A Dragon Master teaches us to give

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You may have already seen the story of Santino and his dragons on Facebook or the Today Show, but I couldn’t resist spreading the word about this amazing boy and his business. Not only is this a worthwhile cause, but looking through the site gave me a chance to talk with my boys about how God created each of us (our similarities and differences) and having compassion, an open mind and a loving heart. All while they picked out three favorite dragon prints and begged for their own t-shirts.

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This is the story of Santino, a 10 year boy, boldly nicknamed “The Dragon Master” by his younger brother. A story that I’m sure is full, but is brought to light because of his dragon drawings. Santino was diagnosed with autism at age 5. One way that he enjoyed expressing himself was through drawing dragons. So after being teased one day, his parents bought him a blank white t-shirt and markers in order to help work through his emotions. As a mom to boys, I find this is brilliant on so many levels, as every day is an attempt to understand my children and help them express themselves.

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After a Facebook post from Lisa, Santino’s mom, of him working on a t-shirt went viral and brought in over 100 orders, you can now shop for your own dragon shirts on Santino’s Dragon Drawings website.

“Santino decided to donate half of his money to the Center for Autism, a nonprofit that Lisa said has changed her son’s life by teaching him how to communicate his feelings, problem-solve and understand social cues.

“I don’t want to be the only one who gets the money,” Santino said of why he chose to donate his proceeds. “I want to help other kids with autism.”

Let’s support Santino and his mission to help other kids with autism. Let’s learn from Santino’s generous heart.

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When life gives you lemons, make some limoncello to share with friends & strangers.

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As I mentioned previously, I am rebranding Ginger Lane to Bevy. Still Goods for Good, but with the goal of impacting MORE. But there is more to the story. When I heard God’s whispers that He wanted MORE, I was deep into a time of undiagnosed physical pain that prevented me from sewing.  Orders were coming in, my bags were in their first store, trunk shows were planned. But I got to the point that I couldn’t sew without tears streaming down my face due to pain, weakness and numbness.

So I had to stop. I had to accept that I couldn’t keep going. I had to tell people “I’m sorry”, “I can’t fulfill my promise”. I didn’t know what was wrong, so I just had to hope that people would trust me and that I wasn’t just flaking. This pain went on for a year. And the days were filled with doctor’s visits and tests, instead of creating. A partial diagnosis came, horrible medication was given, but the time of stillness gave me a lot of time to pray.

God had so clearly answered prayers with Ginger Lane. I knew that He created me to make, to design, to have a philanthropic company. So why was it all taken away? He kept whispering to me that He wanted MORE. He wanted me to grow the business, to outsource the sewing so that others would have jobs, to build community, to keep giving.

So here we are. Bevy. Goods for Good. A bevy of people, a community, can do great things. I am busy sourcing ethical leathers for our clutches. Busy finding manufactures that help local US towns with jobs. Busy planning ways to continue the giving cycle with every purchase. And so grateful to have you as part of our community.

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Ginger Lane is now BEVY!

Over the last year, God has continued to whisper to me about the journey He wants me to take. I’ve been blessed by the support for my handmade shop Ginger Lane, but I kept hearing Him say He wanted MORE. Less me, more community, so the name is now BEVY*. Still Goods for Good.

I am deep in the process of learning about the sustainable and ethical fashion world in order to make a greater impact. The goal is to create jobs by producing the bags in the US, create community for the makers and customers, to give love & hope.

Join me on this journey by signing up for the newsletter (I promise not to spam!) and be the first to know when we launch, get shop discounts and the occasional joke.

*Why BEVY? With the goal of community, we want to bring together makers & customers. A bevy of women to support one another, share their stories, give love and compassion.

Visit BEVY Goods

AnnouncingBEVY

A year and a gift for you

(psst….there’s a gift from me to you at the end of the post)

Ginger Lane

One year ago today, my husband and I and some friends were sitting at the Rend Collective/Tenth Ave North concert when I felt a tap on the shoulder. The woman behind me wanted to see my bag. One that I had just made a few hours earlier. She passed it to her friends, gave sweet compliments and said she needed one just like it. At the next break, she handed me her card and asked me to make her one.

Then one of the lead singers came out to discuss Compassion and child sponsorship and everything just clicked. God answered all of my questions and prayers together in one instant. Personal relationships and connecting with people is where my heart is. Yes. It just made sense that we would give back by building relationships with children all over the world.

Our sweet girl is in Rwanda. It is such a joy to learn all about her. She wants to be a businesswoman and a great preacher. She knows about you all, how you are praying for her and supporting her. I have huge dreams about expanding the sponsorships, but until we can, we are also giving a portion of all proceeds to Compassion International. Please consider sponsoring a child.

I am overwhelmingly grateful to all who have been part of this Ginger Lane journey over the past year. I never would have dreamed that it would be a real business with and hundreds of bags sewn and photoshoots and customers and goals and trunk shows.

Ginger Lane

Ginger Lane

Ginger Lane

Ginger Lane

Ginger Lane

Ginger Lane

Ginger Lane

The morals of the story? 

God likes to surprise us. Be patient and Trust. His plan for launching my business was a thousand times more fun and encouraging than if I pushed my way and tried in vain to make something happen on my own.

The best free and lasting gift? A genuine compliment. It is selfless for the giver. And highly encouraging for the receiver. Just her words and excitement have carried me through the past year.

Ginger Lane

As a THANK YOU, go to GingerLaneGoods.Etsy.com and enjoy 20% off for the rest of April.

