Friday, November 11, 2016

When New Lenses Are Needed...

Deep in the "trenches" of Motherhood holding hands with an almost 4 year old and carrying a small babe, I froze in the middle of the Kroger parking lot at the scene playing out before me. I watched as my husband handed over an entire bag of candy to a shocked bell ringer in a red vest standing in the cold next to her red bucket. I watched as the words "you are the best bell ringer, you bring so much joy to everyone around. I know you purchase the candy you give to the kids out of pocket and I wanted to bless you today" left my husbands lips and a tear filled woman embraced him into a beautiful hug before he made his way back to his banking job inside.

I managed to begin walking and called to catch up with him. He didn't know we had been standing there and was excited to see us. My googly eyes were showing as he shared how she really is the most joyful bell ringer he has ever seen and he figures he can spare a couple dollars to help her do it. 

I don't remember the events prior to getting out of our car to walk inside the store. I don't remember what we did the rest of the day. I don't remember what silly spat Caleb and I were likely in the middle of.

What I remember is how proud I was to be married to that man. A man who sees the best in people. A man who is kind. A man who loves well in his own way. A man who makes my world and the world around us better. 

I fully believe God intervened and allowed me to witness my husbands kindness that day. I needed to see him through a different lens. I needed to take off my exhausted mom of littles glasses. I needed a new perspective. I needed to know that boy who wooed me with his heart for others was still there. I needed to know that there was hope. I needed to know we were going to be okay.

I tell you this today because I think a lot of us need to remove our lenses and find a new perspective. The recent election and events surrounding it have fogged up our glasses. Division, fear, and hopelessness have crippled us as a nation on all sides of the spectrum. We are indeed facing a critical moment, but it has nothing to do with who holds the presidential office.

When we stop valuing humanity and simple acts of kindness, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
 

When fear guides our steps, our steps become about self preservation. Self preservation leads to division and division destroys. 

 We have an opportunity as a nation, a church, and as individuals to show the world that although we disagree, we value each other. We have an opportunity to show that America isn't great because of one office, but because we believe people, all people, have worth.
We have an opportunity to show the world that when things get hard, we take the kind road. The road that will repair and unite.

If you are feeling discouraged this week, I understand.
If you are feeling sad, I am sorry and I get it.
If you are worried, I share in your thoughts.
If you are angry, feel it and release it.
But, don't let these feelings define or cripple you.

We have ugly things in our past. We will have ugly, hard things in our future. 

We can be a nation that wallows in those ugly, hard things or we can be a nation that learns, reconciles, and makes the needed changes. 

Trade out those old, foggy glasses for shiny, clear ones. Allow yourself to see the good in our world. Tell the stories of hope. Get to work spreading kindness like wildfire. Hug someone different than you. Send an encouraging card. Buy someone some candy, coffee, or a donut.

We can not move forward if we are paralyzed by fear, anger, and hate.

Personally, I am so ready to move forward. I would hate to leave anyone behind. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For The Love of Jen Hatmaker

Today this book is released into the wild for all the world. 


I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of For The Love by Jen Hatmaker back in March when I was chosen to be a part of her launch team.

I found myself literally cry laughing out loud one second and then ugly crying the next. I laughed, I cried, I shouted Amen and Preach it sister.

This book is filled with hilarity, but also hard truths.

Lets list a few, shall we...

"We are not promised a pain free life, but are given the tools to survive: God and people. It is enough."
~
"If doctrine elevates a women's married-with-children status as her highest calling, it isn't true because that omits single believers(whose status Paul considers preferable), widows, the childless by choice or fate or loss, the divorced, and the celibate gay..... Theology is either true everywhere or it isn't true anywhere."
~
"Truth creates a sincere community for which the earth is starving."
~
On parenting:
"They must be allowed to wrestle without being shamed, or they'll default to their open-armed peers and we will lost them."

"I pray for your kindness more than your success, because the latter without the former is a tragedy."

"We must shepherd their hearts, not their hemlines."

~
On Christians:
"Our shared redemption should keep us grateful and kind, because what other response can even make sense?"

