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I really cannot believe that in just a few days, I will be back in beautiful Kigali, Rwanda sitting around the sewing room with some of the women I had the opportunity to meet alongside Jessica in 2011!  When I met the women for the first time, it was still a big dream for them to go to sewing school, design products and have those products go into production to be sold in the US, and now that dream is a REALITY!  I can’t wait to see how much our Rwandan artisan group has grown over the past few years! Not only will we get to watch these beautiful women sew and create, but we’ll be partnered with them side by side creating WITH them.  That’s right yall, we will be doing a “project runway”-esqe design challenge with the seamstress [you can go ahead and pray for me to get supernatural sewing skills now] I’m excited to get to create with them, side by side.  It’s the reason why I love Noonday: we truly are creating a partnership with the artisans and us, the consumers.  It’s not “oh let’s buy this necklace to help those impoverished women in Africa..” but rather let’s gather our friends, share stories of these hard working people who create the most beautiful pieces, and empower each other!  Yall, this is my heartbeat.

Last time I was in Uganda, I had a whole new vantage point for what I get the opportunity to do with Noonday.  I got to see all of those women with their babies, and a lightbulb went off.  They are creating these beautiful pieces to support their family, and to have purpose and that’s exactly why I’m selling their products, to support my family and give me purpose.  It truly is a partnership and I can’t wait to be side by side with Grace [who we sponsored to go to sewing school] and have this moment really come full circle.

so where do you come in?

I’m glad you asked!  there is such an amazing opportunity to open your home and host a Noonday Collection trunk show!  When you host a show, you are a part of this big empowerment circle!  You are opening your home, but more than that you are touching women near and far to empower one another, and create economic opportunity, which transform their families and communities.  I’ve been doing this for 3 years now, and have watched hostesses continue to throw trunk shows season after season.

why?  in their words….

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“Noonday trunk shows are one of my most FAVORITE kinds of trunks shows! I’ve hosted 3 and actually did one for Wynne when she was in Africa bringing home her babies. Just by opening my door, providing a few little sips and snacks, I’ve been able to help fund 2 different  adoptions in my community while also helping create pathways out of poverty for families all over the world. What’s not to love about that! There’s something so special about tears being shed and hearts being stirred when the story of Noonday and adoptions are shared, and hearing the “oohs and ahhhs” over Noonday’s beautiful pieces. This is what keeps me saying yes again and again to host. It’s fun, easy and it helps change the world for so many one purchase at a time!”Jenna Knight, Midland Texas

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“What I love about Noonday is that, by simply hosting a trunk show and shopping with my friends, I’m supporting artisans all over the world who are then able to earn fair living wages, get an education, and provide for their families. I may not be able to change the whole world, but by supporting Noonday I’m able to help change someone’s world while simultaneously helping precious friends here in the states fund their own adoptions. Hosting a Noonday show is super fun, easy, and the impact of those purchases is priceless!” - Anna Reed, Midland Texas

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this is my friend Sarah, her family is one of the adoptions both Jenna + Anna’s trunk shows helped support!  she says,

“The way people have come around us and supported us has been so evident through the trunk shows. Our sweet hosts and their families open up their homes and offer their time and hospitality- a total act of love in my book. The part that’s overwhelmed and humbled me is when people I’ve never met came out in support of our boy and his adoption. It wrecks me every time I think about it. Some of the most encouraging words spoken to me about our adoption have happened at these shows.   Noonday shows create a connection for me that’s hard to describe and is such a sweet reminder of the ties the body of Christ share.” 

that is why I love noonday.  It’s about people!  Gathering people, telling stories, and wearing stories.  Over the years I’ve had probably around 50 opportunities to gather in living rooms, kitchens, churches, back patios, and boutiques all over Texas {and beyond} and there is one common theme: women supporting women.  Pretty amazing that simply gathering your friends, snacking and trying on the latest on trend pieces could result in being a part of a global movement.  That my friends is the opportunity for you!

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are you excited yet?  clear off your dining table, get some snacks + your favorite beverage and HOST A SHOW! Have a fun evening [or morning] with your girlfriends catching up on all things summer while building up your fall accessories!  If you don’t know who the ambassador is in your area, fill out this form here and home office will connect you with someone!

August 7th is the DAY!  This is an amazing opportunity for your community to rally around Noonday, be the first to purchase from our new fall line, enjoy an exclusive sneak peak from our #StyleForJustice trip and have the opportunity to VOTE on which items from our design challenge in Rwanda will go into production!  I am getting giddy just thinking about it!

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Paige + I are excited to represent the Noonday ambassadors on this trip!

