New Scents and a Give Away

September 2, 2013

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We’re going back to the drawing board to come up with some new scents.  I would love to hear from you about what you would like.   We would love to delight you.  I’m starting with sweet orange and peppermint.  What else would you like to see?    You can see our current offerings over at our web store.

If you comment below, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a bar of our lemongrass soap.  It’s our most popular scent, and I hope you’ll love it.  We’ll do the drawing on Thursday.

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Today is World Orangutan Day!  Frustrated Farmgirl celebrates these amazing primates today.  In fact, these creatures were a key contributor to the creation of Frustrated Farmgirl’s soap recipe.  They are one of the reasons why our soap contains no palm oil.  Here is an excerpt from a  post three years ago when we pushed forward with our palm oil-free soap recipe:

First, it’s destroying the habitat for the Sumatran tiger, Asian rhinoceros and the Sumatran orangutan- all of these animals are endangered. Second, many of the areas that are being leveled to raise oil palms are biodiversity hotspots. Biodiversity hotspots are areas where there is a huge variety of flora and fauna- much greater than in other areas. Third, many of the areas that are being de-forested to plant oil palms are peat bogs. There is a huge amount of carbon sequestered in peat bogs- when these bogs are leveled, it releases a significant amount of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. According to wikipedia, the destruction of peat bogs accounts for 4% of global greenhouse emissions. While palm oil production isn’t at fault for all of this, it is a contributor. Lastly, the land of the the Dayak people of Borneo is being planted with oil palms without their consent and despite their objections.

Today would be a great day to look in your cabinets to identify the products that contain palm oil.  It’s in a wide variety of products from crackers to cookies to cereal.  It’s also in almost all soaps.  The choice of where we spend our food and soap dollars truly does have an impact.  Who knew a bar of soap or a cookie mattered?  Apparently, it does.

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I love this piece from Creative Heart Studio on Etsy. This is my prayer for my daughter. This is my prayer for all women. This promise of strength and dignity. It is the destiny for which we were created. It was marred by the Fall, but God wants to restore us to this dignity. And we get to participate in that. This is my prayer each time I make soap. May it bring dignity and strength and redemption.

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Bead for Life has a great deal that I wanted to let you know about.  Buy one Shea Sugar Scrub, and get one free.  I haven’t personally tried this product, but I work with their shea butter whenever I make soap, and it’s truly lovely.  I can’t wait to try this product myself.

Bead for Life is a wonderful Fair Trade company.  They are alleviating extreme poverty in meaningful ways through providing sustainable employment.  They also provide entrepreneurial job training, along with school scholarships for family members.  Bead for Life also encourages women to open savings accounts and to build those savings accounts.  According to Bead for Life, their graduates “are able to spend twice as much on basic needs after their time in our program, as they were before entering it”.  This is a beautiful thing when living in extreme poverty.  Many people who live in extreme poverty may only eat once a day.  So, doubling the amount that you spend on daily needs may translate into full stomachs at bedtime, school fees or maybe the ability to pay for a medical bill instead of having to take a loan out for it.

As I did research for ingredients for our soap, Bead for Life was wonderful to deal with.  They were forthcoming about their compensation and all their other programs.  They are a also a Fair Trade Federation member.

I’m personally going to order some of this scrub.  I’ll likely use a jar myself, and the other will make a great gift. 

I would encourage you to give it a try.

Keeping It Real

June 19, 2013

Here’s a snapshot of my day yesterday.

Elizabeth:  I can’t find any clean underwear.

Me:  Get some out of the dirty clothes and turn it inside out.

Elizabeth: [confused silence]

Me:  For real.  Get some dirty underwear, turn it inside out, and put it on.

Here is the reality, my friends.  Last night, we had chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and frozen peas for dinner.  All of the above resulted from a run to Trader Joes after we finished swim team photos at 6 p.m.  Frankly, this is just how we’re rolling right now.

Yes, this is the tension of crunch time.

I knew it was going to be tough.  While most of the US is adjusting to the freedom of school getting out, the Simpson household is in a crunch.  All our choices.  None of it is happening to us.  All good things.  None the less, it’s stressful.  Very unromantic.  Not shiny at all.  We’re in week two of our homeschooling year.  We’re in the midst of soap production for our first whole sale order.  And, we’re in the heat of our church’s extreme poverty focus for the summer.

The art is doing all of these things without my family taking a back seat.  Without my husband feeling like he is a distant last place to all the other demands in my life.  How to do it all and make sure that there is actually milk in the fridge and that dinner will actually appear on the table at the appointed hour?

It’s funny.  Not funny as in amusing, but funny as in interesting.  When my commitments heat up, my need for boundaries is most acute.  My need for my own mental health and for the relational and functional health of my family.  In order for my priorities to be to God first and to my marriage second, I have to learn to say no to good things.  To things I believe in.  As a woman who I respect said, “you have to learn where your no is”.   I’m grateful for a church environment that respects and encourages healthy boundaries- even boundaries with church.  I’ve been doing a ton of work in this area over the last couple of years, but it’s an area that I have to be vigilant about.