"May the world see a thankful, committed family who loves their God, adores their Savior, and can't get enough of one another. This is a story that saves, a story that heals, and the right story to tell."

~

Y'all. This book is filled with nuggets of truth and so much more.

Grab some copies, pass them out to your friends, pour some coffee, and enjoy. This is the kind of book you will want to share with friends.

You can get it here.




Another favorite nugget from this book is on calling and theological truth is  "If it isn't true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true."

Gah. If that doesn't hit you where it hurts, I don't know what will.

Jen teamed up with Noonday Collection to create this bracelet. It was made in Haiti and provides sustainable work to Haitian moms. Also, $5 from each sold goes to Help One Now. You can purchase this reminder of truth here.




PS. You can go to this link, click through the endorsements and you might see a familiar name. *Hint*It's mine* ;)

Happy Reading, friends.





Monday, May 11, 2015

Winner...



Thank you all for entering the giveaway! 


The winner of the necklace is Sunshine Robbins.

Congratulations, Sunshine, I will get the necklace to you soon! 


If you didn't win, you can still purchase one of your own here. OR you can host a trunk show to earn free product. 


Thanks again to everyone who entered! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mother's Day Giveaway!!!

Yesterday I shared  this  post about Motherhood. It received a lot of love. Thank you for so many kind words. The stories and words you shared with me confirmed that mother's need all the support and confidence boosts they can get.

I passionately believe that mothers should feel confident and empowered. I believe confident and empowered women will raise confident and capable children.

I, also, love how much Noonday Collection values family and women near and far.  

When you purchase from Noonday you are allowing parents to keep their families together and provide basic needs. You are giving women, who may not be able to otherwise, a job and hope. 

Mothers around the world are given value, while being able to effectively care for their children.

It is a beautiful mission and am so excited to be apart of it.  

In honor of Mother's Day and my new role as an Ambassador for Noonday, I am hosting a giveaway for one lucky person.



The Sparkling Necklace in sea green is a combination of handcrafted paper beads, rhinestones, and seed beads. It is made with {love} in Uganda. It can stand alone as a pop of color or be layered to give a more trendy look. 



I love this necklace. The paper beads make it very light and comfortable to wear, while the rhinestones give it some sparkle and added character. I am wearing it below along with the leather leaf earrings. 




The necklace is valued at $36, but you could win one here for FREE.






To Enter:

Simply leave a comment on this post for one entry.






Additional Entries:
If you make any purchase from my Noonday site today - 5/9, you will earn another 2 entries. (This can be associated with a trunk show or just through my site)

or

If you schedule a date to host your own Noonday trunk show to earn more free product and style your friends during the months of May - July, you will earn another 2 entries.



I will post the winner on Mother's Day! 
Good Luck!




I would love to share more about Noonday and the purpose behind it with you. For more information, email me at alcbarrett@gmail.com and I will gladly get back with you. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

That time I was called a bad mom... (An Early Mother's Day Post)

"You need to fix this. You need to do something about your kid. You are a bad mom." 

These are the words I remember. I have no idea if these were the words actually said. They were definitely the words I heard. 

I don't know what day of the week it was. I don't know what I was wearing. I don't know what the weather was like outside. I just know that this is a morning that I will never forget. 

I was working full time outside the home and commuting to and from work. Brady was about 2 and in an in home daycare.

Brady was a biter.

He used biting as a way to communicate and deal with conflict. 

It was awful. I remember saying to Caleb one night, "I don't know how to do this. Its not like I get mad at you and start biting you. If that were the case maybe I could figure out what to do. Also, I am at work when the majority of the biting takes place. I just don't know what else to do." 

This particular day Brady had bit one little girl at daycare one too many times and her mother had had enough. So she decided to very clearly let me know what she thought of my son, his biting, my parenting ability, and the situation. 

I calmly(meaning I managed to keep from breaking down into a puddle of snot and tears until she left) listened to her case. I tried to validate her concerns and apologize for the umpteenth time. I tried to express our side and that we feel terrible that our little creation is causing harm to your little creation and we are trying to remedy the situation. It is just so hard to do 8 hours after the incident.

