Thursday, June 23, 2016

From the Depths We Rise

Many of you who have been followers of See Beautiful know the precious Rodriguez Family. The Ellis Cuff is one of our most special cuffs we get to make. It's meaning, "when she wakes she will move mountains" has supported sweet Ellis through medical treatments and doctors visits. Before Ellis, Sarah, her Mom, was one of our See Beautiful Women of the Month. We have learned a lot about seeing beautiful from Sarah over the years. We are thrilled about the launch of her new book full of truth, inspiration, and a little hope for everyone. Without further ado:

New Book Shares Remarkable, Miraculous Story of Heartbreak, Loss, Hope and Redemptive Life

‘From Depths We Rise’ is the true story of Sarah Rodriguez’s journey through infertility and the tragic death of her husband, to the prophetic birth and miraculous survival of her daughter

“God had given us a promise, and my husband was audacious enough to speak it out. Now I was seeing with my very own eyes his belief turning to truth.” –Sarah Rodriguez, From Depths We Rise

Uhrichsville, Ohio (June 2016)—Sarah Rodriguez first made headlines in the summer of 2015 when news of her daughter’s miraculous survival spread past her small town in Oklahoma. Conceived via IVF after her husband passed away, Sarah’s miracle baby, Ellis Claire, contracted bacterial meningitis at two weeks of age, and doctors declared her condition “incompatible with life.” In her upcoming memoir, From Depths We Rise: A Journey of Beauty from Ashes (Shiloh Run Press, October 2016), Rodriguez shares her full story of love, heartbreak, joy, loss, hope, and redemptive life.

Sarah, an Oklahoma native, met her future husband Joel Rodriguez in New York City. After a whirlwind romance, the unlikely couple became inseparable and married, and shortly thereafter moved to Oklahoma with hopes of starting a family of their own. The next four years were filled with false hope, fertility drugs, many false pregnancy tests, and no viable pregnancies. In vitro fertilization was the next step, but with their five-year wedding anniversary approaching, they decided to plan a celebration trip and schedule the first round of IVF after their return home.

Six weeks prior to their trip, Joel noticed something terribly wrong—blood in his urine. A CT scan revealed a large mass on his kidney—a cancerous tumor the size of a football. But after surgery and an intense year of chemotherapy, Joel was given a clean bill of health and the cancer was in remission. Sarah and Joel took their delayed anniversary trip and eagerly began IVF when they returned. Two months and a difficult round of IVF later, Sarah and Joel received the news they waited five years to hear—Sarah was pregnant, and with twins. However, at 11 weeks pregnant, a routine ultrasound revealed only one baby. “From the moment of conception, it was always two babies in my mind. They were separate but they were one, a package deal, each wanted. I had lost one, but it felt as if I had lost them both.”

The next weeks held more good and bad for Joel and Sarah—scans showed that Joel’s cancer returned and spread to his lungs, they were showered with gifts for the baby, and Joel’s biopsy fell the same week as Sarah’s due date. “There we were again, in a delicate dance between sorrow and joy. On one hand our dreams were coming true; on the other hand, our fears were coming true. It was as if our lives were a rip current. Each time we would manage to find our way to the surface, an unseen force was pulling us into the depths over and over again. It was unrelenting and exhausting.”

After the joyful, successful birth of their son Milo, they heard the words they hoped they’d never hear again—the cancer was back. Joel immediately underwent surgery for a chemo port and began treatments. Several months passed and doctors determined additional surgery was needed. While in recovery, Joel suffered an ischemic stroke and Sarah was suddenly faced with the immediate possibility of a life without her husband. Joel survived the surgery to reduce the swelling in his brain as a result of the stroke, which rendered the left side of his body paralyzed. He set out on a long journey toward recovery with Sarah and Milo by his side, but another series of strokes cut his life short, just three weeks before his thirty-sixth birthday.

“I looked at him lying in that bed and realized in an instant I had not only lost my best friend, but my son had lost his father…How do you say good-bye to someone you love so much? I didn’t know.”

But after his passing, Sarah couldn’t shake a conversation she had with Joel, a conversation where he told her she would have another child, and it would be a girl. “Two tiny little embryos left over from our first IVF cycle were in storage mere miles from my home—a piece of my husband and a piece of me. After losing Joel, it was all I could think about. What was I going to do with those embryos? The thought that it was even possible to have another pregnancy after his death was both terrifying and exhilarating.”

With the support of her and Joel’s friends and family, Sarah set out on her second IVF journey, conceiving a baby girl, just as Joel had told her she would. When Ellis contracted bacterial meningitis and Sarah found herself back in the world of hospitals, she had almost lost all hope for a miracle, the miracle she prayed for but didn’t receive for Joel.

