to whether or not Teresa was aware of her surroundings, I witnessed so many times where her functioning ears would hear my parents’ voices and her face would be almost split open by her giant smile in response.  She knew she was loved.

I write all of this because I had a recent realization, while trying to explain to lovely, curious, big-mouthed, 5-years-old-in-all-her-glory ‘Big A’ about the differences in people.  She’s hit the age where she publicly (and loudly, hence the big-mouthed comment) asks questions when she seems someone ‘different,’ whether it’s skin color, physical ability, or age.  My usual response, said loud enough for surrounding people to hear is, “God made everyone different, because life would be boring if we were all the same.”  Or, “You know that even though we have different outsides, an X-Ray would show that all our insides are the same.”

The thing is, people ARE different.   We all have different attributes. The problem arises when one certain attribute is deemed ‘worthy’ while those that don’t have it are deemed ‘less than.’  I don't know if you follow Humans of New York, but you should.  One of the most impacting series the photographer has done was when he toured poor or war-torn countries on a trip with the UN, chronicling the people he met through quotes and portraits.  He managed to show the similarities in people, removing that idea of 'other' that we so often see in our media's portrayal of other countries. For example, when I think of the Middle East, the images I've seen are almost always turbans, camels, beat-up cars, and sand.  But HONY's photog, Brandon, was sharing photos of parents and children, shopping malls, and daddy's who spoil their kids by bringing them dolls.  He removed the 'other' and just showed people.

The heart-breaking shooting that just happened in Charleston came about from the shooter believing that belonging to his race was superior, therefore anyone that was different wasn’t deserving of life.  As I attempt to raise my babies to be loving individuals in this world full of craziness, I have to figure out for myself what I believe about the rest of the world.  If I don’t process this for myself, how can I impart any teaching to that volatile and impressionable next generation?  Sesame Street did a great job, at least in order to start a discussion, with this clip:

 It may not seem like a big deal, but in this clip, Elmo (the philosopher/monster that he is) comments on race in the most matter of fact way possible.  We have differences, but that doesn’t determine our worth, our character, or our right to life.  Skin is just skin, and the abilities we have or don’t have are all just part of being human.

I’m still learning, but I have made a few realizations.  Most I’ve believed all my life, but have never taken the time to outline for myself or others.

Different isn’t ‘less than.’
Different is human.

Different is beautiful.

A person is not less worthy of respect, less worthy of love, or less than human just because they don’t fit into a social group’s ideas of ‘normal.’  You can’t determine a person’s worth by what category they fit into.  And, if we remove ourselves from anyone simply because they are ‘different’, we render ourselves incomplete.

“So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

(Genesis 1:27, 31a, emphasis added)

OOTD - Tiny Photog

So, guess what happens when you ask your 5-year old to help take your pictures?


And this.

But also, these little gems:

Kid's got potential. :)

Outfit Details:
Top: JC Penney, $5 (clearance, old)
Skirt: thrifted, $4
Necklace: DIY, $3 for materials
Ring: Payless, $1 (clearance, old)
Shoes: thrifted, $4
Grand Total: $17

Fair Trade Friday - Beza Threads

Imagine a scene with me, a scene where a busy street in the Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa gives way to a district of tin shacks.  These shacks stretch block after block, and inside are girls, children, almost all under the age of seventeen, who are selling themselves for their livelihood.  The cost for their trouble? Around $1, which instead of keeping, are forced to hand to the person enslaving them in this life.

Now imagine another scene: you are a parent, with a full house of children, without the means to feed all of them.  A man comes to your door, and offers what sounds like an incredible blessing: your 10 year old son can have a job!  He can move out of your home in the poverty stricken town where you reside, and earn a good wage in the city!  It's not until months later, with no contact from him, that you learn that his 'job' is actually being enslaved in a textile factory, working long hours without breaks, toilets, or safe working conditions, while working off the insurmountable 'debt' he owes his employers for 'rescuing' him.

A group of Iowa college students happened upon these scenes on their mission trip to Ethiopia in 2008.  I can imagine they were heartbroken, but also found an organization that was making a difference.  Hope for Children in Ethiopia was already there, doing everything they can to alleviate the pain and poverty in the region around them, by offering food, education, homes, and even freedom to the children in their area.  The Iowan students took action, buying handmade scarves to re-sell back home, in an effort to raise funds and awareness for these children.  Seven years later, Beza Threads is continuing that work, and to date has freed 27 people from the tentacles of slavery!  (all information is from their 'About' page)

The best part of these life-changing scarves?  They're beautiful!  I've picked some of my favorites to share with you today (which, by the way, wasn't easy... I'd be happy to have any one of them!).

There are many variations of this scarf on the site, with more colors than I'll list today, but this deep red has to be one of my favorites. The name means "joy" in the native language of Amharic, and this color definitely brings me much joy. Most of the solid styles have that subtle diamond pattern woven into the ends, which just amps up the pretty factor even more!

Cream with Blue & Light Blue 
This scarf is filed in the newly introduced category, "Men's Collection," so it would make a great gift for Father's Day.  I'm not gonna lie, though, if I bought this scarf for Daddy A, I would have a really hard time not keeping it for myself!

Black & White Hatch
Here's another scarf in the "Men's Collection" that I would happily wear.  The black and white are timeless, but also very 'of the moment,' and the neutral color palette would coordinate with most of the items I already own!

'Give Freedom' Bracelet
If you aren't in the market for a scarf, or just want something different, Beza Threads also offers these leather bracelets that share their mission clearly and succinctly.  And if you're going to give a gift, freedom is the best way to go.

Are there any companies you'd like to see featured on Fair Trade Friday?  Any special requests, i.e. fair trade maxi dresses, home decor, or kid's toys?  Let me know in the comments, and I'll make it happen!

OOTD - Keep it Simple

Ya'll, it's already too hot to think about getting dressed, and it's not even officially summer.  If I could just run around town in my swimsuit, I probably would, but in the interest of propriety, I'll opt for open weaves and skirts instead! Now, if only I could invent a personal A/C unit to tote around with me.....

Outfit Details:
Top: thrifted, $3
Skirt: Gap Outlet, $10 (old)
Earrings: Payless, $3 (old, clearance)
Sandals: thrifted, $4
Grand Total: $20