Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fundraising Teaser....

hey. social media is cool.

no really. i know it can be a pain and cause issues and you need to moderate it.
but it can also bring some amazing things about.

like new friends who are walking the same road you are

and other new friends who see your tweet and offer to do a fundraiser for you and they don't even know you

seriously cool.

April 1st will bring a new fundraiser for our adoption fund and I'm super excited about it!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

*Heartline Haiti*- The Esther Clutch

Heartline was a breath of fresh air. 

The mango trees shaded the outdoor work area where women were cutting and pinning, and inside the steady hum of manual sewing machines.

These women, hard at work creating beautiful clutch's that we would soon be selling. 

These women. These amazing women have been able to escape abusive relationships because of this opportunity. They can support themselves and don't have to rely on someone who beats them, for their food and shelter.They send their kids to school, they feed their entire family.  They are free.

"Heartline Ministries is a 501(c)(3) faith based organization formed to operate an orphanage, women’s program and other programs in Port-au-Prince Haiti. The organization was established in September of 2000 to formalize the independent work of John & Beth McHoul, who are the founding directors of the organization. John & Beth McHoul have been working in Haiti for over 20 years.

Our approach deals with the whole person, so Heartline is involved in many humanitarian, educational and faith based activities.

In 2007, we started our women’s program. The women’s program currently houses our Sewing, Beading and Cooking programs. The sewing class is six-months long and gives the women of the program the chance to make purses that are sold in the states at Purse Parties. The Beading class is a eight-week learning program. Once they master the art of making beads, they also have the chance to sell their items both online and at our two merchandise stores in Haiti. The ultimate goal of the program is to empower women to take control of their lives emotionally, spiritually and financially.

In 2010, our Maternity Center was brought to reality with a very busy birthing room and classrooms where both pre-natal and post-birth child development classes are taught weekly. We have one midwife on staff and many other who have a heart for the program who are a great help!"
 (above description taken directly from Heartline's website as to accurately explain their mission)

After the women graduate Heartline's sewing program, they have the option of making purses and jewelry for Haitian Creations. They sell through parties, online store and through us at Trades of Hope!

Gorgeous Bags

Fabric Beads

Haitian Creation's sets up savings accounts for these women so that they are able to save their money up in a secure way.
Chandler (who is in charge of Haitian Creations) told us that many women were able to sustain themselves through and after the Earthquake in 2010 because of their savings accounts.

Heartline's Maternity Center is in the process of breaking new ground and they are actively fundraising. Maybe you heard about Barry and his run across Haiti?!

Chandler shared with us the statistics in Haiti involving rape, maternal death and infant death.

It's mind-numbing.

Heartline is not a band-aid, it's a beautiful place of empowerment, education, love and support.

I can't wait to return.

Oh, and that clutch they were working on?
Chandler gave as simple sketch to one of the artists and she ran with it.....

her name is Esther, so it was only fitting the clutch would be named for her.

Esther and our founders!

You can purchase an Esther Clutch today by clicking here!

The clutch zippers shut and has an inside pocket where the artisan has signed her name!

It fits any e-reader as well as an i-Pad Mini!

my commission goes toward our adoption fund!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Miscellany Monday- a day late (and a winner!)

happy tuesday miscellany monday.

1) i get my stitches out tomorrow. i am ready to shower my leg. seriously. 2 weeks since i have gotten the full thing wet and it's time.

gross right?

2) i love sports. i love the nfl, nba, volleyball, tennis, and ncaa men's basketball. i really love college sports. and it's march. so that means....

filled out my bracket and i'm ready to roll.

and since it's march madness and all, how about a little 10% off your coffee from my just love coffee shop?! Great coffee, a great coupon and you help us fund our adoption! win win win.

3) winner of the mercy house kenya giveaway (as selected by was Nancy.
but I decided to give away two, so the second winner was Emily. :)

if i don't hear from either of you be Thursday evening, I will let pick a new winner!
email me at krystle(dot)bowen@gmail(dot)com with your address please!