**don’t forget to submit your email to follow our trip + have a chance to WIN some amazing goodies from some of our storytellers!

it’s #styleforjustice week on the blog, friends!  I leave Friday and I thought I’d finally let you into these words I penned the days that followed my invitation to join this amazing dream of a trip. …

Have you ever in your life been so humbled that you cried for 3 days?  Hi, my name is Wynne Elder and this happened to me.

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My prayer for humility has been a constant prayer the past two years.  I know I struggle with pride, and so my prayer for humility has been persistent.  Patrick, our pastor, did a series on humility over the Christmas season and it’s been something I’ve gone back to again and again the past few weeks.  In my notes, I wrote down “we will grow in humility more when we know more of who we are in Jesus“.  To know more of who we are in Jesus, we have to understand who we are in Christ.  This is something I too, have struggled with.  Putting my identity in things other than who I am as a daughter of Christ.  In seasons I’ve placed my identity in what I do: photographer, student, non profit fundraiser, blogger, mama.  and at times I put my identity in what I’m passionate about: africa, noonday, adoption, missions.  Sometimes I place my identity in how I feel about myself: alone, not good enough, bad friend/mother/wife.

It’s been a constant prayer to find my identity in HIM alone.  I knew that it would have to be Jesus that changed the way I think about myself.  I know that God works everything together for good, and sadly it was a really harsh conversation I had recently with someone I love very dearly that woke me up to the reality of who I am in Christ.  When someone questions who you are, you have the choice: to believe what that person says to or about you, OR chose to believe what Jesus thinks of me and who He says I am.  In that moment, I had a miraculous change of heart and mind from the Spirit.  Suddenly my eyes were opened, and I began to see WHO I am in Christ.  Patrick said, “humility is understanding who you are!  it comes from a transformed identity”.

Fast forward to my weekend at the Noonday conference.  I was humbled again.  It’s like I can’t figure out my own sin to confess it and recieve forgiveness and move on…but here comes the pride thing again.  I’ve been a part of Noonday since the very beginning – it’s been a huge part of my story, and who I am [my identity if you will].  Through Noonday I’ve fundraised an adoption, traveled to meet our artisans  with our founder, Jessica, as well as be there for the most amazing week of Jessica + Joe’s life as they met and brought home their son from Rwanda, Jack.  I’ve sat in workshops and homes with our artisans in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda.  I’ve met some amazing women that have become like my sisters, and now that my babies are home – it’s given me purpose.  It’s given me a reason to get out of my yoga pants and go to a friend’s house to tell these stories.

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It’s been so easy for me to almost flippantly say, “oh yes, I took that photograph”, or “Yea, I was there when that happened”.  Almost like I deserved or was entitled to that expierence?  Like I was somehow better because of these expierences.  [I hope yall know how hard this is to admit, I am not proud of it].  That all changed Friday night at the ambassador conference [in January].  Jessica + Jalia stood before us and for at least 1.5 hours, shared their stories.  All of what God has done in and through them the past few years.  This amazing company they have built and the countless people all over the world who have LIFE now because of it.  I sat there, compltely humbled.  I don’t know how else to say it – my eyes were opened, and all of a sudden I saw my story in their story.  but I saw it not as something I had done, or something that made me important because of it, but I saw Gods hand in it ALL!  I was overwhelmed by the fact that He has allowed me the opportunity to be a part of the story.  HOW? WHY?  These were the questions that were going through my head as I tried to sleep that night.

I went to bed in awe of this story God was allowing me to be a part of.  A story that was + is way bigger than I could have ever dreamed.  It was pretty fitting Jennie Allen + Jen Hatmaker were speaking to our crew on Saturday morning.  Two other passion filled, justice fighting, christ following, adoptive mamas [Not to mention two of my favorite teachers + writers in our generation].  I was, once again, filled with gratitude.  I was AWAKEN to who He created me to be, to the plan He has for my life, and I was pumped up to get back to reality + really get after it again.  What I did not expect was what happened next….

  • Melissa Blair - Friend! Sister! Watching you prepare for your trip brings back just a titch of the excitement of getting ready for OUR trip back in March! I’m just…so tired of saying ‘excited’…but that’s what I am…I am ready to watch, pray and soak in your words as you go and tell the stories that God has equipped you and placed you to tell…and that you have boldly said yes to. Go. Soar. I love you.ReplyCancel

    • Wynne - i love you, thank you melissa. i couldn’t do it without your prayers and encouragement. means more than you know!ReplyCancel

  • dreams really do come true. » Gloriously Ruined - […] from “humbled“//part 2 [some of this I posted in my original announcement post of the #StyleForJustice […]ReplyCancel

I think maybe the whole reason I asked Megan to share on the blog this week was for me.  Dang.  I met Megan IRL at Created for Care adoption retreat 2 years ago, in the very room and session that God used to open my eyes and bring me freedom to declare that I was indeed struggling with infertility.  Megan was there, and she’s been there since, cheering me on, praying for me, and encouraging me.  Her story encouraged me greatly + I pray it does you too!   Thanks so much to my friend Wynne for allowing me to share here on her awesome blog and for encouraging me to be brave and share some of my infertility story with you.

Like many other little girls, I grew up playing with dolls and dreaming of rocking my own tiny, sweet babe to sleep one day.  While I also aspired be a nurse, being a wife and mother were my ultimate goals.  I vividly remember the feeling of my heart sinking a little when a doctor told me, “it may be difficult for you to get pregnant one day”.  I have always been an optimist though, so I told myself, “okay it may just take a few months or maybe a pill or something – no problem”.

Fast forward several years, I was married to my sweet husband Brandon and had my dream job as a pediatric oncology nurse.  We had just moved from our home in the Carolinas to Ohio for his job, and I was ready for babies.  I remember our friends helping us move into our home in 3 feet of snow, and our pastor praying for children to fill our home.  I was excited, being a mother had to be the next step right?
A few months after trying we went to see a doctor and began our journey with infertility.  It proved to be difficult for the doctor to find the right mix and dosages of drugs, and after 2 years and countless medications/self-administered injections, procedures and a major surgery, we switched doctors.  Over the next 14 months we went through more treatment including 2 unsuccessful IVF cycles with some pretty scary and major complications.  I was tired and frustrated.
I had always felt like my relationship with God was good.  I came to know Christ at age 7, I read my bible, prayed, went to church, did all the “right” things my whole life.  I had never experienced such loss, such heart-wrenching pain and anger, especially directed at Him.  I was downright mad at God.  I remember crying out in one of my darkest moments, and telling God I was done.  I didn’t understand why He wouldn’t give me the desires of my heart.  If He was such a good God, why didn’t He love me enough to give me what I wanted.  I was doing everything right … right?  I stopped talking to Him, and I let myself wallow in my anger and pain.  I hate to admit that, but it’s the honest truth.
About this time we took a break from fertility treatments and began going down the adoption road.  We both had always seen adoption in our family’s future, but we had always planned to have biological kids first.  See a theme emerging here?  My plan.  (Side note – we are still adopting, yay!)
About this same time I was going through an intensive discipleship school.  My goodness, the Lord used that, along with a personal year-long Bible plan I was doing, to completely wreck me and radically change my relationship with the Him.  It was hard and painful, and what He showed me about my heart was often not pretty.  I realized that I had so often been seeking the Lord for what He could give me.  For how it would benefit me.  I wanted something from Him (specifically a baby) more than I wanted Him.  It hurts me now to say that out loud, but again, it’s the truth.
Once I realized that, I began to see how God had been right there with me, loving me gently and ever-so-patiently throughout every moment in our infertility journey.  He is and always has been a loving, good God.  He pursued me even though I didn’t pursue Him.  I came to a point where I could honestly say with conviction, “God, I want you more than I want a baby.  I will still love you and I know you are still good, even if I never get pregnant.”  It was a little scary to say that outloud (and mean it!), but I knew that God knew and cared greatly about the desire of my heart to become a mother, and no matter how that happened, I would trust Him and believe in His goodness and faithfulness to bring about those desires in His time and His way.  I began shifting my focus to pursuing God and getting to know His heart.
About a year into our adoption journey, I had to have another major surgery.  About 2 months later we found out we were pregnant for the first time in our lives.  I will never forget that phone call from the nurse and the overwhelming joy and shock I felt.  The Lord continually showed His glory and faithfulness over the next 9 months, including keeping both me and our tiny baby safe during another risky emergency surgery I had while 11 weeks pregnant.  This little girl was His plan the whole time.  He knew she was coming from the start, and she was going to be worth every bit of heartache, pain and time spent waiting.
Arielle Elise Photography
November 3, 2013 at 7:13 pm Liv Carolina entered the world – 9 lbs 12.6 oz. and 22.5 in.
Cream and Cocoa Photography

 

Her name means “my God is a vow/promise” and “life” – both so very fitting.  This girl has been such a beautiful, unbelievable gift.  She fills our days with such light and joy, and sometimes it still doesn’t seem real that I have a sweet baby to rock to sleep at night.  Being a mother is everything I dreamed it would be and more.  I look at her and see I God’s sovereignty, and I’m so thankful for that.  She is an absolute and total miracle.  Going through what we did has allowed me to see that with such clarity.  I cherish every small moment with this girl.
I hope my story encourages someone, wherever you are.  For me, there is great beauty that came from my infertility.  Taking the steps to begin our adoption journey we may not have taken otherwise.  Friendships I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  A deeper relationship with my husband I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  A more real picture of who my God is and how well He loves me that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.Don’t get me wrong.  I certainly don’t think God causes bad things to happen to us.  We live in a fallen world, and sometimes we go through things like infertility and it just plain sucks.  I do however think know that waiting time is never wasted time to God.  My infertility journey was so hard, but going through it brought me to a place with the Lord that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
I read this quote and verse recently in the She Reads Truth Bible plan, and it is really applicable to my story (and I’m sure many of yours too).
 
“Who we become and what we appreciate often come from some of the darkest days of life.”
 
“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
Isaiah 45:3 NLT
We can’t see our whole story, but He does, and He won’t leave it unfinished.  God is there in your darkest moments, loving you more than you could ever know or imagine.  He is good and sovereign, and although I wish no one ever had to experience the pain that comes with infertility, if you’re there, I hope you can find comfort in knowing that your Heavenly Father knows and cares about the desires of your heart, and no matter your circumstances, they don’t change our loving and faithful God.
you can find my friend Megan on her blog/facebook/twitter

  • Elizabeth - Thank you for sharing! Your little one is precious!!!ReplyCancel

    • Wynne - so glad you read about my friend meg’s journey, elizabeth! so honored to share yalls stories!ReplyCancel

  • Megan - Thank you Elizabeth :) Loved reading your story too and seeing your sweet girl! Thanks again Wynne, love you girl!ReplyCancel

  • Taylor - This post really convicted me. After I read it I immediately paused everything and sat down to pray. Thank you for sharing your story Meg.ReplyCancel

    • Megan - Thank you Taylor, it was a little scary to share at first, but I’m so glad I did. I want everyone to know what a loving God we have no matter our circumstances!ReplyCancel

  • Sara Puckett - Great story! What a blessing. We have an amazing God!ReplyCancel

  • Michele Melowic Schmidt - Beautifully articulated, Megan! God is good! Thank you for sharing your story with all. It is so inspiring!ReplyCancel

  • Myra Mintz - Beautiful, inspiring story!ReplyCancel

  • Leah Hudson - Such a beautiful and inspiring storyReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Kanute Wood - Megan, thank you for sharing your story. Often times my view of God is so small compared to who He truly is and what He is doing in my life. What a beautiful picture of trust and faithfulness. Your family is beautiful. ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Baker - So proud of you as my daughter-in-law – and sister in Christ. Your vulnerability is 2 Cor. 1:3-7 in action. Love you! ReplyCancel

  • emily davis - Thank you Megan for your putting your story in words. You’ve always been a talented writer, since 5th grade! It was and is encouraging to me as I continue through the grief process of my husband’s death. Liv is beautiful and I wish you all the best as you continue the adoption process. Love you.ReplyCancel

I have always been a floater.

When I was in high school, I was known to go to three high school football games on one Friday night.  I enjoyed doing those things alone, and getting the chance to hop from school to school and friend group to friend group.  In junior high and into the first year of high school I did all the sports, because I wanted to be with all the different friends.  You better believe I “played” softball, basketball, ran track + cross country, played tennis and cheered.  Y’all, I sucked at about all of those things but 1, but I still did it.  for the variety of friends. **too bad facebook wasn’t around back then, because I can’t readily find any high school digital pics

in college, same song second verse.  I would go to several parties in one night, mostly alone, so I could see all my different friends.  maybe I just hated to miss out?  I know I have FOMO [fear of missing out]  but I think it goes deeper than that.  I have always had a small “group” of friends, but still sometimes feel like a nomad.  a gypsy traveler who has her foot in many different tents.  I love so deeply, and I love to connect with people, that I have a big tribe.

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above: my baylor besties [missing ML and Whit], we call ourselves “supper club”

below: at our engagement party, life long friends + college friends

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every time I think my tribe is too big, and my heart can’t handle another soul sister, God brings one more into my life.  in so many seasons of life.  adoption, noonday, infertility, bloggers, conference goers, moms, church, school…the list goes on.  I’m so grateful for friends that love me to no end, fight for me, want to break stuff with me when life gets hard, and then will pick me back up when I fall.

my little cross country road trip was like food for my gypsy floater soul.  I loved being able to connect with friends from so many seasons of life.  More than once I marveled that the Lord had blessed me with such amazing people in my life that are scattered all over the country.  On my trip, my soul was fed.  I was encouraged, built up, prayed for, listened to, cheered on.  I spilt my guts out, discovered more about my personality than ever before, and got to know myself in a new way.

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I have come to appreciate this floater gypsy soul of mine, as it’s led me to some pretty amazing relationships.  Sure, sometimes it stings.  it stings to be the one that everyone thinks has something to do, when I really don’t.  it stings to be told, “I know you are really busy” at the beginning of a phone conversation.  or to have friends think they aren’t as important to me as they really are.  none of things things are true and I hope that I can be the kind of friend who’s friends know how important they are to me.  and I hope that they will keep pursing me, even when it seems like there are many others doing the same.  and I hope I can keep pursing them in they way they all deserve.  because really, what is life without good friends?

what about you?  are you a one-best-friend kind of girl or more of a floater like me? 

  • Katie Cox - Wynne! This is one of my favorite things about you and one that left a lasting impression on me in college! You WERE everywhere and friends with EVERYONE!! I’m not sure you’re as much a floater as a lover… you find something to love in everyone and it shows in the way you build relationships. Makes my heart smile each time I read one of your posts… Proud to know you then and witness you in action now! :) Blessings, sweet friend!ReplyCancel

    • Wynne - katie! that is the SWEETEST comment and encouragement ever. thank you so much for that perspective! i just love people I guess ;) in my blood! so good to hear from you!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly Oyler - yessssss! I love to be all the places with all the people. I am always trying to squeeze extra things in just so I can see another person. I was such a floater in high school and college. sometimes I wished for a solid group of friends (which I kind of got at the very end of college) but I loved knowing that I had so many groups of friends and so many opportunities that came with each of them. I can’t wait to your sweet gypsy self in a few days!ReplyCancel

    • Wynne - kimberly! i’m so glad you get what i’m trying to say here! and glad i’m not alone in this. i think it’s just a special gift from god to get to connect and relate with so many and be blessed with so many great friends! can’t WAIT to see you!!!ReplyCancel

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pretty crazy to think I just got back from a trip I’d been dreaming about and planning for for months.

now it’s over.

I love to write.  I love to travel.  I love to be in Africa.  I love to support missionaries + their ministries.  I love to be with people.

so this kind of trip was perfect for me.  a culmination of so many of my gifts + passions.

I sorta sound like a broken record.

 

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I started writing this post right after my trip with Sole Hope back in March.  but as I look back, I can foresee me saying the same things when I get back from my #StyleForJustice trip too.  The culmination of a dream fulfilled.  Getting to travel to a country (and continent) I love, with two organizations I love, and with friends and other amazing women I’ve looked up to for years.  writing, taking photographs, learning more about the work of IJM and re-connecting with Noonday’s group of artisans I met 3 years ago.

 

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what happens when these things are over?

re-entry after trips like these to Africa is hard.

but what happens when after this trip, there is nothing on the calendar?

nothing to look forward to.  to pray for, plan for and pack for.

no group of women to connect with, pray for and travel with.

 

what happens when, like me, one of my biggest dreams will be fulfilled and OVER???

these are the thoughts that go through my head, yet I know without a shadow of a doubt that God has cleared my fall schedule for a reason.  I have no idea what that reason could be, but I have peace about it.  I do stay up late and think about what the reason could be – a move? a new job? a baby? africa?  but regardless of the WHY I know the WHO.  I know WHO is in control and although my human-ness wants to freak out, the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding gives me all I need to be calm.

it’s almost here, ya know?  My husband gives me the daily count down, and most of the time I put my hands over my ears.  Not because I’m not ready for it to be here, but because I’m not ready for it to be over.

Today, I am going to make a couscous effort to not just think about the future, but to live in the present.  to enjoy every moment, soak them all in one at a time, and be present.

10 more days, will you be joining in our journey?  sign up here to get updates [and enter for a chance to win some great prizes!]

all but 1 photo by Wandering with Mary 

  • Hannah Bunker - Hey Wynne! So reading this post made me think of sharing my friend Jennifer’s blog with you. Her husband does medical missions in Africa and they, as a family (her, Paul, and their 4 kids) do missions in Africa every year. She wrote a post recently about re-entry back into our world after her latest trip to Africa. It made me think of you saying that in this post. I think you might enjoy what she writes so I thought I’d share. She’s awesome. :) http://jenniferosteen.com/2014/06/hello-old-friend/ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Blair - Oh my soul. I understand this ‘present’ struggle. Every. Second. Sure loved reading this one this morning…puts me back there with my people…good, sharp stabs in the heart this morning. Love love you. ReplyCancel