blending beauty with grace | #thebeautybalance

I’ve been diving right into this 31 Day Writing Challenge, where each blogger chooses a topic to write about for 31(ish) days. Because it’s right where God has me, I’ve chosen to share on Blending Beauty with Balance.
(#thebeautybalance, if you want to follow along…or better yet, join the conversation using the hashtag!)

It’ll be a fun and encouraging 31(ish) days where I’ll be sharing tips and tricks while digging deeper, finding purpose, and blending beauty with balance — all with a heart of intention. {all 31(ish) Days will be linked here}

 a Mama and her little daughter lie on the grass

I tend to ponder so often about the message I’m putting out there on my blog and YouTube channel with all this beauty, makeup and fashion talk. And I confess that I have truly been in the trenches over this deep longing to know just how to live and share a life of beauty with balance.

And while it’s true that beauty, style, and fashion can make life a little more fun (I mean, can we just talk about the giddy joy in finding a fabulous shade of lipstick?) …what brings an even greater joy to my soul, is living that beauty, and knowing that the beauty we delight in is truly a reflection of our Creator.

But, I didn’t always see it this way, and I haven’t always had this sort of outlook when it comes to beauty.

I still remember the day I found out I was having a daughter, that day when I heard those four little words that brought tears to my eyes and a panicking fear to my heart, “You’re having a girl.”

And as we walked back to the car from our appointment, I grasped my husbands hand and whispered to him my greatest fear… “How will I keep her from becoming like me?”

For so many years up until that day, I had been struggling — drowning might actually be more like it — in placing my value and worth on what I looked like on the outside. And every time I looked into the mirror, I saw someone not good enough. Not beautiful enough. Not thin enough. And ultimately, not worthy enough.

These lies I believed to be truths caused me to turn down social invitations and withdraw from friendships where I just didn’t feel enough, or felt too embarrassed of the package I had to present. Instead it seemed better to be home where the only judgement I had to endure, was my own.

But on that day in that doctors appointment, when God knew what I needed better than I did, I realized that I had no choice but to finally choose the path to healing. And I had to get uncomfortable, even more than I already was, in order to really yank out the roots from the weeds of lies I’d allowed to take over my mind.

And on the day when Chloe was born, while I still had so far to go, I found myself finally in place where beauty no longer defined who I was or what I was worth.

It’s a journey, and I am imperfect, and I still have many moments of struggle.
But, the only difference is, I refuse to stay in that place.

And it’s those precious moments when I watch my sweet little girl sitting at my vanity, playing with my makeup, that I realize more than ever, that as women, mamas, and mentors, we have such a great responsibility to teach these little ones the truth about beauty.

And when I hear her ask me if I think she’s beautiful, I want nothing more than for her to know that her beauty is so much more than what she will ever see in the mirror. That true beauty is being adorned from the inside out, making every effort to blend beauty with grace, ultimately reflecting Him in all that we are and in everything we do.

And it’s when we ourselves believe and live that truth with devoted intention, that those little eyes and hearts watching us, will long for and understand the beauty God intended for us all to be and to live in all that we are and in everything we do.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

We are His poem and His masterpiece.
I pray with all my heart that we live this, and more importantly, that we pass it on.

xo,

Summer
www.summersaldana.com

Shop Locally. Impact Globally. (BIG Giveaway!)

photo by Allyn Lyttle of World Help Organization

photo by Allyn Lyttle of World Help Organization

 

by Allyn Lyttle of WHO

by Allyn Lyttle of WHO

by Allyn Lyttle of WHO

by Allyn Lyttle of WHO

by Allyn Lyttle of WHO

by Allyn Lyttle of WHO

by Allyn Lyttle of WHO

by Allyn Lyttle of WHO

 (*Please note, friends: This post is long. But, would you take time read it, for me? For all the precious Ugandan mamas who need your help? And then, would you consider sharing the post so others might help too? Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.)

 

She walked for four hours just to meet me.

Her soles were red from Uganda’s earth and she didn’t break a sweat in the high heat. Her eyes shone but she lowered them, looked at her sandals, even as I reached out a hand to touch her shoulder, and I could feel the strength in this peasant farmer’s arm.

She’d lost her husband just weeks earlier to HIV/Aids, an illness people still talk about in hushed tones because of the shame associated with it.

She’d lost her children long before that to this children’s home I was visiting–because she had a sick husband to care for and a farm that wasn’t bringing in money and no way to feed her sons or daughters.

