giving back

Sharing Thoughts from a Heavy Heart

Love is Beautiful. Styled Floral Hearts by Shay Cochrane.

It has taken me a while to get to the place where I could write this blog post. My heart is so very heavy. A lot of people are apologizing for how long it has taken them to say or write something, but I’m not going to do that – and I’ll tell you why.

When I first heard the news about George Floyd, I could honestly hardly process it and I certainly couldn’t watch the video footage. My first reaction was to pray for clarity and then to wait as I processed mentally a bit. Finally, I took a deep breath and watched the video and my reaction was exactly as I had feared. I could hardly think straight after watching it. I felt positively sick. A dark and stormy cloud moved in over the rest of my day and I have had a pervasive feeling of nausea ever since. I haven’t been able to go very long without thinking about George Floyd and those who came before him. If I’m being honest, when I watched the video of Floyd’s death, I was expecting more of a fight. More danger. More angry chaos. But, it wasn’t there. It was relatively quiet and very controlled. And so cold and methodical. It was absolutely haunting.

In the days since, I haven’t said much on social media, primarily because, as I said, I don’t know that the world needs more noise. We are already overrun with the vomiting of ill-thought out words in short soundbites in today’s world. I always want what I say to be thoughtful and usually that takes time. I didn’t want to just throw out a quick, trite statement. Because that isn’t enough. And yet, I wasn’t entirely sure what to say. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing or offending someone if I wasn’t able to express my thoughts in the right way, but silence can be misconstrued as well, and I am going to trust that we can all give one another grace as we navigate these waters together. And I ask for your grace as you read this post. I won’t get everything right and I will not be able to fully express everything that is in my heart, but I ask that you give me grace in the trying. Another reason that I have kept quiet is because I wanted to yield the floor to those who know more than I do – to those who have experienced more and are “experts” on racism. The problem with that, of course, is that the world doesn’t need more experts. The world needs more individuals who are open to looking inward and making a change in their innermost beings. The world needs people who are honest with themselves about their own hearts, but also who are malleable and teachable. During this time of my quiet reflection, the Lord has undoubtedly been working on my own heart.

In the past few days, I have read a lot of articles, listened to podcasts, watched videos, watched countless Instagram Stories and read thousands upon thousands of comments from people of all races. I’ve heard several popular “influencers” and “experts” as they discuss what the problem is and what can be done about it. If I’m being honest, not many of them sat well with me. My heart was rather unsettled by what many of they said. I heard a lot of vitriol (which is very different from righteous anger). I heard a lot of condescension. I heard some people tearing white people down and others lashing out with hatred. I read some terrible (and untrue) things about police officers on the whole, not just the individual ones involved in police brutality incidents. A lot of things were likely written out of abject anger and fear, which is completely understandable at a time like this.   But the disturbing part to me was the fact that at the base, I heard mostly self-serving language. The focus of almost every person who was speaking was “me”. Whether it was about them personally and what they think is “right” or whether they were taking the liberty to speak for their entire race, it was all very focused on self. Some were giving themselves backhanded compliments and others were using self-deprecating language, but even that still pointed back to self every time. I remember Beth Moore saying once in a Bible study of hers that I attended that whether you are conceited or struggle with self-worth, the root problem is actually the same…It is pride. Whether you think too highly of yourself or think too lowly of yourself, the problem is that you are still overly focused on self. I was rocked by her statement at the time. I had literally never thought about it that way. But, isn’t pride at the very root of the situation in which we currently find ourselves?

Please don’t get me wrong, I think that the statements that people are making are made with the best of intentions. I truly think that most people are appalled by what has happened and want to help. I think that people want to effect change. In no way am I trying to throw anyone under the proverbial bus here and I’m not sitting in judgment. Each person is absolutely entitled to share what they like, given our freedom of speech in this country. It is just that not much of what people were saying was resonating with my own heart in a genuine way. And so I sat, rather shamed by what some of these people were saying and the tone in which they said it. And we all know what shame does – it paralyzes us. And so there I stayed quietly reading and listening and searching for truth amidst the noise. I searched my own heart and I begged God to show me places in my own life that needed change and to help me impart wisdom to my four boys as I raise them up to be a part of the next generation.