She wasn't amused nor did she care about our side. She wanted her precious baby to stop coming home with teeth marks, and rightly so. 

On top of the, er, conversation that had just unfolded, I was a hot mess AND I was late for work. Awesome. 

It was an ugly few days. 

I already felt an unbelievable amount of guilt from leaving my child with some else 5 days a week. I felt guilty for spending over an hour in the car each day away from him. I felt guilty for date nights. I felt guilty for spending time with friends. I felt guilty for the biting. I felt guilty for enjoying my work, my drive to work, and time with my husband. I felt guilt for being late to work. I felt guilty for thinking about being late when my child obviously needed me. I felt guilty for not being fully present at work. 

But most of all, I felt like a really, really bad mom. 

Every insecurity and fear I had in this motherhood journey, had just been vocalized by another mother. 

It took days before I agreed to pick up or drop off Brady at daycare. I was a mess. 

This stands as one of the worst moments of being a mom to date for me. This is still a story I reluctantly share. It will take loads of courage to publish this. 

It's a story I need to share, though. 

You see, I am not a bad mom. I am a good mom. I love my children. I just had a moment when I let someone else's words define my abilities. 

The thing is, though, bad moms they do exist. 

Let me be clear, IF you are reading this, YOU are likely NOT a bad mom. 

But they do exist. 

I have met them, maybe you have too. 

I have sat across from babies who have suffered seizures and brain damage because their mother sold their formula for drugs and only fed the infant tap water. 

I have watched a little girl with cigarette burns covering her arms play with my hair while counseling her Foster parent as she explains how the mother inflicted each wound.

I have listened to a young woman cry her eyes out because her own mother completely abandoned her and now she is becoming a mother and she is so afraid of becoming like her own mother. 

I have listened to a young mom un-apologetically admit to opening her bedroom door to multiple men while her child watched in the same room. 

I don't claim to be an expert or know all the details to these situations. My experience in this area is limited. Many of these situations are much more involved than an one sentence summary.
 However, my experience opened my world to parents who don't put the needs of their children first. Parents who aren't good parents.  

The good news is, good parents, they exist too. 

The only non-existent parent is the perfect parent. 

I don't want my children to look back and think wow my mom was perfect. (Trust me, they won't.) I do want them to look back and think my mom tried as hard as she could. I want them to see a woman, who faced hard, ugly days, but didn't give up. A woman who got up and did what she needed to do no matter what. A mom who loved them so much her love made her a little crazy. It made her doubt and second guess every single thing she said or did. It kept her up at night thinking of how she could have done today better. A love that makes her yell like a wild banshee at the t-ball field. 

I want them to see a mom who failed daily, but asked for forgiveness, extended and accepted lots of grace, and learned to be better and love greater the next time. 

I want them to remember a home filled with love and TONS of grace. Because, at the end of the day, that is what we all need, love and grace, parents and kids alike. 

And the great thing about grace is that those, bad moms, the ones who really are bad or the ones who have just had bad moments, grace can cover them too. They can turn things around and become one of the crazy, good moms too. 

I may not know you or your situation as a mom personally, but this is what I do know.
If you feel like you are screwing it up every single day and you sit awake wondering if you are doing it all okay, then you are likely one of the good ones. 

At the end of it all, that is what makes you a good one, the desire to do this job as well as possible, not a label, not a moment, not a decision, not a status. 

So as we approach Mother's Day lets embrace the imperfection of this role, lets join together and say I just want to have more good moments than ugly moments, and toss those unrealistic expectations and all the labels out the window.

 Lets wear the one label we truly love with pride and simply be Mom.




















In honor of Mother's Day approaching, I am hosting a giveaway beginning tomorrow to celebrate the value of women and moms around the world. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Noonday Collection Ambassador

I am wrapping up my first month in my new adventure as a Noonday Ambassador.  I realized I haven't mentioned that here.  

I took a leap of faith and decided to join Noonday Collection as an Ambassador.

I am so excited  to start this journey. I have learned so much in the past few weeks and am excited to extend the mission and ideas behind this beautiful company with you. 

