What We’re Reading While We’re Home

I’m an avid reader, and while the focus of this blog will continue to be fair trade, ethical fashion, and items regarding faith that are on my heart, with most of the students in the country out of school right now because of COVID-19 I’m sharing some of the books we’re reading in my house right now.

I’m not doing a strict curriculum right now, instead I’m giving my kids time to rest for a few days. We’re spending a few hours screen free, about 2 hours exploring online learning sites, and a little bit of time just playing on the computer like they normally would.

I’m working through my LONG To Be Read pile, and thanks to the local library still being open through today I was able to request books online for my kids and then pick them up at the library’s drive through window, while maintaining social distance.

Every day the kids and I have been reading. One reads in a fort the kids built. One reads in a bedroom. I’m finding myself reading outside and enjoying the spring weather.

A few things before I reveal what my kids are reading.
1) My kids both read above grade level and are avid readers
2) I haven’t read any of these books myself
3) I picked these books out based on what I thought they would like + online curriculum suggestions for their ages.
4) My kids are pretty good judges of content and aren’t afraid to say, “This book isn’t approrpriate” and will stop reading it.
5) I have a boy in 7th grade and a girl in 5th grade
6) The list of what my kids are reading is just what we’ve checked out from our public library and does not include items in our home library.

What My Kids Are Reading
To Catch A Cheat by Varian Johnson
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners From 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson
Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel by Avi
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Three Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming
5,000 Miles to Freedom: Ellen and William Craft’s Flight from Slavery by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubacker Bradley
The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

What I’m Reading
Unlike my kids, none of my current books are from the library. My reading list is either what’s on my Kindle or hard copy books stacked up throughout the house. I have an entire shelf on my bookshelf of hard copy books I want to read. March has also been a busy month for book launches. My list is a combination of e-books and the ones I’m realistically expecting to get through in the next 2 weeks.

I keep a running tab of what I’m currently reading on Goodreads and you can find me here: https://www.goodreads.com/heidiaz

Ok, now that that’s done . . .

March Launch Team Reads
These are books I received advanced copies of from the publisher to review.

Made to Move Mountains: How God Uses Our Dreams and Disasters to Accomplish the Impossible by Kristen Welch (Released March 3, 2020)
Talking to Your Kids about Jesus: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent Must Have by Natasha Crain (Releases March 31, 2020)
Blaze of Light: The Inspiring True Story of Green Beret Medic Gary Beikirch, Medal of Honor Recipient by Marcus Brotherton

Kindle Books
ANYTHING by Jenn Faulk. Seriously, she’s my favorite.
Whatever Comes Our Way by Jaycee Weaver
What Makes A Home by Jaycee Weaver

My Next 4 Hard Copy Books to Finish (that aren’t part of a launch team)
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age by David Platt
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us To Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin

Ok, so admittedly I may not get through all of these in the next two weeks! At any one time I generally am working through a Kindle book (that stays on my nightstand), an audio book I listen to in the car while running errands (not right now because I’m staying home), and a hard copy book that I keep in the family room!

My Favorite Ethical Fashion Boutiques & Brands

**This page contains affiliate links. That means if you follow the links and make a purchase/subscribe to a service I may receive compensation for your business. This is at no additional cost you, the consumer. Affiliate links help offset the cost of running this site. Thanks for your understanding and support!**

Yes, I know . . . it seems like every blogger has their own list of favorite sites, but I decided to do my own after a text conversation with a friend in the ethical fashion world who wasn’t aware of a few I’d mentioned. (In my own COVID-19 preparedness today I overbought from some of my favorites to make sure they were still having sales right now. #Oops #NotReally ). I figured . . . if there were groups she wasn’t aware of then there are ones that others aren’t aware of, either.

Except for those listed in the bottom section, these are all boutiques and shops I have personally shopped from.

These are in no particular order. In addition to the few links that are affiliate links (which I shop from regularly), I volunteer as a Mercy House Global Ambassador. Most of these on the list are just boutiques & brands I love and want to drive as much attention to as possible!

One way to get a taste of a variety of items from around the world is through a Fair Trade Friday subscription box. There are a variety of options starting at $12.99/mo including an Earring of the Month, Bracelet of the Month, and the Original Box (my personal favorite!) Many of the brands below are ones I first discovered through Fair Trade Friday.

Many of these groups have wholesale options and I would be happy to put you in touch with the correct person, if you are interested.

