Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Shop With a Purpose

November is right around the corner, which means that the holidays and shopping for Christmas gifts is also upon us. In our family, I am the primary shopper for all gifts. I try to search for gifts that are really meaningful or fun for the person receiving it.  Sometimes I score big, other times not so much : ). From the beginning of our marriage and on into having kids, we've tried to keep Christmas pretty low key.  We want to celebrate the birth of Jesus and keep His birthday the focus of our holiday.  I also like the idea of doing the "want, need, wear, read" concept (one thing the kids want, one thing they need, etc) of Christmas gift giving. But this year I really felt God taking Christmas gift giving to a different level. How could I give a gift that would bless more than just me or the one receiving it?  Shopping with a purpose...giving gifts that would support those in need, those who are trying to support themselves after being trapped in human trafficking, supporting those who are trying to adopt a child...is my mission this year.  And honestly, it makes gift giving SO much more exciting!! I have already bought a few things and I have also been researching so I wanted to share some different opportunities I've come across with all of you.  I hope this will inspire you to shop with a purpose this year as well!

The first thing I bought was this freedom tee from Sari Bari, a fair trade company that supports women in India who have come out of human trafficking.  This particular tshirt is on sale right now for $10.50....which is a great deal! The fabric is soft and the design looks just like the picture on the link.  I will say that I ordered my normal size and it was a little small, so you may want to order a size up.  I also love the other items you can find on the Sari Bari site...blankets, home decor items, accessories, and other tshirts.

Cluster Bag - Andrea Moore
Sari Bari is affiliated with the company Freeset, which also supports women in India who have come out of human trafficking.  I first heard about Freeset at a Mom's conference several years ago. When we registered, we received one of Freeset's beautiful burlap bags!  I still have mine and LOVE it!  They have some really beautiful bags, shirts, and other items that would make great Christmas gifts! Freeset is part of the Fair Trade Organization and their products are environmentally friendly.  I really love this company and their desire to provide an income for women and their families, but also want others to get involved and connect with this business.

noonday collection

 The Noonday Collection is another Fair Trade company that sells beautiful jewelry and accessories made by artisans from around the world.  Right now they are also having a sale (until Oct. 31st) in honor of it being Fair Trade month. I love that Noonday's purpose is to help create meaningful opportunities in a socially responsible way to people around the world.

Ornaments4Orphans.orgOrphan Sunday is coming up on November 8th, and there is a huge need to support orphans and families who want to adopt.  I didn't realize it, but the site Ornaments 4 Orphans is having a free shipping special if you spend $75 or more in honor of it being Fair Trade month!  They have some really nice ornaments that would look great on your tree, but it would also represent something very special.

Show Hope is an organization dedicated to support orphans and families who want to adopt.  Steven Curtis Chapman, who is a Christian music artist, and his wife, Mary Beth, are the founders of this organization.  Here's a video that shares their heart and tells how Show Hope was founded:
The different items in the Show Hope store go towards benefiting orphans.  What a great ministry!

147 Million Orphans147 Million Orphans was created to provide the critical needs of children impacted by the orphan crisis and living in poverty. Founded in 2009 by Gwen Oatsvall and Suzanne Mayernick, 147 Million Orphans provides food, water, medicine and shelter in the name of Jesus Christ. The name of our company invokes discussion and brings awareness to the worldwide orphan crisis. Provision begins with the vulnerable child , but we also work to preserve families through sustainable income projects and community reconstruction. This support is critical to break the ongoing orphan crisis cycle.  You can shop in their store and support this ministry to orphans! Right now all orders of $50 or more will have free shipping.

There is also a private Facebook shopping group called "Shop With a Purpose" that you can be added to.  Families are able to post their various fundraisers on the site so that those who want to support their adoptions can do so.  I have also bought something from one of these families.  It's SO neat to know that my small purchase will go towards bringing a child to their forever family!  Just go to the page if you're interested and request approval. Here is the charm bracelet I bought for just $5 that will support an adoption! 

I would love to hear of any other opportunities to support Fair Trade, orphans, or adoptions!  Put your links or info in the comments.  Thanks so much and hope you feel led to shop with a purpose this year!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Fire and Ice by Mary Connealy

Book Summary (Goodreads): Bailey Wilde is one of the best new ranchers in the West. She's been living disguised as a man for a while, but when Gage Coulter comes to drive her off her homestead, he quickly realizes he's dealing with a woman--a very tough, very intriguing woman at that.

Gage is an honest man, but he didn't make his fortune being weak. He won't break the law, but he'll push as hard as he can within it. Five thousand acres of his best range land is lost to him because Bailey's homestead is located right across the only suitable entrance to a canyon full of lush grass. Gage has to regain access to his land--and he's got to go through Bailey to do it.

Spending a winter alone has a way of making a person crave some human contact. In a moment of weakness, Bailey agrees to a wild plan Gage concocts. Can these two independent, life-toughened homesteaders loosen up enough to earn each other's respect--and maybe find love in
the process?