4) these boys. are my heart.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Adoption Fundraising in FULL swing!

i am so excited about all of this!

we have kicked off our fundraising for adoption and i will keep updating the blog as we add more!

here are the ways you can help now

duh right?! 

Follow my blog for updates

You can donate directly using this widget which will always be on the sidebar!

Buy fair-trade products from me via Trades of Hope anytime using this link
Krystle's TRADES OF HOPE shop!

Buy some really yummy coffee!
We are fundraising with Just Love Coffee!
Fair Trade, Direct Trade and organic shade grown beans!
We get a significant portion of your purchase if you buy through THIS LINK.
There will always be a link on the sidebar of my blog as well!
It is really good coffee!

Next month I am doing a fundraiser with Thirty-One!

Here is a little peek at what that's all about!

Thank you all so much for your love and support!

Bye Bye Google Reader

you probably heard Google Reader is phasing out and all that, by July 1st

Don't miss out on my updates and blog posts!

You can follow 3 Little Men & a Mommy via Blog Lovin'

Click the link on the sidebar or the one below to get stay connected!

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mercy House- Kenya *GIVEAWAY*

I've shared before my dream for opening a house for Teen Mom's or Mom's who otherwise have no place to go.

Either in the U.S. or another country, at some point I know it will happen.

Mercy House Kenya is one such house and I am honored to share with you today about it!

Here is a quick history of Mercy House as told on their website:

The Welch Family
"We are just a simple family who said yes when God asked." Terrell and Kristen have been married for 17 years and are raising three children. Kristen writes the parenting blog, We are THAT family.
In March of 2010, she traveled to Kenya, Africa, with Compassion International, the world's largest child sponsorship program, to blog their relief efforts in the slums of Nairobi. She was especially burdened visiting Mathare Valley, one of Africa's largest slums. Just days after returning home, Kristen read a heartbreaking article by CNN about the large number of backstreet abortions by girls forced into prostitution to feed their families.
Maureen Owino
While in Kenya, Kristen met Maureen, one of Compassion's leadership graduates, a former sponsored child. Maureen is single, 27 years old and speaks 5 languages. She traveled to the Unites States in the summer of 2010 on behalf of Compassion International to speak to thousands of students at Student Life Camps. Her moving life story led to the sponsorship of more than a thousand impoverished children.
She has since become a very dear friend of the Welch family. Just weeks after returning from Africa, Kristen emailed Maureen and asked if she knew of any ministries reaching out or offering an alternative to the young girls having backstreet abortions. She didn't know of any.
Maureen partnered with Terrell and Kristen to pray specifically about these precious girls. Four months later, God spoke to Maureen's heart and birthed a vision to help these girls. When Maureen emailed Kristen with this news, both knew that God was beginning a good work. The Welch family lives in America and mobilize people to give with the help of supportive friends, family and blog readers.  Maureen is in Kenya with the language, education, leadership skills and the heart to be the hands of feet of Jesus.
In the summer of 2010, The Mercy Maternity House was formed to support the work Maureen will be doing. Maureen is the full-time as the Executive Director of Rehema House (word for mercy in Swahili) in Kenya. While she works in Africa, The Welch family raise money and awareness while supporting Maureen and her staff.
As of November 2012, the maternity home houses 8 girls and 8 babies and a handful of staff members. We give glory to God for all that He has done and we covet your prayers.

Talk about being on the same page right?! Mercy House has a "Mercy Shop" which supports the house. The items they sell support the house and it's girls and many of the items are made by the women in the house itself (LOVE!) 
I was sent two items to review and I love them both! The first is a bag made by the women of Freeset! Freeset has partnered with Mercy House, so not only are you providing for Mercy House but also for the women from Freeset who have escaped sex trafficking in Calcutta, India!

These bags are super roomy and stylish, each month there is a different color! There is also an internal pouch with a zipper! 

The second item is a beautiful shirt that has beautiful wings and a heart on the front that signifiies how God's hand is on each one of us. On the back is the website for Mercy  House. Not only stylish, but a fantastic advertisement for Mercy House!

