eShakti Dress Review

eShakti has a wide variety of customizible fashion.

Most, if not all {I didn't click into EVERY item they offer} comes with options to change parts of the style from neckline, sleeve type, and length- HELLO Modest ladies! You can even input all your measurements to get the perfect fit.

So when I was offered to review an item in exchange for an honest review, I couldn't turn it down. Not only for my closet, but for YOU. We HAD to know if this was a For Real thing!

After scouring the options I was given, I ask for my hubs help in narrowing down my favs. Here's what he picked:

I hope he remembered I wasn't oober classy when he saw this... Even when I try, I'm just super silly.

I chose a high neckline; I typically wear tshirts because it's difficult for me to find shirts that I'm comfortable in due to coverage. I went with the sleeveless option so I could wear it year-round but they are a bit big. I'm not used to thinking through the length of dresses on myself because I don't really like how dresses fit my "square" body type so I went with right above the knee...maybe I'll look taller. LOL I even got to add POCKETS! Who doesn't want pockets on everything!?

After putting in my order, it took a bit to get the dress in the mail but it was totally worth the wait for a customized item. The packaging was great and the fit was just as ordered. The material is high quality.

Things I've learned over the different seasons of wearing this dress since April:

  1. I don't know what I look good in; I usually just buy what's on sale, so it was hard to choose the right option(s). While the high neck is nice, it's almost too tight. I'm also not a pro at measuring myself so I think I may have erred a little too small across the bust/back.
  2. I think I should have forced myself to choose rather than letting my hubs, I might have ended up with one I loved more. While I like the denim, jeans go with everything right?! I feel like this dress gives off a baby doll vibe.
  3. The flare effect makes me feel like I'm wearing a maternity dress but works well to hide my "leftovers" and still looks fun by itself or with a cardigan, jacket, or scarf. Dressing it up or down is very easy.
  4. This dress is very versatile. Winter: tights, jacket, scarf, and tall boots, Spring: hat and rain boots, Summer: plain with flip flops or tennis shoes, and Fall: cardigan, knit leggings, and ankle boots.

overalll, I was pleased with my customized dress dress. I would totally recommend this s site to  a friend, especially those who have a hard time finding clothing to fit their uniquely created body type.

It is a bit pricey for my cheap self but it doesn't be seem overpriced compared to most clothing stores.

I also think this could be a fun option for things like bridesmaid dresses. Coordinating but customized, giving each friend a chance to look and feel awesome. Plus, you could choose something that they could wear again we the event.

eShakti also just emailed me to share that you can mix and match FABRICS now! Like the lrint but  the style? Like the make but not so much the type of fabric. More customization options- winning!

What would you choose if given permission to customize!? CAN you think of other benefits?

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How to Organize An Operation Christmas Child Packing Party

This is the fifth year we’ve hosted an Operation Christmas Child Packing Party at The Valley church so we’ve learned a few things each year. I've also done some research via Pinterest and Facebook OCC groups to try to improve our parties each year. From the first year of packing with my kids in my living room to becoming more and more organized, we have grown our passion for this ministry.

I would love to share with you some of thing logistics we've learned.

Collection

We choose to only “officially” collect items the month [5 weeks] before our packing party. Some like to collect all year-long and we are looking into creating a housing space at our building for this but we have several other out reaches we focus on throughout the year.

The week before collection starts, we announce what Operation Christmas Child is, what we will be collecting each week, and when our packing party will be held. We do four main focuses: Hygiene, School Supplies, Accessories, and Toys. The fifth week is a catch-all and that evening is our party.

We also have an OCC info table set up that hopefully answers any questions someone might have as well as provides resources to help get people excited. Of Course, people can bring any items during these weeks, we just try to help narrow the focus. Next to this table we have a collection space designated- the past two years it has been this big blue shipping trunk. Each week we empty it, sorting items into bens.

On the last Sunday of collection, we take inventory and try to spot areas we might be short, comparatively and announce those needs via social media so people can bring them on our catch-all week/Sunday morning of the party.

 

Prep

Several of us {sometimes me and my children} go through all the bins and take everything we can, out of it’s packaging. If we need to, we open packs of crayons, markers, and colored pencils and divide them up into bags. This not only helps items go further but it also makes sure crayons aren’t melting onto other items in the boxes.

While doing this, we sort even further into gender and age groupings [2-4, 5-9, 10-14] if possible. Bagging things ahead of time helps your party flow better and sets you up for quality assurance.

