The winner is…

Celebrate

And the win­ner is Katie B.

Con­grat­u­la­tions.  We hope you love your Bet­ter Life Lap Top bag as much as we do!

Storie & Better Life Bag

Don’t be the last to know that you won some­thing amaz­ing.  Like us here.

Sorry, if you have waited in antic­i­pa­tion for this news.  We always announce our win­ners on Face­book first, so if you aren’t fol­low­ing us there, please do!

You can also find us on Pin­ter­est, Twit­ter, and Insta­gram.

Visit Bought Beautifully’s pro­file on Pin­ter­est.

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House of Hope

A mis­sions trip to Nicaragua inad­ver­tently led me down some bumpy dirt roads to the dis­cov­ery of a beau­ti­ful organization.

house of hope logo

House of Hope started in 2001 with April Havlin and her vision to lead women out of pros­ti­tu­tion. With the Lord’s pro­vi­sion, House of Hope has been able to offer young women job train­ing and hous­ing for more than 10 years!

As these women are dis­ci­pled in the love of God, they also learn how to cook, clean, sew, knit, and cro­chet. These skills are used to cre­ate prod­ucts that profit the House of Hope movement!

hoh necklace             hoh bracelet

Wish you could pur­chase these awe­some hand-made prod­ucts? YOU CAN!

House of Hope offers an online store where you can view and buy prod­ucts made by these artisans!

With con­tin­ued sup­port, House of Hope plans to expand into Bolivia, Hon­duras and Peru. How can YOU help? Check out these 8 ways!hoh earrings

  1. Give a grant.
  2. Become a sponsor.
  3. Bring a team.
  4. Visit the store.
  5. Give a uniform.
  6. Make a donation.
  7. Pro­vide supplies.
  8. Pro­vide clothing.

Visit the House of Hope web­site to learn more about how you can take action!

 

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Better Life Bags — A GIVEAWAY!

Today we have the awe­some priv­i­lege of get­ting to know Rebecca Smith founder of Bet­ter Life Bags AND one lucky reader will have theBetterLifeBagsRebecca awe­some priv­i­lege of win­ning a Bet­ter Life bag.

It was such an honor to talk with Rebecca.  In our brief inter­ac­tions, I was so moved by her faith, com­mit­ment to God and the ways that He has used her! She is truly an inspir­ing, kind, and hum­ble women — who is liv­ing her pas­sion and chang­ing the world!!!  You guys are going to love her.  Below are her responses to a few of my burn­ing ques­tions about her life and her busi­ness. Read on to get to know the inspi­ra­tional lady behind Bet­ter Life Bags. Oh, and don’t for­get to enter the give­away at the end!

Tell us a lit­tle about the his­tory of Bet­ter Life Bags?

Our busi­ness started as a divine acci­dent, actu­ally.  I made a dia­per bag when I was first preg­nant with my son, posted pic­tures of it on Face­book and cus­tom orders started rolling in.  After mov­ing inten­tion­ally to a highly immi­grant area of Detroit in 2010, I BetterLifeBags3real­ized that many of the women I met could not work out­side their homes for cul­tural rea­sons, yet they had a great need to pro­vide for their fam­i­lies.  At the same time, our lit­tle shop was grow­ing quicker than I could keep up with myself, so I mar­ried the two needs together and hired my first seam­stress.  We now employ twelve peo­ple from our com­mu­nity and have a really fun inter­ac­tive web­site to help with the cus­tom aspect of our bags.

I relied HEAVILY on God and Social Media.  I really invested deeply in grow­ing a com­mu­nity of peo­ple around our brand that I cared about.  I answered emails and com­mented on people’s pho­tos.  I cared less about sell­ing my prod­uct and more about the cus­tomer.  I’ve been learn­ing about busi­ness as I go along and just trust­ing my gut to do the right thing and God to cause the growth.

What have been some of your biggest chal­lenges, tri­umphs, and joys in the process?

In Sep­tem­ber 2013, my hus­band quit his job and we tran­si­tioned to me work­ing full-time and hav­ing Bet­ter Life Bags be our family’s sole income.  It was an enor­mous amount of pres­sure to know that my efforts were essen­tially putting food on the table.  I felt incred­i­bly blessed to be able to do what I love full-time, but also torn that I was miss­ing out on big parts of my children’s lives.  So, we are in another stage of tran­si­tion to both my hus­band and I work­ing part-time.  We have full-time employ­ees in place at Bet­ter Life Bags to keep it run­ning with­out me — which frees me up to focus on vision for the com­pany, new bag designs, and mar­ket­ing!  All which I LOVE!

BetterLifeBag1

You took another leap of faith to mov­ing your fam­ily to a low-income sec­tion of Detroit to make an impact in that com­mu­nity.  Would you be will­ing to share about this experience?

