Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Big Picture

We often say "what a small world" when seeing someone in an unlikely place, or discovering we have mutual friends with someone.  It makes me giggle a little every time I hear that phrase, because when I hear it I am reminded that this world isn't small at all.  It is "our" world that is small.  I don't want to speak for everyone, but I know for myself, a U.S. citizen born and raised, that seeing things about stuff happening all around the world, well it doesn't seem to matter much.  I know that sounds awful, but come on, admit it, if it isn't affecting your life directly, you don't worry yourself too much about it.  You may feel bad for a moment, but that feeling quickly goes away. How often do you hear about starving children around the world and just say "aww that's awful" as you sip your six dollar venti cappuccino or chow down on your 5 dollar cheeseburger from the local pub.  I am not trying to call anyone out, because I do the exact same thing! It is so hard to see outside of our own little worlds, but I think we need to remember that we are not just citizens of the United States. We share this planet with billions of people around the world.
Men, women, children, who are very similar to you and me, just born in different circumstances.  
I have heard many people talk down on international adoption, and it breaks my heart.  I have heard people say that it should be banned, I have heard people say "if they were born there, than that is where they belong" I have heard things like this said from people who aren't religious, but also people that are.  I think adoption is a beautiful thing whether it is domestic or international.  Every child deserves a home.  This post wasn't supposed to be about adoption so I will make this quick.  Children everywhere need to be loved, they need a safe place to be themselves, a place to call home, and an opportunity to succeed.  If you can take a child out of any place where they are at high risk for starvation, child prostitution, or human trafficking, than why not.  And Christians, I am calling you out, being a Christian and being a patriotic U.S. citizen do not mean the same thing.  Your political party doesn't mean you are a Christian either.  Let's look at one of the most popular of Bible verses, John 3:16 "For God so loved the WORLD he gave His only begotten son." If God didn't claim only one group of people why should we? Oh how about this verse? 1 John 3:17-18 "But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."  When we shut out those in other parts of the world we are shutting out our brothers and sisters "closing our hearts" to them.  
This verse does not only apply to adoption.  Look at the products you purchase daily; chocolate, coffee, clothing.  We never really think about where it really comes from.  But take a look a chocolate, it all starts from a cacao tree, there has to be farmers to harvest the pods and pick the seeds, but who are the farmers?  Big companies like hershey, get their chocolate from places that use child labor to farm the chocolate, so when you purchase hershey chocolate, you are hurting the farmers that do it the right way. The typical  mindset is "Fair trade is too expensive." We say that because we are in a society that puts quantity over quality. We may know that there is child or forced labor involved, but we keep that distant, we just don't think about it.  We are more focused on what we want and getting at the best price.  We are all about more more more.  What about those clothing stores that sell super cheap but fashionable clothing? Why do you think they can sell a top for $15 and still make profit? They pay next to nothing for it, because the person who farmed the cotton, or knitted the fabric was paid nothing, or next to nothing. 

I did not intend for this to be such a long post, but there is so much that could be said.  We have to look at the big picture.  We can't shut off the rest of the world, because we need the rest of the world. We need it for our chocolate, our coffee, our fabric, our fuel.  We may have a lot to offer in this country, but we cannot do this alone.  We cannot close our hearts to those around the world, we need to build them up.  When purchasing fair trade, you are helping a mother or father  send their children to school, pay for medical treatment, put food on the table.  Purchasing fair trade does more then when you donate money.  Fair trade is job creation.  It gives people purpose, makes them realize their value.  Fair trade is even a benefit for the environment.  

But this isn't just about purchasing fair trade products.  I want us all to get better about loving people.  I for one am such a whiner, I forget how blessed I am.  I focus way to much on comfort and safety.  I think it is time for me to get out of my comfort zone and love on people.  I am way more comfortable keeping my distance and staying in my own little world.  But outside my comfort zone is where all the excitement happens. 

When I look at the big picture, I see that I am overwhelmingly blessed.  I really have nothing to complain about.  I have been lazy and complacent.  I watched this little clip and realized how selfish I am.  This girl is so excited that she has a mattress and I complain because I need new throw pillows to match my new duvet from pottery barn. 