We have always gone with an assembly line format- folding tables in a long line, filled with sorted items. This year, we added very visible signage using small orange cones wrapped in green garland with wording printed on cardstock and taped to paint stir sticks sticking out of them. These were placed at the beginning of each category to help make sure those packing packed items from each section.

I spoke with several others to make sure I was thinking through everything and we decided on a flow and through items we would need to help that layout work.

Layout

We chose to set up in our main room so we thought through making the experience flow in a giant circle. We had stations that everyone worked through to make sure we covered everything.

FOOD

You can’t have a party without food, right!? We set up a small pot-luck along one wall with eating tables right next to them. This is a separate space from packing, even if in the same room, because we don’t want to send crumbs with our boxes of awesomeness.

PHOTO BOOTH

We LOVE sending pictures with our boxes so we hired a friend to run a photo booth for us. This is at the beginning of the layout because we ask that everyone take a picture Before they start packing to give the printers time to print them while they load items.

PACKING

Our long line of tables full of goodies was broken into the same categories as the collections weeks but with a couple added sections with the essentials at the start: boxes, labels [tape and markers for selection and attaching], hygiene, school supplies, accessories, WOW items, and filler toys.

NOTE/PRAYER

We set up separate tables on the opposite wall from the food full of writing utensils, specialized postcards, blank printed info pages, blank Christmas cards, and stickers.

DROP OFF

We designated the wall near these tables for drop-off and had signs hung to help sort boxes by age and gender so we could see which needed more as we went.

Start again

PARTY

FOOD

You can’t have a party without food, right!? We set up a small pot-luck along one wall with eating tables right next to them. We had a group from our local drop-off location come to share with us about the process after we pack boxes. Everyone finished up eating while they shared.

PHOTO BOOTH

We LOVE sending pictures with our boxes so we hired a friend to run a photo booth for us. This is at the beginning of the layout because we ask that everyone take a picture Before they start packing to give the printers time to print them while they load items.

PACKING

Our long line of tables full of goodies was broken into the same categories as the collections weeks but with a couple added sections with the essentials at the start: boxes, labels [tape and markers for selection and attaching], hygiene, school supplies, accessories, WOW items, and filler toys.

NOTE/PRAYER

We set up separate tables on the opposite wall from the food full of writing utensils, specialized postcards, blank printed info pages, blank Christmas cards, and stickers.

Follow Up

We have invited any family that would like to join us, to deliver the boxes to our local drop off location and we've also complete 2 different tracking labels so we can learn where our boxes went, pray for them. Most boxes have addresses in them in hopes of building relationships with ministries dispensing and or individuals receiving boxes.

I hope this was helpful. I'd love to hear about your passion of OCC, how you pack, and maybe even how you follow-up to enjoy this passion all year-long.

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Plarn Balls {for Operation Christmas Child Boxes}

For years, I've loved the Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child Box ministry! We've packed boxes with our small children as a family and now pack dozens of boxes with our church family as part of our way of spreading the gospel across the world.

My mother in law recently let me in on a little project she's been working on for our boxes- Plarn Balls! "Plarn" is short for "plastic yarn". Plarn is made by cutting plastic grocery bags into strips, which are then strung together into a single long strand, like yarn. She used to make water proof mats with a group of ladies as a ministry to the homeless. Since that time, she has discovered endless uses for this recycled material. You can use plarn to crochet sturdy, reusable tote baggs, purses, pool/beach bags, doormats, and more.

Today I want to share her awesome idea, how to make plarn, as well as the pattern for the plarn balls that will fit perfect into OCC boxes!

How to make plarn

  • Lay bag flat and fold it in half lengthwise.
  • fold bag in half again.
  • cut folded bag into loops, discarding handles and bottom.
  • Knot lops together to form a single strand.
  • Roll the strand into a ball and crochet or knit as you would with yard.

Plarn Ball Pattern

Abbreviationss
  • st/sts- stich/stiches
  • sc- single crochet
  • sc 2 tog- single crochet 2 together

Round 1: Make a foundation row with 6 st using the magic ring method. Optional, but highly recommended, place a st marker at the beginning of the round, moving it to the first stitch of each new round as you go.

Round 2: 2 sc in each st around (12sts)

Round 3: 2 sc in next st, sc in next st around (18sts)

Round 4: 2 sc in next st, in next 2 sts around (24sts)

Round 5: 2 sc in next st, in next 2 sts around (30sts)

Round 6-10: sc around (30sts)

Round 11: sc 2 tog, sc in next 3 sts around (24sts)

Start filling iwth plastic straps or plastic bags.

