Friday, November 8, 2013

At the masters feet

We have a busy day today. But not in the usual busy way. We have an invitation to come and sit and listen at a banquet that I fear will change our lives. It's only a dinner- a fundraiser- an informational. It's only one night, but this conversation is one that we have needed to begin, and these people, our inviters, are who we need to ask the hard questions. They have paved a road we want to walk but first we must come, and sit. To listen. 
When we speak of Martha and Mary and we hear The Lord tell Martha that Mary has chosen the better portion, I wonder if Mary had come in a different way, would he have said the same? If Mary came distracted, if she came with an agenda, if she came with her own plans, if she came in protest ready to argue, if she came unfocused - doodling in the sand, if she came to hide a problem, if she came to avoid her duties- to get out of that chore- would he have said the same? Because our father, the one who made the stars, he knows our secrets. He knows our reasons. Mary came to worship. She came to adore, to enter in to his goodness, to sit at his feet and listen.  As we sort out our busy, make priorities and try to make sense of this crazy busy world, we have to start with our crazy busy heart. Our idol filled, broken and distracted secret place. We have to come to his feet to hear, not to hide, or plan, or protest. He does not get us out of our duties, he is our duty and our joy. We must come, not as a pet on a pillow taking opportunity of a  comfortable moment, but as a woman in love with her maker. A woman ready to set it all aside to listen. To hear. 

"Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, with many a doubt
Fightings and fears within, without, O lamb of God, I come,  I come."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Because they don't stay little

Sometimes it hits you all too hard that your baby is not really a baby anymore. Maybe it was the joke he cracked, that was really funny OR maybe he got himself dressed and ready to go without any help. Maybe he made a friend or told you about his day in perfect detail. It might have been that word he used to say that was so beautifully wrong that to hear him say it correctly sorta breaks your heart. This was one of those mornings. My little guy. Possibly my last baby. So big. So fast. TOO fast. So I skipped my meeting. I left the dishes on the counter. I planned no dinner. This morning I took my pumpkin to see pumpkins, and goats, and bunnies. To be little, for even just one more morning of little memories. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

And the winner is....

MindySue!! Congrats on winning! Look for an email from me soon :). Thanks everyone for all the entries and your support of noonday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Oh Noonday. How I've fallen in love. My journey with Noonday is still so new. Only about three months in so far, but let me tell you... my boats been rocked. On a daily basis you can find me wearing items I've never worn before, saying things I've never said, and doing things I've never done.
I'm that girl who is all dolled up and approaching people.  On many occasions I've turned to my husband and said "who is she?!" But y'all, it feels great! I finally feel like ( beyond my family and church) I have a purpose, and one that brings me great joy. Tomorrow I get to host my first adoption fundraiser, and I could not be more excited! The Gould Family have been friends of ours for quite a while now. Heather took our awesome family photos. I've had the privilege of watching their adoption from very early stages, and I am honored to get to help them raise money to bring their little girl, Zoe home from Ethiopia soon. It has not been easy, as no adoption ever is. Tomorrow, with the help of Noonday I hope to help make at least this week a little easier. Did you know you can donate your hostess rewards to an adopting family? Noonday loves adoption. In fact, it started because of adoption. Today Noonday will provide adopting families with 10% of any trunk shows final sales! You can even hold an adoption for a friend who's adopting and still earn half priced items for yourself! Tomorrow we will gather with lots of friends and talk... about adoption, and orphans, and preventing crisis. We get to talk about solutions. We get to create solutions. All while looking beautiful and laughing, tons. This is so important I'm making a weekend out of it and driving the three and half hours. My husband is staying home from work to keep the kids. It was an easy choice, because its worth it. Just worth it.

Interested in shopping for adoption? Check out my noonday website and see the amazing pieces that can help bring Zoe home.
Heather is also selling some amazing jewelry that she is making herself out of paper beads. Its fantastic and goes directly to their funds.

This post, although LATE (so sorry) is part of a Noonday blog train. You can check out yesterdays blog HERE and tomorrows HERE. There are some awesome prizes being given away!! Prize? OH YEAH. I've got one to! Comment on this post, share it on Facebook or like my facebook page (Emily Tilsen Noonday Ambassador) to be entered to win. Just be sure to comment here and tell me what you did so you can get up to three entries. I'll be drawing next Friday(the 4th) for either the Metallic Pearl earrings or metallic pearl necklace, made in Ethiopia,  YOUR CHOICE! To celebrate sweet Zoe and her awesome family.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The charity that was not