I’m tempted here to give you neat and clear bullet points about how to manage, but the truth is that it would just be talk right now.  The truth is that I’m trying to figure out how to do it.  The gritty truth is that life isn’t lived in bullet points of how to live in the midst of competing demands.  It’s an art, not a science.  It has everything to do with following God in a messy imperfect way.  It has everything to do with the mish mash of learning to say no.  It’s the messy discipleship of being in relationships in ministry.  When our issues are coming up in the context of ministry, God’s fingerprints are all over that.  I think when our stuff is coming up and being dealt with, God is in the midst of that.  Frankly, I think that’s what healthy church looks like.  Messy, dirty, relationally smudgy.  It’s struggling through the real, daily life in living with Christ, family, church and friends.  I’m beyond grateful for all of these things.  Beyond grateful to be working with church leadership that would be the last to lay a guilt trip for saying no.  But, you know, it’s just messy.  I keep waiting to be done.  To arrive.  But, I don’t think it works that way.  I think that instead I keep being reminded of my need for a Savior.  I keep needing to be around people who are gracious with me in my bumbling attempts to live in the messy tension of family, God, church and friends.  So, yes, I guess my bottom line is that once again, I’m brought around to gratitude.  Grateful to have work worth doing.  Grateful for my family and friends.  Grateful that God keeps reminding me about how much I need Him.  I’m grateful that I’m loved by God, family and friends in the midst of my brokenness.  Because that brokenness, I think, is just the reality of how things look while we’re here on earth.

Check out the trailer for The People and The Olive. This documentary tells the story of a group of people who decided to run across the West Bank in order to shed light on the plight of Palestinian olive growers. Under Israeli occupation, over 2 million olive trees have been destroyed, which has decimated the livelihood of many olive farmers in this region. Many of the farmers in the film are a part of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association, which sells its olives to Canaan Fair Trade, my wonderful olive oil vendor. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did. If you watch it, you’ll meet Meryl, who is my wonderfully awesome Canaan Fair Trade rep.

Give Your Gifts

April 18, 2013

You might not even know what they are yet.  You might have a hunch.  You might have a burning desire to do something, but you feel overwhelmed.  By the problem.  By the enormity of the solution.  By the drop in the bucket that you being engaged would make.  Here’s what I want to say to you.  Start.  Take a step.

Whatever it is, if you wait until you have it wired, you’ll never do anything.  You, the overachiever, start.  I live in the Land of Overachievers.  So, this is most people that I know.  Just start.  Take the next step.  You’ll figure it out as you go.

  • Start that business that will press your suppliers to develop more ethical practices.
  • Write that book that calls women to the truest, most beautiful version of themselves.
  • Pick up that paint brush and give it a go.  Put your first painting up for sale.  See what happens.
  • Engage with that ministry that reaches out to refugees.  Give it a go and see what happens.  You’ll never know if you don’t take the first step.

My pastor recently said that your calling is somewhere in the mix of your giftedness, your wounds and your passions.  So, let me ask.  What are you already good at?  What subjects make your heart pound?  What makes you angry?  What is the subject that, when it comes up, you feel tears beginning to sting your eyes?  What do you want?  There is a problem out there that, if you could be involved in the solution, it would make your heart sing.  What’s that problem?  Then, what are your wounds?  Abuse?  Devastating mistakes you’ve made in the past?  What friend or family wounds have had impact in who you’ve become?  Do you have a learning disability?  Have you felt helpless from some wound?  What are you already good at?  Do you write?  Do you have a God-given strong sense of justice- of righting wrongs?  Of defending the weak and those in the margins?  Do you rock as a speech therapist, as a physical therapist?  Do you have a gut feeling that you would make an amazing pediatrician?  Do you have a gut hunch that God might be able to use your gifts as an artist?

The world is broken, and we all need you.  This is God’s beautiful and amazing plan of redemption.  This is what Jesus prayed in the Lord’s prayer when he said “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  That means, let’s make it more like heaven down here on earth.

Take heart, friends.  Have courage.  We desperately need your gifts.  You probably don’t have the whole picture.  Most of us don’t.  I know I don’t.  So, just take the next stop.

The journey will likely be a rabbit trail.  You might have to crawl down some rabbit holes to see where they go before you can know where you’re headed.  It’s not a mistake to take a trail, and then find out that you’re on the wrong trail.  You can’t know until you try.  If it’s not right, course correct. Try the next thing.

Here’s what I’m finding.  Nobody really knows what they’re doing.  When I was at the Freedom Summit in January, this was my main take away.  There are these huge related problems of human trafficking and poverty.  For those that are innovating, it started with confronting a problem that stopped them in their tracks.  Then, what?  You try something.  Justin Dillon said that he didn’t know what he was doing, and he thought, maybe I’ll go make a film about artists who are engaged in the problem of human trafficking.  That’s where we get the rockumentary Call + Response.  Sean Litton, who is the VP of Field Operations at IJM, talked about his task to start a field office in the Philippines.  He recalls landing and Manila, and thinking “now what?”.  He figured it out.  He just took the next step.

Friends, I think that in many cases, that’s all we have.  We have the next step.  The world is broken.  We need you to be courageous.  Take your next step.  Are you putting the puzzle together without the box lid?  Yes.  Will you have the whole thing wired before you start?  No.  Might you fail?  Absolutely.  Is it worth it?  I think it is.  Because, if you fail, then you’ll know what it’s not, and then you’ll be a step further along your journey.

I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to you.  Because frankly, my journey scares me.  I have no idea where we’re headed.  But, I do have the next step.  I think you might know your next step, too.

Are you stepping out?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.  It helps me to be more courageous.