Boutiques & Marketplaces
Mercy House Global (Magnolia, TX)
The Lemonade Boutique (Minnesota) Use code FAIRETHICALFRUGAL for an additional 10% off. Not valid with other codes.
Naupaka Store (Maui, Hawaii) Use code FAIRETHICALFRUGAL for an additional 10% off. Not valid with other codes.
Amma’s Umma (Port Angeles, WA)
New Creation VA (Harrisonburg, VA)
Mango + Main (Annapolis, VA)
Shop With A Mission (Glendora, CA)
Redemption Market (Phoenix, AZ)
Bought Beautifully (Sheridan, WY)
Feed My Starving Children Marketplace (Minnesota, Texas, Arizona, Illinois)

Jewelry & Household Items
Papillon Marketplace (Haiti)
HUGG Mission Market (Haiti)
Rahab’s Rope (India)
Village Artisan (India)
Starfish Project (Asia)
Grain of Rice Project (Kenya)
Purpose Jewelry (India, Uganda, Mexico, California)
Sela Designs (Wisconsin)

Clothing, Shoes, and Bags
The Root Collective (Guatemala)
Elegantees (Nepal)
Indigo Wild (Maui)
Joyn Bags (Asia)

Bath and Body
Live.Simple.Soap (Ohio)
Thistle Farms (Tennessee)
Zambeezi (Zambia)

Other Brands I Love
These are mostly items I own, but have bought from a 3rd party, like Fair Trade Friday or a boutique listed above. Some are also on my “wish list”.
Karama Collection (Kenya)
Mar Y Lana (Columbia)
Fair Anita
GOEX Apparel (Haiti, North Carolina, and Kansas City)
Haiti Design Co (Haiti)
Glory Haus (Georgia)
Repurposed on Purpose (Georgia)
Hands Producing Hope (Costa Rica, Rwanda)
Fashion & Compassion (Mexico, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, North Carolina)

**If you would like links to Amabassadors, Fellows, and Compassionate Entrepreneurs from Noonday, Seeko, and Trade of Hope I will happily direct you to my friends’ sites.

Sacred Spaces

I have walked the streets of Jerusalem on a Friday evening and watched prayers at the Western Wall.

I have spent countless hours in the homes of Syrian refugees eating food, drinking coffee, and laughing.

I have attended an Iftar at the local mosque.

I have attended a Bar Mitzvah at a synagogue.

I have celebrated Shabbat in the home of a rabbi.

I have eaten lunch in the home of Palestinian activist.

I have been part of a team assisting asylum seekers from Central America.

I have sat in 3rd world homes and played UNO.

I have listened to the story of a Palestinian from Bethlehem whose family history of faith in Christ dates backs to Pentecost.

I don’t have answers to the problems of this world, but I do know the people I’ve met, and the stories I have heard have become part of me and the lens in which I see the world.

What About The Kids? (Part 1)

I am Mom to a 13yo boy and an 11yo girl. I am also (obviously) passionate about fair trade and ethical clothing. I have committed to only buying fair trade or secondhand for myself whenever possible, but what about my kids?

Thankfully companies like Pact and Primary provide options for babies and younger kids, but there aren’t a lot out of ethical options out there for teens and tweens. Also, kids of all ages grow FAST and are notoriously hard on their clothes, so while I might be able to justify spending a bit more on ethically made items that I’ll wear for years I can’t afford to do that for my kids everytime they grow (which sometimes feels like it happens by the minute!)

So… what’s a parent to do? I don’t have all of the answers, and I’m still on a journey myself, but here are some of the ways we’re trying to balance being conscious consumers AND still keeping my growing kids clothed on a single income family budget!

Here are just two ideas to start (more to come . . .)

***Shop secondhand. Whether it’s your local thrift store, online at places like ThredUp & Poshmark or even Facebook Marketplace there are often great items available at an incredible price. The shoes that are pictured both belong to my daughter and were ones I found on Facebook Marketplace. The purple sequined ones were $10 and she was in love the moment I showed them to her. Just about 2 weeks ago I saw the mint ones, that had only been worn twice, listed for $25. Turquoise and purple are my daughter’s favorite colors so I looked like a hero finding these. Also, my daughter’s feet are only slightly smaller than mine AND are still growing. While these are slightly big for her right now (she just wears thick socks with them) she will eventually outgrow them and then they will be mine, which will further extend their life.

