November 13, 2017

Do Good By Shopping - Part 1

There's a lot of bad in the world. But for every bad thing, there is someone trying to bring about good and combat hate. YOU can be one of those people doing good. It can seem overwhelming when trying to figure out ways to help or what you can do to make an impact. Well today I've compiled a list of places that you can do good simply with your shopping powers. That's right, you can contribute to change just by shopping. And with the holiday season upon us, shopping for gifts is in full swing for a lot of us. So why not give back and do good just by buying gifts? Below is my first post on great companies to buy from not just during the holidays, but all year long. Next Monday I'll have another post filled with awesome companies that will hopefully inspire some gift buying.

+Do you shop on Amazon? When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same items at the exact same prices, just with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support. You will be donating to a charity simply by shopping. Want more information on how it works? Click here.

+Preemptive Love Coalition is a global community of peacemakers who provide lifesaving heart surgeries for children, food and shelter for those persecuted by extremists, education for at-risk children, and small-business empowerment grants so people can put their own lives back together. Shop here.

+Imagine Goods partner with vulnerable and marginalized people around the world to make products that, in many cases, give them the first fair wages they've ever received. 90% of the makers of their products are survivors of trafficking, and the rest are vulnerable, marginalized, or disabled people who have been trained in a skill as a means of trafficking prevention. My favorite thing about their items is you can learn about the specific person who made it. Shop here.

+House of Light Goods provides empowered employment to single mothers in Primo Tapia, Mexico and helps bring positive change to vulnerable families and children at risk. House of Light Goods works in partnership with Casa de Luz Children’s Centre which provides a safe place for children to learn, play, be loved and cared for, and thrive. Their mothers are able to further their education, start their own businesses through a micro loan program, find suitable employment, begin a journey of healing, and be part of a supportive and encouraging community. All profits go back to Casa de Luz to provide nutritious meals, educational support, family counseling and other resources to impoverished families. Shop here.

+SheLift empowers girls with physical differences to improve self-acceptance and confidence through outdoor adventures and body-positive mentorship. SheLift provides experiences to young women with disabilities to help them live authentic lives and connect with others. SheLift aims to normalize differences while developing, challenging, and nurturing girls’ physical and emotional abilities. Shop here.

+The Loyal Workshop is where women trapped in sex slavery in Kolkata learn to make artisan, eco-friendly leather goods and find a new life. Every product purchased is part of a woman's journey to freedom. Shop here.

+Krochet Kids mission is to empower people to rise above poverty. Through their efforts, over 150 people in Uganda and Peru are working, receiving education, and being mentored toward a brighter future. This is another site where you can see who made the item your purchasing. Shop here.

+Trades of Hope give women all over the world an opportunity for a better life. Some women have been rescued from sex slavery. Others are raising handicapped children alone. Some are in war torn countries and others have AIDS. Trades of Hope gives them an opportunity to sell their artisan goods and empower them in their individual circumstances. Shop here.

+Hand in Hand donates a bar of soap and a month of clean water to a child in need for every product purchased. On top of that, their products are cruelty free, totally natural, and sustainably made. Shop here.

Do you have a favorite organization to support? Do you know of other great companies helping those in need? Please leave them in the comments below and I'll add them to my next round-up of doing good by shopping!

October 12, 2017

Utah Cousins

Between the time we got back from Ohio and when Andrew's new quarter of school started, we decided to drive up to Utah to see Stephanie and Kevin and their kids. I just now remembered that I never blogged about that trip and I at least wanted to post all the photos from my phone to preserve the memory (this blog is great at reminding me of all the fun things we've done that I would otherwise forget).

Stephanie and Kevin are always the greatest hosts and it's so fun to watch Taylor and his cousins play. Both those things made the 9 hour drive there worth it. We usually find a cheap flight on Allegiant when we want to go see them, but we could not find a flight that would work for us. We had almost decided that we weren't going, when we just went ahead and made the long drive all the while praying that the kids wouldn't cry the entire way (they did awesome on the way there... not so much on the drive home).

Looking back at all these photos makes me so excited for Christmas when ALL of the Snow cousins will be together. I can't believe that's only in a little over two months away!