When I graduated college: young, single and with a babe in arms, I moved home with my parents. After a six month adjustment period I began seeking work. I had a baby I needed to provide for. I must have responded to dozens of ads for job positions, but one that called back was for an "entry level management position in a charity". It sounded like something right up my alley so I dressed myself up and went to that interview. The waiting room was in a business office in a storage park. That should have been my first clue but this was for charity, right? The waiting room was FULL, of a wide variety of people, and a there was a constant stream into the office. When I was ushered in, two handsome, well dressed young men spent about two minutes reviewing my resume and announced I was perfect. In fact, I was so perfect for this job that I would be a manager. But first I needed to just do a few days of on the job training, but then I would definitely be a manager. So I showed up for my first day dressed to the nines, and terrified. I was led by two women into an older model sedan full of fast food wrappers and told we were going to a job site, but first Mickey D's. So, surrounded by French fries we  headed off to my dream job. We arrived at an office Depot and took a folding table inside the front doors. I was told we were selling toys to raise money for, well lets just call it super sad children's charity X. Who we were "raising money for" was a real organization so it seemed to add up right. I'd heard of them, happy to support them right? Uh... then they started prompting me.. "Tell people they can save babies by buying this {piece of crap coloring book}". "Tell people sick children get medicine when they buy {this dollar store race car}." "Be pushy" "stand in their way" "speak loudly!" At some point I asked, THE question... well..." how much DOES this charity receive from us anyway?" LAUGHING, like it was great fun that the naïve college girl was asking that question,. they told me the shocking truth. 1-2%. The people buying the items assumed it all went to the charity. Within the first hour I had snuck outside, called my Daddy and gotten myself as far away from those criminals as possible. The sad reality friends, is that charity can be difficult to believe. There are so many organizations with less than honest motives that it can be difficult to know WHO to trust. The other issue, that I'm working very hard to understand is how to know when charity is helpful. I'm currently reading When Helping Hurts.  This is giving me an entirely new perspective on how we should help the poor and the suffering. There is a difference. There is hope.
 Noonday Collection is NOT a charity. At Noonday artisans from poverty stricken areas are encouraged to use their own skill set, their own interests, to create a product- or more often to improve a product they are already making so that they can sell to earn their own income. By using micro loans, medical assistance, and business and design advice these artisans are gaining control over their own economic status. They receive respect, dignity, compassion and grace while they grow as entrepreneurs, all while earning much more than their local marketplace could pay.  When I ask you to shop Noonday you can trust that your money is going into a business plan that encourages the artisan and pays them well for their work. There is no secret 2% "charity" trying to trick you. I love this video from the Ana art group. We buy our engraved cuff from this group and it is one of my favorites. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Simply losing...

Weight :). It works y'all. Weight watchers meetings member here. Happily on my fourth month and learning some new patterns in my life. After getting a bit off track with the end of summer, I'm back on and have lucked into three happy accident meals in a row. So ill share, but remember these are not those fancy "tested" recipes real bloggers use. Ha! This it how I cook y'all. A bit of this. And a bit of that and we will see what happens ;). 

Masala goulash
Ingredients: 2 cups dry mini penne pasta
2 cups Ground beef/ ground turkey
1 jar Trader joes masala simmer sauce
2 cups green peas

Simmer ground beef/turkey in the masala and then add cooked pasta. Add in peas and cook till warmed through. Devour. 
Approx 9 pts a cup 

Chicken sausage succotash
4 cups frozen corn
2 tbs butter
5 links chicken sausage ( ours comes from sams)
2 cups frozen peas
4 apples chopped tiny

Slice sausage and sauté in butter. ( yum-o). When cooked through ( ours has bits of cheese so its done when the cheese melts) add in corn and apples and cook till corn starts to turn golden and apples are soft. Add in peas and cook till warm. Season to taste. 
Approx 7 pts a cup

This one isn't really a recipe but a product. HEB ( a local grocery chain) was demonstrating this hatch chili stew as part of another recipe so I bought a jar. The jar says to mix with cooked ground beef and simmer. So I did. So delicious. Only 4 pts a cup, so guess who ate two :). 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Celebrating Labor

Labor Day will be here in just a few days. I officially launch my Noonday business the Friday before. Sitting here tonight, completely awash in emotion after hearing from fellow ambassadors about the work they witnessed our artisans do in their home countries this summer- I am struck with the thought that Labor Day weekend may just be the most perfect weekend possible to start my partnership with Noonday. On Monday, many people in our country will take a day of vacation to linger over our right to work. We will eat hot dogs with our family and soak in one final trip to the pool or the lake.  Labor day was created to honor the American worker and to recognize that all greatness in our country comes from the root from those who labor. If only we could remember this for the rest of the world as well. How often do we actually consider the people who make the products we buy? That belt you got for 9.99. Who made it? Or what made it? What is it made out of? What if you could put your belt on in the morning and think, wow... This belt was made by artisans in rural South America. They provide for their families using generationally handed down skills. This belt provides hope to that community and makes my life more beautiful.
 I've worried that my friends and social circle will soon tire of me talking about noonday, but I'm beginning to realize that I have nothing to be ashamed of. That big box store that wants you to buy that belt, plus another and that plastic crap at the doorway ( its only 1$!)... They are the ones hawking their carpet bag. Lets look at shopping differently. How can we make our life more beautiful, one smart choice at a time? How can we change the future for a woman in Uganda or a family in India? We can educate ourselves and choose to be choosy. We can celebrate the beautiful labor of artisans who we can in turn make sure are receiving a fair wage for their efforts. We can demand that they work in safe and healthy conditions and we can decide that it's okay to talk about these big topics without judgment or fear. I'm ready to start the discussion, who wants to join me?
Come visit my website this week. Read about the artisans and read some of the product descriptions. It will blow you away when you really consider the work, the labor, required to produce these beautiful items. If you are local, or even with a few hours of travel, I would LOVE to talk to you about hosting a trunk show. I promise, it will be unlike any trunk show you have ever seen.
The Wildflower Belt                                        