A few years ago, my husband and I chose to move our family into Houston’s Third Ward. If you’re not familiar with Houston, the Third Ward has an incredibly rich history. It is also home to a high proportion of the crime in the Houston area. Just a few years ago, it was noted as being the 15th most dangerous area in the United States. The area’s violent crime rate is 75.89 per 1,000 residents, and people living in the area have a 1 in 13 chance of becoming a victim of crime each year. More than a few friends and family told me why our choice was both poorly made and flat out dangerous. The Third Ward happens to be the place that George Floyd was from. It also happens to be where Beyonce grew up.

Our family was one of only two white families on our entire street, save for the one biracial family across the way. I was so excited to be living there. God had worked out our moving there with details that I won’t go into here, but let me sum it up by saying that He opened a door and we were thrilled to walk through it. I was particularly excited for both our family and my children to have a more diverse group of friends. We met some truly amazing neighbors there and because of the size of our friends’ home that we were renting there, we were able to open it up to some incredible experiences, like a local church, Restoration Community Church, hosting their baptisms in our swimming pool. It was beautiful beyond words. We attended every neighborhood party and picnic and befriended several wonderful families. During the time we lived there, my understanding of race relations changed a bit. Some things that I thought were fairly simple turned out to be more complex. When I was younger, I truly thought that the answer was to ignore color entirely – to do my best to be “colorblind.” I thought that if race was never brought up, the issues surrounding it would naturally go away on their own. I hoped that if our differences were ignored or downplayed, they would cease to be a real problem. I think a lot of us were taught that race was something not to talk about. Now, however, I really believe that various races, ethnicities and cultures are different in many ways and that those differences should not only not be ignored, but they should be acknowledged and even celebrated.

Fast forward 18 months and we had to move out of our home there because of damage done by Hurricane Harvey. We packed up our things and moved to a rental house quickly, without much time to plan. I was pregnant with our fourth child at the time and a lot happened in the year that followed. When I stop and look back on our time in the Third Ward, I realize that I learned a lot through our time there, on many fronts. One of those fronts was race relations.

I’ll never forget speaking with an older man about the fact that we lived in the Third Ward. He asked me where we lived and I told him and he made a disapproving face, which was not an uncommon occurrence for me at the time when the topic came up. He asked me some questions about it and I mentioned that I was happy that my boys would have a more racially diverse group of friends. He smiled and told me that friendships are formed by shared experiences, not by proximity of living. Ouch. He was correct in his statement, but, in my naivety, I had never considered the distinction. The more I thought about what he said, the more I realized that friendships really are formed by shared experiences – being in classes together, being on the same sports teams together, serving on the same committee or with the same charity organization, attending camp together or pursuing the same hobby – not just by a few scattered playdates or interactions. True friendships are formed when standing side by side and accomplishing something together or sitting across the table from one another and sharing a meal while you talk about life and experiences and ideas. And if you’re really intent on introducing diversity into your world, you’re going to have to include economic diversity. That’s where the real differences come into play.

As we interacted with our new friends there, I noticed many differences between our family and some of our neighbors. Some of them were very small and some of them were quite large. I don’t think that talking about them specifically adds much to this conversation and I don’t want to detract attention from the issue at hand so, suffice it to say, I think we as humans have to learn to acknowledge and to celebrate our differences. I think that it’s normal to notice differences and it’s also understandable to be a bit uncomfortable in the presence of different cultures. The problem comes when we refuse to move from that place of discomfort. When we feel safer in the similarities and refuse to explore the differences at all. When we do that, we tend to get stagnant and comfortable where we are and we tend to avoid circumstances where we might be challenged or have to seek to understand someone who is different than us. And it’s not a far leap from there to fear of the unknown or thinking that we are better than another race or culture.

Almost every interaction I’ve had with someone who is different than me has changed me in some way. I’ve spent time serving people in several countries around the world and my heart was changed by the individuals of different cultures and races with whom I interacted on every one of those journeys. My global perspective was changed, my understanding of other cultures was expanded and my compassion for people was increased. I have never regretted any of the time or money invested on those trips. I grew as a person and I walked away with far more than I gave. But understanding and compassion are simply not enough.

A couple of days ago, I came across this message from a pastor in Dallas whose teaching I have been listening to for many, many years. I’ve heard him speak in person and even met him once or twice. I have always been impressed by both his wisdom and his humility. On this topic, as usual, his words resonated deeply. And I think the reason for that is that he kept his focus on God in the midst of this current situation. In this video, he speaks to his listeners like a father, speaking with conviction and truth and giving practical ways to bring about change. Though he is a black man himself, his words speak nothing of his own experiences with racism. His focus remains on the Lord. You can listen to Dr. Tony Evans’ heart on the matter here. And I really hope that you will. (Feel free to stop and do it now. I’ll be here when you’re done.) It’s really that good and his words are so much more eloquent than mine.

