Thursday, March 31, 2011

Generous & Ready to Share


Modern-day slave trade. Child prostitution. AIDS orphans. Children living in literal dumps, waiting for their next meal to arrive in a garbage truck. Disease. Starvation. Homelessness. The list goes on. 

Millions of people who have yet to hear the name "Jesus" or have the gospel preached to them.

And here I sit, thinking of a way to save enough money for an espresso machine.

I wrestle daily with questions of, "Is it wrong to buy this?" or "How can I justify this desire?"

The truth I'm learning is this: God blesses us with things. Things aren't inherently bad. 

But as with everything else He gives me - my things are really HIS.

As I write this I look around my home - the home I've worked hard to make into a haven for my family. I love that about being a wife and a mother. But what are my children learning? That life is about having a nice house, lots of toys, and thanking God for them? That's not necessarily wrong. But are the Scriptures on my walls just that - verses on the wall so I'll think we're living the right way? And so others will think that too?

Lately our 3-yr-old has been complaining. A lot. And telling me about all the things she "needs." So I show her videos and pictures of kids across the world living in a trash heap. And I tell her to be grateful for what she has and to eat her peas because "those kids would love to have your peas."

And she says, "Let's go get those kids and bring them to our house."

That's not really what I was aiming for. Gratitude would have been just fine. But action is too much work.

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share" - I Timothy 6:17,18.

This is my heart for Radical Crafts. We are so rich. We have gifts and the means to do something good with them. There are so many layers of possibility for God to use us in this - as a witness, as an encouragement to others, as a means of providing for those around the world who have great needs - the greatest of which is know Him.

I pray it's about Him. I'm a selfish, proud person. This cannot be of me, or it will fail. And it should fail.

It has to be His. For His glory and His name's sake.

Join me...pray about what your involvement can be.

In his book, Radical, David Platt shares this quote from a man in his congregation:
"I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, 'I wish you would have kept more for yourself.' I'm confident God will take care of me."

I've needed to write this for a long time, but the challenge to do so came as a result of reading what some other women have written as part of a She Speaks conference contest. The She Speaks Conference is about women connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God. Really, Radical Crafts is about my own obedience to the Lord, but I would love it if He chooses to use it in others' lives as well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Education in Kenya


Until I started researching e3kids (the ministry Radical Crafts is currently supporting) I was unaware of the way the education system works in much of the developing world. In Kenya, education for the first 8 years (primary school) is all that students are guaranteed, and in many situations it's a very poor one. 

In order to attend 4 years of secondary school, students must achieve a high enough score on the national exam at the end of primary school. Those who do pass go to either a private or a government-funded boarding school. In the case of e3kids students, secondary education must be paid for, and many of these students are unable to pay.


Those students who don't pass the national exam must end their formal education and will hopefully learn a trade. Right now there are some wooden bowls and paper bead necklaces in the Radical Crafts shop made by Kenyan youth who are learning these trades in order to provide for their families. 


This is where e3kids comes in - they support Royal Kids School in Mombasa as they seek to provide a quality, Christian-based education for both those who can pay and those who cannot. These efforts extend beyond their own preschool & 8-year primary school program to finding schools and sponsors for those who go on to secondary school. 

Remember, each purchase you make in the Radical Crafts shop goes directly to e3kids in their efforts to extend a quality education to these Kenyan children. 
Thank you so much for your support!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Obstacles

One of the things my husband is great at is playing with our kids. Ever since Hootie was a baby he's been such a champ about coming home at the end of his work day and immediately playing with her. I love hearing them giggle (and scream like girls) while I finish dinner.

The thing is, he's just a great example to me. I'm often so busy that I forget to have fun with my kids.

So last night Erik made up an obstacle course for her to run around in and we timed her attempts. She had so much fun (and we did too).

 

 It's amazing how something so simple can be so fun...forget all the toys, movies, etc. What she really loves is fun time with her parents - being wild and acting crazy.


I need to remember to ENJOY being a mommy, and help them enjoy being KIDS!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Worship Note

The stone cross on the hillphoto © 2008 Tambako The Jaguar | more info (via: Wylio)

Considering the attributes of the God we have come to worship is not only appropriate but vitally important when we gather corporately each Sunday. 

In Exodus 34:6-7, God passed before Moses and declared to His servant some of those traits:

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin;
yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished  . . . ” 

We will gather together this Sunday as worshipers of the one true God because  
He punished the Guiltless in place of the guilty

May we express deep reverence and abundant joy as we do so.