Gosh, yes.  We have lived in this city, that we call home for a lit­tle over 4 years.  The first year was really rough for me. I didn’t feel like I con­nected to any­thing or any­one here, but now I absolutely LOVE it.  The peo­ple here are really grass­roots — blue-collar peo­ple.  Work­ing hard for their money and not tak­ing any­thing for granted.  Busi­nesses are mov­ing in and peo­ple are being really cre­ative with how to improve the eco­nom­ics of this city.  I’m hon­ored to be a part of what I see being a new wave of growth for Detroit.

But, it doesn’t come with­out chal­lenges.  We wanted to move to a place where the needs of our neigh­bors are obvi­ous on the out­side — and use our resources and con­nec­tions to meet many of those needs.  My eyes have been greatly opened to the flaws of the wel­fare sys­tem as I lit­er­ally walk along­side peo­ple in the poverty cycle and help them claw their way out.

My faith has actu­ally become a mil­lion times more sim­ple.  All the the­ol­ogy and con­tro­ver­sies fall away here — and our fam­ily sim­ply focuses on lov­ing God and lov­ing peo­ple.  Both well and both from a place of depen­dence on the Holy Spirit.

And I so glad that the mis­sion of our busi­ness is wrapped up so tightly IN our busi­ness.  We aren’t a com­pany that gives $1.00 of every bag sold to char­ity — or even 10% of our sales.  We live and breathe and work among the peo­ple and com­mu­nity that we are help­ing.  As a FOR profit.  We want to prove that busi­nesses can do great things and make a profit to do even more great things.  We want to show Amer­ica that out­sourc­ing over­seas is a thing of the past — because peo­ple here in the US want to work hard and need to be paid well.  We want to be an exam­ple to our cus­tomers and open their eyes to the power of their dol­lars — and make them think twice and care­fully about buy­ing from big box stores.  We want to con­nect the cus­tomer to the maker of their products.

BetterLifeBags2

What moti­vates you?

Our employ­ees.  They come to me weekly and ask for more work.  Work that depends on the sales that come in.  They are sav­ing for things that many of us con­sider needs.  Actual beds for their kids instead of blan­kets on the floor.  Trips to see their fam­ily who they haven’t seen in decades.  Money for school uni­forms and birth­day cakes.  The safety net of a sav­ings account.  And the dig­nity and honor that comes from mak­ing money.

Any thing else you would like to share?

Our com­pany exists because of our cus­tomers.  Lives are made bet­ter for our employ­ees because of sales.  We are so thank­ful for the com­mu­nity of cus­tomers we have around us — and how they advo­cate and share our com­pany with peo­ple in their social net­works.  YOU — our cus­tomers — are the rea­son that 12 women in Detroit wake up every day.  Thank you.

You can find us on Insta­gram, Twit­ter and Face­book @betterlifebags  and read my per­sonal blog about run­ning a busi­ness and rais­ing a fam­ily at www.RebeccaSmithOnline.com

……………

Isn’t she great? Thank you so much for shar­ing with us, Rebecca, and for the work you are doing!  Now for the fun part — Your chance to win a Bet­ter Life Bag.  Here is what to do:

1. Head over to Bet­ter Life Bags, explore the site and either design (so fun!!) or choose your favorite bag.

2. Share this bag on your pref­ered social media — Face­book, Insta­gram, or Pinterest.

3. Come back and enter the con­test using the form below.  Make sure you include the link or pic­ture (if you used insta­gram) of the bag you shared.

a Raf­fle­copter give­away

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Word of the Week — Pastiche

Your Mon­day is about to get bet­ter because it is time for word of the week.  I present you with the word -

Pistache

Pas­tiche  /pa’steSH

1. A lit­er­ary, artis­tic, musi­cal, or archi­tec­tural work that imi­tates the style of a pre­vi­ous work, styl­is­tic imitation
2.  A musi­cal , lit­er­ary or artis­tic com­po­si­tion made up of selec­tions from dif­fer­ent works

 

Our lives are our great­est work of art don’t set­tle for a pas­tiche. Let’s cre­ate, write, sing and dance our own inspired story!

 

If pas­tiche isn’t the word for you check out merriam-webster’s list of synonyms:

agglom­er­ate, alpha­bet soup, botch, clut­ter, col­lage, crazy quilt, far­rago, gal­li­maufry, grab bag, hodge­podge, hotch­potch,  mis­cel­lanea, mish­mash, mon­tage, mud­dle, , olla podrida, salma­gundi, smorgasbord…

I just had to include them because there were so ran­dom.  Alpha­bet soup, smor­gash­borg?  Per­haps not the vocab­u­lary expan­sion I was hop­ing for but pretty fun.  My lit­tle man is going to love hav­ing salma­gundi for lunch…

.   . .   .

