Thursday, April 28, 2016

Guest Blog: Faith Is a Muscle - Part I

As we've mentioned previously, we love hearing personal stories from the Scarlet Threads community. Today we're very excited to share Part I of a guest post from Paul Evans and the Evans family, "Faith Is a Muscle," in which they share their fostering and adoption stories with us. With Mother's Day coming up, we're not only celebrating mothers (moms rock!), but all families, everywhere, that come in every shape and size. Check back next week for Part II of the Evans' story!  
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When a person lifts weights, the muscle is torn and broken down during the exercise. Then, during the rest that follows overnight, the body repairs these muscles and they grow in size and strength. This seems to be a fitting example of how our faith in God grows. The Lord offers us opportunities to exercise our faith. If we step out and trust Him, we find ourselves in circumstances that break us down... we end up on our knees more than ever, and God comes through. There are deep truths that can only be revealed when we are most vulnerable.

Adoption was elusive. My wife, Sara, and I felt the tug on our hearts pulling us in 16 years ago. Being a young married couple with one little girl, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we thought to ourselves, "This raising kids stuff isn't too bad." We knew there were countless babies & children that needed families, so why not us? We really had no clue what kind of faith journey this would be.

Private and international adoption seemed totally out of reach financially, so we turned our attention to the kids in our own 'Jerusalem,’ and thus began our dance with the Children Youth and Families Department of New Mexico. They required us to become licensed foster parents so that potentially adoptable children could be placed in our home. This was our first exposure to the training process, and it was eye-opening to learn what abandoned, abused, and neglected children do to cope. It's heart wrenching.

After completing the training, we came near the end of our home study process and discovered my wife was pregnant with our son! Our caseworker recommended we stop the process during pregnancy and revisit this after he was born. Well, life threw us a curve ball, and we decided to relocate to Colorado Springs. It would be nine more years before we would have our first foster care placement.

Since then, we persevered through foster care in two different states, having numerous little ones come and go in our family. We fostered infants, several toddlers, a couple of elementary aged kids, and even one pregnant teenager. Some were only with us for a day or two, some stayed for nearly a year with our family. 

These were truly some of the most grueling seasons of our lives—but these were also some of the largest growth periods of our faith.

One of the most wonderful and difficult earmarks of our foster experience was bonding with these precious children (sometimes instantly), and sending them back into a broken family situation with great uncertainty, knowing we may never see them again in this life. Without an opportunity to develop a relationship with the birth parents, it is impossible to expect any kind of relationship to continue with foster kids when they leave our home, but they will always be in our prayers. 

Our family moved to Nebraska in 2013, and our foster care days came to an end. At this point, we had four biological children, plenty of memories, and even a few scars. We decided not to become foster parents again, and we were quite busy and happy as a family of six. Little did we know that God had been growing our faith for a bigger reason: adopting.

Check back next Thursday, May 5th, for Part II of the Evans family's adoption story! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Your stories mean the world to us, and to families around the world


Each item we promote through Scarlet Threads begins and ends with a story--stories of families working for economic empowerment, working to stay together so that no child becomes orphaned due to poverty; stories of men, women, and children working to become families through adoption, adoption awareness, and adoption fundraising; and finally, stories from all of you, our wonderful community who purchase Deng's beautiful aprons from China, or Denge Doti's Borana Michira bracelets from Ethiopia, or any of the handcrafted items from the amazing artisans we support.

Today, we're honored to share the story from one of our customers, Kim, who graciously emailed us about her ST experience. We are so touched by her words!! Scarlet Threads Community, we love hearing from you; never hesitate to share your personal story with us. Thank you, Kim, for sharing your story, and for supporting artisans like Deng and their families!
We were immediately attracted to [Scarlet Threads] because we have not seen anything this beautiful or well-made in stores. Mass production items simply do not have the unique, handcrafted quality evident in ST merchandise! 
We were also blessed knowing that we support individual artisans and their children with each purchase. While we have become much more conscientious of the sources and fair trade practices of our food, we have also learned to consider similar criteria with our household and gift purchases. We have come to appreciate the quality and beauty of hand-crafted textiles, and found ST to be the perfect vendor for us. Our questions were given prompt, personal attention, and the delivery was fast and accurate. 
We were also delighted to see the aprons and hot pads are even more gorgeous and colorful in person. We immediately made a second order and instantly and happily completed our Christmas shopping! Each person who received these ST gifts commented on the quality and unique character of the hot pads and aprons, and were very eager to learn more about ST.  
I especially enjoyed purchasing the "Evelyn" apron, one for my sister, and one for myself. Although I do not get to see my sister very often, I enjoy knowing we are in our respective kitchens wearing our ST aprons! I am grateful that ST provides personal, unique items that are specially made. It is gratifying purchasing these beautiful items from ST rather than purchasing generic, random, mass-produced goods from big-box corporate giants. 
Thank you, ST, I look forward to shopping with you again soon! --Kim 


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Threading Together at the Created For Care Conference


I recently returned from the Created For Care Conference as a vendor for Scarlet Threads, and we are so excited by what we learned there! I am so thankful that Carrie was willing to give me some advice regarding what to expect and some ways to prepare. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. We certainly learned a lot—starting with what to do when you get the date of the conference wrong.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I mistakenly wrote down the wrong date for the conference in my date book. Not only that, I told my friend and table helper, Karen M, the wrong date too, despite the fact that the correct date was all over my paperwork! For months, I’ve been certain that the conference was on the weekend of February 26th—and on January 26th, I realized that it was actually February 5th.