October 2, 2017

Be Kind Anyway

I struggle with all the bad news clogging up my social media feed. Sometimes I tell myself I'm going to delete it all, become a recluse, and shield my children from all the hate and hurt, but I know that's not a sensible solution. Ignoring the problems doesn't make them go away, and being ignorant of the issues won't change anything.

People are often cynical these days, immediately judging the intentions of others. I have been guilty of this countless times. I have seen a homeless man on the side of the road begging for money and instantly assumed he was going to use any money he received to buy drugs. I have slowly come to realize (and still have to occasionally correct my thinking) that it doesn't matter what they do with the money I give them. I can't control their decision. I can, however, control my decision to serve. The blessings that come from service are not lessened because the benefactor makes a poor choice. The same goes for accepting people of all races and backgrounds. I will not let the decisions of one person influence my opinion of those from similar cultures. I will not turn my back on a group of people because of one thing someone else does. I will not treat someone differently simply because our beliefs might not align. I will not judge, I will not assume intent, and I will serve anyway.

Something I'm continuously working on is my empathy towards others. Since becoming a mom my empathy has improved some, maybe too well at times (because #hormones). I cry when I hear about the suffering of others. I pray daily that the hurt so many are suffering will be taken away or lessened in some way. I feel despair when viewing videos or reading articles about the many problems in the world. Five million Syrians are refugees and 6.3 million are still displaced within Syria - half of those are beautiful, innocent children. There are 20 million people facing severe food shortages in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Hate crimes are on the rise in America. Nearly 600,000 people are homeless on any given night in the U.S. I could go on and on, but the point is this: there is no shortage of suffering. Empathy is the biggest motivator of change in my opinion, and something the world could use more of. Unfortunately, the world is not going to gain a collective empathetic state of mind over night. I know I can’t even begin to solve all those problems, but I will try to put myself in others’ shoes, I will imagine how I would feel if those faces were my own children, and I will care about others anyway.

I used to be afraid of what others would think about my political opinions, personal convictions, beliefs, etc. I'm slowly becoming braver when it comes to sharing what I feel is important (case-in-point: this blog post). One of those opinions that I've gained a stronger conviction for since having a daughter is feminism. I used to believe that "feminist" was a dirty word. Many people associate feminism with abortion-loving, career women who want to imprison all men underground. That's simply not true. Feminism is simply the advocacy of women's rights. Do you believe that every girl deserves an education? Congrats, you're a feminist! Do you think the act of genital mutilation should be done away with? That would make you a feminist. Do you want young girls to have confidence and believe that they can change the world? Yep, you're a feminist. Do you want your daughter to have the same opportunities as her male counterparts? You better believe you're a feminist. I could list a million more scenarios, but I'm sure you get the gist. Even if you personally feel like you have the same rights as the men around you, that doesn't mean the work of feminism is done. It's not done until young girls and women around the world hold the same rights - politically, socially, and economically. Women have remarkable power, and I believe that this world and those that live here will not reach their full potential until women everywhere are given the same respect and consideration as men are given. Even though others may not agree with my beliefs, I will stand up and voice them anyway. 

I'm pretty sure nothing I am able to do will make a big impact on the problems the world is facing. I'm just one person, a quiet and reserved person at that. I have a desire to influence change, but "leader" is not a word I would use to describe myself. So I've learned to research the issues, form my opinions, try to share what I know with those in my immediate circle of influence, and donate to charities I am confident in. It's not much, but hopefully my tiny contribution will create ripples. Maybe someone I share ideas with is a more ambitious trailblazer that can create community change. Perhaps my small contributions to a charity will get them closer to their goal. Then again, maybe I won't do that much to affect others and that's okay too. I will be affected by my own efforts and I will be changed into a better person. I will be blessed by doing my (very small) part. Even if I change nothing, I've decided to work hard anyway.

There will never be a solution that fixes all the problems the world is facing. There will always be racism, bigotry, hate, and hurt. I doubt very much that I will see "world peace" in my lifetime. I've decided to be kind anyway.
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