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I’m giving up retail for a year-who's joining me?

Yesterday, as I sat in church surrounded by three generations of family, I realized something. My life has been dictated and directed by love. I was born to a couple that decided to love each other, their family and most anybody who came along. Their example gave me the nerve to plunge headlong into love at the tender age of 15, marry the guy at 18, and still be passionately in love with this same man 35 years later. My husband’s unconditional love has enabled me to believe in myself and have the courage to love others. In turn, we were enabled by love to bring three little persons into the world. They knew from their first breath they were loved and that they would continue to be loved no matter who they were or what they did. Each one has amazed me in their own way with how they love and care for their world. During yesterday’s service, I watched my son with his new fiance’ and considered the life of love they will one day bestow on their children. I was overwhelmed by the beautiful life love has given me and by the ripples of this love that continue to spread out into the world. How incredibly blessed I am! As soon as that thought passed through my head, however, a voice reminded me,

“To whom much is given, much is required”.

Family Christmas Dinner 2018

Family Christmas Dinner 2018

I know there are many hurting and wounded people around the globe that were not given the advantages of love, nurturing and material abundance I have known. Even now, there are women much like me attempting to save their children from life-threatening situations. They’re living in refugee camps or homeless shelters or maybe even giving their children up to an orphanage. Women much like me are forced to dig through garbage heaps to find things to sell. Some labor in unsafe and unhealthy working conditions for little pay, or even sell their own bodies, because this is the only way they know to feed themselves or their children

Syrian refugee children in a camp in Jordan.

Syrian refugee children in a camp in Jordan.

The world can be a scary and troubled place. It’s easy to get overwhelmed; to feel it’s impossible to bring any help or healing when the need is so great. Still, I know what causes so much of the anguish and what it is that can bring true healing. Wars, hunger, prejudice, violence; these are all the result of an absence of love. Our world needs an ever-increasing response of love from those willing to share it with courage and generosity. We don’t have to wait until we’re able to fix the whole world. We have the capacity to love those within our sphere of influence. Love your family and your immediate community. At the same time, recognize you can also love on a global scale by offering a helping hand to those in need.

I don’t delude myself into thinking I can save the day for these women. I’m not the answer to their troubles. I do, however, want to be part of empowering women so they can help themselves. If I was living in poverty without means to provide for my family, what would I want? I would want an opportunity to work in safety and earn a fair wage for my work so that I could provide for my family’s needs. I want to live by the golden rule of treating others the way I would want to be treated. With that in mind, I will continue to love my global sisters in the best way I have found. Through the efforts of Elevat, I will provide them opportunity to pursue honorable work and earn a fair wage. As of today, that means helping women in the slums of Nairobi, impoverished women in Guatemala, Syrian women fleeing for their lives, Thai women escaping sex trafficking….

Nairobi mother with her child making paper bead necklaces.

Nairobi mother with her child making paper bead necklaces.

Not only do I want to love others by providing safe jobs, I don’t want to be a part of helping enslave them. That’s what happens when we purchase cheap, mass produced clothing and items made by women in Bangladesh or elsewhere who aren’t paid a fair wage or provided safe working conditions. I’ve continued to research the effects our consumer society has on the rest of the world, and I don’t want to be a part of the problem. So, 2019 will be a year without retail for me. I did this several years ago, and it felt so good! I want to commit to it again. What’s more, I’m hoping there will be those who join me. Go ahead, commit yourself to only purchasing fair trade items or other socially responsible products that are handmade and/or manufactured in an ethical manner. There are SO, MANY WONDERFUL opportunities to spend our money with a clear conscience. Of course, we can also find the items we need at thrift stores, garage sales and other outlets that serve to recycle items.

My sister and I shopping at our favorite thrift store last week.

My sister and I shopping at our favorite thrift store last week.

May 2019 be a year of shopping ethically, relieving the burden of others, and giving and receiving much love that will then continue to ripple throughout our world!

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