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A new day, a new year

The past few weeks have been getting tough. Summer does that, you know? We get a little too cozy with one another, and way too far out of our routines. Needless to say the boys and I are ready for school to begin... Tomorrow!! My brain is extremely single minded. I think it's one way I adapted to having ADHD over the years. I simply can not handle too much on my plate. When we move I try to step up our involvement outside of the home a little bit at a time. This summer was the exception. All of a sudden we are "all in" in many areas. I've joined Weight Watchers, which has been fantastic. It's working! Partly because we also joined a gym. Because the gym is costly I actually go so I feel less guilty ;). The hubs and I have both stepped up our volunteering at church. On top of that I've thrown myself completely into Noonday. I adore the work I get to do with Noonday, but it absorbs almost all of my brain space. All of it. So even though we are going through the motions of buying school supplies, new shoes, haircuts, meet the teacher, I feel a bit caught off guard tonight. First day eve. My big guy starts intermediate school. Lockers, A B or C lunch, changing classes 7 times a day, and orchestra. Um, what? And my middle guy, all of 6 years old starts first grade, which he still says " firthst."  Last year first day came shortly after we moved here. Getting them dressed and our the door was a victory. I love making a special day extra special though so after bedtime tonight the hubs and I took 20 mins to throw together a tablescape to make tomorrow morning feel a bit special. Simple breakfast tacos and chocolate milk will seal the deal. Then it's party time for mommy and Silas. We are so ready for this semester! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Moody day three, and that's a wrap

Today we had a group breakfast with the other families from work. Then the boys and I played at the Moody splash pad. Then naps for littles, a workout in the super awesome gym for mommy, room service (the hotel  turned a pizza into something incredible for the boys with just a tray and flowers ). Then on to The Strand where we had treats at La kings and dinner on the bay. The beach was calling so we finished off our evening getting super muddy on the sea wall. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Moody Moody day two

Moody Moody

My husband was required to attend a leadership conference with the other management people in his office so we all were invited to come to Moody Gardens in Galveston. I am loving the opportunity to sleep in an awesome hotel room and enjoy a break from it all for a few days. Here's a few moments from our trip thus far. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Many years ago, in college, I took a series of courses about Africa. They began as courses that fulfilled several requirements and therefore allowed me to keep my schedule open. They grew into me confessing to my professor that I would never make an A in his class, but I needed his lectures so please don't kick me out. My eyes were opened to a history so deep and tragic and beautiful and amazing and awful and complex and real that I could not look away. I began to develop a desire to go. When a relationship began to crumble and a roommate had a crazy connection to the missionaries that visited my church when I was younger, I made a plan. Isn't life like that? We get desires, pure heart desires, but then we forget we live HIS plan and not ours. I devised a plan where after graduation I would go visit my roommate's aunt who was serving as an English teacher in Tanzania. I signed up for an extra Africa class and planned on getting my professors input in my preparations as he often lives in Tanzania himself. I would then come home and fund raise and officially join a ministry as a missionary on my own. Good plan, right? It was all great and on track until a series of choices led me to wake up one day in August of my Senior year of college pregnant and with no plan of my own. I thought losing Africa was God being just. I thought it was him disciplining me. I moved on, became a Mama, was rescued by my husband and you can read the rest on this blog if you don't get carpal tunnel from clicking "Previous" many hundreds of times. The truth is, God is just. He IS  justice. Losing Africa was not a punishment but part of his amazing wonderful glorious plan for me. Ten years later and he has revealed an amazing opportunity. One I simply could not pass up.

I have become an Ambassador for The Noonday Collection. Through this incredible organization I get to partner directly with artisans all over the world. Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda. This heart of Africa I get to now pour my heart into. These people with a history so big: I get to learn their individual life  stories, and wear their story. Noonday works with artisans and co-ops and organizations that bring the beautiful out of the ashes and turn broken lives into productive artist lives. The men and women who make the jewelry and shoes and accessories I am privileged  to wear have hope where there was once despair. One of my favorite artisan groups is called The Beza Entoto Outreach. There, a group of HIV positive artisans in Ethiopia make amazing jewelry out of beads that have been created out of artillery shells and weapons that farmers find in their fields. I am blown away every time I wear my Bethe Rope necklace. It is such a beautiful reminder to me. God took my plans, and my mess, and reformed it into the amazing life I now lead. This jewelry, reformed from objects of war and hatred and evil are reformed into beauty. These artisans are reclaimed through their work. New creatures with hope and joy and beauty.

I am honored, and terrified. But God writes my plan now. I can not wait to see where this goes.  Will you take a moment and come on over to my website? Browse around and consider how you might partner with me to bring these stories to life in our communities.