we bead connected

I am so excited to be a tiny part of a great thing.  So excited.  You know how it feels when someone you know does something really fantastic... like writes a critically acclaimed novel, or is a professional opera singer, or is on tour all the time with a rock band (I know.  What a bunch of slackers, right?), and you feel really cool just because you know them?

That's how I feel about my friend Kimberly.

She hasn't written a novel, she isn't on tour.  But she is super amazing.  And I feel cool just because I know her.

In 2006 Kimberly and her husband, Michael decided to adopt two children.  That decision was the beginning of an incredible journey that led to their family of four swelling to a family of six, and the founding of a non profit organization called We Bead Connected.  Their adoption story is...  unlike anything I have ever heard.  Unbelievable.  I can't possibly do it justice.  (You can read their account of it here.)  Miracle, after miracle, after miracle.  If I didn't know Kimberly, and she hadn't told me their story herself...  I don't know if I would believe it.  Can money really just appear in fat envelopes from strangers in your mailbox to cover the massive adoption costs?  Yes.  Can paperwork and red tape that usually takes months and months, really go through in mere days?  Yes.  And the one that stops my breath in my throat every time I think about it...  Can a little HIV positive baby boy really be healed?  Yes.  Yes he can.  He's healed, and healthy, and sweet, and beautiful, and ornery, and everything a little boy should be.  He lives in Colorado and is Michael and Kimberly's youngest son.

Feeling a strong connection with the community where their children came from led Kimberly and Michael to start We Bead Connected.

All of the jewelry from We Bead Connected is made by women in Uganda from recycled paper beads.  Kimberly and Michael market and sell the bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and purses here in the United States and send all of the proceeds back to Uganda.  There is nothing wrong with charity, with giving someone help.  But this is so much more.  By providing a market for their artwork, We Bead Connected is really empowering these women.  They aren't being taken care of, but instead by having a market for their craft, they are able to take care of their families.  I love that about WBC...  I love that these women are being given the power and the dignity of providing for their children.  Many of these Ugandan artisans are HIV positive.  I try to imagine how that must feel...  The desperation.  The fear.  Knowing that you won't live to see your children grow up.  Not knowing what will happen to them after you are gone.

How will they go to school?  Who will make sure they have shoes?  Who will feed them?

I have never had a sleepless night over questions like these, and neither have you.  It is unfathomable that this is a reality for some women.  And not just some nameless, faceless woman that doesn't really exist if I don't think about her.  But a woman whose fingers made the necklace that is around my neck.

Six weeks ago, I was back home in Colorado to bury my baby brother.  I was in a daze when I packed my bags late that Sunday night.  In the early morning when we left for the airport, I put on my long beaded necklace.  I found my seat on the airplane, silent tears rolling down my cheeks, my fingers twisting around the strand.  I sat at a long table with my parents, planning a funeral I never intended to see, my hand fingering the beads.  It swung from my neck when I bent over family photo albums full of my brother's baby pictures.  I wore my necklace every day that I was there, it became a sort of security blanket for me.  I can't explain it, but it comforted me.  As my fingertips memorized every tiny groove in the paper beads I thought, "The hands that made this knew sorrow.  The hands that touched this before mine knew pain too."  And somehow, I didn't feel so alone.  Even though our lives are so different, our experiences far apart, I felt a connection to these women.  Women I will never see, never meet.  I don't know how, but they were able to comfort me from across the world, in a still and quiet way that no one else could.

I am proud, I am honored to be a tiny part of WBC.  I can't do much.  I have three children of my own.  A very busy and full life.  But I can buy a necklace.  And I can sell a couple to my friends.  And I can take a few photos.  So that's what I do.  And I do it with my whole heart.

If you would like to buy a piece of beautiful handcrafted jewelry, (or six...  or ten) you can order here.  They also accept donations.



We are giving away a necklace like this...

to one lucky ducky So Many Joyful Noises reader.

To enter, all you have to do is... go over to the We Bead Connected website, look around...

Come back here, and leave a comment!  (Here on the blog, not on facebook!)  Tell me what your favorite piece of jewelry is...

You've got a week!



nomebarlow said...

I like the orange one!

Anonymous said...

This story really pulled at my heart strings. We are in the process of adopting right now and it is amazing how God works!! Love the little coin purses :)
Chantel Hays

silverraspberry said...

I saw a green bracelet at your house last week, on your kitchen counter, and was going to tell you it was beautiful, and ask if you made it.
Nevertheless, once again, you have inspired me, darling friend. Love this story, and you're amazing.

Darcie said...

That was a really touching story. I've always had a heart for Africa and hope to maybe adopt one day.. God's plan.. Thank you so much for sharing their story. :)
I love the long necklaces. And what a great thing to be doing!
Take care.

JoLaLaLa said...

Once again, you amaze me with your insight. I am tearing up as I read this post, like I have a few others of yours before today's. I love what you are doing for your friend's mission.


P.S. I haven't seen them in person, but I think I like the large long bead necklace the best :-)

Anonymous said...

I really loved todays blog. Your writing touches me everytime. I love the mixed long large bead necklace. Write on my darling, write on! This anonymous is your mother.

Glenda Taylor said...

Really touching! This reminds me of the charity Mason volunteered for this summer called IEEW (Institute for the Economic Empowerment of Women). I believe that some of the women they work with are from Uganda.

What wonderful people your friends are to open their hearts to not only these adopted children, but their culture and people! I love stories of such great inspiration when you can really see the difference a few people can really make in the lives of many!!

BTW, I LOVE all the long bead bracelets (particularly the turquoise, green, and red multicolor ones)!

Lib Perry said...

Oh...how I loved that blue single strand bracelet. My little guy was sitting here next to me as we were looking at them and I told them ladies far far away make them to help their families. My little guy just looked up at me, put his still adorable 5 year old hand on my lap and said, "Well, mommy, then we needs to buy one. God wants us to do that." So guess who will be getting awesome bracelets and necklaces for Christmas this year?--my amazing sisters. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us! I have a professor who is is Uganda right now teaching English to people and doing missionary work. :)

Kammi said...

Loved the coin purse and three strand bracelets so much I bought them! They are as beautiful ad the story.

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