Stay tuned, tomor­row is give­away day!! You aren’t going to want to miss it!  Look how excited this lit­tle lady was when I showed her the prize, I’m not sure she is going to give it up!

Storie & Better Life Bag

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Friday Favorites — The Soul of Money

I just fin­ished read­ing a great book, The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, that a good friend of mine rec­om­mended it to me a long time ago (#final­ly­mak­ing­pro­gres­son­thep­ile­of­books­bymybed) Lynne artic­u­lates many thoughts and feel­ings that I have had regard­ing money and finances.

How­ever we choose, we express our­selves in the way we send our money into the world, and with every dol­lar goes the energy, the impri­matur of our inten­tion.  — Lynne Twist

The Soul of Money: Reclaim­ing the Wealth of Our Inner Resources

As I was read­ing, peo­ple kept pop­ping into my mind — “oh they would like this” or “I should share this with (insert your name here)”,  it was hap­pen­ing so often, I  real­ized that I should share it with all of YOU!  If you are read­ing this blog, I think it is safe to assume that you, like me, are prob­a­bly search­ing for lit­tle ways to make pos­i­tive impacts, to live and spend with a more pur­pose and direction…But, like me, you  find that it is easy to get dis­cour­aged and dis­tracted, to get lost in the sea of stuff, the new trends, the lat­est thing, the busy life, that you can lose your focus and the con­vic­tion that your choices do mat­ter. This book is a great reminder that they mat­ter on so many levels.

Difference

What I like about this book is that it doesn’t only focus on how your finan­cial choices mat­ter for oth­ers (work­ers, com­pa­nies, envi­ron­ment) but rather how they impact your own life; that shift­ing our per­spec­tive about how we see money from a lim­ited com­mod­ity to a flow­ing asset that can be directed to sup­port, cre­ate and/or sus­tain the things we love and our pas­sion­ate about can rad­i­cally change our lives for the better!

P.S. You don’t even have to read the entire book, the first three chap­ters would be enough to re-motivate you ;)

Since, it’s Fri­day, we should prob­a­bly have a dance party!  We have had some bumps in the road in the adop­tion process and this video is what helps us keeps our heads up and our hearts boogieing…

Enjoy and Happy Friday.

 

 

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Keeping the perspective

We just took a fam­ily vaca­tion.  It almost wasn’t a won­der­ful week­end away.  If hadn’t just writ­ten the post about and made a com­mit­ment to keep­ing things in per­spec­tive, my expec­ta­tions and feel­ings of enti­tle­ment could have ruined our pre­cious fam­ily time.

PerscpectiveIf I hadn’t been actively pray­ing and striv­ing to keep a bet­ter big­ger perspective.…

  • the seven hour drive with two kids under four would have been more stressful;
  • the wet rainy weather com­bined with my poor pack­ing choices would have put a damper on the week­end (well, I guess it did — We were rather damp! Rain coats? Not this fam­ily, we are on SUMMER vaca­tion for good­ness sakes!);
  • being stuck in a camper (13’x6’) for most of the day with two kids under four would have been annoy­ing and frustrating.

IMG_6631I enter into so much of my life with expec­ta­tions and a skewed sense of enti­tle­ment (I deserve a vaca­tion, with easy travel and well-behaved, calm, quiet kids, and of course, good weather!!) Expand­ing my per­spec­tive helped me see that this time was truly a beau­ti­ful gift, even in the rain and close quarters.

Spend­ing a week­end away with my fam­ily; in camper with elec­tric­ity and heat, that is big­ger and more lux­u­ri­ous than what many fam­i­lies call home   = BLESSED IMMEASURABLY.

 

 

But I am so habit­u­ated to my first-world, that I see only what I don’t have and what I am miss­ing.  I find myself con­stantly shift­ing my per­spec­tive to remem­ber what I do have to see things in a new light, in a more accu­rate light.…

Camper Light

 

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Word of the week — Obsequious

Hello all!  Guess what time it is? Word of the week time -

obsequious

Obse­quious:

[uh b–see–kwee–uh s]

 - marked by or exhibit­ing a fawn­ing attentiveness

 - servilely com­pli­ant or def­er­en­tial : obse­quious servants

 - obe­di­ent, dutiful

 

If you use your words of the week in your social media (face­book, insta­gram, twit­ter, etc.) include the hash­tag #word­ofthe­week, so we can see all the won­der­ful and smart ways we are using them.

I hope you are excited about your bur­geon­ing vocab­u­lar­ies and feel­ing san­guine to learn more each week, but please don’t become too obse­quious as you study and use these words…

BAM!!!!!  #word­ofthe­week #allinone :)

Happy Mon­day

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More than $1 today?