(written by my dad, Tom Strode)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ministry Update - Bihaji

This is the Feb. 1st entry from the E3Kids blog:


 Bihaji, to the far right, starts her high school career on Monday. She’s one of our eight upcoming high school students. And she’ll be the first in her family to go to a boarding high school.

 Today’s picture was taken during the school’s eighth grade graduation celebration a few weekends ago. And Bihaji and her father receive her certificate and award for receiving a high score on the national exam from the school’s founder, Grace, and the guest speaker. But, Bihaji stopped by for a visit today because she’s so thrilled over her acceptance at a boarding high school.

Bihaji is the youngest daughter in her family. Her father, although uneducated, is very wise and highly values education. After a family tragedy many years ago, he was unable to give his children the education he wanted for them. His other daughters were able to attend day high schools. While both day and boarding high schools are subsidized by the government, day schools typically provide an inferior education and the daily commute is perilous for young girls.

Bihaji has been struggling ever since her last day at Royal Kids. She wasn’t sure where she’d be going for high school, and her mother is very opposed to girls receiving an education. Her mother believes marriage is more important.  Bihaji had been crying frequently because her future was so uncertain. However, her enrollment at a boarding school was finalized this week and Bihaji has a guaranteed scholarship.

Knowing Bihaji’s situation, I’m so grateful for all our high school student sponsors. At such a young age, Bihaji has been mourning the end of a promising education. But now she can confidently continue her studies, and the school she’ll be going to gives her hope for an education beyond high school. Without the sponsors who have been pulling together to support these students, Bihaji would have been another girl with so much potential to fall through the cracks.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Sweet Discount Offer

Well we have survived whatever stomach bug is sweeping the nation - all four of us got it, but Erik definitely had it the worst. And, being the generous people we are, we decided to share it with my brother and sis-in-law last week when they were visiting from Oklahoma. 

Now that things have returned to normal, I'm hoping to do a much better job of  updating the blog.


And the first thing I need to post about is an amazing deal being offered by Rebecca at Better Life Bags! If you've followed the blog for even a short amount of time, you know who Rebecca is. She makes beautiful bags, has donated some to my shop (they're there now - check them out!) and is a huge cheerleader for Radical Crafts. 


So when she emailed me a couple of weeks ago and said she wanted to offer her customers a discount for supporting Radical Crafts, I was so humbled and encouraged. The truth is that I've been a little discouraged about things with the shop - I had contacted some people about donating things and not heard back and just felt like I was on my own. Which is ridiculous and just reveals (once again) how horribly prideful I am. 

Because it's not my shop. It's not for me to be proud. 
It's God's.

So He can do whatever He wants with it, and I'm learning that if I would just pray and give it up to Him, that I will experience the freedom of knowing that it's not about me and will just be used for His glory.


So the deal is: 
Rebecca will offer a 10% discount on one of her bags for each item donated to or purchased from the Radical Crafts shop (up to 5 items for a 50% discount!).

People, this is really amazing. She is totally sacrificing for this, and I'm just floored that she wants to do it. 

So please - check out her Etsy shop. She just got some gorgeous new fabrics in, and all her bags are fully customizable

And if you do want to donate anything to the Radical Crafts shop, click here for the donor guidelines.

Click here for details on the discount.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ministry Update - Omar




 Name: Omar
Gender: Male
Birthdate: 1996
Career Aspiration: Ship Captain

Omar is one of the most talkative and inquisitive students in his class.   When he first came to Royal Kids School three years ago, he was very malnourished.  He entered the school after his mother died from HIV.  He never knew his father, and his grand mother cared for him as his mother’s health deteriorated.

He is fascinated by travel and far off places. Whenever E3 representatives visit the school, he peppers them with questions about the United States.  When he grows up, he wants to become a ship captain so he can see the rest of the world.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Stuff from Better Life Bags!

Today a received a box from Rebecca at Better Life Bags and I just couldn't wait to get her donated items up in the shop.

You might remember her from my guest post over at her blog, Better Life Blog. She's an amazing crafter with a true heart to glorify God by serving others with her shop.

If you visit her shop you'll find lots of great bags - and the best part is that you get to design your own. She is currently taking orders for some new styles, which I totally love.

She was gracious to send me several things to list in the Radical Crafts shop, some of which are pictured below:

 
Adorable tissue cover
 I LOVE the vintage feel of this clutch

 
And this is so cute and girly!