I think that it is dangerous to exclude God from the conversation about race for two reasons. He is the reason for our inherent value and He is the one who can bring about lasting change. At their core, all people have value not because someone else says that they do (or in spite of someone else saying they don’t) but because we are all created in the very image of God. And God Himself is by His very nature both righteous and loving. He is a God who demands both justice and mercy. Because of His creative nature, our world is full of differences, but each one of us bears His signature. Each distinct race and ethnicity comes together in His creation to form a beautifully patterned, complete whole. The diverse nature of our world contributes to its richness and beauty. Of course, our world is also fallen and far from perfect. Often that brokenness leaves me feeling sad, angry and defeated. But, if you are a believer in Christ, then your very faith is based on the power of God to change things. Change is at the very core of the gospel, as God makes us new, through the saving power of His son, Jesus. You cannot believe the gospel and not believe that God can change things – from cultural constructs to circumstances right down to the intricacies of the human heart. Throughout the Bible, He is consistently a God of hope and change who offers us grace. My former pastor from my time living in New York is also one of my favorite authors, Tim Keller. In his book Generous Justice he says, “There is a direct relationship between a person’s grasp and experience of God’s grace and his or her heart for justice.” I find those to be wise words.

What I know about the current state of things in America and around the world is that things must change. There is little doubt about that. We must work harder to fight racism and to build a society where justice for all is upheld. We must fight oppression and stand up for those who are suffering. As I write this, riots continue and people are hurting. My heart is broken for the pain in the world right now. There is such heaviness and it is exhausting and almost paralyzing. But, God. God is not surprised. God sees. He is moved by our situation and He is in the business of changing hearts. I love the challenge that Dr. Evans gives us in the video linked above. We have to act on four levels: self, family, church and community. We cannot simply move on one of those fronts if we want to effect change. We must address all four levels. While I alone cannot really control politics or policies (even though my voice is heard through my vote), what I can do is be malleable enough to allow God to change my heart. I can take actions to learn and to love others better. And I can change the shape of my family as I commit to raising my sons to know that ALL people are made in the image of God. I can work to effect change within my faith community and in the community at large. I can vote. I may be one person, but I can effect change, however small. And if we all commit to doing that, we will see bigger changes. I do not pretend to have the answers, nor am I even sure that I have any great ideas. But, it would be a real problem if that stopped me from doing anything at all.

Recently, a black friend of mine asked me to read a work by James Baldwin. He was so incredibly passionate about it that I did so immediately. He particularly wanted me to read one story because he said it was so much like his own upbringing in Harlem.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that I had never read James Baldwin until earlier this year. I was immediately struck by his gift of writing. He has a masterful use of words that can make you feel things and see things from a different perspective in ways you can hardly believe. I couldn’t put the book down. Some of the stories were hard to read and some were beautiful, but all of them gave me some increased insight into something I really knew very little about. I think you can learn a great deal through reading and I am personally committing to making more intentional time to do more of it to learn more. During this time, it is imperative that we listen to the voices of our African American brothers and sisters and that we do so with open minds and hearts to hear what they have to say.

I serve on the board of directors of Agape Development, which is based in Houston’s Third Ward. The mission of this organization is:  Transforming our neighborhood by preparing Christ-following, independent, community leaders. If you have a heart for the adults and children in the Third Ward community of Houston, I welcome you to getting involved in this organization. Agape was started by a long-time friend of mine and his wife, who moved their family to the Third Ward fourteen years ago to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors. They are doing a mighty work there and we would love for you to join us. The people you meet will be a blessing to you and your family as much as you are to them. I’m certain of it. And that is also true of so many worthy organizations doing important work throughout our country and around the world.

All in all, there are myriad things you can do to make a difference where you are. You can learn more about other races, ethnicities and cultures by reading and listening. You can interact in an intentional and meaningful way with people of other races and ethnicities more often. You can serve others who are less fortunate than you. You can stay open to change, recognize places where change is needed and work towards that change. You can teach your children by example to love others, especially those who don’t look like them. You can peacefully protest, join organizations whose missions align with your values and donate your time and financial resources to them. Through all of that, you can simultaneously maintain focus on the God who never changes. In an ever-changing culture, He doesn’t change. And in a self-focused culture, focusing on something bigger than ourselves is actually quite liberating.