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(All photographs were taken by Cara Soulia Photography. Read more about how gives back with her photography. All of the models are my friends. To whom I am so grateful for their support on this Ginger Lane journey!)

Giving back through photos ~Cara Soulia Photography

How precious are these children and amazing these photographs? The photographer, Cara, just happens to be a friend of mine from college, with whom I’m so excited to have to reconnected with recently. Cara Soulia Photography is a Boston-area photography who specializes in photographing babies, children and families. Not only does she make giving back to the community the heart of her business, but she also lives what she says and makes giving back a priority with her kids.

Cara’s heart for giving is such a meaningful reminder that we have all been given gifts and talents that can be used to help others. 

And I can say from personal experience, she is such a pleasure to work with. Cara photographed my Ginger Lane collection. Blog post and photos to come. But you’ll find sneak peek at the end of this post!

Cara Soulia Photography

Cara Soulia Photography

“I donate my photography services to Cradles To Crayons, which provides homeless and low-income children ages 0-12 the essential items they need to thrive. Each December, I photograph the organization’s biggest fundraising event: the Un-Gala. I love this event because kids participate and it is a hands-on family volunteering experience. In 2012, I brought my own family to volunteer, while I photographed the event. It was so fun to be there altogether and it was a fantastic way to introduce my kids to giving back and helping others.

Separate from the Un-Gala, I have also volunteered with my son at the C2C warehouse sorting children’s clothes. It was there that I got the idea to donate a portion of my fall mini-session proceeds to purchasing new socks & underwear for C2C.”

Cara Soulia Photography

Cara Soulia Photography

In addition to donating her time and talent to Cradles to Crayons, Cara also donates her photography to Solutions at Work, a local nonprofit that helps homeless and low-income people break the cycle of poverty by providing resources and opportunities.

“On several occasions, I have photographed participants shopping in the Solutionswear store and in the Children’s Clothing Exchange. I also photograph their annual Vase Glazing event, where Solutions at Work child participants paint vases which are raffled off at their annual gala. My favorite thing about this event is seeing children, who have been helped by Solutions at Work in the past, paying it forward to support the organization.”

Looking for a way to support Solutions at Work? Donate professional attire, computers or children’s gear or make a financial gift.

Cara Soulia Photography

Cara and Wally at Cradles to Crayons

“I love to give back to organizations that have an emphasis on helping children and families, because these are the causes that are closest to my heart. I am always on the lookout for new opportunities for local giving. I am currently brainstorming a Mother’s Day event which will include a charitable component!”

Sign up for the Cara Soulia Photography newsletter to stay in the loop. Or shoot her an email if you’re Interested in learning more about booking a session with her.

Here’s a sneak peek from my Ginger Lane photoshoot with Cara Soulia Photography

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(All photographs courtesy of Cara Soulia Photography)

Sak Saum

The End it Movement has declared today, February 27, Shine Light on Slavery Day. Love the concept and love that they are raising awareness and money for some incredible organizations to end slavery. But they make a great point that “awareness must lead to action”. Ending human trafficking needs more than drawing a red X on your hand one day out of the year.

“This is how the battle against human trafficking will be won – one person, one family, one community at a time.” (Sak Saum, About)

Sak Saum, located in Cambodia, restores the physical, emotional, spiritual, social needs of those rescued from human trafficking. They are “dedicated to the rescue, restoration, transformation and rehabilitation of vulnerable and exploited women and men.” Daily life includes housing, medical attention, vocational training, counseling, studying, worship, community, friendship. In addition, they run a vocational training center that employs, trains and then sell their bags and handmade goods worldwide to support their ministry.  Shop their beautiful products!

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Leap Tote (it’s even on sale!)

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Freedom Wrap Watch

Sak Saum anna cotton

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I am in awe of the women God called to Sak Saum to love and restore the exploited.

Freedom

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I entered 2013 with the blind excitement that God wanted me to use my gifts. To let my light shine. I didn’t know how, but I knew I had to trust Him.

I have a need to create, to design. It is deep within me and had been stifled for many years as my life was in survival mode caring for three babies, then toddlers. I started the year by praying that He show me His plan. And while I waited for an answer, I started creating.

And His plans were much greater than I could ever imagine. He surprised and encouraged me at a Rend Collective (my fave) concert at our church last spring. When the girl sitting behind me tapped my shoulder, complimented my bag (which I had made hours before the show), and asked that I make one for her. My first sale. Quickly thereafter, a friend ordered 9 bags. The orders continued and Ginger Lane was born.

This fall, my small group of amazing, God-loving sisters started the Breaking Free study. Life changing is an understatement – and we’re not even finished! So my prayer and focus of 2014 is freedom. Freedom the enemy’s lies that I’ve let keep me captive. Freedom from false fears that have held me back. Freedom from short-term comforts and idols that ultimately betray. My eyes and heart are focused on the Truth. The Truth that I am a beloved child of God, that He sees me as perfect (not with all these self-imposed flaws), and that my unconditional love, value and worth comes from Him.

A few days ago I was filling out Lara Casey’s Powersheets, when she asked what my greatest fears were and why. Out of habit, I wrote that I was afraid of failure and rejection but then was able to write LIE in the columns next to why. I can’t honestly say that I’m afraid of failure and rejection because it means I’m not worthy or talented or loved or anything. That’s a lie! Even if I “fail” by worldly standards or am rejected, who cares? My worth does not come from the world. My only goal is to glorify God by being the person He created me to be. Freedom.

With freedom, I am fearless.