Mercy Shop offers FREE shipping if you spend over $50, just put BIGSPENDER in the code at checkout!

And because this is all just so cool, I'm going to be giving away one of their Farmhouse Totes!
Just leave a comment below telling me something you learned about Mercy House after visiting their website and I will let choose a winner on MONDAY March 18th!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Freed to Fly- A story from Haiti

I will always be amazed at people who can see 
the potential of something before it's beautiful  
They see what it can become before others do. And then they make it beautiful. 
They have the vision and the talent.

Meet Michele-Brutel

He turns this

into this:

Freed to Fly

And what's even more amazing? He does it with 4 tools.

As we pulled up to this area called Croix de Bouquet  and hopped out of the tap-tap, we saw little houses or shops side by side, men standing on the outside, waiting for us to enter so we could see their handiwork.

They call it "tin-city" and these men make something beautiful out of something ugly and it's changing their lives.

This specific piece is made by Michele and his employees, a few men who put food on their own table and several of their family members tables as well.

When we asked Michele what this means to him, his working and selling his products to us he lights up. His daughter is in school. She is planning to go to University and be
come a doctor.

Without selling his products, school is out of the question. That comes after food of course. It's an opportunity not everyone has and he is grateful to provide it for his daughter.

Isn't that how we all feel? The desire to take care of our family and provide for them, giving them the opportunity to succeed, that exists everywhere. Every country, every language.

Just think, Michele sends his daughter to university and she is given the opportunity to live a dream. She becomes a doctor, changing her life and her families. Her future children will live a different life. The cycle is broken.

An opportunity.
A change.
A chance.

And it wasn't because of a hand-out or charity. It was because he was given an opportunity and the joy and pride (the good kind) is what he feels knowing he can support and provide for his child and the generations that follow.

I am beyond humbled to partner with Michele and others like him. A link in the chain.

to purchase a Freed to Fly cross or find out more about Trades of Hope, click this link

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ankle Updation

I will be back with more Haiti stories next week I promise!

I had surgery on my ankle Thursday and have been on my butt with my foot up since.

No fun.

I have my post-op appointment in 11 days and if I'm doing good I can't start on an exercise bike. After my 6 week appointment, if all is well I can start back into a walk/run routine and hopefully be back running shortly thereafter.

We still aren't sure how a piece of bone broke off and found its way into my ankle joint. Could have been when I had the stress fracture, could have been from a past ankle turn and it just was dormant until the other injury.
Who knows.

Good thing is, although there was some damage done to the cartilage he didn't do anything with it. We are hopeful it won't give me any issues in the future!

This doing nothing thing has really been a test of patience for sure :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Haiti- Part (one)

Leaving the house was the hardest part. I cried a lot and my heart ached. I was so ready to go, but leaving my husband and my boys and knowing it would be a week before I saw them again was tough.

Once I got on the plane my mind and heart focused on what was ahead and I was ready.

I flew all night long, all morning long and after a layover in Miami, met up with the rest of our team and flew to Haiti. I was traveling for 24 hours straight and was tired. I hardly noticed though, the adrenaline and excitement of what was to come was enough to drive me.

Over the course of the next week or so I am going to share with you about some specific stories that really hit home for me, but today I just want to share with you my feelings.

I have had a hard time trying to figure out how to process it all for the blog. I had 26 people in my home last week to hear about Haiti and that came easy to me, putting it on the blog is harder. I wish I could sit with each of you and share my experience and express with my face and my hands what it was like.

The bottom line is, there is just something about that place. I loved it and I cannot wait to go back.

You read this post so you know why we will return someday, but I want to go back before then and work at some of these places I mentioned. Support them how they need it and take part in their lives even more.

It is hard to see some of what we saw. It's hard to imagine what daily life is really like when you only visit it for a few days and only meet certain people.

I can tell you this. There is a whole lot of hope there. They are smart people and they are gifted.
They need a chance. They don't want handouts, they need opportunities.

Things that places like The Apparent Project, Heartline and Three Angels Relief provide.