Someone once said that we tend to glance at God and gaze at life when what we need to do is gaze at God and glance at life. (I’m not sure who to attribute the quote to, but if you know, please share!) In times like these, I am reminded of how true this is. Issues of race have existed throughout history in countless times and places. Racial tensions and inequalities are hardly unique to American history. Rather than look to our own culture for the answers, I am reminded that we need to look first to the author or life Himself – the Creator of those many races and ethnicities. In Mark 12:31, He commands us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

Will you join me in being more intentional in doing both?

 

Helping After Harvey, Locally

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Hurricane Harvey wreaked his devastation across the great (and very large) state of Texas and Louisiana this past weekend and week. It has been a gut-wrenching and heart breaking few days. These are difficult times, to be certain. But, in the aftermath of the storm, there is much to be done. And so many people have reached out to me asking how they can help. Not only that, people are asking me how they can help through local organizations, where the money is certain to go straight to the people impacted by this disaster. Many of us are more comfortable donating directly to smaller organizations with less overhead, red-tape and bureaucracy or even directly to families in times like these.

Sweet friends of mine across the country have been texting, emailing and messaging me asking for thoughts and ideas on where they can donate, so I thought it might be helpful to create a blog post with a few options. All of these organizations are ones with which I have a personal connection and can vouch for their honest intentions in helping and for the fact that they have very low to no overhead taken out of the money donated, as the funding for their organizations come from other development efforts. They are grassroots efforts that help people here in Houston every day. Of course, Harvey affected so many towns across Texas and Louisiana and I’m in no way suggesting that Houston is the only community in need. It’s just the place where I was raised, where I started my business and where my studio is located, so its near and dear to my heart and it’s also where I have the personal connections. I’m a firm believer that you should give where your heart leads you, so I would encourage you to jump in and help out where you feel comfortable.

I have so many friends and neighbors who need help during this difficult time that it is almost overwhelming. Where do you even start with helping? Most shelters I’ve been to are no longer accepting clothing and each one has a specific list of needs that is changing hour by hour as people bring more things. It can be hard to keep up with and know where to help. (For an interesting and informative look at what donations can actually be harmful, see this video from CBS.) Since sometimes cash donations are overlooked by people wanting to do something more personal, I thought maybe a list of small, local organizations that I have personal connections with might be helpful. Please note that this is not meant to be an exhaustive list of wonderful places to give. I tried to select organizations that do not have a national fundraising arm and therefore, often get overlooked in times like this, when it is hard for people (especially far away) to research local organizations who need help continuing to serve the people of Houston they have been serving for many years. I’m a big fan of supporting local businesses and charities and just wanted to provide some options for friends who are far away, but want to help. I’ve included links to the various websites, so that you can learn more about them if you’d like.

 

The Forge for Families is a community center in Houston’s Third Ward, where we live. Their mission is to holistically equip families to fulfill their God-given potential and their vision is to transform families in one generation. In the middle of the worst part of the storm and in the middle of a neighborhood in need, The Forge for Families opened their doors as a shelter. They are currently housing roughly 300 people that have been displaced throughout the greater Houston area. Currently, the shelter is being helped out by the Red Cross, but once they’ve departed, they will continue to invest in the families in need, just as they always have. Donations to the Forge for Families will allow them to continue to assist the evacuees while their lives are being restored. They will also allow them to refill essential supplies as needed. They have created a Hurricane Harvey Fund designated for supplies, operational expenses, facility management and all the extra cost that were not accounted for in our 2017 budget and you can donate to it here.

 

Agape Development was started by a longtime friend of mine, Kirk Craig. Agape also serves people in Houston’s Third Ward. Their mission is in transforming this neighborhood by preparing Christ-following, independent, community leaders. Agape Development staff was delivering food and water to families during the storm and aftermath when many households ran out of food and were cut off from grocery stores, many of which were closed. Now that the immediate crisis is ending and we begin recovery, Agape stands ready to help with that as well. For many, the beginning of the month looms around the corner as a financial deadline: rents, mortgages, car loans, cell phone bills, and any debt repayments are due and for low-income and working poor families, hourly employment during a natural disaster means forgoing income. If you would like to financially support the remaining recovery efforts they are conducting or support their fall programs to empower our neighborhood, please click relief.agapedevelopment.org. To volunteer with your time, please check out their volunteer opportunities or email volunteer@agapedevelopment.org.

 

Houston Pregnancy Help Center is run by a powerhouse of a woman named Sylvia Johnson-Matthews. If you’ve met her personally, you’ve been amazed by the combination of her strength and her humility. Houston Pregnancy Help Centers provide practical and compassionate support to women in unplanned pregnancy situations. We present life-affirming alternatives to the tragedy of abortion, while respecting a woman’s decision without ridicule or rejection. Currently, they are women affected by Harvey, including pregnant women as well as those with babies who need supplies, such as diapers, wipes, formula, clothing, etc. Donate to HPHC Flood Assistance here or by texting the keyword HPHC to 77977.

 

Yellowstone Academy is the premier school in Houston’s historic 3rd Ward. At Yellowstone, students receive an education that cultivates their intellect, nourishes their spirit, and empowers them to capitalize on their potential to create a fulfilling future for our entire community. They’ve been serving in Houston for 15 years and words cannot adequately describe the impact they are making on the youth of our city and their families. The stories will bring tears to your eyes. I’ve been attending their fundraising Love Brunch for several years and they stories I’ve heard are so encouraging. For 15 years, Yellowstone Academy has been standing with some of Houston’s most vulnerable students and families. Many of the families—from their students to their staff—have lost homes, possessions, wages, and more as a result of catastrophic flood levels. Even their newly renovated campus was impacted. As they sent this update, members of their team are on the grounds fully assessing the damages and making the necessary repairs to once again serve their students as soon as possible. A key component of their educational model is that all of their families pay tuition according to what they can afford, and the remainder is funded through scholarships provided by generous partners across the city. In these difficult times, families may not be in a position to fund their portion of tuition for the fall semester. As a response, they are waiving tuition for the semester for any family who needs it, with faith that our community can rally together to fund the difference. Stand with them today by making a donation towards that here.

 

Undies for Everyone enhances the self-esteem, dignity, hygiene, and success of Houston’s disadvantaged students by providing them clean underwear. Keeping kids in class and bullies at bay. During the Hurricane Harvey disaster, they are serving more than just students, as so many people in shelters don’t have clean underwear or access to laundry facilities. Brene Brown stands at George R Brown Convention Center, which is currently acting as a large shelter, making a plea for donations after what she has seen firsthand. View her video here. Please consider helping them by donating here.

Harvey

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As I sit here typing this, I am listening to the rain fall. I used to love snuggling up during a good ol’ Texas thunderstorm and I loved sleeping in one even more. It was actually something I missed during the time we lived in San Francisco. Strangely, it doesn’t really storm there. I only saw lightning and heard thunder two times in the five years that we lived there and it always struck me as rather odd. I actually missed it during our time there, as crazy as that feels to type now, in the midst of Harvey. It has been raining for four days now and has been raining without stopping for even a second for at least 24 hours straight. I’d love to tell you exactly how many hours, but I can’t, because I’m not even sure what day it is. Somehow, they are all meshing together in my head and I have lost all sense of time. It’s a strange feeling and I’m beginning to realize that cabin fever is a very real phenomenon. When you’re stranded on a makeshift island surrounded by water and unable to escape except by boat or helicopter for days on end, it really does alter your mind a bit. And we are among the more fortunate in this storm, of that I am very well aware.

The photo above was the view from our front porch yesterday. The floodwaters have filled the park across the street, with its hills and valleys that create a bit of a bowl that is 15-20 feet or so down. The street, which is probably 4-5 feet below our house is also flooded and impassable. You can see by the street sign shown how high it is. It is flooded in both directions as far as the eye can see. The nearest cross street is also underwater. And the water is in our yard and slowly moving up the driveway (which has a pretty steep hill to it) and closer to our home. My son’s baby swing in the front yard is halfway under water, so I’m guessing there’s about 2-3 feet of water in our yard. A family of ducks just swam by me the now lake that covers our front yard.

For four days now, I’ve been absorbing and processing. Absorbing information, photos, videos and the very personal stories of people close to me who are in dire distress. It’s an awful lot to take in. I’ve had so many thoughts I wanted to share, but neither the energy or the time to do so. It has taken all I have to keep life within these walls of our house as normal as humanly possible for my children. At the beginning of this ordeal, when Harvey was forming in the Gulf, I was checking the weather nonstop. It may have been a throwback to my energy trading days, when tracking hurricanes and their effects on production in the Gulf was a part of my job. Or it may have had something to do with the fact that though I have weathered Hurricane Alisha, Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike, I have never weathered a hurricane as a mother. Now, with three boys who are dependent on us for survival, the game has changed dramatically. Regardless, I was glued to the weather. I quickly fell in love with Space City Weather, which offers information without the sensationalism. In the beginning, I didn’t realize how crucial that would be to maintaining my sanity. I left the news channels on for a while, as they had tornado alerts and other important information, but I couldn’t leave them on for long because of my children. When some desperate woman who had been rescued by boat started screaming about all the little children who were going to die in their homes and our three year old repeated those words and asked me why with a terrified expression, I turned the television off. Images and words on TV are powerful and my boys are so young that they cannot separate fact from drama. Please don’t get me wrong, I think the news people in Houston have done and are doing an excellent job and I am grateful for their selfless coverage of this unprecedented disaster, but my own heart aches deeply at watching the images and hearing the stories, so I cannot imagine what the little minds in my house are thinking as they try and process it all.

By now, however, I rarely even look at the weather. I’m simply exhausted by it all. Severe weather alerts have gone off on my phone around every 5-15 minutes 24 hours a day for the past 4 days. Flash flood warning, tornado warning, tropical storm warning, tropical cyclone warning. I get it. We’re all in great danger here. I just can’t even process them anymore. When the tornado sirens went off, we hunkered down in an interior hallway or in our basement. It’s a confusing thing when the authorities tell you to get upstairs because of flash flooding, but also to get to the lowest level because of a tornado. And when your kids are finally sleeping peacefully, do you wake them up to move from one to the other when the sirens go off? It’s a tough call, especially when you’re tired. When we were taking cover, my children were crying in fear. And I read one of my very favorite books to them, The Jesus Storybook Bible. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a refreshing read of the stories we know and love that brings fresh tears to my eyes almost every time I read it to my children. It’s a powerful translation, even for adults. We read the story of Jesus calming the storm and talked about how we do not need to fear, because even in difficult times like these, God is still in control. Once it was over, my kids were “playing tornado” and hiding under the dining room table. I remember reading an article on child psychology about how this is how they process trauma in a healthy way, by acting it out again and again, so I let them do it and even joined in some. It was a bit of humbling experience.

We are just fine. We are safe and dry and our house has not taken in water other than some roof and ceiling leaks. We have food and plenty of water. We have electricity and we are all together. Though we are stranded here, we are absolutely fine and beyond grateful. God is merciful and through all of this horror, the loss of life is so much smaller in number than one might expect. For that, we are grateful.

More to come as I continue to process and reflect. There is much to share and there is much to be done in relief and recovery efforts. But for now, I will focus on our family. Keeping us fed and the house and dishes relatively clean, coordinating efforts of help for friends via the internet and Facebook and connecting people as we are so thankful that we have electricity. Until we are able to leave our home, we will do what we can to help, we will support and minister to one another in this time of crisis and we will pray. We will pray for the rain to stop, the storm to dissipate, the winds to die down and for peace for the people of our great city. And when we are able, we will act. We will join others in relief efforts, band together as a community and get our community put back together. We will be stronger and our perspective will be very different. May all of this experience change us for the better, starting with me.

50 Designers. 50% Off. One Location.

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It’s that time of year again! This year marks the third annual The Sale Houston event, which proudly features the finest area boutiques offering end of season merchandise at dramatically reduced pricing in one location. And, trust me, this is one shopping event you do NOT want to miss!

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I’ll be there with jewelry items at 50% off again this year. If you know my brand well, you know that I don’t often have sales. The real reason for that is that I’m a small business and I produce limited quantities of my designs by hand, so I’m honestly not left with huge amounts of inventory to get rid of. The Sale, however, is one of those sales, so if you’ve been wanting some of my pieces, but were waiting for a good deal – this is it!

