Category Archives: Karah

My Confession: Off the Wagon

I have a confession to make: I fell off the wagon. No, I’m not becoming an alcoholic. I haven’t even failed at another diet. No, I’ve failed at a different goal. Back in January I made a plan to go through all of 2017 without purchasing any clothing, shoes, or accessories for myself that were not fair trade produced. I thought I could pull it off because I have a bathing suit that fits, and I didn’t need new athletic shoes. Those are typically the hardest things to find fair trade. But I only made it to May.

This week I went looking for a sundress or two for some summer events we have coming up. I found a couple options on Amazon that were made in the USA. Since there is a minimum wage in America and labor laws in place to protect workers, I figured it was safe to buy American. I’m not sure where the fabric was produced, just that the construction was done here, so it was a bit of a compromise.

Then my favorite bra turned on me. There is nothing quite like being stabbed in the heart… There are a few companies making fair trade under things, I’m a big fan of my Pact Organic socks, and I buy their undershirts for my guys, but I haven’t found a company that caters to plus sized people. In fact, everything fair trade is hard to find in plus sizes, but undergarments and swimwear are the worst.

Since I was already making an order, I bought a few other things. That’s how it goes, isn’t it? If I mess up my diet, I eat the whole buffet. If I break my shopping fast, I make it worth paying shipping. I didn’t max out a credit card or anything, but I picked up a bathing suit cover-up and a pair of pajamas along with some underthings.

My husband is turning 40 this summer, and he decided that rather than throw a party, he would like to go on a short trip, just the two of us (as an introvert, this was more his style). So we booked a birthday weekend in Vegas. In August. Yikes. August in the desert… Since I already failed at my goal, I bought a second bathing suit for the trip, and a pair of cute shoes that were really cheap.

I did it. I messed up. I can’t change that (well, I could return some things. But that’s not always an option). But I have to pick myself up and start again. I went four full months without buying anything that wasn’t fair trade. That’s pretty good. I learned some things about need vs. want and making do with what you have, and I practiced saying no to my urge to medicate my feelings with shopping (it’s like eating your feelings, but more expensive…). Because of my commitment, I also learned about some great fair trade companies. There were some wins, for sure. Now I need to dust myself off and start again. It’s never too late to do the right thing. One binge does not make me a bad person. I’ve only failed if I don’t pick myself up and get back on track. (I’m trying to convince myself here. Is it working? I think so.)

I’m always looking for fair trade retailers, especially if they carry hard-to-find items like swimwear, plus sizes, and athletic shoes! Share your favorite fair trade or American-made company in the comments!

When it Rains, it Pours (aka, I’m still here, I promise!)

OK, I haven’t even posted here in three and a half weeks, and readership is up. There is just no understanding platform building! Thankfully my plan has been to faithfully put up the best content I can and not worry about attracting followers, because if I was trying to figure this out, I would make myself crazy!

I hope you don’t think I’ve abandoned you. In over two years at Food Shelf Friday this is the first time I’ve taken a break from blogging. It’s been one of those “when it rains, it pours” periods in my life. On the day before Thanksgiving, I fell on untended sidewalks and messed up my right knee. I had a post ready for that next Friday, but then took off Dec. 16 to attend my own college graduation (Yay! I’m done!). The week after that was Christmas, and the week after that was reconstructive surgery on my knee. It’s been a real trial; I’m off pain meds now but recovering my mobility is a slow process. Anyway, thank you for your patience with me. I’m sure with the holidays you weren’t spending a lot of time reading blogs anyway.

For now I just wanted to check in, say hi, and let you all know what’s been going on with me and why I haven’t been posting lately. I have a notebook full of post ideas, and a huge stack of books to read and review, so I’ll be back soon with lots of great content!

Thank you, and happy new year!

Dear Younger Me…




A while back, a friend of mine posted a challenge question in our private Facebook group. The question was, ‘If you could go back and tell your 17-year-old self just FOUR words, what would you say?” My first reaction was to think what I could spare myself, but the more I thought about the hard things I’ve faced in life, the more I realized that the hard things were good for me.