Noonday Collection is a business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the world. We do this by creating an international marketplace for artisans around the world in your home through trunk shows. Together we provide dignified jobs in vulnerable communities. We develop artisans through fair trade and work together to develop a flourishing world.

The Noonday products are beautiful and unique, but the stories behind the product are even more beautiful.

I would love to share more about this company and my role as an Ambassador with you. 

I will be hosting a giveaway later this week in honor of this new journey and Mother's Day, so stay tuned. 

Until then feel free to check out my site here


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Unity and Hope Through Humanity

I stood in a hot, crowded, dirty hospital room nestling a brand new, tiny baby in my arms in the middle of SE Asia. Prayers were going up in three different languages while the new life in my arms began to whimper. I slide off to the side, repositioned, and bounced away the whimpers. As I was standing there, I caught myself whispering words over this beautiful baby boy. "Lord, protect this life, guide his parents, develop the bond with his twin brother. Lord, let them see you. Lord, let them see you! Let them see you!" 

This moment might be one of the most precious moments of my life to date, right there with holding my own babies for the first time. It wasn't expected. God led us to this woman and new life. I didn't know what to expect when we climbed the long ramp and entered the crowded room. I was dying to get my momma hands on one of the precious babes, but wasn't sure if I would be allowed. When the baby was placed in my arms, I was filled with so much love and joy, the rest of the world faded away.  

My vision became tunnel vision only able to see one thing. 

All I saw was raw and real humanity. 

I became blind to the dirt, the heat, the smells, and all the other cringe worthy concerns of that hospital. In that moment, I no longer felt pity or worried about contamination or the like. 

I had to later process the conditions of that overcrowded hospital room, but in that moment all I could see were people. 

People. Real people. Real life. 

People excited to welcome new life. People worried about bills, pain, and adjusting to life with 2 babies. People mourning loss of life in one bed while rejoicing together with new life in the other. 

The conditions, the circumstances, and the culture might have been different, but the emotions, fears, and love filling that room were the same. 

 I have stories on top of stories about our recent trip to SE Asia. I love sharing them. I love that they have helped rewrite the way I see things. I love that when I talk with my friend Lauren, I know who and what she is referring to.

Most of the stories must be told by mouth, in living rooms or on porches over cups of coffee and glasses of sweet tea. I had such an opportunity last weekend to fill my living room with 15 sweet friends and smother them will all the SE Asia I could muster. It was intimate, beautiful, and fun. We laughed, we cried, we walked through muddied waters, and mapped out the path God is weaving in that city. 

Though, If I could only share one thing with you from our trip, it would be this. 

These people, the poor, oppressed, searching, lost, etc. people, they are real. 

They aren't just some idea or cause.

They aren't untouchable, dumb, or another statistic. 

They are real people walking through hurt, loss, love, life, and beauty. 


They are much more the same than they are different. 

They are human, feeling all the feels and dreaming all the dreams.

Just like you. 

You are not just a label, personality, degree, or career. You are a person. A real breathing, feeling, dreaming person. How would you feel if you were only identified by your bank account, or lack thereof? 

I could give you about 9 million 'differences' between the SE Asia land and the American land I stand on. I could dissect how things are better and worse in each place. I have had a lot to process, take in, and attempt to wrap my mind around. There is a place and time for all of those things. 

But seeing people as human, that is the lesson to take away. 

Our humanity is what unites us. 

We can gather around the throne and unite in Jesus, because at the end of the day, regardless of where we come from, go, or what language leaves our lips, we are all human

People searching for something greater than ourselves. People searching for love, grace, and acceptance while finding our way through this crazy gift of life. 

And Jesus, he joins us in that, because, likewise, he tasted humanity.
He felt it, lived it, and died in it. 

The specifics and details may be different, but the emotions, challenges, and processes are so much of the same. 

Oh, the hope that comes from this. 

We can overcome differences, mistakes, and failures when we see others as human. When we only see differences, mistakes, and failures, we fail to see people as human. When we fail to see humanity as human, we lose all hope. 

My prayer upon returning has repeatedly been, "Lord, let me see people as you see them, as created, beautiful, broken people". 

 When we simply begin to see people as people, without all the labels, we can slowly start to change the world.


Let's start to change the world...