Let's stop closing our hearts to our brothers and sisters around the world.  Let's start looking at the big picture

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Definition

I have been pretty busy lately.  I recently got a new job, my online classes started, and this whole home ownership thing is a lot of work...my goodness! It really makes me appreciate my parents a lot more.  Throughout all of this I have had a lot of time to myself.  Though I may be busy cleaning, cooking, doing homework, or doing yard work, my mind wanders.  It has kept taking me to the place of reflection.  I have constantly been asking myself the question, "what defines Kelly?"  I am the kind of person who worries way, WAY too much about what other people think of me.  I do things not for myself, but so others will see me doing them.  I am always scared to share my true passions, my true desires, and do exactly what I want because I want people to think I am doing something great with my life.  Well this mindset has gotten me nowhere.  Because I am constantly trying to prove myself to others, I get involved in things I don't really enjoy or volunteer to do things that I don't really have the time for.  I am sick of living this way.  The only choice that I have made, that was not based on making others happy, or focused around what others thought, was the decision to start dating Joshua, and that was the best decision I have ever made in my life.  That right there tells me that when I stop thinking about what other people think,  I am completely capable of doing what I want and being happy.  So that brings me to the questions, what do I want? what will make me happy?  What defines me?  It is actually really difficult to answer these questions.  When answering these questions I tried to look back on moments in my life when I was really happy.  Morning coffee dates with my mom,  boat outings with my dad, Christmas Eve at my grandaddy's,  and weekends spent with Joshua when he would come to visit me when I was away at college.  All of these things always made me really happy. I was always content in these moments.   I think one of the happiest times in my life was my time spent in Brazil on a missions trip.  Everyday working with hundreds of children, sharing the gospel, having fun with them and showing them love, seeing huge smiles on all their faces just took me to another place.  I worked my butt of while I was there and by the end of every day I was completely pooped but every morning I woke up and was so excited for what was to come.  Looking at all of these things, I can say what really, truly makes me happy is helping people, building relationships, and spending time with family.  So simple, but really that is all I need to make me happy.  I now know why recently I have not been very content with myself. I have been really selfish.  I am so worried about making myself look good, that I forget about helping others.  Seems twisted right?  I need to not focus on the worlds definition of success, but focus on how want to be defined.  I want to be honest.  If I am honest, let see here we go....This is Kelly.... I am a disorganized, insecure, mess, who just wants to help people, love Jesus, and someday be a mom.  Society may see that as unsuccessful because I may not make a ton of money,  have my masters degree or doctorate, but you know what? I don't care anymore.  I want to be defined by what I want.  Not what this so called "society" wants.  Who are these people anyway? So here's to moving forward.  I will do what I want and not be scared to do so (at least try not to be).  I will not let the world define me, I will define myself.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Thoughts

As I sit here on my parents back porch on this beautiful Sunday afternoon enjoying a soda and potato chips, all I can think about is how toxic both of these things are for my body and brain.  I have seen so many health documentaries about detoxing, juicing, and all natural diets, but for some reason, as hard as I try, I cannot break these horrible eating habits.  Not too long ago I went about three months of eating really clean.  During that time I had much more energy, shed quite a few pounds, and just felt better all around.  So why did I come back to eating junk?  Quite honestly, because it was cheap and easy.  I never had to prepare anything, and could eat a lot of food for a lot less money.  I don't like making assumptions but I am going to go out on the limb and say many others share this same mentality.  But as I sit here and think back when I went through my few months of eating clean, all I can think about is how I want to feel that way again.  I think if I start back on the right track I need to not just change my eating habits, but change my thought process as well.  Before I was doing it mostly to lose weight, once I lost some weight I went back to being lazy again.  Definitely not the way to do it.  Also, I kind of went full force right from the beginning and maybe I should take things a bit slower.  Maybe even create a game plan.  As I do this, I may share some things with you along the way.  This will not be one of those weight loss journey/diet blogs,  but I may share some methods here and there that make healthy living a bit easier and maybe even share some recipes that I try out and love.  Bottom line is I want to enjoy life,  and being healthy is a huge part of that.  So there, I guess this means I am turning over a new leaf.  Yes I confess I did finish the soda, but now I blogged about this whole eating healthy thing so now I have to do it.  Here we go!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Some tunes....

to help me get through cleaning day

Photo Shoot!

This week I have been a bit busy.  My classes start next week so I have been trying to prepare myself,  my husband is out of town for work and I had a few things I needed to do in Virginia so I stayed with my parents for a couple days.  My younger sister is a young photographer and taking photography classes so it seems like anytime I am home she wants to use me for a project, which is kind of fun, and I always get awesome pictures from it.  This shoot was fun because we did it with Jenny's friend Bekah and took my parents dog along.  We tend to take him along most of the time.  Honestly I would take him with me everywhere if I could, but here a a few from the shoot!

Yea I could totally balance it on my head....for about two seconds :)

I had a great time and Jenny always does a fantastic job! Definitely check out Jenny's Photography on her Facebook Page.  
She is in the process of creating a website and when she does...I will definitely be posting it.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Music

Occasionally I may share some music with you.  I will warn you, I am kind of music bipolar.  Today it's folk, tomorrow it may be old school hip hop. But somewhere out there, there has to be others who appreciate all of the different realms of musical talent on the earth just as much as I.   Here is what I am listening to this morning. Enjoy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fair Trade?

