Join Our Movement!

In case you haven’t heard the news, the Wild Ruffle Shop has now taken the place of our Be The 1:27 initiative.

It’s full of handmade goodness that you’ll love to wear (or give as a gift).

Plus, we give 20% of our profits from sales to charitable organizations.

We’d love to partner with your organization! Email me at cate@wildruffle.com and we can chat about how to raise funds for the charity that has your heart.

All of the items below can be found in our shop. Click here to see more!

leg warmers handmade earrings handmade necklace bird print scarf aztec printed sunnies

An Update

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted something here.

Truthfully, I’ve avoided it.

I finally wrote a long, rambling, healing post the other day – and I doubt I’ll ever publish it. But it did help me to work through some of the emotions of the last year.

Through the process of starting our non-profit, we were deeply hurt by people we trusted.

Burned.

And I ran away from it all for awhile.

And then my guilt consumed me, as I knew there were so many people who were hoping to help us get started.

To all of you – I apologize.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes, you receive a calling. You answer that call, expecting it to look and feel a certain way. What if you answered, and discovered that it was something entirely different?

I know that I am called to do something for the children of Africa. And I thought that it meant that I should start up an orphanage, begin a non-profit, etc.

The steps I took last year led me to this revelation: it is far easier to be a for-profit business that gives back than it is to start a non-profit. And that’s what is in store for me at this point.

Thus, the Wild Ruffle Shop was born. We’re working with others to give 20% of profits to charities we believe in. We’d love to work with YOU and your charity (you can email us at cate@wildruffle.com to learn more).

We have big plans in store for how we’d like to use our talents to change the world. We’d love to have you along for the ride.

There are exciting things coming, and I can’t wait to share them with you. In the meantime, we’d love to have you like our Facebook page or join us on Google+.

And you can pray. You can pray that our eyes would be open to the plans that were meant for our lives, that we would see the path we were meant to walk. Thank you for walking this journey with us!

Best Laid Plans

I’m so glad to have my friend Rachel guest posting today about her journey toward adoption. Facebook is an amazing thing, in that it’s allowed me to reconnect with childhood friends, and Rachel is one of those people for me! While Rachel usually writes over at The Weakest Reed, today you’ll find what was laid upon her heart to share with you all.

“Just to be clear, this isn’t a post about how international adoption is the absolute answer to…well, anything necessarily.  This is a post about how God calls each of us to a unique purpose and never wastes a thing, even our craziest dreams, dumbest naivetes and what often feel like some of our most painful losses or failures, to achieve his plans.

When you’re a white lady who grew up in the suburbs admitting that you “have a heart for Africa” can get you into some interesting situations.  And I certainly got a range of responses when I would tell people that we were pursuing adoption from Uganda: Awkwardly-veiled insinuations about how we must be following the trend of African adoptions a la Madonna and Brangelina.  Embarrassing and inappropriate (but generally well-meant) expressions of gratitude for “that great thing you are doing for those kids over there.”  Concern for how we were going to be sure we didn’t bring home a child who had AIDS or was otherwise “broken” in some way and might burn down our house or hurt our other children.  And there were definitely encounters with voices who demeaned what they perceived as a savior complex inherent in what we were doing. Or were generally skeptical about transracial adoption.  Or wondered why we didn’t just adopt a child closer to home. Some voices were more malicious than others and some of those more difficult voices even had the ring of truth.  Sometimes the voices were my own.  But only One voice was important.  It’s that voice that I believe was whispering to my heart (the kind of voice Cate mentions in this post) from the time I was a little girl.

Growing up, I was interested in Africa the same way some kids are interested in trains or princesses or horses.  When I look back, I’m a bit embarrassed that I was so (excuse the pun) all over the map.  Yes, Africa is a gigantic and diverse continent but as a kid we begin learning in generalities. And so in the same way a young girl would simply declare that she loves princesses and no one would expect her to specify that she was interested in Alfhild, the Medieval Danish princess who may or may not have existed as a true life pirate leader, I was simply into Africa.  And, of course, the ways I pursued this interest were limited by the social and cultural contexts in which I have lived.  My favorite animal was a zebra.  I pored over National Geographic like most girls my age did Teen Beat.  In school, whenever we had to choose a country/famous woman leader/ mythology on which to report, I would be likely choose Egypt/ Hatshepsut/ Isis.  My favorite classic movie was (I bet you can see what’s coming next) The African Queen.  I studied French because of the three languages offered at my high school it was the most likely to be used in Africa.  And when it came time to choose colleges, I placed great emphasis on the ease and ability of going abroad somewhere in Africa and studying anthropology.  Of course like any good freshman I changed my major, but I developed a deep interest in community development, and still dreamed of a life abroad in sub-Saharan Africa doing meaningful work (I had at least managed to narrow it down that far by then).

When my junior year came, I could hardly believe IT was actually going to happen.  This thing that everything had been building towards!  I chose a community development program in Uganda, packed a huge blue backpack and some very tropical-weather inappropriate corduroy bell bottoms and left the country for the very first time on my own.  I imagined myself never wanting to come back.

