Ten Thousand Villages Gifts for the Bridesmaids

6220169247_b5597043c0_zMother of the Bride, is your daughter looking for a dynamite gift idea for her bridesmaids? Why not suggest gifts from Ten Thousand Villages? In case you’re not familiar with them, Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer who has been empowering and supporting fairly paid artisans in developing countries for almost seventy years.

A few weeks ago, I suggested that your daughter might like to create a Ten Thousand Villages Gift Registry and allow the wedding guests to be a double blessing—blessing the happy couple with a terrific gift plus supporting hard-working, fairly paid artisans around the world. Purchasing her bridesmaids gifts from Ten Thousand Villages will allow your sweet girl to be a double blessing as well. Can’t beat that, huh?

Among the items that Ten Thousand Villages carry are jewelry, scarves, hats, purses, and other bags—all excellent ideas for bridesmaids gifts. If there is not a store in your daughter’s area, assure her that she can shop for these gifts online. On their website , the pictures of the individual items are large, and she will have no trouble selecting some beautiful gifts directly from the site.

And MOB, as you browse the site, I bet you will find something you’d like to have, too. Go ahead—be a double blessing!

*You might also like to read A Fair Trade Wedding Registry: Ten Thousand Villages and Polka Dot Nails for the Bridesmaids!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early August. Sign up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Thien V, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Praying for World Leaders

When praying for our leaders, sometimes we think only of our own nation. We need to expand our vision at times and pray for those leading nations around the world as well.

Many passages of scripture can be turned into prayers for national leaders, but imagine what our world would be like if the following prayer came true. Substitute leaders for kings and make this passage your hope and prayer today:

“May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD, when they hear the words of your mouth. May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.” Psalm 138:4-5

*Which world leaders need our prayers in a special way right now? What are some other ways—or other scripture passages—we should pray for world leaders?

*Flickr photo by ToastyKen, Creative Commons License

Guest Blogger: Author Laura Popp

I’m happy to share an inspiring post today from author Laura Popp. Laura is a fellow member of my writers group, Fellowship of Christian Writers. May Laura’s story encourage you to answer God’s call on your life—whatever that may be today!

Earthshaking Opportunities

In the summer of 2009, God called me to be a missionary in Japan. I thought He was nuts, but knowing better than to argue, I packed my bags, and with nothing but a few contacts and a job teaching English, hopped on a plane.

Nearly two years later on March 11th, 2011, my whole world shook.Literally. But the tremors felt in Nabari, Japan were nothing compared to those 350 miles north as the largest earthquake in the recorded history of Asia struck the Tohoku area. Though I thanked God for my life, I bit my nails worrying about my friends suffering in Tokyo and Sendai. I wept as I watched events unfold on the news. The aftershocks continued, walls of water over thirty feet high sweeping away entire cities, fires raging, infants and elderly freezing without electricity, nuclear reactors overheating, and the death toll rising to 16,000.

“What can I do?” I prayed. “You sent me to these people. Teach me how to serve them!”

The next day I got a mass email from a Filipina Christian friend in Fukushima. “We have to get out. The nuclear reactor near my house is in melt down. I’m going back to the Philippines, but can anyone take in two Japanese sisters?”

“Yes!” I wrote back immediately. “Send them to me!”

Two days later, I met the sisters in Osaka. Their eyes told of unknown horrors, and fear and exhaustion weighed them down.

“What would you like to do?” I asked on Saturday, after they’d had a chance to rest.

“Take us somewhere beautiful,” the older sister Junko, an English teacher, replied.

I brought them to a plum blossom garden in a nearby town, the pink and white blossoms draping over the trees and terraces like delicate curtains.

At the entrance to the garden stood a small shrine, and the two sisters paused to pray.

“What did you pray for?” I asked when they finished.

“The safety of our families,” Junko replied.

Feeling moved by the Holy Spirit, I asked, “Do you believe there is a god in that shrine who hears you?”

Looking confused, as if she’d never thought about it before, Junko turned to her sister. They discussed it in Japanese for a few minutes, then Junko turned back to me.

“No, we just do it out of habit.”

“Well,” I offered with a smile, “would you like to meet a God who will hear your prayers?”

The two sisters discussed again, until Junko finally said, “We would.”

The next day I took them to church. There the sisters heard about God’s love for them and Japan, how God grieved for the death and destruction, and how He would rebuild Japan. They heard about the church’s plan to help and about the hope they could have in Jesus.

Tears filled my eyes as both sisters raised their hands, receiving that hope and love. Now I understand. Thank you, God, for bringing me to Japan.

Junko and her sister spent the next month in my apartment until they got government housing in Kyoto. I visited them there and we enjoyed a popular Kyoto pastime: dressing as maiko (apprentice geisha). I will never forget the day, my birthday, when Junko was baptized.

I challenge you that wherever you are and whatever you do, answer God’s call to love, to speak, and to serve. That is the greatest testimony you can give.

