Rebecca Smith of better life bags never dreamed her skill for creating bags would be an answer to others' prayers.
In 2010 Rebecca Smith posted a cute, custom bag she created on Facebook. Her friends urged her to open an Etsy shop because it was such a cute bag. Rebecca did and the results were astounding.
Soon, Rebecca discovered Micro-Loans, a method to help fund people in third-world countries so that they can provide for themselves and their families. In that vain, she named her company Better Life Bags. She began giving 10% of her sales to these individuals through micro-loans.
Rebecca will tell you that God was very "sneaky" in how He turned her hobby into a business and guided her steps to create what Better Life Bags is today. In fact, it wasn't until she was three years into the business that she realized what was happening. His voice, she says in the way He called her into this business and this ministry, was a small whisper as He offered gentle guidance on which way to turn. She acknowledges that He clearly had a plan for Better Life Bags from the beginning.
"It wasn't a matter of standing on the edge of a decision and making the choice to walk into it - it was small moments and little decisions of bravery and obedience that has led our company to where we are today." ~Rebecca Smith, Better Life Bags
One of the first steps Rebecca took in launching her business was to hire women right in her own community. An influential blogger posted a picture of a bag from Better Life Bags to her website. The blogger's followers pinned it to Pinterest as well and the orders exploded. Suddenly, Rebecca found herself facing two decisions: Close everything down because she couldn't keep up with it or send her bags to a warehouse overseas. She chose a third option: She hired a woman who lived in her community.
One day, as Rebecca went to visit the woman at her home, the woman excitedly showed Rebecca the bunk beds she purchased for her daughters. Rebecca was floored to discover that the woman bought the bunk beds with the earnings Rebecca had paid her. It was a pivotal moment for Rebecca. She realized that she was making a difference for women right in her own back yard.
sense of honor and value, and also to keep the business thriving so that others' lives can be touched as well. Looking at where her life is today, Rebecca says with confidence this is not the life she thought she'd be living. She's also quick to add that her life thus far has been an amzing adventure.
"I love having a creative outlet in the business and a way to make a difference in real people's lives. I love that my children get to watch their mom steward this God-given dream. I love the family environment in our workshop and the diversity we all bring to the table. It has given me the opportunity to step outside of myself and create opportunity for women in my community. My life has been changed as much as theirs has." ~Rebecca Smith, Better Life Bags
When asked what advice she would offer to women being called into ministry or business to serve the Lord, Rebecca answers, "Go for it! Take the next small step forward where God might be working. Don't look too far down the road and don't look around to what everyone else is doing. Keep your eyes fixed and forward and walk confidently. He directs paths. He blesses ministries and companies. He is ultimately in control. "
Want to Support Better Life Bags?
Check out their website HERE.
Find them on Facebook HERE.
Find them on Twitter HERE.
Watch the moving video below to hear Rebecca tell in her own words how Better Life Bags came to be. See first-hand how she is acting as the hands and feet of Jesus to help women in her own community.
Written by Mandy.
As Megan described the random mountain in Gressier she visited during her second medical missions trip with the hospital she worked for, it became abundantly clear that this mountain was anything but random for our Big-Picture God. On this mountain was just one tree.
Even with this bombarding it took a few months of wrestling with the logistics of what this would look like before Megan came to terms with exactly what God was calling her to do. In January 2011, with little more than an understanding that this is where God was leading Megan quit her job, sold all her belongings and obediently moved to the land and the people that God had called her to.
Since 2011 so much has changed and progressed. Megan started this mission with little more than the clothes on her back and a desire to help. Since then, she has gone from helping to feed hungry children to providing 2 meals a day, an education, medical and dental care to 500 children and even now is beginning to provide psychological care to those who have suffered abuse. This ministry is now equipped with buildings, staff, play equipment for the children, and it is continuing to grow.
Megan is a beautiful example of how one person’s obedience to God can make a huge difference and a meaningful impact for years to come. Her testimony puts on display the faithfulness of the Father as He has provided for her and this ministry every step of the way. If you are interested in hearing more about Megan’s journey and how God took a young woman with a typical job, a normal life, and the wisdom to obey from ordinary to extraordinary be sure to check out her book Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. You can also visit www.respirehaiti.org or https://facebook.com/respirehaiti.
If Megan’s story has struck you and this ministry has been placed on your heart there are a few ways you can help.
First and foremost, Respire is in constant need of prayer. This ministry is located in a community full of spiritual warfare. The school, clinic, and most programs are housed on a mountain formerly used in Voodoo ceremonies. Prayer is a constant need.
Secondly, this organization runs on donations. Donations make it possible to educate, feed, and provide healthcare for 500 children within the school. Additionally, when the funds are available Respire is able to serve individuals and families within the community. To donate visit www.respirehaiti.org/donate today.
Written by Lindsey.
Who knew one small click of the mouse could change so many lives.
Emily Fox, like her mother and her mother's mother, grew up with big plans for Easter each year. Extensive planning to coordinate Easter wardrobes for the entire family was an ingrained part of each Spring's festivities.