      In my intro I state that I like shopping fair trade, well that is quite the understatement.  Fair Trade is something I am quite passionate about and would love to educate others about in a fun and exciting way.  I could post videos of the harsh reality of child slavery and human trafficking, but honestly that just makes people feel horrible for a brief moment to then go about their day not thinking about it anymore.  We have been so desensitized by the media and film that we aren't as affected by seeing videos and pictures of human suffering as we should be.  What motivates me is seeing people do something to make a difference and seeing little ways I can help in every day life.  I must share with you though some of the reality of this issue or we would forget why it is important to begin with.  Slavery is all around us, and we are supporting it every day and all day.  That coffee you drank this morning,  that candy bar from the vending machine at the office, or that shirt you are wearing right now...there is a very VERY high chance that every single one of those products was made by either a child forced to work to pay off family debt, or an adult forced to work with little to no pay.   It is difficult to avoid being consumers of products made by slaves, and by no means am I trying to make you feel horrible about your cup of coffee this morning.  I just want you to think about this and keep an eye out for fair trade alternatives. I must confess I am wearing a cotton shirt right now that says made in india....I am pretty sure it wasn't produced under fair trade standards, but this is what is sold in stores, even high end retail, it is everywhere.  So this is why I want to share fair trade resources with you.  If we start supporting more fair trade and locally produced products, than that industry will be in high demand, and there you go, more jobs with fair pay and treatment for more people and less slavery.
    Since I mentioned coffee and chocolate in this post, I figured I would discuss these two first! 

A great coop you can go to for coffee, chocolate, tea, and more is Equal Exchange.  I have had their coffee before and love it! You can purchase online or I have purchased it from a Ten Thousand Villages brick and mortar location (which is a really cool store for fair trade products).  

For those of us that like to use K-Cups for our Keurigs there are a few options as well... Green Mountain Coffee K-Cups can be found in many grocery stores, and they offer many different blends.  My favorite fair trade K-Cup would have to be Newman's Own Organics Special Blend which can be found at many grocery stores as well.  You really don't have to go out of your way to find fair trade coffee.  You just have to keep your eyes open!

Here is a video of Nell Newman from Newman's Own discussing why they partnered with Green Mountain Coffee to support fair trade.

I already mentioned one place you can get chocolate and coffee, but another place for fair trade chocolate is Divine Chocolate.  They also sell this in some local stores, and at Ten Thousand Villages.  They have a wide variety of candy bars from mint dark chocolate to hazelnut milk chocolate.  I personally love the white chocolate with strawberries.

I will give you a fair warning before you go and think "Geeze fair trade is too expensive, I think I will stick to Folgers" because supporting fair trade is a bit more expensive that is a very common thought. Fair trade products are a tad pricier, but there is a very logical explanation for that.  Fair work equals fair wages which equals higher prices to support the labor.  Makes sense right?  I have always been big on bargains, so i try to remind myself of this quote by Benjamin Harrison when I try to skimp and save a couple bucks "I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process." Pretty intense right? Yea, so just think about it.  Think quality over quantity and honestly it will not only keep your life from being so cluttered and crazy, but it helps other people support their families with a honest income! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What to expect....

Ok so I am going to be honest, I have never done this blogging thing before.  I am not a good cook nor am I crafty....which seems to be the cool thing in the blogosphere, but I'm not here to be cool. I am here to share my thoughts, things I discover, and maybe even my attempts at cooking or being crafty, but my ultimate goal with this blog is I want to learn.  I want to learn more about myself.  Taking time to share my thoughts, and things that inspire me I think will be very revealing to me.  I have one of those brains that thinks way too much about things that have not happened yet.  My brain goes a million miles an hour in several different directions and it drives me insane.  I am hoping this will give me an outlet to express some of these things and maybe separate myself for a brief part of the day and organize all of these crazy things going on in my head.  I guess I can't really tell you what to expect I can just tell you what not to expect. Don't count on learning some crafty diy projects, amazing new recipes or organizing tips from this girl...because I am not that person.  Though I think half of my stress comes from wishing I was that person, I am not nor will I ever be that person.  That fact is something I think a lot of women need to come to terms with and be ok with including myself and we would be much happier.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The start of a new life

As said in my intro, I am a newly wed. I figured I would start out by sharing our big day with you all!! The ceremony and reception took place at The James River Country Club in Newport News, VA.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day! Thank goodness it was pretty cool, because a sweaty bride just is not attractive, but anyways enjoy!

                                                                  Time to get pretty!!

     I love this of the groomsmen.  Kristin Partin Photography did a wonderful job capturing everyone's          personality.

    My lovely ladies.

This is probably my favorite picture. His hugs are the best :)

Josh and his beautiful mother

My father, my Great Aunt Joyce and I.  She is such a wonderful woman so kind and not to mention a great sense of humor. 

yea Josh and I were getting down. I even had my dress all hiked up.  Real classy ;)

and we are off!!

I can't even explain how happy I am with these photographs Kristin Partin did an amazing job! It was a magical day and it could not have been more perfect!

If you want to see more, check out the video here