And here I was, able to pay for her kids’ clothes and education while she wasn’t. And not because I worked harder. No, she worked sun-up to sundown and had callouses across her hands and feet. No, it was because I came from a first class country overflowing with food and privilege while the rest of the world is forced to feed from our trash cans.

I smiled at her, but I felt sick.

I am a mother. Every night I walk into my boys’ room and ache for them lying there in their beds, because they’re tucked deep in my womb. I cannot imagine how humbling, or humiliating, it would be, to have to ask someone else to take care of my children. To not be able to give them food or water, to not be able to keep them under your own roof-and THEN, to walk four hours to meet the woman who can?

Our Father weeps. He anguishes over every single mother–because there are hundreds of thousands of them across Uganda in the same situation–who has to lose her child, who cannot take care of her children.

And He’s asking us to do something about it.

Sponsoring a child is good, don’t get me wrong. I sponsor as many children as I am able.

But standing there with this beautiful woman in her brown hat and her downcast gaze, her son’s eyes shining as he looked at me, I thought, No. Enough. There has to be more.

I want this son to look at his MOTHER with adoration, not me–a stranger.

I want him to look at HER to provide his needs, not me–an outsider who didn’t birth him without an epidural, who didn’t weep and pray over him every night of his childhood, who didn’t spend every minute of every day trying to earn enough money to buy him a bowl of Matoke (cooked banana) so he wouldn’t starve to death.

So, I went home and founded a non-profit called The Lulu Tree. I didn’t intend to found a non-profit. I didn’t–and still don’t–feel qualified to start one, I just wanted to partner with someone who was doing what I wanted to do. But no one was.

Our vision at The Lulu Tree is to work with HIV mothers in the slum of Katwe, Uganda (the worst of Kampala’s eight slums), equipping them to be care for their own kids. Our slogan is “Preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.” Lofty, I know. But you have to dream big, right? Shoot for the moon and you’ll land somewhere among the stars?

So we’re shooting for the moon.

We’ve hired a beautiful Ugandan social worker named Esther Natakunda Tendo (Esther–is there more anointed a name? She has been called to free her people from captivity). We’ve also hired a national coordinator named Carol Masaba.

Esther Natakunda Tendo, and her son

Esther Natakunda Tendo, and her son

Esther is a 29-year-old married mother of two who has received education in Sex and Gender Based Violence, computer application and project planning and management from the African  Population Management. She has volunteered for years through the children’s home where she was raised, and has extensive work experience both in banking and in communications. Esther speaks several dialects, and is a strong believer in Jesus Christ. Her heart beats passionately for women and children suffering from AIDS,  and it is her heart’s desire to help those who are impoverished find hope. As her name suggests, Esther has responded to the call to set her people free from poverty and despair.

Carol Masaba

Carol Masaba

Carol Masaba is the national coordinator both for The Lulu Tree and for the African Evangelistic Enterprise in Uganda. She partners with churches across the country to bring the hope of Christ to various parts of the nation. Carol has over 20 years experience in integrated community development work, during which she has worked with poor and marginalized communities to improve the well-being of children and youth. She is in charge of hiring and mentoring Lulu staff and volunteers and overseeing the ministry as a whole.

Both Carol and Esther will be working with the mothers in the slum of Katwe. Our goal is to equip them holistically–spiritually, emotionally and physically. This involves connecting them with the local church, providing HIV treatment for the mothers and children, and teaching the mamas a trade–to how to sew, or cook, so that after two years of being sponsored, these mamas will be self-sufficient.

(You can read about how to sponsor a mama HERE).

And … we’ve got some EXCITING NEWS! If you have Christmas shopping to do, and want to help people at the same time, look no further!!

We’re launching THE LULU TREE BOUTIQUE this week, with the ultimate goal of creating a market for these precious mamas to selling their beautiful work through, once they’ve been trained. SHIPPING IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICES. All proceeds go towards The Lulu Tree.

A friend of mine, dear Jodie Vanderzwaag, HAS GIVEN UP her very successful business a few months ago to run this boutique. Pretty amazing.

We are also partnering with The House of Belonging, Funky Fish Designs, Krafty Kash, and Little Dragonfly Boutique, as well as a number of individual artisans who have donated their products to this shop. My dear sister Christy Stewart Halsell of Sandy Feet Media has volunteered long hours to set up this website and boutique (I HIGHLY recommend her web services!), and countless others including photographer Leanne Doell have donated time and energy to Lulu. To see a full list of everyone who’s helping us, please visit HERE.