It was when she walked alongside some friends who were adopting a child from Africa that Emily was first introduced to the plight of many in third-world countries. She witnessed first-hand the struggle and horrors many face when survival is an everyday challenge.
"For us, when Natalie and JT brought Tedi home, suddenly the plight of the orphan was in our living room for a sleep over and EVERYTHING CHANGED."
Natalie and JT are dear friends who adopted from Ethiopia and entrusted Emily and her husband to be Tedi's Godparents. This adoption, just like the quote from Platt, is what opened their eyes to the hurt in the world, and changed everything for their family.
Emily shares that "stuff" was all over her life. Comparing the shade of daddy's tie with the color of her daughter's dress was a normal part of her Easter plans. Spending a considerable amount of money to ensure everyone was dressed to the tee for Easter Sunday was not uncommon.
One day, she heard about a woman with whom she'd grown up. They were from the same town. This woman had a ten-year-old daughter who was designing t-shirts to benefit orphans in Africa. Emily tucked this information away until one night when she was shopping online for her family's Easter outfits. As she browsed page after page of beautiful dresses, she felt a nudge to click open a new window and type in the URL of her friend's website: FeedingTheOrphans.org. She remembers it like it was yesterday...the image is forever etched in her memory. There was a green t-shirt on the site that said. "I fed a hungry child".
'I can lay down our dresses and pick up a t-shirt." -Emily Fox, Forget the frock
It was at that moment that Emily picked up the phone and made a call she won't soon forget. She phoned her husband, who is also a pastor. She explained to him that this year, Easter would be different. They would not be buying the usual pretty, matching outfits, but instead would be purchasing t-shirts. As Emily puts it, she was nervous because "Easter is a pastor's 'Superbowl Sunday'"
While she never felt God calling her to create a movement, she clearly felt Him calling her to obey. And obey she did! She is quick to admit that even though she was obedient, her vanity was still something she struggled with. She was embarrassed as she explained to her friends--who were also engrained in the Easter dress-up culture--that she and her family would not be participating that year, but would instead be wearing t-shirts on Easter Sunday.
Emily likens her own situation to that of Esther in the scriptures. Like Esther, Emily found herself submerged in cultural tradition. She was called to step forward in obedience and she was uneasy in doing so.
The spring of 2011 when Emily purchased t-shirts from Feeding The Orphans for her family, she also wrote on her friend's blog. This blog was her friend's story of navigating the tricky and often arduous road of adoption. After Emily's post went live, Emily received an email from the friend she'd grown up with, the friend whose daughter was designing t-shirts for Feeding the Orphans. The friend thanked Emily for sharing her heart and as a result, Feeding the Orphans brought in over $4,000 in t-shirt sales.
Emily looks back today and sees how amazing God's plan is and how He connected this amazing little girl (whose heart was burdened to care for the least of these from the tender age of seven) to Emily. Emily remembers being 18 years old and holding this little girl when she was a baby, and now this little girl was designing t-shirts that were literally changing children's lives. Emily's heart was moved and she continued sharing the mission and vision of Feeding the Orphans with a movement of her own called Forget the Frock.
As Emily shared her family's conviction to forego Easter dresses and suits in favor of feeding children by purchasing t-shirts from Feeding the Orphans, others caught the vison and joined in. It was amazing! And then God called Emily and her family out of the south in Kentucky to Arizona...
The mission was clearer to her there and easier to explain. Emily was confused how she was to share this same mission with those on the West coast who did not share the same culture and tradition. Now looking back, Emily sees clearly that had God not moved them to the West coast, Forget the Frock wouldn't have also made a cross-country move, and brought in that many more people buying into the vision.
Since that fateful day when Emily clicked open another window in her computer browser, Forget the Frock has brought in over $500,000 to feed the orphans. She and her husband Jason haven't looked back and instead share their passion and convictions for dressing for a purpose.
When asked if Emily ever envisioned the amazing dedication to the mission she and her husband spear-headed and how to encourage other women who HEAR the Lord calling them to obedience, Emily points out that as women, we battle the beast of comparison. We look at other women's 'obedience' and it looks better or bigger than ours. Some will have "burning bush" experiences and others--like Emily--will be called to simple steps that lead to something monumental.
Others can take up the banner for orphan care by joining Forget the Frock as Ambassadors. Ambassadors, like Emily, simply gather people who also want to raise awareness about feeding orphans and rescuing those who are victims of human trafficking. To find out more about being an Ambassador, click HERE.
With the original intention of signing up a handfull of children Katie, closed out the 2008 year with 150 kids signed up. Today this program sponsors over 700 children and with the help of more sponsors has the potential to cater to the needs of many more.
Katie is humble enough to admit the process that led her to this point. She said, “I would like to say that I had all kinds of great ideas about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. I would like to say my ministry was born out of a carefully thought-out plan. These things simply aren’t true, though. I was walking through life one moment at a time, blown away by what God could do through me if I simply said yes.” What powerful words those are. Such a simple concept to realize that no plan is needed just a willingness to hear God and answer Him with a simple, Yes!