 
Another cute tissue holder

And this checkbook cover is cute and functional - we are always misplacing ours and it's a little harder to lose when it looks so good!

Be sure to check out the shop, and give Rebecca some love over at her blog!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Worship Note

Another Storm Over Cayugaphoto © 2008 Adam Baker | more info (via: Wylio)

The God we will worship together this Sunday is jealous

In Exodus, God tells Moses the Hebrews – when they reach the Promised Land -- are to destroy the altars and idols that are part of the false worship by those who live there. They were to do so, God said, “for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14). 

God had already commanded His people to “have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). His claim upon His people and their worship was absolute in Moses’ day, and it is in our day as well. 

We will come together Sunday to worship the one true God and Him alone in the only way He can be worshiped: Through the sole Mediator between Him and us – His Son and our Savior, Christ Jesus. 

May we dethrone and destroy all idols as we gather to worship our God.
(written by my dad, Tom Strode)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shop Update - Finally

So it's not quite the "beginning of the week," as I had planned. But, better late than never.

I have totally fallen in love with Moda's "It's a Hoot" fabric line, so I figured making some stuff for the shop was a good excuse to order some of it.

Thanks to my amazingly creative friend Angela I was able to make some of these crayon wallets. Angela is one of those people who comes up with original ideas (which I never have) and she's also one of those people who's analytical enough to look at something and say, "Hey, I could make that like this, only I'd change this and that and make it better." So she made her daughter a crayon wallet, then graciously made me a tutorial on how to make them. 

And here they are:

 
Girl version

 
 Boy version
They come with 5 Crayola crayons (but have room for 10) and a 4"x6" notepad.

 
And just so I could see ALL the fabric from the line, I ordered a charm pack and made 3 sets of quilted notecards

 


All of these are listed in the shop as of this afternoon.

Remember - ALL profits from the sale of these items (and everything else in the shop) goes to benefit e3 Kids as they raise funds for a dorm for kids at Royal Kids School in Kenya.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ministry Update - Irene

Here is the latest in my series of Tuesday Ministry Update posts - this is another child sponsored by E3 Kids to attend Royal Kids School in Kenya:
Name: Irene
Gender: Female
Birthdate: 1998
Career Aspiration: Doctor

Irene has attended Royal Kids since it first started.  After her parents divorced, she became a boarding student at the school.  Her father shortly remarried and refuses to financially support Irene and her younger sister, who also boards at the school. Her mother now works as a clerk in a government office, however the pay was not high enough to pay Royal Kids school fees.  The school offered Irene a scholarship, so that she and her sister could stay together in a stable environment while their parents were separating.

(Text from www.e3kids.com)

Don't forget - all purchases from the Radical Crafts Etsy shop benefit kids like Irene!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Worship Note

~ Spring ~photo © 2007 Ute Hagen | more info (via: Wylio)

No worship leader or music leader or preacher will bring us into God’s presence as we gather for corporate worship this Sunday

The Bible says, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God  . . . ” (I Peter 3:18). 

We will come into God’s presence as His family because of the Lord Jesus and His totally satisfactory work in our place

We will all come to God in adoration, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession through Jesus

He is the sole Mediator between us and God. 

May we recognize the centrality of Jesus and His sacrifice as we gather to worship the one true, holy God.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Excuses

I'm not doing a lot of blogging this week, but I have some pretty good excuses:

Excuse #1:


 Excuse #2:

 
(And honestly, she's one super-hero you don't want to mess with)


 Excuse #3:

 I'm working on some new stuff for the shop - hope to have it up by the beginning of next week.

Hope you're having a great week and spending fun time with your "excuses."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ministry Update - Amina

This week's ministry update features a young girl named Amina who is currently a boarding student at Royal Kids School.

Name: Amina Juma
Gender: Female
Birthdate: 1997
 Career Aspiration: Doctor

Amina boards at Royal Kids, but comes from the school’s neighborhood.  She was one of the first young girls to visit Grace and Ngao’s (the school's founders) home, to learn the songs they were singing, before they turned it into a school.

She became a boarding student after her parents divorced.  Her father was not interested in providing an education for his daughter, and her mother was unable to pay Amina’s school fees. She now lives at the school, and her mother visits her on weekends. Amina enjoys doing her school work and hopes to become a doctor one day.

Remember all purchases from the shop go to directly help students like Amina at Royal Kids School in Mombasa, Kenya.

And, check out some new "lovies"- just listed today - made by my friend Amber: