Noonday Collection {Giveaway!}

A big, hearty welcome to Noonday Collection!

Noonday Collection is so excited to be sponsoring the Allume Conference again this year! This inspiring gathering of women so clearly highlights the values and dreams that are in Noonday’s DNA as a company. We love what happens when women come together in the spirit of uplifting and encouraging one another. At Noonday, we use fashion and design to bring economic opportunity to the vulnerable, and are passionate about bringing women together through our deeply interconnected network of Ambassadors, customers, and artisans around the world.

Sofiya

Artisan empowerment is at the heart of what we do, and we are honored to share in the stories of so many talented individuals in countries spanning from Rwanda to Guatemala. We especially have a heart for the female artisans around the world who are experiencing economic empowerment and freedom, many for the first time in their lives, because of sustainable jobs. In India, it is often considered inappropriate for women to work outside the home, but one of our artisans, Sofiya, dreamed of a life of independence and opportunity. She jumped at the chance to become a jewelry-maker, and became the primary supporter for her family after her father passed away. Through the artisan group, she has learned about her rights as an Indian woman and has even purchased her own motorbike—a rare symbol on independence in India.

Tigiest

Another of Noonday’s missions is to provide the tools women need to keep their families together. In Ethiopia, people diagnosed with HIV are often stigmatized because of the disease and forced to leave their communities, despite the fact that HIV is now as treatable as Type 2 Diabetes and cannot be transmitted by casual contact. When Tigiest found out she was HIV positive, she was forced out of her home and traveled to Mount Entoto to seek the healing waters that are believed to flow there. She was forced to leave two of her five children behind because she could not afford to care for all of them, a tragedy that left her desperate to reunite her family. On the mountain, she found a new community and a new hope. She began working as a jewelry-maker for Noonday’s partner group and with her earnings were enough to allow her to bring her other two children to live with her. She now provides a home, food, and an education for all five of her children, who are her pride and joy.

Ambassador Group Photo

We love that we get to connect women across continents, whether they live in Jaipur or Cleveland. Our network of 650 Ambassadors (and growing!) serve as the voice and face of Noonday in their communities. This powerful group of women are advocates, storytellers, and stylists and they create marketplace for our artisans at trunk shows across the country. For these unstoppable women, the community they have found in one another is a testament to what can happen when women fix their eyes on the same horizon. They come from all over the country and from all different backgrounds—they are homemakers, nurses, and computer programmers. Their lives may look different, but they all have one thing in common: a passion for seeing justice done for the poor. And that one thing is enough to unite them into a team of women willing to break out of their comfort zones, be vulnerable enough to ask for help, and celebrate each others’ successes.

Ambassadors

We are thrilled to be a part of the Allume Conference and to see firsthand the power of women gathering for the express purpose of growing, changing, and inspiring others. Our work across the globe has showed us that women everywhere have the potential to create big changes in their communities. And when women gather together, their combined influence has the power to change the whole world.

Giveaway

We want to give away $100 of Noonday Goodies to one lovely winner. Come on over and follow us on Instagram and then leave a comment below. Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win.

Giveaway ends Friday at 11:59 EST.

Breaking the Cycle of Oppression Through Education

Please welcome Shining Light International.

There are 62 million girls around the world that are not in school.

Pakistan has the world’s second highest population of girls not attending school. Parents often can’t afford school or if they could, they send a son, and the tradition of early child marriages remained a frightening reality. Imagine attending a school where half the room is empty and there are virtually no females present to add their voices or participate in class discussions.  This is the scene in most schools in rural villages of Northern Pakistan.  

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Oppression and religious extremism create incredible hurdles for girls and entire communities to thrive spiritually, physically, and economically.  Not only are families struggling to provide food and protection from the violence that is prevalent in their nation, the lack of education severely stunts their economic opportunities.  When most Pakistanis are asked what they dream of most:  It’s education.  A hope for their future.  

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At Shining Light International we decided to join with our friends in Pakistan and say YES, there is a hope for the future. Through strong partnerships with local leaders, our goal is to empower and equip them to improve their own economic situation and create opportunities for their sons and daughters. Village committees are established to identify community needs and work with SLI to access urgently needed resources, materials, training and support.   

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Working hand in hand with the Pakistani people, Shining Light is aspiring to meet practical needs and resource sustainable programs. We do this through:

Education: 
Together we have established a private academy in which we provide high quality and affordable education to 375 children from troubled regions of Northern Pakistan.

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In addition, we have established schools in 4 rural Gujjar villages and provide school in tents with traveling teachers to allow nomadic families to keep their children in school as they travel to the high pastures. While the Gujjars have previously been 98% illiterate, there are now over 500 children, 150 of them are girls, in school for the first time in the history of their people.

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Women’s Vocational Training:
Women from all religious backgrounds; Sunni, Shia, and Christian are coming together under one roof for our year long Women’s Vocational Training Program in which they learn how to learn how to sew, knit, and embroider. Upon graduation, women receive a sewing machine to start their own business, provide a valuable skill to their families, or obtain employment.  In the mornings, the Center is transformed into a manufacturing space where graduates from the training program are employed in a safe, secure and supportive environment to design and manufacture products for sale to local and international merchants and organizations. We have been blessed to be a part of seeing nearly 300 women graduate from the program and gain an elevated status in their growing communities.  

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We believe that the only way to break the cycles of extremism and oppression in this region of the world is to equip men AND women to stand against them, and that when ALL children are educated, including the girls, entire communities are transformed.  We envision a world where light dispels darkness, hope overcomes despair, help empowers the helpless and prosperity replaces poverty making a much brighter future for many.

Join Us…We’ll be at Allume!

We could not be more excited to be joining such a powerful group of women who are using their voices and platforms as bloggers to change the world.  We recognize that to make a significant and sustainable impact in places like Pakistan, we need to gather an army.  An army of people who will stand with us and say:

YES…your little girls deserve an education.

Women are worth training and are crucial to a thriving society.

There is a hope and a future for the hurting communities of Northern Pakistan.

And we believe in you, so we will invest in you. 

We can’t wait to chat with you, hear your stories, and partner together to conquer the great justice issues of our day.  We’ll have scarves created by the women at our Life Stitch Manufacturing Center, Home Party kits to help you get started on raising awareness about girl’s education, and opportunities for you to use your blog get more girls in school in Northern Pakistan.  

Get to know us before Allume:
Hear more of our story: http://shininglight-intl.com

Connect with us on: 
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Google+

speaker interview with myquillyn smith

She’s like family, this speaker from near our neck of the woods. She’s someone that you’d love to visit and take a long walk with.  She believes that the imperfections of life add to its beauty, and has become a trusted voice in far beyond just the online space.  Nester is warm, inviting, and real, and it is our honor and pleasure to welcome her back to Allume this fall.

Friend, please meet Allume family member and speaker, Myquillyn Smith, aka the Nester.

Myquillyn Smith

1. What chore do you despise the most? 

I hate putting laundry away and cleaning out the car.

2. When was the last time you chatted with your neighbor? 

I chatted with my 80 year old neighbor last week when we stopped by her house, she’s delightful and cooks fried okra for us.

3. What sound do you love? 

I love the sound of a banjo.

4. If you could learn to do anything what would it be? 

I’d love to learn to paint.

5. What do you miss most about being a kid? 

I miss stalking mama cats to find their newborn kittens hidden away in random sheds in our neighborhood. (what does this say about my childhood?!)

Do you have a copy of her book The Nesting Place: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful ?  It encourages women to stop waiting for their next house and to embrace their current home because every home has a silver lining.

Or visit her  here :: Website /// Twitter /// Facebook

6 steps to growing your platform with self-publishing

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Thirty-nine. Treinta y nueve. Trente-neuf. Thelathini na tisa.

No matter how you say it, that was the number. After months of hard work and promotion, my first month of sales on my first self-published book netted me the whopping sales total of 39 copies. I wanted to give up. But I believed in the story too much. And I’m glad I didn’t quit. That little book has now reached over 8,500 people, and has been #1 on Amazon’s best seller list for books in Christian Evangelism (multiple times). Better yet, it’s helped me grow my platform and reach many new readers who I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with several authors and dozens of self-publishing projects in recent years. One particular client has about a dozen books released, and some do really well, while others flop. The crazy thing is when we think we hit on an idea that will really resonate with readers, often they flop. Meanwhile, other less scintillating e-books quietly bring in the sales, anchoring an impressive library of content.

I think where some aspiring writers fall short is by giving up too easily or not thinking enough about long-term strategy when it comes to publishing. Here’s the thing…

You should never, EVER give up on the message God has given you to share! (Tweet that!)

With that in mind, here are a few pointers which may help you maximize the reach of your message, and build your platform to share whatever it is God puts on your heart next.

(1) growing your e-mail list

Especially with a first-time author project, I usually recommend launching the book in Kindle and PDF format. We get it out there on Amazon to start selling, but the big strategic move is leveraging the project to build a mailing list. Offering the free download get’s people on your list so you can continue to share through your blog what God is putting on your heart.

More importantly, it gives you the chance to continue to market your stuff down the road. You may reach out later to tell them about special Kindle promos, the project becoming available in other formats, additional study and small group resources, and new projects you’re launching.

The ROI of email is typically higher than any other platform, so using the project to get emails should be at the foundation of your long-term publishing strategy.

(2) using the free download to promote paid sales

One of the differences between PDF and other formats of the book is that the PDF should clearly inform the reader that it’s also available on Amazon. PDF is a great way give them the content, but it’s not as convenient to read, especially on mobile devices. So letting the reader know the book is available in a more friendly format (along with the link to go purchase it) is a simple way to drive sales. Many readers will register to download the free version, start reading it, and then when they decide they like it, they’ll go buy it in the more convenient format.

(3) switching to kdp select

Whenever I do the free download, I usually do it for a limited time. The length of time depends on how well it’s driving email subscribers for you. Then at some point you’ll want to pull it down and switch to a Kindle-only strategy for the e-book. Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has a program called KDP Select. The idea is that when you enroll your book into KDP Select, you are committing to at least 90 days of it being exclusive (in electronic format) to Amazon.

In return, you’ll get some sweet benefits. One is that it can be made available to Amazon Prime members in the lending library. They get it for “free” as part of their membership, but the author still gets paid a cut of the fund Amazon dedicates to participating books. Sometimes, you even get paid more than the sales price of the book!

Then there’s also the opportunity to stimulate sales with a discounted or free promotion.

(4) using free kindle downloads to increase paid sales

One of the most important factors of success on Amazon is understanding the Amazon ecosystem. You can certainly promote your stuff to the people who already follow you, but your goal is to gain new audience by getting your work in front of people who don’t know you. There are some key triggers in Amazon that will lead to your book being found. One is the reviews, especially by those with a “verified purchase”. The other is getting into the “customers who bought this also bought” rotation for other books.

The KDP Select program allows you to offer 5 days of free download every 90 day enrollment period. You should use every single one in every single enrollment period!

The math is simple. The more people who get the book in their hands (with a verified purchase), the more likely you are to get reviews on the book. Additionally, when an Amazon customer gets your book for free, they’re still “buying” it. Their purchase price was $0.00, but they still bought the book, which makes it part of their purchase history, which means it’ll build up sales to become part of that “customers who bought this” rotation for other books those readers have purchased.

I regularly see that when we’re not doing free promos, paid sales dip. And when we do the promos, paid sales rise.

(5) never stop selling it

This one is tricky, but it gets down to this question… How much do you believe in the message God has put on your heart? If the answer is “a lot,” then you won’t give up on it. And selling doesn’t have to be an annoying thing. Often it can be done simply by talking about milestones. I’ll share on social media when one of my books hits the top of a sales chart, or when I get a review that fires me up…

I’ve just seem too many examples of books going completely against the traditional sales spike in the first 60-90 days from launch to think that we should stop telling a certain story after sales settle. In fact, I’ve seen sales rise substantially after 6 months or a year on the market. But it won’t rise if you give up on it.

(6) never stop creating new content

If you’re a writer, then chances are you’re not going to be done writing after you got that one project out. In fact, you probably can’t imagine NOT writing. So keep it up! Keep working on new projects. This is another simple math deal. The more publishing projects you have out there, then more potential “entry points” you have for someone to discover your writing, and to connect with everything else you do. Some will hit big, and some won’t. So just keep moving forward with this as part of your regular writing strategy.

Set a goal for yourself. Maybe it’s one new e-book every 3-6 months. Just set a schedule and commit to it, just like you do with your other (daily?) blogging.

last thought…

Here’s the key to all of this. Too often writers look at getting something published as an end goal. We work to get published so that one day we can make money from our craft. Wrong. We write because we have something to communicate, we have a story to tell. And self-publishing is one of the tools that can be used to help you do that. It also happens to be one that could generate income. More importantly, it’s a tool you can use to share ideas and whatever God puts on your heart. If you approach self-publishing with a solid strategy to guide you, then you can substantially expand the reach of your voice.

Speak

Giving a hearty welcome to Zondervan today!

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I wanted to quit the internet again today.

Surely, you’ve had these days, too. Right? Where the dialogue over the controversy du jour has reached fever pitch and everyone is screaming at everyone in 140 characters or less? You know what I’m talking about. And it’s REALLY easy to get sucked in. I did for about five minutes, but then I closed the lid on my laptop and walked away slowly. As soon as the laptop shut, it felt like the muscles in my chest released, I took a deep breath and could pull my shoulders back. Even my posture when observing internet battles is defeating.

This week, it was a Supreme Court ruling. Tomorrow, it could be a careless tweet or blog post from a famous pastor. Or maybe an off-color remark from a celebrity. It’s always something, it’s always loud, and it’s always exhausting.

I don’t want to suggest that productive dialogue can’t happen in social media. Surely not. I think some of the best and most thoughtful conversations and commentary are happening online these days. But for some reason, our screens provide us with a false sense of anonymity and security, both of which seems to give the illusion that we have carte blanche to say whatever we want, however we want. We forget that behind the screens, there are real people with real emotions and most importantly, real stories that inform those closely-held opinions.

None of us are immune to our own experience. We all have rose-colored glasses on, and when it comes to any host of issues, none of us are truly “objective.” Our stories – everything that we’ve been through in our lives – directly informs our opinions, politics and theology. The problem with the sound-bite culture of the internet is that there’s very little space to explain and understand each other’s stories in their full context.

This is where blogging, along with events like Allume, come in.

Blogging is sort of a funky platform. It’s got all the draws of the fast-paced culture of the internet (nobody likes to read 1500 word blog posts, am I right?), but it provides space for more nuance and dialogue, in a way that Twitter and Facebook can’t. Rather than 140 characters, you’ve got around 1,000 words to paint a picture, give context and most importantly, be vulnerable with people around the world in an instant. The blog can be on of the most powerful & effective places for you and others to tell and listen to each others’ stories.

Because really, that’s what it all boils down to. Our stories. It’s the stuff we’re all made of, the thread that runs through each of us. We all have a story. We’ve heard a lot about Story lately, it’s a pretty big buzzword in Christian culture these days. But I think it’s become popular because it’s actually really important. When we start being vulnerable and honest with the people around us (yes, even on the internet!) with the things we’ve been through, the ways we fail, the way Jesus has shaped us, it simply opens up the door for someone else to say, “Hey, me too!”

The culture of the internet has worked like a vacuum, violently sucking the life and humanness out of our cultural issues, out of our politics and out of our theology. They’ve become empty, hollow, full of cliché and void of empathy. By sharing and listening to each others stories, it injects the person back into the conversation. All of a sudden, we’re not just talking about a Supreme Court decision anymore, we’re talking about an actual person that was affected. It changes the game entirely.

I think it’s time for us to start changing the game in a big way. As you start to prepare for your time at Allume, I pray that you would be given a new sense of bravery and vulnerability. I pray that you would begin to write with a little more gusto, a little more power, a little more courage.

I pray that bravery gives you the courage to share pieces of yourself that could open the door for someone else to walk through and say, “Hey, me too!” And during your time at Allume, I pray that you are equipped to tell your stories in prophetic new ways.

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Nish Weiseth is an author, storyteller, speaker, advocate, and trouble maker with a serious Dr. Pepper addiction and affinity for Texas barbecue. She’s amazing at talking about herself in the third person. It makes her feel important. Her first book, “Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World” is being published by Zondervan and will be released in August of 2014. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and two kids.

 

Let’s Be Friends: 3 Ways to Connect with a Christian Publisher {Giveaway!}

 

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I’ve fallen in love in Ireland. I’ve rocked orphans in South Africa. I’ve felt the earth quake beneath my feet in Haiti. It’s amazing where books can take you and so far this year Ambassador International titles have transported me to some amazing places, opening my eyes to God’s story around the world.

Our company’s story starts nearly 35 years ago, in the dream of a young father in Northern Ireland who imagined magnifying Christ and promoting His gospel by publishing books. At its core, Samuel Lowry’s vision for Ambassador International was always to create products that would strengthen believers in their walk with Him and direct the lost to the way of salvation. Now we have offices in the US and Northern Ireland, distribution partners on four continents and our books are in the hands of readers around the world.

Ambassador International is excited to take part in the upcoming Allume conference, held right in our beautiful community of Greenville, South Carolina. Just as the goal of Allume is to help kindred spirits connect, learn and grow, Ambassador International is always looking for new partners who share our mission of using God-given talents to further the Great Commission. Here are three ways you may be interested in getting involved with us:

1. Apply for the Ambassador Blogger Review Team: Our blogger review team has grown to include hundreds of bloggers and we’re always looking for more people to join. Whether you’re interested in discovering the next great Christian novel or reviewing our latest cookbook, we’re searching for people who love to read and who love to tell others about what they’re reading. It’s a great way to score free books just for sharing your honest opinion. You can apply at http://ambassador-international.com/about/blogger-sign-up/.

2. Submit Your Manuscript. Do you have a dream of becoming a published author? Ambassador makes it easy for writers to submit manuscripts by visiting http://ambassador-international.com/getwepublished/submission-guidelines/. We work directly with new authors regularly and welcome the opportunity to discuss your project.

3. Stay Connected. We’d love to keep you posted about our weekly $.99 ebook sales, promotions and giveaways. We’ll even give you a free ebook just for signing up for our email list. Visit our website to get a free copy of Treasure of Daily Devotions.

Speaking of giveaways, to celebrate our first experience sponsoring the amazing Allume conference, we’re giving away a selection of brand new Ambassador books. One random winner will receive a library of Ambassador titles including:

 

  • Hot Chocolate in June, the true story of an accountant-turned-adventurer who finds faith and love in South Africa.
  • Declutter Now Study Guide, an 8-week journey for clearing clutter in all areas of life, from closets to careers, finances to feelings.
  • To Comfort a King, an unforgettable fictional story of the little-known woman in the Bible called to comfort King David.
  • Beauty From Ashes, the heart-wrenching eyewitness account of the 2010 Haiti earthquake from an orphanage worker and the 152 children in her care.
  • A Memory Worth Dying For, a nail-biting thriller that follows Marti Rushing’s attempt to stay a step ahead of her stalker.

To enter, leave a comment telling us which of those books sounds most intriguing to you! And win or lose, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with you online or at the Allume Conference.

Fine Print:

Please be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win.

Giveaway will end Friday at 11:59 EST.

speaker interview with carey bailey

Our friend and speaker, Carey Bailey is no stranger to most of you, but if you haven’t met her.. well, we just have to change that!  Carey is our Allume Creative Director, but before that she is a wife, mom, friend, and talented Life Coach.  Carey combines her expertise in life coaching with a passion for encouraging and inspiring women to live full lives to the glory of the Lord.  She is generous, kind, honest, and brings a real wisdom to Allume on how to make the most of this life that we are living!

Allume Family, enjoy getting to know Carey Bailey!

Carey Bailey - Allume 2014

1. What was your favorite food as a kid?

Melted cheese on a flour tortilla with a side of home cooked pinto beans in a tea cup with a dash of salt. Mmmmmm…the memories flooding me are so good right now.

2. What chore do you despise the most?

Laundry. I worked outside of the home till this last year and my sweet husband did the laundry for the first 7 years of our marriage. Now that I am working in the home I took on the laundry. IT.HAS.NO.END!!!!

3. If you could learn to do anything what would it be?

To play the drums. Like for real. Being a drummer in a cool chick rock band is on my dreams list.

 4. What do you do with 30 minutes of free time?

Really? 30 mins. What can you do in 30 minutes? I guess I would organize something. One of my priorities for the year is to have an organized life. I find if I give myself a small amount of time to tackle just one thing a week it pays off.

5. What would the dream birthday present be?

A trip. Give me an experience over a physical gift any day! Now what kind of trip is hard to say. I would take a week at Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson, a cruise , a weekend of shows and sightseeing in NYC, or give me a staycation in Phoenix. It is all good!

 6. What is something new you learned last week?

I learned you can take the outside of a Clarisonic brush off and just use the inside to get into the hard to get a spots real good! I was excited!

7. What do you miss most about being a kid?

I miss doing Science Fair projects. I love the learning side of it but I mostly loved creating the presentation board and table. My favorite one was in the 4th grade when I figuring out why you are right side up on one side the spoon and upside down on the other side of a spoon. Do you know why?

8. What are your 5 favorite books?
Harry Potter Series (that counts as 1, right?)
True Faced – John Lynch
Dangerous Wonder – Mike Yaconelli
Revolutionary Parenting – George Barna
ANYTHING Henri Nouwen

 

Hop over and visit Carey at her Website /// Facebook /// Twitter /// Pinterest /// Instagram

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Creating Vi Bella: a Beautiful Life

Today I want to introduce you to Allume Sponsor, Vi Bella.

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Vi Bella is more than just a jewelry company—it’s a transformative life cycle.

 

Vi Bella grew out of a trip to Haiti in June 2010. A severe earthquake had devastated Port-au-Prince just five months earlier. Vi Bella founder, Julie Hulstein, was overwhelmed by the desperate living conditions that thousands of Haitians were and are living in. The foreign aid Haiti received after the quake helped save some lives, but it did not address the causes underlying this heart-wrenching poverty. Haitians needed good jobs to empower them. To release themselves from the cycle of poverty.

 

As Julie and the mission team spent more time with their new Haitian brothers and sisters, they realized many Haitians had been living in extreme poverty for decades. Jobs were and still are scarce. Many Haitians could barely afford to feed their families let alone pay for school, clothing or housing.

 

Julie prayed God would provide a better life for her new friends through employment. In April 2011, God answered these prayers with Vi Bella. Vi Bella means Beautiful Life, and our team is helping to create beautiful lives by providing life-changing jobs for people in need.

 

Julie spent time researching and learning essential jewelry making skills to help make this business a reality. Through this research, we noticed that beautiful places like Haiti were littered with trash. By taking this trash and upcycling it into unique handmade jewelry, we can create beautiful lives for our artisans and beautiful environments for them to live in. Today, we have many skilled artisans in Haiti, Mexico and the US making beautiful jewelry for you.

 

Making jewelry is a job our artisans can be proud of. Vi Bella artisans have a safe, encouraging work environment to develop their skill sets and to provide for their families. “I love Vi Bella! It has given me importance and skills I never knew I had,” says Maguy, one of our talented Haitian artisans.

 

Each day, in addition to making jewelry, artisans can choose to participate in a Bible study to support their spiritual needs. This positive environment has drawn the women closer together. Marie Therese, another Haitian artisan, shares, “At Vi Bella we live as sisters and share all things, including each others’ joys and burdens.”

 

Through their hard work, the artisans have put roofs over their heads, put food on their tables and have sent their children to school. They have restored their dignity and released themselves from poverty through their employment at Vi Bella.

 

We said “Yes!” to the inspiration, the dream, the mission of Vi Bella. You can join the cycle of transformation, too! Purchase Vi Bella jewelry, host a Beautiful Life Gathering, become a Beautiful Life Ambassador, share our story. Join us on this journey to create Vi Bella: Beautiful Life for people all over the world.

 

Today, we’d like to give away two sets from our new line of jewelry. The Reagan Necklace is a stunning statement piece featuring paper beads handmade by artisans in Mexico. Sarai (left), the Bible study leader in Mexico, is modeling the Reagan and the Crimson Earrings. The Sienna Necklace and Earrings, modeled by Maguy (right) from Haiti, are fun, trendy pieces for fall.

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Enter to win free Vi Bella Jewelry by leaving a comment sharing WHO or WHAT has made your life beautiful. One winner will be selected at random to receive both the Sienna Necklace/Earrings set and the Reagan Necklace/Crimson Earrings set.

Fine Print

Please be sure to leave your email address so we have a way of contacting you if you win.

Giveaway ends Saturday at 11:59 EST.

Saying Yes to What is Best.. (And a BIG Announcement)

The Best Yes

A couple of days ago, I was super excited to receive in the mail an advanced reader’s copy of my friend Lysa Terkeurst’s new book, “The Best Yes.”  And while I can’t wait to finish the whole book, the title struck me immediately and I put a sticker from the box that says “Is this my best yes?” directly onto the back of my phone.  Because let’s be honest….if one of my babes is tugging at my shirt needing snuggles and some time with me, I often need to put the phone down with all of its apps and emails and social media pulls.  It is just not my best yes.

But it’s not only our phones that beg that question of us either.  It’s our time, our relationships, and our commitments that can force us into not being able to give our best yesses to the people or things that deserve them.  In her book, Lysa says “The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep.  The schedule you keep determines the life you live.  And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.”  Annie Dillard puts it this way, “How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.”

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live stressed and overwhelmed with an underwhelmed soul…and I don’t want the people I love to live like that either.  I want to spend my days in ways that testify to a life well lived.  But, if we can’t say the hard “no’s” sometimes, then we need to know that can also prevent us from the capacity to give our best yes.

So when my dear friend Ann Voskamp wrote me very recently and said that as much as she adores and cherishes Allume, for this time in their family, it just isn’t their best yes, I blessed her with all the blessings of our entire community and told her we need the examples of more women being willing to say the hard “No”, so that they can walk in the best “Yes”.  What this means for us is that we will sadly not have the pleasure of hosting sweet Ann for what would have been her 5th Allume.  But… what it means also is that we support one of our sisters in releasing her to being able to follow the Lord in obedience to say her best “Yes” in the place that needs it most.

And while no one would dare to say that any one of God’s children is replaceable (and certainly we all agree that Ann is one-of-a-kind), we do have the pleasure of bringing someone new into our community to keynote at Allume this fall.  Because don’t you know that the Lord loves to give his children good gifts, and those good gifts DO extend to the opportunities we have to hear his own speak and honor him?!

In one week I received separate messages from an old high school friend, Anna, who is a fabulously talented makeup artist in LA, and my dear friend and literary agent, Don Jacobson, both telling me that I just had to meet their friend Sarah Dubbeldam.  Don has known Sarah for years as a friend of his daughter, and Anna is the beauty editor for the stunningly gorgeous magazine that Sarah is the editor-in-chief of called Darling.  Sarah and I finally got to connect, and all the while I’ve continued praying that the Lord would make clear his plans for Allume this year.  After Sarah and I got off the phone, we both just knew that there was something special that the Lord was doing, but neither of us knew quite what it was.

So here we are now.  Our Ann gets to give her best yes to her family… paving the way for Sarah to give her best yes to us!

Friends, get super excited because you’re in for a treat this fall when we have the pleasure of presenting to you our friend, Sarah Dubbeldam.

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Sarah Dubbeldam is the founder and Editor in Chief of Darling Magazine, an artistic quarterly publication that seeks to broaden the “ideals” of beauty in media and speak real, time-tested wisdom to women. Now recognized across the nation in over 100 retailers such as Whole Foods, Nordstrom and Anthropologie, the magazine is broadening into a social media movement with it’s “no Photoshop” policy and call for women to know their true worth. Sarah and her team are most excited about Darling’s recent partnership with International Justice Mission to help eradicate sex trafficking in South America. Sarah lives with her husband Steve, the CEO of Darling, in Los Angeles, California.

Connect with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and make sure too to check out Darling!  Get ready to swoon friends…it’s stunningly beautiful and fully encouraging!

*And while we’re talking about it, What do you need to say no to, in order to give your best yes? We’d love for you to share in the comments below.  (Make sure to check out Lysa’s book, “The Best Yes” available HERE! and enjoy “The Best Yes” blog tour coming soon too!)

We want YOU!

The first year I attended Allume, I knew NO. ONE. I walked into the ballroom filled with a couple hundred women on Thursday night and sat at dinner with 7 complete strangers. I was quickly put at ease and enjoyed getting to know the women around me, but I felt really nervous at first.

Fast forward to the next year. I knew a few more attendees and made arrangements to meet-up with some of them, but also realized that there were women volunteering during the conference too. I thought it would be neat to participate if I was able to attend the conference again. Those women seemed to be having so much fun.

Last year, in 2013, I DID get to attend Allume again. And this time, I volunteered to help stuff gift bags on Wednesday afternoon and with registration on Thursday. I. Had. A. Blast! It was so fun to be involved and get a chance to meet some new people. It’s amazing what being on a mission together can do for building relationships and setting people at ease.

And the truth is that we need your help. We have a fantastic Allume team, but with 450 in attendance at this conference, there is just no way that we can get everything done without some extra hands on deck.

So we are asking for your help. We need you, we want you, and we suspect you need each other too. It’s what being in a community is about…being on mission, loving, and serving together. And that’s what we are… a community of women on various missions all intersecting for the same ultimate purpose for a weekend.

So in case you need it, here are our top 4 reasons to volunteer at Allume this year:

  1. You get to meet people. Volunteering is a wonderful way to connect if you are attending the conference alone or if you’re just wanting to be a part of all the fun. And…if you are a bit of an introvert, it is a GREAT way to softly and carefully put “your toes in the water” without feeling like you are going to drown!
  1. There is a sense of ownership and belonging that comes with volunteering. You feel a “part” of the conference because you ARE! We may have a team putting things together throughout the year, but this is about all of us and what God can do through us, individually and together as a community.
  1. When we give of ourselves ,we are blessed…we are changed. We break down barriers and allow God’s grace to fill our lives.
  1. It’s really fun! For real…. We have a blast and know that you will too!

We need a lot of volunteers at Allume. Here are some of the spaces that we need your help:

  • Filling gift bags on Wednesday afternoon.
  • Unpack & set-up on Wednesday.
  • Welcome and Hospitality – the registration desk Thursday afternoon.
  • Assistance at the author book signing tables.
  • Merchandise tables (i.e. t-shirts, CDs, etc.) Also for our musical guests. (1 hour before and after the concert.)
  • Tear-down on Saturday.
  • Sponsor care and hospitality
  • Speaker & Sponsor registration.
  • Prayer Team and Encouragers. Be willing to pray with and encourage those that come to receive prayer in the Prayer Room.

If your schedule allows, consider arriving Wednesday evening or early on Thursday. It is an energized atmosphere as our space in the hotel is transformed to “our space!” And don’t forget that we have some special pre-conference workshops that you don’t want to miss either!

Would you consider volunteering at Allume this year? If so, please head over to this google form for me and register! It will only take a couple of minutes, I promise!

We hope that you will consider volunteering this year at Allume! Volunteers are early relationship builders for the conference and we think might even have the most fun! We are on a mission together to be ambassadors for “real light living!” Can’t wait to see you in October!