Challenges in parenting, work, and school made me stronger and gave me confidence.

My experience with debt made me wiser about spending.

Difficult relationships taught me patience.

The only thing I could think of that didn’t make me better in the long run is my long-time battle with my weight. So I decided that my four words would be, “Your metabolism WILL fail.” Maybe coming from my own mouth in four strong, declarative words, seventeen-year-old Karah would believe it and do something about it. But I know me. Young Karah would roll her eyes, crack open another can of soda, and go on believing that she wouldn’t have to deal with that for a long time yet.

But the question made me wonder. What if 70-year-old Karah could say four words to 30-something Karah? Or what if Karah spending eternity in heaven could come back and tell earthly Karah just four words. I can guarantee you she wouldn’t be warning me about my metabolism.

Hug your loved ones.

Love like Jesus did.

Give more to missions.

Live to serve others.

Foster or adopt children.

Live your faith openly.

Tell people about Jesus.

This is the message that Jesus left heaven to give us:
Matthew 22:34-40 – Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I know that most of my blog readers are Christians. But if you’re not, or if you’re not sure, I want you to have a chance to hear about Jesus:
– Jesus is the son of God himself, and he came to earth willingly to take on the form of a man. As fully man and fully God, he lived out a perfect, sinless life, and then willingly died on a cross, the death of a criminal, to pay the price for the sins of all mankind. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

– Saved from what? From sin that separates us from God. The day will come when you will die, we all will, and you will stand before God the judge. You don’t have to earn God’s forgiveness or be “good enough” for God. In fact, we never can. Jesus covered our bill. We just have to accept it. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

– So what do you do? It’s pretty simple. If you accept that you are a sinner who needs a savior, and you understand that Jesus is that savior: that he came and lived a sinless life and died to pay the price for your sins, all you have to do is believe in your heart and confess it with your mouth. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” It’s really that simple, but it will change your life.

-If you would like to pray today to accept Jesus, say this simple prayer (or put it in your own words. The words themselves don’t save you, only faith in Jesus can save you): God, I know that I am a sinner. Thank you that your son, Jesus, died on the cross to pay the price for my sins. I accept your free gift of salvation. Thank you for your forgiveness, and for making a way for us to be saved. Amen.”

If you decided to follow Jesus, and you prayed to accept his free gift of salvation, you are saved! Drop me an email at and I will get you some information to help you begin your journey as a follower of Jesus!

The Great Wardrobe Purge: Thoughts on Fair Trade and James Chapter 5


I learned something about myself this week. For a long time I have prided myself (and I use the word “pride” intentionally) on the fact that I’m not a “stuff person.” I don’t like clutter. I didn’t keep every art project my kid brought home from school. I clean out my crawl space and shed every year. We go through my son’s wardrobe and his room twice a year. I’m just not about the stuff. But lately I’ve been feeling like my wardrobe was getting a little full, and I decided to do a full clean out.

I literally removed every stitch of clothing and every accessory from my closet, storage bins, and dresser. I washed every piece of laundry, too, so I knew exactly what I was dealing with. As I pulled each item out of its home, I considered if I really wanted it. Does it fit my body? Does it fit my lifestyle? Do I wear it? It was astounding. I filled a huge Amazon Prime Pantry box with rejected clothing and accessories, and my bed was still covered! Hoodies, cardigans, leggings – up and up the piles grew. I had no idea it was that bad.

The reject pile

I came to a realization: I have wardrobe bulimia. I binge shop and then purge, over and over. Stores worth of clothing pass through my hands, and it’s rare that I keep anything long enough to wear it out. I’m a stuff person after all, not a stuff keeper, but definitely a stuff waster. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of my wastefulness. I’ve been so proud of myself when there was nothing to be proud of!

For a while now I have been learning about the importance of fair trade manufacturing, and have been working toward a fair wardrobe based on minimal purchasing, certified fair trade choices, and secondhand shopping. This purge and inventory taking was part of that process. You have to know what you have in order to make good decisions about future purchases! Ironically (though no coincidence to God, I’m sure…), my purge landed on the same day that I read James 5 as part of my time in the word.