Not only do I love selling at this show (because everyone is so nice and scoring good deals puts everyone in a great mood!) but I love buying for myself at this show! The event takes place at the Bayou City Event Center, which is a really wonderful spot. It’s very nice, super clean, has free parking and is big enough to hold 50 boutiques, but not so huge that its overwhelming. In past years, I’ve scored $200 Elaine Turner clutches for $10, gorgeous scarves from A Bientot for $8, shoes and clothes from Monkees and Tootsies for 50% or more off, a gorgeous tote from A Bientot for 50% off, a fur stole from Cheeky Vintage at a steal, a Louis Vuitton speedy purse from Cheeky Vintage for under $200 and so much more! (For a full list of this year’s participating boutiques, click here.

The early bird shopping is from 10am to noon on Saturday and a ticket to that is $150, but you do get the best selection, along with champagne while you shop and light bites. After that, the tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door and the money raised by this event goes to pediatric cancer research at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, so you can feel good about the ticket money going to a very worthy cause.

The first year that I participated as a vendor at The Sale was the very first year they had it and I sold out of 2/3 of my merchandise within the first two hours. These ladies come ready to shop! And there are amazing deals to be had ALL weekend long. So, make plans to grab a friend and cure those post-holiday blues with some fun shopping with amazing deals that benefit a wonderful cause.

See you this weekend!

Shop. Save Money. Save Lives.

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Enjoy 20% Off This Week!

Join us in supporting the American Cancer Society by shopping with the Holiday Shopping Card!
Receive 20% off your purchase of Andrea Montgomery Designs through November 1, 2015 with the Holiday Shopping card at our Houston studio!*

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*Offer valid for 20% off your entire purchase in our Houston studio with the Holiday Shopping Card through Sunday, November 1st. Holiday Shopping Cards may be purchased at our studio for a minimum donation of $75 paid directly to the American Cancer Society. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotion or used on sale items.  Offer cannot be applied toward previous purchases, gift card purchases or online purchases. Other restrictions may apply. Please inquire for details.

My New Favorite Shoes

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I’m the first to admit it. I have a slight problem with shoes. The problem being that I rather love them, possibly a little too much. Let’s face it, the right pair of shoes can make an outfit. And they always fit, which is nice (and which cannot be said for my favorite pair of jeans!) I recently discovered a new shoe company and had to share the deets with you.

M. Gemi is a new company that makes limited-edition shoes that are handcrafted in small batches by artisan cobblers in Italy. Because they are small production and sell directly, they are able to keep the cost of handmade shoes affordable. Each pair of shoes I have ordered has been expertly crafted and are high quality and their designs are fantastic and wear well. Each Monday, they put out a few new shoes and when they’re sold out, they’re gone. Occasionally, they will bring back the high-demand shoes and you can join a waitlist for notification about that, but it is wise to jump on a pair if you really love them. They send a weekly email introducing the new shoes or, if you’re an iPhone shopper like me, there’s a very well-designed app that will notify you as well.

There are several things that I love about this brand that has made me fall in love with them…

They offer free shipping and free returns. That makes trying out their shoes easy and free! You have two weeks to try on their shoes and return any you don’t like for a full refund. Their product descriptions are great, their product photos are detailed, their “fit assistant” is very helpful and they show you a few outfits that the shoes would look exceptionally good with, which I find really helpful and fun when shopping. They offer great customer service. If you have questions, their staff is both available and knowledgable. If you have a problem, they are quick to respond and make it right. The small batch production means you won’t see your shoes on every single person you walk past, which I really like. They are committed to a “less, but better” philosophy and they even include a bag with free shipping where you can donate an old pair of shoes to make room in your closet for your new ones.

Below are a few photos from my first order unboxing! (Please forgive my use of an antiqued mirror for a few of them!) I love the personalized attention to detail in the note with my name on it and the gorgeous box it comes in. I rarely keep shoeboxes, but these are so strong and lovely, that I kept them for storage purposes. I love the strong, clean lines on their shoes. They’re both elegant and comfortable, which is a rare combination! I highly recommend you check out M.Gemi ASAP. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


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Beautiful packaging, sweet personalization and a great box!

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I love this program – just wonderful!

 

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Great customer service, right from the start

 

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The lovely packaging with copper metallic lettering

 

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Leather shoes with pony hair uppers – I’m in LOVE!

 

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Cure + Comfy

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I love the lines on these shoes. You can certainly tell they are handcrafted.

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Love these fun fringe ones!

 

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Stunning lines make a gorgeous heel!


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Suede meets patent leather for a mixed media look that is beautiful!

 

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Loving these with jeans as well!