***Clothing swaps. A FREE way to get clothes secondhand. Once a year or so the moms group at my church has a clothing swap day. Ladies bring the clothes and toys their kids are no longer wear/use and everyone can shop what they need. Leftovers are donated to families in need or to the local thrift store. Not part of a moms group? Host a playdate at your house with your friends!

Sale at The Lemonade Boutique!

Starting January 15, 2020 The Lemonade Boutique will be having their semi-annual clearance sale! I’ll post more when I know what types of items they’ll be marking down, but I do know that the owner, Christine, said there are limited quantities so you’ll want to check out their site on Tuesday for the best selection!

**This post contains affiliate links

Submitting to the Master

Yesterday a friend posted an article that shared results of a study showing where Christians in America stand right now on the theological perspective. My friend asked where her friends stand and I responded with this. I guess you could call it my personal statement of faith.

As far as where I stand. I know that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. I believe that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I believe that nobody comes to the Father except through Jesus. I believe that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I believe the wages of sin is death. I believe that, while I was yet a sinner, Jesus died for me. I believe that everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. I believe in a literal resurrection. I believe in the Trinity–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I believe salvation is found in no one else, but Jesus. I believe that there is no name under heaven on earth by which me must be saved, except for the name of Jesus.

I have been concerned with popular authors and where my peers are landing on the theological spectrum. I have been seeing the Word be watered down by culture. At the end of the day I firmly believe that if my beliefs do not line up with Scripture then I’m the one who needs to change my beliefs because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God doesn’t change or bow to culture, but as his servant I need to bow and submit my will to His. I made the decision to give Him my life and that includes ALL of it.

Today as I was reading through the book of Matthew I was thinking about our current climate as I was reading Jesus’ warning to His disciples before He sent them out. As Jesus was telling His disciples that they would be persecuted He told them, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the how of Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”

It feels as those who are sticking by God’s word are being persecuted from within the church. When popular authors/bloggers/influencers tell us to leave a church (or even the Church) because it doesn’t affirm our “pet sin” (we all have one, if we’re being honest) it makes those of us who stand firm in God’s Word as the ultimate authority in a situation where we have to choose between what God defines as sin and what our culture defines as sin.  Just as a servant doesn’t get to tell a master, “You’re wrong.” we, as followers of Jesus, don’t get to tell God He is wrong.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away; anger, wrath, malice, slander,and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”  Colossians 3:1-10

Books of 2019

2019 was the first year I kept track of all of my books on Goodreads, so I know that (as of today) I have completed 79 books, while I have 3 in progress. At the beginning of this year I set out to read 52 books, averaging one a week, however once I accomplished that goal I set the bar higher. Because of my responsibilities at home I will set my 2020 goal at 52 to start as well.

If you’re on Goodreads, follow me to see what I’m reading next!

There are still a few weeks left in 2019, but I wanted to share what I’ve read this year. I’m an avid reader and while my fiction interests aren’t varied (Christian romance is pretty much all of the fiction I read), I love a variety of non-fiction books. I love to learn and I love to hear different perspectives so it seems as if most of my non-fiction reads have been memoirs, but that certainly isn’t all I read.

As I compiled this list I did notice a few themes, including books inspired by my trip to Israel & Palestine in November, 2018 and books about the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. One of my hobbies (when I’m not talking about fair trade & ethical fashion or spending time with my friends who arrived in the U.S. as refugees) is participating in book launch teams. Many of the books listed in the non-fiction section are book launch reads.

I have learned over the years that I prefer hard copies of non-fiction books, especially ones I am trying to learn from because I like to highlight and take notes in those, but I LOVE my Kindle for fiction. As far as memoirs and biographies, I can be swayed by either hard copy or digital since I am not taking notes in those. Two of the memoirs I completed this year were audio books that I borrowed from the library using my Hoopla account.

Without a doubt, my favorite fiction author is Jenn Faulk.

I generally have one book that I’m actively reading on my Kindle and one hard copy I’m actively reading going at a time. I keep the Kindle on my nightstand and read a few minutes each night. I keep the hard copy around the house and throw it in my purse to read it when I have a few minutes. Because of how I read, and the fact I read non-fiction at a slower pace, there are significantly fewer of these. Many of the fiction books, including all by Jenn Faulk, are available on Kindle Unlimited.

My To Be Read list is long, both of books I already own that I want to get to AND books that are on my wish list.