It was absolutely amazing to be there.  I experienced some of the Africa I had always dreamed about, but Uganda was also, of course, a more nuanced, modern and complex place than I could have imagined.   I learned enough of the language to make small talk with the pineapple vendor in my neighborhood, crossed the Nile on a boat during a thunderstorm accompanied by hippos and men wielding very, very large guns, learned from my host mother about the plants she kept in her garden to ward off malaria, spent some time in a wildlife preserve in a grass hutch with signs posted telling us to beware of the lions after dark, worked on a project with incredibly resilient street children who were facing and overcoming issues like AIDS, hunger and female genital mutilation, got a taste of what it was like to be in the minority, and got scared witless when bombings shook the public and shopping areas I frequented and got the news that guerillas had just murdered Westerners in the location we were literally on our way to visit.

So after all that rambling, it may or may not come as a surprise to you that I ended my trip absolutely ready to go back to the United States and even more absolutely unsure about whether or not I could ever see myself living my life in Africa.  I knew I wanted to visit again and perhaps even spend extended times there, but I just didn’t know anymore what a white, middle-class American woman could offer a people and a place like Uganda. By far, the biggest take-home lesson of the trip was that the best projects in Uganda were being run by Ugandans for Ugandans.  Though I was so encouraged by all the good work happening, I felt like a bit of a fool and a bit of a failure and a lot deflated after my dreams appeared to be coming to nothing.

Fast forward 6 years.  I was married and living in Washington DC working on issues related to foster care and adoption.  My husband and I had explored several different avenues for growing our own family through adoption including domestic, special needs, foster-to-adopt, embryo adoption and several international options. None of them, though, had quite inspired my husband to move forward wholeheartedly.  I was tired of pushing and knew how ridiculous and dangerous it would be to strongarm him into something like parenthood through adoption.  I knew I had to step back and let God work if we were really meant to do this.  As I did I faced the reality that, yet again, another lifetime dream might have to die.

A few more years passed.  Suddenly, I felt my eyes and ears being pulled again to East Africa.  It was if God had tuned my heart to the Uganda station.  Leaving out the details of a process filled with hairpin turns and gut-yanking ups and downs, in some very specific ways God guided me and my now-totally-onboard husband to a very specific little girl in Uganda.  In the process we did some dangerously naïve things, faced some very painful losses and were mercifully guided past some landmines that might have been incredibly problematic for our family and for families and children in Uganda.  But 11 years after my first trip to Uganda and decades after the start of my dream to adopt, we were traveling to Uganda to meet our daughter for the first time.  And I know that God directed every step.  Might be an odd thing to say, especially for this white girl who grew up in the suburbs of Minnesota, but Africa, Uganda specifically, has become part of our family history forever.

Our every waking moment is flooded with voices and with distractions and with obstacles to keeping in step with His plan. Sometimes, we even feel we have good reason to stop moving forward altogether because we’re just never going to get it exactly right. We can be so paralyzed by our desire to do it all perfectly and see it all work out just right (as defined by our own human understanding) that we neglect to do anything at all.  What it all comes down to is that we can (and others will) question our hearts, our motives, our dreams, our hearing, our actions, our understanding… but ultimately, there’s only One voice that matters.  We don’t have to have perfect understanding, perfect plans or even perfect motives in order to end up in the best place.  There is just so very much grace  in which we are standing (Romans 5:1-2), anywhere we are standing in Him!  That grace in which we’re treading propels us along even when we don’t quite realize we’re moving. Giant and gentle waves of grace move us up and forward even when we feel we can’t propel ourselves anymore.  All of this that we do- the hearing, the starting, the stopping, the restarting, the planning, the doing- it doesn’t have to be perfect because He is. ”

 

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

Facing The Monster

This post was originally published in my other blog – but I thought it deserved to be shared here as well. :)

In my backyard, there lives a monster.

I have to face this monster on a regular basis if I want to get my prize, and every day I have to ask myself, “Is it worth it?”

The monster of which I speak is the ginormous mutant mosquito herd that lives amidst my berry bushes. They scoff at me with my Off Skintastic. Nothing I do keeps these sadistic suckers from going after me.

But if I want a bucket full of raspberries, I have to go head to head with them or risk walking away with nothing.

As I slapped (mostly unsuccessfully) at these beasts the other night, preying upon my blood as I picked, it occurred to me that what happens in the berry bushes is akin to a lot of what happens in life.

So much of life is facing the monster. You just have to decide whether the reward is worth the risk.

Every time I’m out there I have a decision to make. And some days (like after a rain), the battle is bigger. How many welts am I willing to endure to see the reward? How long do I continue to press on?

Between the bugs in my face and the thorns from the bushes themselves, there are days that I can hardly see what it is I’m going after. But I know that if I stay in the fight, I’ll come out the winner.

We’ve had a lot of loss this summer. On the heels of Uncle Deuce’s passing, we lost my Uncle George – he was far too young to go, and he’ll be missed by the entire family. My heart hurts for my aunt and my cousins, and my cousin’s children who didn’t get enough time with their grandfather.

