Coming to Community

Not even one week ago I left for New Mexico with thirteen pages of maps, a bike and a bear knife. This was meant to be the ultimate solo trip—one to top any prior travels. For the first four days, yes, I was very solo. Surviving a hail storm in Kansas, the monotony of Missouri, Denver traffic. And I loved it.

Along the way I met maybe fifteen people all egging me along my journey: a neuroscientist, a man who let me use his gas station membership card, a graduate student managing one of Colorado’s biggest modern art galleries, a guy who really liked coffee.

All of them initially said the same thing when I told them what I was doing. “that is the [darn’dest or craziest or coolest] thing I’ve ever heard.” And each of them had their input. “Do you have a gun?” “You should get a dog.” “A pretty girl like you should wear glasses to mask your face.” “Aren’t you afraid?”

Spanish Peaks at dusk. Mesita, CO.

It was a lot. Imagine what you would say to a kid so far from home. It is likely I heard it on my way. Along the way I developed a quick spiel for anyone asking, getting better each time I was prompted to recite it. “I am from North Carolina travelling to New Mexico as a volunteer farmhand under Worldwide Organization of Organic Farms.”

And no, “I did not bring a gun or a dog.” And “I have glasses but they are the wrong prescription and make my eyes hurt.” And, often, “I am definitely staying cautious but I have planned this trip down to the mile.” Everyone had their opinions of my trip. And that was okay.

But this was not community. And all was well, at the time, as I wasn’t looking for community in the first place. I was on my own. Passersby would pass their opinions by me; I wasn’t affected. There were words of wisdom and empty thoughts. I took them as they came.

Union Station facade. Denver, CO.

In Union Station in Denver, there was this one guy with an insanely enormous backpack. Like overstuffed hiking pack. It looked like it was holding over 150 liters. He was sitting on a bench reading and I really wanted to ask him why his backpack was so big. Perhaps it would not be the best idea to talk to some gruff traveller. And I, being only of the best ideas, did not talk to him. I wish I had.

I wish I had talked to the guy with the enormous backpack because I arrived at the farm knowing no one. Perfect. My plan for solo adventure now commences. I am the only one I know in New Mexico. It would not have been so if I had talked to backpack guy.

Exactly one day later, I walked out the front door to my car. There were rumors of a Frenchman volunteer arriving sometime that night. I came inside from the out with my things, settling down to play cards with the other volunteers. There were pots and plates on the table from dinner. A new volunteer sat at the table next to my place (‘new’, well, they were all new) and it was backpack guy! But I didn’t recognize him at first.

I took a few minutes to catch up on his background, coming from Dunkirk prior to Quebec prior to Buffalo. He looked tired. I kept imagining I had seen him somewhere and as I was imagining I remembered Union Station and shouted at him, “I know you from Denver!” Unfortunately, he did not remember me. He was probably just tired. It would have been a better story if I had talked to him.

With nine other volunteers in separate cabins across the farm it was not hard to find alone time. My problem was that I was not seeking it out. On the road I spent hours of travel talking to myself and talking to God and stopping to talk to the cows along the road. I spent nights shivering in my car on desolate campgrounds along the way. I loved being solo, the singular person I knew in a state or among the cars travelling to the same places along the road.

On the second day we visited farm hives offsite. Each honeybee has an interdependent role in the hive and must work with the others to succeed in the community as a worker, drone or queen. Arroyo Seco, NM.

It became increasingly harder to reject community when they were so inviting. “Hey, we’re going to this waterfall if you want to come.” “Hey, we’re doing yoga out in the orchard if you want to join.” “Hey, we’re going for a hike in fifteen minutes.” I spent more nights freezing in my shorts while discussing issues of abortion and overpopulation, foreign philosophies of projecting reality, marten and fisher species existing in the lower Michigan peninsula.

What I originally came for was myself, time alone to think, and more importantly, pray. I am learning it takes self-control, routine and motivation to take this time. In the car, I was isolated. Forced to talk to God or myself or the cows. Here I have to pry myself away. This is not how I planned.

But another thing I have come to learn is community can bring me closer to God, especially bringing that motivation. We have discussed God in four different countries and how God is perceive, worshipped and related to differently. This deep conversation drives me back to the Bible in search for an answer; or to my journal, to record the perspectives and encouragement of my new friends.

Lettuce sprouts! San Cristobal, NM.

Maybe the most important thing I have learned on my own is that no one is going to do it for you. I have to read the Bible for myself; plan the darn’dest, craziest, coolest road trip for myself; seek God for myself. Out here, I am the only one I know. I need community to share this amazing country I am in, to worship together yet I need God more as God is always community.

Frankie, Esther and Myrrh

Introducing the story behind Our Frankie Collection. Our love for nature using nuts and seeds to create beautiful jewelry doesn’t stop there but digging into the history of how oils have been used to heal and anoint people through time. What does oil have to do with jewelry you may ask? Oils are extracted from different plants, trees and even berries…Most of our collection is comprised of a well known berry açaí. It’s many healing properties are wildly known and has grown in popularity. You may have seen açaí fruit bowls, juices, berries, bars and the list could go on and on. This week we are diving into the process of beautification during the time of Esther and looking into the specific oils used and their benefits. As we arrive in the season of Purim we reflect on the book of Esther and the road she was on before she became Queen. I’m turning this over to Sage as she like me has a love for all things essential oils. Oils have truly been a blessing in my personal life to help fight off colds, coughs, and anything that comes my way as a busy mom of two. We hope you enjoy hearing the history and uses of a few essential oils.