My thoughts...This third book in the Tried and True series by Mary Connealy goes out with a bang! The setting, characters, and a plot that brings it all together made a perfect action packed conclusion.

Bailey Wilde, in my mind, is the toughest of the three Wilde sisters. She's also a Civil War veteran, but even before she went off to war she was protecting her sisters from their father's hateful tirades. I was interested to know what the shadows were in Bailey's past and how they would be brought into the light. The story revealed her vulnerable side and through her interaction with Gage, she softened and was, for once, being protected instead of being the one that had to always do the protecting.

Gage was "ice" and Bailey was "fire"...so you can only imagine the fantastic tension that was going on between these two!  Lots of sassiness, stubborness, and a good dose of romance rounded out the fast-moving plot. Throw in a mysterious bad guy with some dangerous traps set up for Gage and you've got a little bit of everything.  I couldn't put it down!

I would highly recommend all three books in the Tried and True series!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Friday, October 16, 2015

Reviewer's Bookshelf: A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

Book Summary (Goodreads): Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marcus, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marcus accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marcus is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

My thoughts... This is the first novel of Kristi Ann Hunter's that I've read, and from the book description I was eager to try it out.  I was intrigued by the idea of a girl writing letters like this...to someone she knew was real but had never actually met.  I enjoyed the journey Lady Miranda went on.

It's hard to say a lot about the plot without giving anything away, but I will say that I loved the way this story had a little bit of everything in it!  You have a little bit of mystery, humor, and of course, some clean romance.  It also had the upstairs/downstairs aspect as Miranda found herself drawn to her brother's valet.  The pace was great....never a dull moment.  I would definitely recommend this new author!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reviewer's Bookshelf: The Lost Heiress by Rosanna M. White

Book Summary....Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.
The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.
As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?
And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

My thoughts.... There are several things I enjoyed about this book.  I'll start at the cover....beautiful!  After I finished the book I went back, looked at it again, and appreciated it even more as it truly captures the look of the heroine in the story.

Brook's story was filled with intrigue, danger, and love.  Her beginnings in Monaco made her an interesting character.  She could speak multiple languages, which just enough of was present (and it was translated in the flow of the story), loved to take risks, and was tough but still had femininity.  Her life story was a mystery that I eagerly wanted to know the answer to.  I also enjoyed the relationship she had with Justin.  They had a friendship that was fun to read and as their relationship changed and developed, the romantic tension increased.

There was plenty of action and suspense for a historical fiction.  There were some intense scenes between Brook and an evil henchman, as well as between her and the villain. Those moments definitely put some excitement into the story.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this story!  My only hesitations in giving it an over the top rating is that, as I have read some of White's previous books, I was expecting a little more romantic tension in the relationship between Justin and Brook.  There were other aspects of the plot that were also predictable.  

Happy reading!

**I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in order to give an honest review.**

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reviewer's Bookshelf: The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick

Book Summary (Goodreads): Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now the young mother of two children, Eliza faces a different kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants them to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her departed mother's grave--and returning to the land of her captivity. Eliza longs to know how her mother, an early missionary to the Nez Perce Indians, dealt with the challenges of life with a sometimes difficult husband and with her daughter's captivity.

When Eliza is finally given her mother's diary, she is stunned to find that her own memories are not necessarily the whole story of what happened. Can she lay the dark past to rest and move on? Or will her childhood memories always hold her hostage?

Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick's latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman's heart. Readers will find themselves swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.

My thoughts...The beautiful cover of this novel was what initially made me interested in seeing what the story was all about.  Stories that include Native American interaction intrigue me as well, so that sealed the deal.  What I found as I read was an interesting, biographical journey of Eliza Spalding Warren.  This is not my typical style of book, but I was able to appreciate Eliza's physical, emotional, and spiritual journey that was detailed in this story.

This novel is not your typical Christian fiction, in that it really does read more biographically, and it was based on the true story of the Spalding and Warren families, along with other families who went out west as missionaries.  Only a few of the details and letters were fictionalized.  While there were some moments of intensity, it didn't have that rising action and falling action, that includes a building up of tension and climax, that most fictional stories have.  There was very little romantic tension between Eliza and Andrew.  I felt the loss of some much anticipated action.

On the other hand, the writing style did let you see inside all of the struggles and thoughts of Eliza.  She had endured much in her life, from the time she was a child until she was an adult.  I honestly had tears in my eyes as she faced the demons of her past and felt peace.  That aspect of the plot was written excellently.  

When I finished this book, my impression was that it was well written, and I loved the resolution that the main character experienced.  The places and people were very well researched, and it showed in the writing...but not in a way that I felt overwhelmed by text that was way too wordy.  If you like historical fiction that reads a lot like a biography, you'll love this book.

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.**