In no particular order . . . Heidi’s 2019 Books

Melodies of Love Collection by Kimberly Rose Johnson
All I Want for Christmas by Jenn Faulk
A Love So Real by Kimberly Rae Jordan
The Strength of Their Love by Kimberly Rae Jordan
The Match Maker’s Match by Kimberly Rose Johnson
Come to the Lake by Autumn Macarthur
Close Enough by Jenn Faulk
His Father’s Son by Autumn Macarthur
Anytime Escapes Various Authors
The Vacation Cottages by Sophie Mays
The Magnolia Harbor Starter Collection by Sophie Mays
The Sweetwater Island Ferry Collection by Sophie Mays
Where You Are by Jenn Faulk
Modern Conveniences Complete Collection by Leah Atwood
Second Rodeo by Leah Atwood
Beach Wedding by Grace Greene
Beach Winds by Grace Greene
Beach Rental by Grace Greene
Pieced Together by Jenn Faulk
The Redemption Road by Christa MacDonald
At The Crossroad by Christa MacDonald
The Broken Trail by Christa MacDonald
Love, Laughter, and Luminarias by Jaycee Weaver
What He Wants by Jessie Gussman
Finding Love On Whidbey Island by Annette M. Irby
Finding Love On Bainbridge Island by Annette M. Irby
Finding Love in Eureka, California by Angela Ruth Strong
An Anchor On Her Heart by Patricia Lee
A Love To Treasure by Kimberly Rose Johnson
Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington by Annette M. Irby
Runaway Romance by Miralee Ferrell
Come Next Winter by Linda Hanna & Deborah Dulworth
The Christmas Girlfriend by Taylor Hart
Blue Moon Kisses by Cindy Roland Anderson
Just A Kiss In The Moonlight by Cindy Roland Anderson
A Snow Valley Christmas Romance Collection by Cindy Roland Anderson
Caught Kissing A Cowboy by Cindy Roland Anderson
Stuck On You by Jenn Faulk
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Mama Bear Apologetics by Hillary Morgan Ferrer
Sweet On You by Becky Wade
When He Returns by Kimberly Rae Jordan
On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter
All I Ever Wanted by Jenn Faulk
Falling For You by Becky Wade
True To You by Becky Wade
Meant To Be by Jenn Faulk
Together For Christmas by Autumn Macarthur
Traveler’s Rest by Ann Tatlock
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Yesterday’s Promises by Kimberly Rae Jordan
The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristin Billerbeck
A Love That Lasts by Kimberly Rose Johnson
A Christmas To Remember Collection (No longer available)

Non Fiction
Unashamed by Lecrae
A Boy’s Story A Man’s Memory: Surviving the Holocaust 1933-1945 by Oskar Knoblauch
The Orphan Gospels by Shelley Jean
It’s Not About The Truth by Don Yaeger
Something Needs to Change by David Platt
What Is A Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander
How Much Is A Little Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander (This one is a children’s picture book and I didn’t know how to categorize it because it tells little girls their value, but is not a memoir or other “learning” type book)
Shelley in Haiti: One Woman’s Quest for Orphan Prevention Through Job Creation by Shelley Jean
Boy Mom by Monica Swanson
So The Next Generation Will Know by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace
The Soul of An American President: The Untold Story of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Faith by Alan Sears & Craig Osten with Ryan Cole
Finding Holy in the Suburbs by Ashley Hales
Developing Female Leaders by Kadi Cole
Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters by Lizbeth Meredith
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Grateful American by Gary Sinise
Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan
Journey Interrupted: A Family Without A Country in a World at War by Hildegarde Mahoney
Letters Across The Divide: Two Friends Explore Racism, Friendship, and Faith by David Anderson and Brent Zeurcher
Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes by Mitri Raheb
The Secrets of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill & Lisa McCubbin
Five Days in November by Clint Hill & Lisa McCubbin

The Slave Is Our Brother

In the Christmas carol, “O, Holy Night” there is a line that says, “The slave is our brother.” This month I am wearing a dress every day, as part of a movement called #Dressember in order to raise awareness for the fact there are more than 40 million slaves in the world today, which is more than at any other point in history. I am not ok with slavery in any form.

Recently I went to Israel & Palestine where I was immersed in their decades-long conflict by meeting Muslims, Jews, Palestinian Christians, etc. This trip is one that I can’t get out of my mind and that’s a good thing.

