Just over a year ago, I posted this.The gist of the article was about my fears surrounding taking a huge life leap–a leap that would disrupt the stability of everything in my life. Believe me, it was a turbulent time.
A year later, here I am. I’m still standing. I’m not in the same place, geographically, or in any other area of my life. (For that, I am thankful.) I have moved from fear to faith. Of course, this will be a never-ending process. Throughout our lives, we’ll continually be presented with opportunities to choose faith over fear.
A lot sure has changed in one year! Here’s my testimony:
I left the full-time job I had been clinging to, but which no longer brought me life. I knew my Father would provide for me, but I had no idea how. God granted me a job that pays the bills and also allows the perfect amount of flexibility I need at this time in my life. It’s not easy to find that kind of gig–but of course, with God, all things are possible.
God has granted me a sound mind in order to continue my studies and to excel in them. I’m so grateful to be in school, studying a subject which interests me and will allow me to be an instrument of healing for others. I’m about halfway to graduation!
The clock was ticking, and I had a short time to move to a new home. In the nick of time, God came through with a safe and positive living environment. This also isn’t necessarily easy to find, but God knew what He was doing and opened the door to the place He wanted me to live.
I’ve discovered my true friends. The ones that will stick with you even when you (or they) move away. The friends that have seen you through thick and thin and show no sign of stepping out of your life. In this season, I’ve also met new friends that inspire me to grow deeper with the Lord and to discover new aspects of my life. (I pray that I am that kind of friend for them, too!)
Now I know the truth about fear. It’s stagnancy. Fear gives power to meaningless doubts instead of power to an UNLIMITED God! Fear leaves you a shell of the person that you truly are, and that God wants to transform you to be.
Fear is a lie and keeps you from experiencing the wonders that God has for you.
Now I know the truth about faith. Faith brings growth. Faith brings life. Faith brings joy and open doors that you could never have imagined. Decisions of faith mean learning to rely on God above all, and realizing that He truly does care about our lives and care about us!
Faith is the scariest step you can ever take, but it brings blessing and joy.
If you’re struggling to step out in faith, I pray that you will be strengthened today by the Author and Perfecter of our faith! I pray that your spiritual eyes will be opened to whatever He has for you! I pray that He will release you from the spirit of fear, and pour down the spirit of faith and hope into your life! Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your faithfulness!
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”–Hebrews 11:1
This is the next post about Trades of Hope to follow up on my previous post! You can support women across the world (including women rescued from human trafficking in the USA!) as they create fair trade, beautiful products! This month, any purchases will also go toward clean water for families in India. Go here to help out!
Today I’m sharing about Uganda and what Trades of Hope is doing there. I was super pumped to hear that Trades of Hope works with an artisan group founded by Katie Davis Majors! If you haven’t heard of her, Katie is an amazing woman about my age who skipped college and followed a call to move to Uganda instead! She ended up adopting 13 girls (yes, you read that right!) and started Amazima, an organization that provides many empowering services to communities in Uganda. She also wrote twobooks. Over a decade later, she’s still living in Uganda with her husband, 13 girls, and a baby boy!
Ok, back to some background on Uganda: Uganda is a beautiful country in eastern central Africa that faces incredible challenges. Extreme poverty has hindered the government’s ability to stop the devastating effects of the AIDS epidemic on the people of Uganda. Uganda has the third highest birth rate in the world, and Ugandans struggle to provide for their families. Many of these women have faced disabilities, AIDS, and
oppression. Through their work as artisans, these women have a chance to be creative, speak their minds, and also earn a living to provide food, education, and medical care for their families. Working in safe environments, completing projects in beading circles, these ladies have left their harmful occupations and are rising above as leaders in their communities.
I was delighted to hear one of the Ugandan artisans, Florence, tell her story! She has such pride in what she is doing! Trades of Hope really benefits entire communities, not only the women. Check out her story below!
Here are a few of the beautiful products handmade in Uganda:
I’m so excited to be partnering with my new friend, Hannah, to help women from many countries! One of my dreams is to serve abroad. Current life commitments are such that it is not possible to do at this very moment. I was really excited to hear that I could host an online party which will empower women in poverty across the world. Not only that, but any purchases made this month will gift a month of clean water to a family in India!
Clean water has become one of our most precious resources in the 21st century. Statistics show that one in every nine people around the world live without access to clean and drinkable water. You can help change these statistics! When you shop Trades of Hope through here in the month of February, Trades of Hope will gift a month of clean water to a family in India! Can you imagine how different your day would have been without clean water? Families across the world live every day without clean water, which leads to sickness and can even lead to death!