Scarlet Threads booth at Created For Care Conference!
Once I realized my mistake, I went into shock mode, and then I kicked into ultra high gear!
By God’s grace, I was able to get my ideas together, gather all of my display materials (ie making several runs to Michael’s) and test the set-up on a table at our church to make sure it all worked out.

Thankfully, Karen M and I were able to leave a day early; we stayed in Jasper and then drove an hour to the conference the next morning. It was the calm before the (amazing!) storm!

Lake Lanier, where the conference took place, is stunning, truly breathtaking. After registration, getting our table set up,  and settling into our rooms, the best part of the weekend began--getting to meet all the moms!

I was so touched that many of the women were willing to open up about their joys and sorrows, their miracles and their struggles, their happiest times and their really, very difficult times. Before arriving at the conference, I wasn’t sure how I would relate to other moms there, since I haven’t adopted before. But God had a plan. He helped me to meet and get to know women who diverse stories about their motherhood stories and to open up my heart toward and my understanding of all the various ways that bring us to the word “mother."

Lake Lanier
We worked very hard that weekend. We made many contacts and new friends. I learned about some wonderful ministries doing the hard work of providing clean water where there isn’t any, getting sponsors for very needy families, loving women who leave the hospital with empty arms, providing employment for artisans all over the globe, and much more.  

I was excited and exhausted when we got back to Nashville on Sunday afternoon…so exhausted that, though the television was on, I don’t think I watched five minutes of the Super Bowl!

If you aren’t familiar with Created for Care, please check them out. They are doing great work in encouraging not only adoptive and foster moms, but also all types of moms.


Watch for an upcoming post linking the organizations that were represented at the conference. We were so grateful for the opportunity to attend! 

--Karen

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day - Small changes lead to big impacts

Hi everyone! My name is Dani. I'm a guest blogger from www.sunflowersandacacia.com

Here are a few things about me just to introduce myself. 

  1. I recently married the cutest man in the world. This is our first Valentines Day in person together - because last year he was in his home country of Ethiopia. 
  2. I love God and people SO much; it's what I live for.
  3. I try to be a simplistic writer and connect with others through words. I am so thankful that blogging is a great platform to do this! 

I am so excited to be here today to share something that I am passionate about: LOVE. I know it's the season of love and some people are head over heels and others are just so ready for this season to be over. I'm hoping this post will shift some perspectives and change some hearts. 
I've gone over this post over and over again. I keep trying to find ways not to make it sound cheesy. Then I remember: "wait it's Valentines Day, it's a super cheesy holiday!"

I must admit, ever since I can remember, I never understood the concept of Valentines Day. I just couldn't wrap my mind around running out buying chocolates, flowers, and a stuffed animal only once a year for the person you supposedly love most. I didn't quite get it until this year. This is what I've come to understand: Valentines Day should just be a by-product of the love you have for a special someone. This is not the only day to do something drastic for them. It's just another day to extend love in a special way to someone who is special to you. It seems small, but it's actually huge to the person on the receiving side. 

Small changes lead to big impacts.

This seems so simplistic, but many of us don't get it. It's easy to run and hide away from making small impacts simply because we don't feel like we are doing much. When we buy from Scarlet Threads or donate twenty bucks to a missionary, we don't truly understand the difference we are making. Our minds can't comprehend how buying an apron or how twenty dollars can quite literally change a person's life. 

As I've scrolled through various social media platforms this weekend, I've noticed all the people, places, & objects that have been converted into "Valentines." One such example was found on an animal dog rescue website. It read "no need to be lonely on Valentines Day, there are many valentines waiting for you in our animal shelter, come adopt one!" This really got me thinking about those who do really struggle with this holiday. I remember the years before I got married were I struggled with loneliness. 

I want to propose this question: What if your valentine is not someone you're head over heels for? 

What if it's the man in China hand crafting ornaments for your Christmas tree?

What if it's the woman in a remote village sewing aprons for women in a country she will never visit? 

What if it's a child living in a third-world country who would light up at a letter from you? 

Could we possibly shift our mindsets and push past all the ideologies that make up this holiday? 

Could we start a movement of love that extends far beyond February 14th? Could we tell ourselves that our purchases and contributions do make a difference? Can we choose small impacts that create lasting change? 

This Valentines Day, I challenge you to change some perspectives and shift some ideas in your heart. I wonder what JOY and LOVE you may feel by simply extending joy and love to another who could use a little recognition and love. 