Hello friends and Happy Mon­day.  It almost wasn’t a happy one for me.  When I opened my eyes this morn­ing I was greeted by piles of un-folded laun­dry star­ing at me from the foot of the bed, a desk of un-finished projects call­ing my name and two sweet bright-eyed chil­dren who were ready to go an hour too early. I started the day a bit crabby; I had so many things that I wanted to do and not enough time to do them all.  And then the image below flashed into my mind — remind­ing me of this arti­cle that I read over the week­end about poverty.

o-DOLLAR-A-DAY-900

How do I for­get so easily?

These things that I let frus­trate me are the non-essentials of life, the extra stuff that should add to my life, not take away from it.  I have more than my fair share of them, so much more, that I can let my clean clothes be an annoy­ance. Seriously?

Yet, almost every sin­gle day, I take the essen­tials of life : food, shel­ter, safety, for granted.  Meanwhile -

Over ONE BILLION peo­ple live on a dol­lar a day.

That’s one bil­lion of my broth­ers and sis­ters! They are hun­gry, thirsty, sick, and at risk.  They live on a dol­lar a day…and I get frus­trated because I didn’t get all my DIY-projects done over the week­end? YUCK.

I am so ready for a PERMANENT per­spec­tive shift.

Perscpective I don’t want another day to go by that I am not aware, in awe, and on my knees in thanks for all the bless­ings I have been given.

I don’t want to for­get the peo­ple who have not been as for­tu­nate as me.

Dear friends, How do you keep your per­spec­tive and awareness?

Share with me. Encour­age me.  Hold me account­able.  Let’s be the group of peo­ple who MAKE. A. DIFFERENCE.

Check out these guys - They decided that they wanted to bet­ter under­stand poverty, so they moved to Guatemala and expe­ri­enced it first hand.  It’s a great inter­view with sev­eral experts on poverty issues.

.… .… .… .… …

I am going to start by pray­ing for true per­spec­tive and a new way to see and relate to the world (Romans 12:2). How­ever, as sin­cere as I am in my prayers, I know that I need action, visual and phys­i­cal reminders to really make this sink in…

Have you heard of Live Below the Line? It is a five-day chal­lenge to increase under­stand­ing of extreme poverty by spend­ing only $1.50 a day on your food and drinks (that means no lattes, :/ GLUP ).  I am think­ing of tak­ing the chal­leng­ing the sec­ond week in July, 7th-11th.

Will you join me?

Sign up in the com­ments sec­tion! If you can’t com­mit to all five days, that’s ok, let’s do 1 or 2 or what­ever works for your life right now.

 

 

 

 

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Friday favorites

Happy Fri­day! Here are a few of our favorite things from the last two weeks.

To Expe­ri­ence:

The mir­a­cle of cater­pil­lar life:Butterflies You can get your own But­ter­fly kit on ama­zon.  They come in the mail as cater­pil­lars so you can watch the caterpillar-butterfly life-cycle first hand. H loved it, and it was a great reminder of how amaz­ing our world is!!

To Eat:BJ_PHish_Food

Should I be embar­rassed that we have ice cream most nights in the sum­mer? :/  It’s easy to do when you live right across the bridge from the local ice cream shop!  When we aren’t sup­port­ing the local guys, we are hap­pily to putting our money behind Ben and Jerry’s (and even more hap­pily stuff­ing our faces with Phish­Food!!!!) as they have a com­mit­ted to sourc­ing all the ingre­di­ents from Fair Trade Cer­ti­fied Sources! They are a lit­tle bit more expen­sive than the other brands but if I am lucky enough to eat ice cream weekly, let alone nightly, I can cer­tainly afford to pay more to sup­port them for stand­ing up for what I believe in; free­dom, fair wages, social jus­tice, envi­ron­men­tal responsibility!

To lis­ten to:

All Sons and Daugh­ters — You Remain

To Read :

Look­ing for a great sum­mer read?  My book club just fin­ished read­ing These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881–1901 (P.S.)  Every­one loved it! Don’t let the title fool you (it totally turned me off!) the book will draw you in and you will fall in love with the main char­ac­ter; a strong, smart, capa­ble, kind women — so refresh­ing!

Have a beau­ti­ful weekend.

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Word of the Week — Sanguine

Hello and Happy Mon­day.  Let’s start the week off right with a lit­tle vocab­u­lary expan­sion.  This week’s word is:

Sanguine

San­guine

/saNGwin/ Click here for pro­nun­ci­a­tion.

Opti­mistic or pos­i­tive, espe­cially in an appar­ently bad or dif­fi­cult situation.

May we all be san­guine no mat­ter what cir­cum­stances we find our­selves in this week.

Have a great one!

em

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