James 5:1-6:   Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Some of the evidence stacked against me

My piles of clothing testify against me; I live in luxury and self-indulgence. And I know that the farmers and workers who created my piles of clothing cry out because of oppression and failed wages. And the Lord hears their cries!

On one level, I feel bad that I have been an active and willing participant in this broken system. But I don’t blame myself for the things I didn’t know. And I’m not blaming you either. Until a few years ago, no one talked about international labor practices. We learned about workplace disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire (New York City, 1911) as history, and celebrated that American labor laws were fixed last century. Meanwhile, we went on wearing cheap t-shirts and tennis shoes made by children in other countries who were paid pennies to work in dangerous factories where they face abuse every day and don’t have an opportunity for a basic education. We didn’t know. In fact, most of us thought we were being responsible if we bought the cheapest clothes possible!

But now that I know better, I feel responsible to repent for the lives that were hurt for my “stuff” and to do better. In fact, my first instinct was to start replacing the things I own with fair trade replacements. But that’s not the answer! It just adds to the waste, filling our landfills and my credit card balance! Fair trade is expensive; it has to be if everyone along the way is getting a fair wage for their work. The real answer is to use up what I have, that damage is already done.

But if this purge taught me anything, it’s that I do not need more stuff. I probably have something that will fill whatever need I have: from work wear I can paint in to a formal gown – including jewelry, handbags, AND shoes, I have at least one thing in my wardrobe to meet any need possible. I don’t usually shop from need; I shop from boredom, and I’ll bet a lot of you do too.

If I shop from need and not from boredom, I can afford fair trade.
The world can’t afford anything less.

Blessed to be a Blessing

blessed to be a blessing

Food Shelf…Saturday?

I’ve been sidelined by illness this week (my husband went to Europe for work and brought me a terrible head cold as a souvenir. He got well relatively quickly, I’m still fighting…)

Anyway, I haven’t forgotten you. I actually sat down and wrote a book review post on Tuesday, but I want to polish that up a bit before I share it. Then on Thursday I had an experience with the Lord that I would like to share with you.

I was laying on the couch, watching a movie – a typical sick day activity, and as the credits rolled I was just overwhelmed by all the excess of this world. I felt sickened by all the stuff and all the resources, all the entitlement and all the waste. I just sat there feeling down about my perspective and the war within my flesh. I know that under normal circumstances I would have gotten off the couch and done something “productive” to satiate this overwhelming feeling that I am spoiled. I would have sorted through some things to donate, mended something to make it last, or just about anything to busy my hands and feel less like a slug who watched Die Hard on Thursday afternoon on a beautiful summer day. But this cold. I didn’t have the energy.

Then I heard a familiar voice in my head, “what does the Bible say?” (Yes, God talks to me now and then in my head. He doesn’t reveal the future or anything like that, but he sends me the gentlest reminders, right when I need them.) I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and a pen, and I started to put down what God says about my relationship with this world:

This world is not my home. Is that a scripture or a song lyric, Lord? A sad amount of my theology/biblical knowledge is actually song lyrics that sometimes aren’t even from the Bible. I’d better google that one. 1 Peter 2:11-12: Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Foreigners and exiles: This world is not my home

If this world is not my home, I am not going to fit in or be comfortable here: I know where to find this one: Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This kind of reminds me of Daniel and the exiles in Babylonian captivity. The food of their new world made them sick. A steady diet of what the world has to offer makes me sick. Daniel 1:8-17: But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
I like the “choice food” of this kingdom. I like comfort. I like stuff, especially nice stuff. But it makes me spiritually sick.

This life isn’t about my comfort; I will get no rest here. John 16:33: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

I have too much stuff. I feel like I say this a lot. It may be my personal motto. Too. Much. Stuff. Matthew 6: 19-21: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I am NOT the hero of my own story. Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

We are fully made for heaven while fully living in this world. There will always be a war in each of us between the citizen of heaven’s priorities and the citizen of earth’s priorities. Matthew 16:41: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Keep up the good fight, everyone, we not blessed to be comfortable, we are blessed to be a blessing!

thoughts on blessing and this world