Two weeks ago, I became a Noonday Collection Ambassador, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have this as the next step in my story! Noonday is a business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities and dignified work for artisans in vulnerable communities around the world. We partner with the most amazingly talented artisan businesses in twelve countries: Afghanistan, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Noonday is a collection of women here in the States and across the globe who want to become leaders in their community, who believe in justice and dignity for everyone, and who desire a flourishing world where children are cherished, people have jobs, women are empowered and we are all connected.
I will be 40 next year, and it has taken me almost 35 years to understand and appreciate what it means to be a woman, to be feminine, and to trust I have strength and dignity. Up until four years ago, I was living a life with plenty of mistakes and setbacks. And while some of my stories have led me to feel guilt and shame, I almost wouldn’t trade my life story for anything, because it allows me to empathize with women who feel broken, who long to be pure and wholesome, and who mourn the loss of innocence often denied to us as women.
While on a mission trip in Africa two months ago, I was thinking about poverty and the systemic effects of disempowerment in vulnerable communities. I know I went to Africa to serve those in need as someone in need. But it got me wondering: How am I poor? Certainly I have a “good life”. I can pay the rent on an apartment I live in by myself. I have a car and a job and a dog. I travel and have dinner out with friends. I have medical coverage and can buy healthy foods. So how am I poor?
And, as I replayed the entirety of my story in my mind, I realized my poverty is intimacy. I have spent the last four years uncovering the many ways I have misunderstood intimacy, been careless with it, and in doing so, walked further and further away from experiencing it. And I know, as a woman built for relationships and designed for community, a lack of true intimacy is a painful wound in the soul.
About two years ago, I felt God calling me to engage in social justice. He didn’t provide details for the road ahead and certainly didn’t hand me a map. But he has gently and tenderly led me deeper and deeper into the stories of women in my community and around the world who are poor, vulnerable, and disempowered. As I hear the story of a young girl from an impoverished family in Afghanistan, married off as a child bride and required to prove her fertility at a dramatically young age, my head bows in sadness. As I learn the name and see the face of a woman who almost abandoned her baby on the steps of an orphanage because she didn’t have the money or a proper home to care well for her daughter, I weep for how differently she and I live. As I befriend women recently rescued from trafficking who are struggling to regain a sense of dignity and to feel safe in this world, my head bows even further from the ways women are discriminated against and treated with terrifying inequity.
Four years ago, I laid out the pieces of my story – all of it. The desirable and the things I would prefer to keep hidden. And it was awful, like setting the table for a meal I would absolutely not like to eat. I saw this whole scene and thought, “This is a mess. I am a mess!” I felt helpless to change and discouraged about decisions I had made in my past. But… in doing this, I was given another perspective. I realized that all these pieces make sense together if seen from another angle. They have shaped me to connect with certain people and to be passionate about certain things, like women in vulnerable situations, and the poor and needy.
Over time, I have learned that I matter, and what I do with my life matters. I am not disempowered like many women I know here locally and around the world. I can make choices for myself about where I live, whom I marry, and what I do with my life. I have resources and a support network of family and friends. And I know now that I don’t want my abundantly blessed life to lead to entitlement. I want to use what I have been given to empower others.
I want to let women in my community and around the world know they matter, too, and that the world would truly miss out if they were not here and their stories were not told. I want us all to feel beautiful in our own skin and to accept and appreciate our story. No amount of shame or abuse or neglect can take away the dignity we are given as daughters of our good and loving God. And I long to stand with my sisters in solidarity, to advocate for them when few will listen, and to participate in their empowerment so they can bring forth beauty and creativity as we were designed to do.
Noonday Collection allows me an opportunity to openly encourage and inform women in my community about the way our sisters are living around the world and invite them to partner with me in creating a marketplace where we can style one another and purchase hand-made products that provide dignified work and hope of a sustainable life for these women.
By hosting a Trunk Show or Adoption Show, purchasing products, or becoming an Ambassador, you and I can link arms and say to our sisters in our community and overseas, “I see you and love you. You are talented and beautiful, and I stand with you.”
Beautiful, broken, beloved Sisters. You are why I Noonday.
Please join me! If you are interested in hosting a Show or you just want more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.