The products you can purchase are beautiful: jewelry, scarves, bags, body products, and more! You’re gaining a beautiful, handmade, fair trade product while also helping struggling women throughout the world to support their families, as well as helping to bring clean water to an Indian family! That’s a win win, I’d say!
Now, let’s hear the story of one of the amazing artisans from India: Nayna!
“Nayna is a single mother doing her best to support her family of 4. Her recently deceased husband had left her some years ago for another woman. This left Nayna in a position where she did not know how she and her children would survive. Fortunately for Nayna, her parents invited her and their grandchildren back home.
Nayna’s son has now finished high school and is working in a store, while her daughter is studying in what is 10th grade. Nayna loves working with this group and appreciates how they value her by providing safe working conditions, regular wages and additional benefits. She has already begun making plans for her children’s weddings in the future, as weddings are a big and joyous celebration in India! She loves that she now has the ability to plan and save for these kinds of things. Nayna is excited that working with this group helps to ensure her children have a bright future.”
Thanks for reading along as I journey to help my sisters across the world! I will be posting about 3 more countries in which Trades of Hope is making a difference! You just might be helping one of those countries by your purchase!Next up: Uganda!
(Note: I want to begin with a disclaimer that I am very much still figuring things out in this area. However, I’ll leave you with words from the Bible and some thoughts and ideas I’ve gleaned through sermons, readings, conversations…Please feel free to add your thoughts and what you’ve learned in the comments as well!)
Finances are a tremendous source of stress for people all over the world. In fact, I’m sure that if you were to survey people about their biggest sources of stress, finance would be in the top 3 for the majority of people. Finance equates in a big way with our ability to survive and achieve a certain quality of life. It even affects our relationships; one cause of marital discord and divorce is disagreement over finances. As with all aspects of our lives, the lenses with which we view finance is influenced by our faith.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ” Matthew 6:25-33
Jesus tells us clearly that our Heavenly Father is looking out for us. He will provide for us, and we are valuable to Him! We are to place our priorities on the Kingdom of God first.He also warns us that worrying is not productive. Worrying doesn’t take away our troubles or find a solution. Instead of worrying about your situation, pray for solutions!
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
Did you know that Jesus was not talking about an actual sewing needle? He was talking about a narrow gate into Jerusalem, which was named “Eye of the Needle.” In order to get through this gate, all of the possessions that a camel was carrying needed to be unloaded. The camel could then get through, but would also need to hunch down and go through very carefully in order to fit. It seems then, that we must rid ourselves of attachment to material possessions. Wealth does not disqualify one from the Kingdom of God. It is what one does with the wealth that makes a difference. I believe that peace will come to our minds and hearts when we stop trying to keep up with others, and we realize that our greatest treasures are not to be found materially. When we learn to find joy in our relationships with God and other people, and find the beauty that surrounds us in our lives, we will be free from much stress.
However, we know that we cannot survive without food, shelter, and the other necessities of life. God provides, as we read in the passage from Matthew. Though God provides for us, we cannot simply sit idle and wait. We need to do our part. He has given us many gifts and talents to be used. In certain economies, jobs may not be available in the area you studied or have experience. Learning a new skill and finding a creative way to apply it can be a great way to increase your income. It can also be a good way to lessen your stress level and learn not to rely on one employer. (And sometimes, despite our efforts, God does provide in amazing ways without our expecting it!)
Many times, one’s workplace, boss, or coworkers can negatively affect their mental health. Finding a new job isn’t always feasible. In these cases, a counselor can be helpful in dealing with stress and areas of concern. Finding healthy ways to cope for as long as you are in that environment will be of benefit to you.
One last point: get rid of debt, and stay out. Debt can cause great stress. Depending on one’s level of debt, it can also take much money away from the other needs of life and cause you to be overworked. Dave Ramsey‘s books can be a good place to start in learning more about living debt-free and how to go about the process. Additionally, some loans will also allow you to pay based on income; look into this if you need to.
Pray for and actively work toward financial solutions. There are many aspects to this. Perhaps you could start with very small investments when you have a little extra money. You could also start carrying a business card and be prepared when networking connections come along. Learning new skills that can lead to more income is another aspect.
Curb worrying and turn to prayer instead. Train yourself to turn your worries to prayer.
Find healthy ways to deal with workplace stress. A counselor could help you with this. Thesearticles also have some good ideas. Sometimes an environment is toxic, and you will need to find a healthier workplace situation for your mental health.
Free yourself from debt, and don’t let yourself get into debt again. When you think about it, debt is actually a form of slavery! Too many people are in debt beyond their means, causing great distress.
Learn to find your greatest treasure in God, relationships, and the simple beauties of life.
Next up: food and mental health! (It will be the last post in the series!)