Round 12: sc 2 tog, sc in next 2 sts around (18sts)

Round 13: sc 2 tog, sc in next st around (12sts)

Round 14: sc 2 tog, until the opening end is closed enough to tie off.

Weave in the ends hiding inside the ball.

Cut plarn 1" wide when marking plarn.

[note: I no NOTHING about crocheting so I won't be able to answer an questions in that regard- so so sorry! I just copied this pattern exactly as my MIL wrote it having not idea what any of it meant. Also, remember food items are prohibited so no filling the balls with beans...I don't know who would have had that bright idea :/ lol] 

I'm so excited that more and more people are falling in love with this simple but life-changing ministry!!! Click learn more about Operation Christmas Child!

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The Mercy House Global Market {GRAND OPENING!}

Several years ago, I started following a blog known by the name, We Are THAT Family. I fell in love with the humble, realist, passionate writer who mentored me via the internet in matters of the heart, marriage, and parenting.

I am excited to say I got to meet her at a bloggers conference a few years ago. She was everything I expected: humble, meek, and oozing Jesus. I got to creep along the sidelines and watch as God took her "YES" and transformed it into what only he could. This past weekend, I got to roadtrip with 3 other friends from Arkansas to Texas to see that God-sized dream expanding once again.

mercy-house-global-market-served-coffee-with-a-cause

Mercy House Global Market is an extension of the work that has been happening for a few years now. Without giving a complete history lesson, we'll just jump to where it is currently: a fair trade market place with products created by hand from multiple countries where different groups are all fighting for to restore dignity for working women.

img_7689b img_7690b img_7691b img_7692b img_7693b img_7694b img_7695b img_7696b img_7699b img_7701b img_7702b img_7704b img_7705b img_7706b img_7709b

I was honored to meet these ladies in person and be there to celebrate with them at the Grand Opening!

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Can't make it to Magnolia, TX to shop in person, don't fret. You can shop for most of the items HERE or sign up for a monthly club HERE!
I can personally recommend the earring of the month club to start you out 😉

find classier, high quality pics here

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Adventure Awaits {in a shoebox}

In March of 2013, God launched the valley church here in Vilonia AR. He set us out with a mission to make disciples. We plan live in authentic community, learn biblical teaching, serve here in our area, as well as through go there, where ever that may be across the world to do just that.
Clipping along through the story of the valley and what God's doing, we come to April of 2014 when a crazy tornado swept through our town, destroying many things including the building we were leasing. That allowed us to get creative in how to serve our community during that really hard time. 

I share that all so you'll understand the awesomeness of the upcoming date! 

occ-display

Since the conception of the valley, part of our attempt to make disciples across the world was to partner with Samaritan's Purse to pack Operation Christmas Child boxes that serve as an amazing, door-opening, tool to share the gospel with children and their families. In the years we've been portable, we still chose to make it a priority to commit to this campaign. 

We have had to let go of a lot of things because it's just too hard to set up and tear down big stuff for just an hour and 1/2 service once a week. This year, I decided to make a BIG display to show the importance of this campaign to our church even if that means a lot of extra work. As a bonus, I think it's helping put a little cheer in our people's already generous hearts.

This week and last week, we collected TOYS! We collect the 5-7 weeks {depending on the year} in preparation for our Operation Christmas Child 2016 shoebox Packing Party.  This year it will be November 13th. Our goal is 60 boxes but I think we May just surpass that quickly...😳 Eeek!

occ-info-station occ-item-collection-trunk

::Collection Schedule::
10-2&9: toys
10-16: hygiene items
10-23: school supplies
10-30: accessories & boxes
11-06: catch up, bring anything you missed
11-13: PACKING PARTY!!!

The biggest news!? We are shooting for hosting the packing party In. Our. NEW. Building.

This space to worship in and serve from is just one small way God has continually reminded us that He is not done in this city, through us. He has provided *opportunities to build new relation ships,*unique ways to keep serving, *new families to join in our mission, and *faithful ways for us keep making disciples locally and across the globe.

The adventure awaits! You just have to be willing to take part. God's story is so vast and He invites us into it; isn't that inconceivable?! For many children in poverty-stricken parts of the world, their hope of being apart of God's adventure awaits in a simple [Operation Christmas Child] shoebox gift that might just come from us...or you.

Adventure Awaits! How will you respond?

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