*In what ways have others showed God’s love to you through acts of service?

Laura Popp is the author of Treasure Traitor, a young adult fantasy novel. To learn more about her travels and book, check out her website: www.ljpopp.wordpress.com.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

So Much to See, So Little Time!

Anyone else longing to travel? The older I get the more I realize how far behind I am in seeing the world. And now? There’s just so much to see and so little time!

Summer’s already teasing me. We haven’t been in the habit of taking a real trip every year—after all, life has a way of eating up vacation funds. But now that college and wedding expenses are behind us, vacations are more of a possibility.

Since the best time for my husband to travel is in July, we have a tendency to pick Colorado mountain destinations where we can escape the Kansas heat. But there are so many other places I long to see as well. Maybe after retirement? Sadly, Don tells me he wants to teach until he’s seventy! Good grief, doesn’t he realize I’ve got traveling to do? :)

Here in the good ole USA, I’d love to someday visit Washington, D.C.; New York City and Boston, along with other East coast historic areas; Alaska and Hawaii; Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons; West coast cities and scenic destinations; historic areas in the deep South; Florida, Tennessee—I could go on and on. As you can tell, I want to see more of our country!

And if that’s not enough, I’d even like to get up the courage (and the money!) to brave international travel at some point. Like everyone else, I’d love to visit Rome, Paris, and London (and other points of interest in those cities’ respective countries), but other places intrigue me as well.

Since my family immigrated from Ireland and Scotland generations ago, those destinations hold a special appeal. (I’ve enjoyed getting a taste of Irish life over on Irish American Mom. I learn something new from Mairead [rhymes with parade] every time I visit.) Switzerland and Germany sound appealing, too, and visiting the Holy Land would be so meaningful—though travel there sounds a little more scary to me. I can be a chicken :) Given that fact, I’m not sure I’d be up to an African safari, but that also sounds amazing.

Like I said, so much to see, so little time. I realize I won’t see all of these places in my lifetime, but surely I can make it to some of them. And to be totally honest, traveling to and navigating around unfamiliar places does indeed make me a little nervous. You know, all those chances to get lost and/or make other mistakes :)

I don’t want to let my fears hold me back, though. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in over a half century of living, it’s that the Lord walks with me each step of the way. And even better than that, He goes before me and guides me if I’ll only look to Him.

So even though there’s so much to see and so little time, my heavenly Guide will help me make the best of it. How about you? Anyone else ready to travel?

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

*Is summer already teasing you? Where would you like to travel?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out the first week in May. Sign up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Per Ola Wiberg ~ Powi

A Christmas Treasure

Remember how some of my holiday decorations are Christmas books? One in particular is becoming more of a treasure with each passing year. It’s my Christmas journal. (Yes, I have yet another journaling project. Some of you may remember me telling you about my gratitude journal.)

I found this journal by Brownlow back in 2003 and have recorded the most special moments of my Christmas seasons in it ever since. I loved it so much I bought a few others to give as gifts and hope those who received them are enjoying theirs as much as I do mine.

I thought you might enjoy reading one of my journal entries so I selected one from 2005 that tells about a holiday “first” for us. It’s not fancy writing, just off the cuff, but hope you enjoy anyway:

“Another first happened this Christmas season — we reached out in friendship to a CCC international student. I met “K” earlier this fall through the Match program at CCC. As we are developing a friendship, it is my hope and prayer to help her in her spiritual journey…

A little over a week before Christmas, we spent the evening with K, first bringing her to our home to see our tree and decorations and then out to Pizza Hut.

I shared with her my joy in having the house decorated for Christmas and told her the history behind some of our cherished Christmas items. Before we left for Pizza Hut, I told her I had a little surprise for her and pulled a gift out from under the tree. She was so excited and happy. She said that in Japan they don’t have presents under their Christmas trees, and it has always been her dream to have a present under a Christmas tree! I was so glad that I had that gift for her!

Inside the gift I placed something that I hope will help lead her to Christ. It was a little book called The Message of Hope — excerpts of scripture from The Message Bible… I’m thankful Christmas provided the opportunity for me to give her a most precious gift — the Word of God.

K had never been to our Pizza Hut. We thoroughly enjoyed our time together. As we left, I asked her if she would like to go light-looking, and she was thrilled. Since she doesn’t have a car, she hadn’t seen many of the light displays.

We ended our evening with a warm hug as I told her, “I love you, sugar”. She said, “I love you, too!” She stood on the sidewalk in the cold — without a coat — and waved as we drove away. What a special opportunity God has given us to share our — and His — love with K.”

Questions for you: Do you keep a Christmas journal? Do you have a Christmas “first” you’d like to share?

“Remember the wonders He has done…” 1 Chronicles 16:12a

*My photo

*Be sure to sign up for the “Your Choice Christmas Giveaway” — Dec. 9th post.