So, let’s get shopping! We’ve got cozy slipper boots, slouchy beanies for kids and adults, little girl dresses, cowls and jackets, infinity scarves, dolls, darling Lulu headbands and artwork, jewelry, and more. See below for some sneak peeks.
10656310_10152863376778296_2098000950_n jordyn-7089akikilulu4 barefootsandals headwarmer infinitycowl (1) woolswingcoat woolzippercoat IMG_0560 myliecloche  Lulu bracelet

KraftyKashnecklaceLuluTree EmilyWierengaScarfSecoya

Would you consider doing some Christmas shopping at our boutique, and helping us help these mamas? We would be so grateful. Click the button below, or just follow this link: http://thelulutree.com/shop/.

lulu tree boutique

On behalf of women like Harima, below, who is our first Lulu Mama–THANK YOU! For helping us bring DIGNITY and LIFE to these dear women!

Harima, Lulu's first Mama

Harima, Lulu’s first Mama

For those who help us share the post or do any of the following, we’d like to give you the chance to win some extraordinary products including:

An infinity scarf made by The Lulu Tree from African cloth

An infinity scarf made by The Lulu Tree from African cloth

A copy of the novella Mom's Night Out, by Tricia Goyer, inspired by the popular movie

A copy of the novella Mom’s Night Out, by Tricia Goyer, inspired by the popular movie

A Lulu Tree headband designed by Little Dragonfly Boutique

A Lulu Tree headband designed by Little Dragonfly Boutique

A beautiful tank from Cross Training ~ Couture http://www.facebook.com/crosstrainingcouture

A beautiful tank from Cross Training Couture http://www.facebook.com/crosstrainingcouture

A DaySpring Scripture Bangle

A DaySpring Scripture Bangle

To win the above products, just follow this link (or copy/paste this link: http://www.emilywierenga.com/can-change-world-one-mother-time/) scroll down and enter the Rafflecopter.

PS. Friends, if any of you wants to get involved with The Lulu Tree, we’d LOVE to work with you. We are a non-profit that exists only due to the generosity and compassion of people like you. Please visit HERE to find out how you might change a life today through Lulu.

Blessings,

Emily Wierenga

More T-Shirt Designs!! (for you and your hubby!)

A couple of months ago I was soooo excited to show you our brand new t-shirts for our community here at The Better Mom!! Now we have three more designs and I LOVE them! Check them out below. To view the entire collection click here—> The Better Mom Tees

Note: When your tee/tees come in the mail take a picture of yourself wearing your tee and tag The Better Mom on Facebook (@thebettermom) , Instagram (@ruthschwenk), or Twitter (@thebettermom) and hashtag #momtees!

My-HUSBAND-has-MY-HEART

 Buy Now —-> My Husband Has My Heart

My-WIFE-has-my-HEART

Buy Now —> My Wife Has My Heart

Im-Raising-A-World-Changer

Buy Now —> I’m Raising a World-Changer

Woohoo! Don’t you just love these?? We can’t wait to see you or your hubby in one of these tees so be sure to tag us!

Blessings,

Ruth Schwenk

Our Very Own T-Shirts!! {I’m not “just” a mom…and more!}

I am soooo excited to show you our brand new t-shirts for our community here at The Better Mom!! I have been wanting to do this for awhile now and alas here they are…. Let’s wear them with pride my friends!!!

When your tee/tees come in the mail take a picture of yourself wearing your tee and tag The Better Mom on Facebook (@thebettermom) , Instagram (@ruthschwenk), or Twitter (@thebettermom) and hashtag #momtees!

Im-not-just-a-mom

This is my favorite one!!! I LOVE it! Being a mom isnt about your place in life right now; its about your purpose in life. There is no such thing as “just” a mom! Click here to purchase the I’m Not Just a Mom tee.

Raising-Arrows

You are raising and releasing weapons of life, joy, truth, and light. Dont just raise kids; raise arrows! Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warriors hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” Click here to purchase the Raising Arrows tee.

I-Love-Being-A-Mom

No shame, so shout it out! I LOVE being a mom! Click here to purchase the I Love Being a Mom tee.

So which one is your favorite that you are going to order?? And…what are some other quotes for our future designs that you would love to see on a tee??

Blessings,

Ruth Schwenk

Thank you thank you thank you to my friend Kathleen Miller who designed these beauties for us!!

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