In From Depths We Rise, Sarah candidly shares her story—the depths of her pain, weakness and strength of her faith, beauty rising from ashes, and finding purpose in the most painful times of her life. Readers will be encouraged to cling tightly to their faith and rise above even the most daunting of circumstances.

Sarah is available for media interviews. To discuss coverage opportunities, please contact
kelsey@iconmediagroup.com.

Sarah Rodriguez is a writer, speaker, and mommy to Milo and Ellis. She was blessed to be married to her husband, Joel, for 8 incredible years. You can find her online at JourneyofSarah.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mavuno


Meet Philemon. Because of you, she and her child will be empowered. Because of you, Philemon and the rest of the community of Mangango, DRC will gain access to improved sanitation. The current lack of access results in well-documented public health hazards causing numerous illnesses, childhood mortality, lost school time, reduced productivity and more. Worse yet, in a region notorius for the hights rates of sexual violence in the world, women are exposed to a very real risk of rape and assault. Our newest giving initiative to support the beautiful work ofMavuno, will work with local community leaders to plan and create two public latrines and dramatically reduce sanitation-related illness. Further, the latrines are designed with an innovative technology to convert waste to fertilizer which is used in the community's cooperative farming projects. When you purchase an item and select MAVUNO as your choice your help create a safe world for women and children, healthier lives, and a more peaceful and prosperous community - one more step on the journey to create dramatic change in Eastern Congo. 

Photo by: Mavuno

Support their work and shop with us here:http://seebeautiful.com/shop.html

Monday, May 23, 2016

Framing See Beautiful

"Those eyes have seen so many places and that heart has felt so many things and yet you still smile at the darkest feeling and find expression in everything that's colored beautiful." ~ rm drake
The girls in one of our See Beautiful Clubs have traveled as refugees from a half a world away. They have been displaced and lost and no doubt scared, yet they see SO MUCH BEAUTIFUL in each other and the world. In fact, they filled handmade frames with the beautiful things they see in each other. Thank you Paint Love for the inspiration! Thank you Morgan Wright and Julie Owens for being so inspiring!




Friday, May 20, 2016

Inspiration from our Youth

I spent last week at 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue, Decatur, GA working with a group of girls exploring empowerment, the beauty industry, and human rights. The self-selected topics were inspiring, but the passion with which these girls care about self-worth and civil rights blew me away. The questions they are exploring are seminal and their hope to better understand, and ideally to impart change, remind me how important the work we are doing together through See Beautiful really is.

Molly asks: "Why is there an expectation from women to look and act a certain way?"
Joyce is exploring: "What are the effects of not having civil liberties on a culture; specifically civil rights as children being sold into slavery?"
Grace wonders: "Why are women viewed as less athletic than men - as evidenced by dramatically less pay when even more successful?"

While they are three dramatically different questions, my hope is that it shows this community the very real questions and confusion young girls see unfolding in our society. The bombardment of photoshoped models, unrealistic "ideals" and expectations for women, and devaluing the most basic rights of children and women aren't something for "someone else" to fix. These are real to children in schools across the US and bleed well beyond the boarders of this country. We can do something about this. We can continue to foster the lifestyle of See Beautiful and we can set a new intention every day to create beautiful for all in the best ways we can.
Thank you Molly, Joyce and Grace for reminding me that this work is not just for the present moment, it is for the future too - your future. We'll all work together to make it more beautiful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Breathe

Give yourself permission to take time to breathe, to give, to love, to see beautiful, and be present. Our handmade, eco-friendly reminder also creates a lot of beautiful while you breathe. Select the giving initiative of your choice and change the lives of those you support from Eastern Congo with Mavuno, to Atlanta with BullsEye Rescue to Arusha, Tanzania with Glorious, to Utah with Little Lambs, to Oklahoma with Journey of Sarah, and so much more!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Seeing Beautiful In the Moment (and Manifesto)

At the age of 9, the majority of girls are confident, assertive & feel positive about themselves. By the time they reach high school fewer than 1/3 feel the same way. This is a statistic we're trying to change through the work we do with over 300 children in our See Beautiful Clubs. They'll continue to grow up understanding what it means to see beautiful in themselves and others, while also being equipped with how to create more beautiful in the world. One of our clubs decided to make "empowerment jars" full of inspiring quotes for each other to read every day.
Maybe we should all have a jar. You are enough. You make this world a better place. Thank you for being here. See beautiful in this moment.
Thank you to all of our teachers who make our See Beautiful Club space so special! If you're an educator and would like to learn more about leading your own See Beautiful Club in the future, send us an email and we'll get the ball rolling: lcrissmays@seebeautiful.com