And in turn what Trades of Hope provides.

It was evident that the organizations and governments aiding these beautiful people need to pull back from the aid standpoint and help move this country into a sustainable living process. They just need help on their feet and then let them take the wheel.

Did you know that the majority of the main "tent cities" have all but been evacuated? They go to their homes now at night, but return every day for the aid that is passed out.
We need to help them sustain themselves and not continue giving handouts. They really don't just want that.

I am so thankful that I am a part of something that is making waves of change for generations to come, and not just a band-aid.

It is a beautiful country full of beautiful people who have an incredible amount of possibility.

In my next post I will share with you about a man named Michele-Brutel, who is sending his daughter to school because of the money he makes selling tin art, including our beautiful Freed to Fly cross.

Friday, March 1, 2013

And so we begin....

I wasn't sure when I left for Haiti, all the reasons why I was going.

I mean, I knew the main reason: to meet the artisans Trades of Hope partner's with and to see first hand how what we are doing is changing lives. That alone was enough and worth it.

Yet, I knew there was more. From the moment I heard about the trip and shared with my friends, we knew there was more. Another reason besides the obvious, maybe even several.

While I was in Haiti, I prayed constantly that God would open my eyes to see what He wanted me to see, to stir my heart if it needed stirring, to bring my attention to something. I tried to be in each moment like my friend Jenna prayed for and to be open to whatever He was saying.

I believe there are several things coming from this trip, and many may be years down the road. One thing that I can share with you now is, we will be pursuing adoption from Haiti.

Maybe some of you thought that was obvious, but for us it wasn't. We prayed that if we were to purse adoption from this country we would know and for the first several days I didn't feel that adoption was a part of why I was there. And then on that third night, it became heavy on my heart and as my husband and I talked when I got home we both felt this was the step to take!

Me loving on a sweet girl

Since being home I've been reading up on as much as I can, contacting different agencies and gathering as much information as I can.

Visiting Three Angels was the kicker for me, and we plan to pursue adoption through this orphanage. The care is excellent, in some ways better than what you might see in a U.S. daycare facility.

So now what?

We pray. 
That's really the first and foremost thing. We pray that God continues to guide us and that we can discern between emotions and what He is calling us to do.

We get out of debt. 
We have a lot of debt over 3 NICU babies and subsequent medical things and we are working hard to pay that off. We have a lofty goal of this fall, but we believe we can do it.This is gonna take miracles, but God is in that business.
We believe it's the wisest move to be out of debt before we purse adoption as the costs are high. For a look at the expense breakdown, click here

We do fundraisers.
As I stated before, my Trades of Hope earnings are going towards our adoption fund.
In addition to that, I am cooking up several other ideas which I will tell you about as we are ready to launch them.

I do have one other I can share with you now!
"Ordinary Hero Foundation is a nonprofit, 501c3, child advocacy organization. Our goal is to encourage and provide a way for every person to make a difference in the life of a child in need, through adoption, missions, or local outreach.  

We believe every child needs a HERO, wants a HERO, and is looking for a HERO. We believe that HERO is YOU
Let us help you get connected to the child who needs you."

When you purchase items through the Ordinary Hero store and 
select my name: Krystle Bowen
 through the affiliate drop down tap upon checkout, Ordinary Hero gives us 40% of that purchase to go towards our adoption fund!!

That can seriously add up!
 There is stuff for men, women, kids and more!

You can also click my link to the right and donate with paypal!

Check this out:

Oh yeah- it says Haiti on it.

So there ya go.

It's a long process.
It's going to be hard and we will probably want to throw in the towel at some point along the way.
Reminding ourselves that this is not about us.
It's about Him.
He called us and He will sustain us.

I have no visions of a storybook process, I am fully aware of what lies ahead.
God has placed incredible people in my life that have walked this path before me and I know I will meet more along the way.
Their transparency and candor is greatly appreciated and will be what we cling to.

Will you walk this with us?
Praying for us and our kids and for our future kids.
Pray for God's provision and clarity and for Him to be glorified.

Let's do this people.