But even with life’s stings and pricks at every turn, I’ll continue to press on. Because the reward at the end is worth the fight.

wisdom from the berry bush

Are you facing one of life’s battles? Chin up, friend! I’m praying your every bucket is filled to the top.

Remember Me?

Oh my, it’s been awhile.

I’ve been avoiding this blog for months now.

Don’t get me wrong – my passion for this organization remains strong.

But there have been setbacks. Setbacks which have surprised me, since this ball starting rolling so quickly in the beginning that I was simply holding on tight in order not to fall off.

Then the ball came to a complete halt, and I was jolted by the suddenness of it.

It is hard work, getting an organization like this off the ground. We thought we had a great potential fiscal sponsor, and that has fallen through.

And then summertime came around, and the busyness has not let up. And several hitches and hiccups in our personal lives have simply gotten in the way of what we want to accomplish.

But.

I am committed to our vision. And I’m excited to see where it goes.

And I’m so thankful to have so many of you along for the ride. There are so many of you who have asked to be a part of what we’re doing, and we’d love to have you involved. I promise, I’ll be calling on you soon.

Keep us in your prayers!

A Birthday Wish

Our oldest daughter turns 8 next week – though I’m still in a bit of shock every time I say that.

She really only has one birthday wish.

Instead of presents this year, Avery wants to help the children living at Victory Community Care Services in whatever way she can.

So she’s hoping that people will donate shoes (gently used, in good condition). Originally, Avery wanted shoes sent directly to the kids there, but because of the way the governmental systems work, supplies rarely arrive unless brought directly over.

We’ll be taking all the shoes we collect to a children’s resale shop, then we’ll take the money we receive and write a check to VCCS.

If you have some shoes to spare, I’d love to have you email me at catemezyk@gmail.com. We’ll find a way to connect so that your donation can make a difference.

Options

I feel a little stuck these days.

When I started this little project at the end of December, I had this idea in my head that it would take the better part of a year for everything to come together.

Once I dived in, things just rolled along, gathering steam, as the pieces all fell into place.

And it was good, and it was right.

And I thought to myself – wow! We’re going to get moving far more quickly than I ever realized!

But now, we get to the part where reality sets in, and things get a little tougher.

In my dreamy mind, you find all the key pieces to the puzzle, and you set up your non-profit, and away you go with fundraising. In real life, it’s not quite so easy.

And there are options.

So very many options.

Do we set up as a non-profit operation? Sounds simple, but it requires having board members to back and support and make decisions and write bylaws. It requires having a certain amount of capital (more than one might think), and a giant set of legal issues and funny rules (like how a certain portion of your fundraising has to come from people who give less than 3% of what they earn to charitable organizations – what?!).

Do we move forward as a foundation, which comes with an entirely different set of complications of its own?

Or do we remain an independent organization, comprised of volunteers, that fundraises for OTHER non-profits, with donations going directly toward those charities?

Right now, we’re not sure. We need clarity.

We still feel like this is right, and it’s good. But we need help with the next steps.

Because we’ve got some great ideas for how to raise those funds – and we want to get started on the “doing good” portion of all of this!

Want to know how you can get involved? Check it out here.

74 and Counting

Did you know that each month, Victory Community Care gives out just over $450 in micro loans to those that have gone through small business training in the Victory program?

So far 74 women have benefitted from this organization, and gone on to start their own small businesses.

74 women, half a world away, have become entrepreneurs.

74.

Women who have taken steps to change their lives, to change the lives of their family members.

Pretty awesome, right?

I can’t wait to see how high that number can climb.

Behave Yourself

Yesterday at my mom’s group, we chatted about being a well behaved woman.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once famously said, “Well behaved women rarely make history.”

If mis-behaving is what it takes to change the world for the better, I want to be the naughtiest in the room.

I want to buck tradition, and do what’s unexpected. We’re taught to be polite and docile, but that doesn’t always get it done.

As a friend of mine elegantly pointed out, Rosa Parks changed the world with her butt.

Just think what we could do if we put our entire bodies into it?!

Ouch

Yesterday we received such an outpouring of love and support from so many of you – and oh, how we appreciated it!

It’s so lovely to know that you all are standing alongside us in this.

But just when I was getting really excited about it all, I got a good gut check in the form of my mid-afternoon devotional.

“It’s easier to do what’s right when we gain recognition and praise. To be sure our motives are not selfish, we should do our good deeds quietly or in secret, with no thought of reward.”

Ouch.

To be certain, I don’t want to be the lady who screams about all my good deeds from the roof tops.

I want to go about my days, humbly and quietly.

But in this day and age, how do you raise funds and gain recognition in the community without going public with your cause?

Here’s one thing I want to make clear, so that no one thinks I am touting my own ‘goodness:’ I have fought against this.

I didn’t want to take on another project. I didn’t want to march into something in which I am completely clueless. It’s so much nicer to console myself with the thought that “someday I will answer the call.” It’s not so easy when the “someday” arrives and totally interrupts your very comfortable life.

But I also didn’t want to be the woman who ignored the call for her family’s life. So here I am. The time is now.

the time is now

By the way, I’m updating the “Get Involved” page with the financial needs of Victory Community Care. Be sure to check it out!

 

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