Here in the United States we have thousands of asylum seekers crossing our borders regularly. We have refugees who have been settled here by the United Nations and our government.

All of these people are created in God’s image and are created by Him. While it is easy to sit in our comfortable homes in the United States and have opinions about these issues, in my mind it comes down to the fact that every human being on earth is someone God created and loves as much as He loves me.

Now, I don’t even begin to pretend that this beloved Christmas song is Scripture, but I can’t help but wonder . . . what if I lived as if the slave is my brother?

If my brother were enslaved, what lengths would I go to rescue him? What lengths would I go to see healing in his life?

The song continues, “In His name, all oppression shall cease.”

Now, I get the fact that without Jesus we are slaves to sin and that He releases us from that bondage and oppression. It is highly likely that the author of this song had spiritual oppression in mind, but what if all oppression in the world ceased because of Jesus’ name? What if, as His followers, we did our part in stopping oppression and releasing other humans from slavery in our time?

In the United States we look back on our nation’s slave history with shame. There are still generational issues here in the United States as a result of this period in our nation’s history. Though the 1960s were a tumultuous time and, legislatively, all Americans were given equal rights under the Civil Rights Act, the reality is there are still race issues we are dealing with as a nation. We still have those in power and those who are being oppressed in a variety of ways.

What is fair trade?

What is fair trade? What is ethical shopping? What do these practices have to do with justice issues?

According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.”

Some companies may be completely transparent in their supply chain and operate with fair trade standards, however they aren’t certified by one of the organizations like WFTO, just as your local farmer at the farmer’s market may not be certified organic, but grows his produce with organic practices. Size of the company and cost of certification are factors in why not all ethical companies are certified fair trade.  Shopping secondhand is also considered ethical because it does not create new demand for a product and it keeps unused items out of landfills.

Luke 4 says that after Jesus’ temptation in the desert he went home to Nazareth in Galilee and, while in the synagogue, he picked up a scroll and read Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Him: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2, NIV)

The International Justice Mission (IJM) estimates there are currently 40 million slaves in the world today, which is more than at any other point in human history. Slavery is illegal in every country.  The Global Slavery Index estimated in 2018 that $127.7 billion worth of garments at risk of using slaves are imported annually by G20 countries. Modern slavery does not look like it did in the early part of America’s history, where slaves were used on plantations and performed domestic duties in the homes of their masters.  According to the International Labor Organization, modern slavery can be described as, “…situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse of leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.” This can manifest itself in situations such as (but not limited to) forced labor, debt bondage, and forced marriage.

These facts are our call to action. It is time to stop and think about what we buy, how we buy, and how often we buy. 

If some of Jesus’ first words after his baptism and time in the desert were to announce in the synagogue that He came to proclaim freedom for the captives, AND slavery exists today, what does that mean to those of us who have given our lives to Him and whose greatest desire is to live a life like His?

Instead of 5 $5 t-shirts from a mass retailer where slaves were likely involved in the manufacturing process, in order to have one of every color, what if we chose to spend $32 on one t-shirt, made by women who have been rescued from sex trafficking? Elegantees is a clothing retailer whose seamstresses come from a local safe house in Nepal. These seamstresses are not only paid more than two times the local minimum wage, but they work regular hours in a safe environment.

The process of changing your shopping habits will look different for everyone and every budget. My ethical fashion inspiration is Molly Stillman from the blog Still Being Molly and she recently talked about her own switch has taken about 8 years. I haven’t made the full switch to only fair and ethical items, but I am improving every day and that’s a win. I am also realistic, especially when it comes to my kids. Most of my kids’ clothing comes from retailers like The Children’s Place or Target, if it isn’t secondhand, because the reality is there aren’t a lot of options AND, when there are options, the prices are too high for my budget, especially considering how fast kids grow and wear out clothing.

 Since we are a single income family and it isn’t practical to ONLY buy new items from fair & ethical companies, I find myself falling more in line with the old adage, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I sew patches on ripped jeans vs. buying new ones. I question needs vs. wants (and answer myself honestly) before making a purchase.  When my kids outgrow their current clothes I check the thrift store before buying new.

None of this is written for shame or condemnation, but the heart is education.  Give yourself grace, remember it’s a marathon, and take baby steps. We have the power to change the world and I pray we use it.

****Originally published on AmplifyPeace.com