I have seen the faces of children and women who receive a simple letter or a simple gift. It means more to them than could ever be put in words.

So, this Valentines Day, I invite you to be a part of this movement of love. I invite you to support Scarlet Threads, a friend in need, or a stranger. 

Extend love and then sit back and watch the impacts it creates. 

Happy Valentines Day, We love you and are so grateful for the small impacts you are making.

"...in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." -Philippians 2:3-4


Please feel free to visit our guest bloggers personal blog at www.sunflowersandacacia.com

Friday, February 5, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year starts Monday, February 8th, and until a few years ago, I never really thought about the holiday. Like many celebrations in other countries, it was “off my radar.”  Then, in 2013, my son, his wife and our four grandblessings moved to China and began working at New Day Foster Home outside of Beijing. Suddenly, China was on my radar.

Because many of our artisans live with their families in China, I wanted to learn more about the holiday and how it was celebrated, so I interviewed our Scarlet Threads liaison, Leeann.

She was gracious enough to share her experience with us. Here’s what she had to say:

"We usually celebrate the New Year starting on January 23rd. We call this ‘Lunar Day.’ We start cleaning all of the house, doing the washing, and shopping. We kill a pig, chicken or sheep, fry churros, fry meatballs, meat, etc.  On New Years Eve, we hang red couplets on our gates and doors.

“Also on the eve of the New Year, all the family gets together to have dinner.  After 20:00, we will watch TV-watching the new year celebration programs, and at 24:00, we all eat dumplings together and then set off fireworks! Most of the young men stay up the whole night, and we leave the lights on all night.


“On the first day of the New Year, we will have a dumpling breakfast together, and then we go to the homes of all our friends and relatives and say, ‘Happy New Year!’  They will give the kids money or candy!
“Before the 10th day of the first lunar month on the calendar, we mainly play cards together, visit with friends and eat together. This is relationship building time, it is the main holiday when people will return to their hometown to be with friends and family and spend time together. We will go back to work after the 10th.

“For us, the New Year means that everything is new….we welcome the new day and look forward to peace and hope; a chance to forget all the old things and start the new!”

Speaking of "new," Leeann just gave birth to a beautiful new baby daughter, named SunYue. Congratulations, Leeann! Happy New Year, indeed.




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Some Musings From The Shopkeeper

Good morning! It’s been a while…

There’ve been some wonderful and insightful things going on and I want to fill you in!

Since coming on board with Scarlet Threads last April, I have been learning the ins and outs of shopkeeping. Previously, I have spent a career as a Mom and Wife, and as a Physical Therapist Assistant in the realm of Home Health Care/Geriatrics.  So, shopkeeping is a whole new ball game for me.
My husband, Gene, and I have become pretty proficient in sorting and organizing our merchandise, filling orders, communicating with our customers, and ordering new stuff. Well, maybe not proficient, but we’re getting better at these things as each month passes. We’re also making connections with people who travel to China and Ethiopia so that we can get the handmade products from our beloved artisans back to the U.S. and into our customer’s hands and homes. 

That’s one of the most challenging aspects of our endeavor.  We have learned to reach out to people who we don’t know to ask them to kindly fill a suitcase with aprons and potholders. We’ve sometimes even had to annoy the socks off of some friends to help us find people in China who may be interested in helping. It’s been a gratifying nine months, filled with growth!                     

Our friend Laura & her girls – Laura’s been a great help to us!     
Our friends, the Browns, visited China and brought home a suitcase full of aprons! Their girls are enjoying their aprons!
We started out with a long and ambitious list of things that we wanted to learn and do to grow and expand Scarlet Threads. Actually, the list was a bit overly ambitious! So we’ve had to back up a bit and learn to be more realistic, taking things one-step-at-a-time.


Recently, our daughter moved home after spending five months in Ethiopia assisting her fiancé with the paperwork he needed while learning his culture and getting to know his family. They arrived back here, together, in October and were married in December.


The wedding planning, as well as some other things that came up in our family, pulled me away from the business for several months, and I am now getting revved back up again!

So I want to share with you some things that I see in the future for Scarlet Threads. This is my heart; our heart. Going back to how we got connected with ST in the first place, and how God has expanded those beginnings since.
  • Deepening our relationships with orphan care organizations like Hand of Hope and New Day Foster Home and increasing our ability to support them financially through our sales
  • Exploring how we can partner with orphan prevention and family preservations organizations like HEAL Ministries 
  • Expanding our reach to include more artisans and countries and therefore a greater variety of product while keeping the high quality standard
  • Growing our ability to support adoptive families in their fundraising efforts
  • Resurrecting our Scarlet Threads Blog
There’s more stirring in our hearts, but I’m learning not to get too far ahead of myself and stay with the “one-step-at-a-time” motto!

Keep an eye on this blog…we have wonderful posts coming your way.

Lastly, please keep an eye out for us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.  Also…we have a new store on ETSY! Please check us out, like us, love us, re-tweet, re-pin, and share!


See you soon—very soon!

--Karen