I’M RUNNING FROM THINGS THAT CAN DESTROY MY SOUL… I AM MUCH MORE TERRIFIED OF LIVING IN A SELF-SERVING SOCIETY AND FAILING TO FOLLOW JESUS THAN I AM OF ANY ILLNESS OF TRAGEDY.
If Katie's story has struck you and this ministry has been placed on your heart, there are a few ways you can help.
This ministry's greatest need is for sponsors and financial partners. Just $300 a year enables one child to receive a Christian education with all necessary school supplies, 3 hot meals a day , spiritual discipleship, and medical care.
Amazima ministries is also in need of prayer warriors and story tellers to help spread the word about Amazima and amazing things God is doing through this ministry. If you are interested in any of these things be sure to check out https://amazima.org/get-involved
Also be sure to check out Katie’s book to hear more about her amazing story. You can find Kisses from Katie at www.amazimastore.org along with several other amazing items that help support this ministry
Written by Lindsey.
Logan Wolfram, the Executive Director & Conference Host for Allume, accidentally fell into her position.
What you may not expect to hear is that Logan also hosts, and oversees a Christian women's blogging conference called Allume. Allume, begun by Logan's friend Sarah Mae in 2009, is a place where female bloggers receive encouragement and equipping to shine the Light of Christ that lives within them. When asked how she came to be involved with Allume, Logan's infectious laugh begins the story of how she became the Executive Director and Host of this conference that draws hundreds of women from all across the country. It's this laugh that puts the listener at ease and instantly endears Logan to all.
Logan didn't "HEAR" the Lord calling her into leading Allume. In fact, she says that her position "just happened" and that it was a random series of events that led her to where she is today.
Logan, who began blogging in 2011, is the quintessential "Pinterest Mom." She can plan and execute a beautiful party (kid or adult) with all the finishing touches, while blinfolded. Originally, posting pictures of her events on social media, a friend of a friend eventually asked to interview her. It was then that Logan recognized an area of expertise that she could write about and began sharing her tips and tricks on her blog.
It was when Logan's church asked her to lead a Bible study that she came in touch with Sarah Mae. Logan had chosen Sarah's book 31 Days to Clean for her group to study and decided to supplement with her own hospitality insight. Logan reached out to Sarah via email to simply offer encouragement and was pleasantly surprised when Sarah responded. Logan made her way to Allume for the first time after that (as it happened, she got stranded in a snow storm and ended up spending nearly an entire extra day with Sarah) and answered honestly when asked her thoughts on the conference: "It wasn't very pretty and the food was terrible."
Sarah called Logan one day to tell her God had placed someone on her heart to take over Allume...and that person was Logan. Logan hasn't looked back since. She said she felt God telling her:
"I NEED YOU TO DO THIS FIRST."
And she's still waiting for what's second.
Logan remembers selling radio marketing right out of college and explaining how she now can see the connection between what she learned then and how she is partnering today with companies and securing sponsorship for Allume. She says that taking on these new responsibilities was "never scary, " but there is an element that does give her pause: it's what she calls "The Underbelly." The "doing," she says, "is what's scary. "
When she was behind-the-scenes, rushing around, and making sure all was right is when she felt no fear. But now that her position has changed and there is an element of notoriety to what she's doing by being in the forefront and acting as the "face" of Allume, it feels bizarre to her. She passionately stewards every bit of these responsibilities to the best of her abilities, but she never endeavored to do any of it. She is very cognizant that what others see on social media or even at a three-day conference can be misconstrued as "real life." To her, "real life" happens, but it doesn't happen in public.
No sooner will these words slip past her lips then she will let out an amazing laugh and draw you in with her southern lilt while answering one of her son's questions. Real life, she believes should be shared, but shared later with a great perspective. She is quick to point out that she does try to share her life authentically, but admits that people still only see bits and pieces of the whole. She admits that she has struggles, challenges, and successes just like everyone else. It's her desire that others are able to see that REALNESS and not a one-dimensional view.
When asked what advice she may give to other women being led by the Lord, she answers freely that we tend to get disilluisoned by life--we get to the point where we wake up and feel disappointed, get offended, lose hope, lose the ability to be curious about what God has for us. If she'd gotten so hung up on where she thought she was supposed to go--she shares--she would have messed up where she is.
It's apparent and refreshing that Logan doesn't take herself too seriously. Her advice is:
HOLD [your plans for your life] loosely. take it in baby steps...TINY YESSES. Often times, when we make one decision, we think we know what the rest of the steps should look like. when you say "yes" along the way, you don't get overwhelmed and disappointed."
If you have the opportunity, go to Allume, soak in the amazing decor and incredible speakers. And also make sure you meet Logan. She will probably wrap you up in a bear hug, look you in the eye and tell you she's so glad you're there. You'll be taken in immediately by her selfless and charming personality and find yourself laughing right along with her. You'll agree with her assisitant who says Logan is a JOY to work with. And you'll notice that she is a woman, just like you, who strives to listen and HEAR the Lord calling her.
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