Frankie  Myrrh
Frankie Myrrh

Sincerely,

Liz, Cayisa Jewelry

This Will Be a Lot Like Reading a Paper

Preface: How informed are we of other religions? We really only know what we see from the outside, in the news or what our parents have told us. Sometimes we’ll stumble on a picture of a bat mitzvah or our favorite show will incorporate aspects of a religion for diversity. It comes in waves yet we know very little about what we do not practice.

One of the missions of the Cayisa blog is to inform readers about the history of our company and why are so adamant about relating bracelets back to Bible verses. But this is our purpose. 

Me: I love English papers and MLA. Do you read the paper? Because this post may be like reading one. So, prepare yourselves to learn. Heregoes! This one is dedicated to you history-lovers out there.

* * * * *

A great deal of Cayisa’s biblical influence comes from the book of Esther and the idea of employing a life as a ‘modern-day Esther’. See my last blog post “Introducing: Sage” for a bit of background on our take of this ‘modern-day Esther’ concept. Coming soon, we will have some sneak-peeks of our new Esther stack. Check the blog for updates or follow our Instagram feed (@cayisajewelry)!

‘Esther’ as imagined by Minerva Teichert, 1939

Even if you are not religious, reading the Bible as historical nonfiction is necessary to understand religious traditions and cultures in your own community. For example, there are three pilgrimage festivals believed to be celebrated by all Jewish branches: Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur.

According to the Torah, these particular Jewish holidays were chosen by God in Deuteronomy 16:16. Yet Hanukkah is identified as a minor feast, even though it is arguably the most recognized Jewish holiday by non-Jews. It is absolutely overwhelming to me how little we know. You can learn more about the three pinnacle festivals here.

Purim is the celebration of the God’s deliverance of the Jews in the book of Esther, and another minor feast in Jewish tradition. Yom Kippurim literally translates to ‘a day like Purim’.

If the minor feast Purim preceded and evoked one of the three pinnacle feasts, then I would argue it is worth looking into.

As Purim is celebrated March 20-21, Hannah and I will be doing our own research and including some of our stories to relate to this traditional feast.

And the way culture has morphed and is celebrated today is so interesting! But first, some perspective. Let’s look into the history of Purim.

The Old Testament has recorded the entire history of the exile and reentrance and deportation and re-admittance (and so on) of the Jews dating back to 605 B.C..

Esther pleading with King Xerxes for the deliverance of her people

For more historical information about Purim, you can check out 2 Kings 25, Esther 9, this article on the origins and traditions of Purim, or search Yom Kippurim and its ties to Purim. For the sake of brevity, and your attention span, I will sum up:

  • Haman was King Xerxes’ right-hand man.
  • Haman wanted to exterminate the Jews because of an outspoken Jew in the community, Mordecai.
  • Mordecai brought many to Judaism.
  • Mordecai was Esther’s uncle.
  • Esther was chosen to be in new queen when Haman exiled his wife for not doing his will.
  • Esther was also a Jew.
  • Haman, not the King, decreed that all Jews would be annihilated under the King.
  • Esther, queen elect, exposed Haman to Xerxes.
  • Xerxes condemned Haman.
‘Queen Vashti Deposed’ by Ernest Normand, 1890

In effect, the Jews were delivered from a holocaust and also uplifted as the ones chosen by God in their community as they once were outcasts.

As mentioned earlier, the condemnation of the Jews began as early as 605 B.C., while King Xerxes ruled from 486-465. Xerxes’ deliverance of the Jews, through the grace of God, was a huge step in Jewish liberation.

Okay, now some modern application. Maybe Purim is a little-known tradition in Judaism; maybe it isn’t celebrated in every Jewish household like Hanukkah or Rosh Hashanah. But what significance is it today?

Purim is celebrated from the evening of March 20 to the evening of March 21. It is often described as a carnival-like holiday when everyone dresses up and the book of Esther is reenacted in remembrance of the deliverance of our Jewish ancestors.

The annual Purim Carnival of Resistance supports social justice in New York in 2017

Other events of the holiday include families baking pastries for friends and giving gifts to the poor in the community. The day is ended with a huge festive meal for the community.

For two days, Jews celebrate the religious deliverance from extermination in Persia over two and a half millennia ago. The ancient tradition applies today as a celebration for the combatting of social injustices and anti-semitism.

Today, many faiths have to fight for freedom to practice religion. This is a huge issue. As a Christian, I come into a lot controversy and , especially at university. Worldwide traditions like Purim are a bit of an encouragement.

To me, Purim is an encouragement that deliverance from social oppression in religion have happened and will happen again—both the oppression and deliverance. We will be able to freely practice tradition in our religion in this amalgamate culture.

Next, I want to take on the theme of deliverance from my own perspective. And I gotta tell ya, finding myself on the ledge of a roof in Iceland taught me a lot about needing deliverance. For now, I have to leave you hanging. Check back later this week for more on that!

Sage

Introducing: Sage

Dear reader,

It is a pleasure to write to so many strangers, but I hope not to remain one for long. My name is Sage and I am thrilled to serve you by sharing the beauty of God’s nature and my experiences in it with you, alongside my fantastic friend Hannah. We were recently invited to manage social media for Cayisa. Hannah and I hope to inform you about the Cayisa project and our products with the personal insight of a friend, dictated in real stories from real people. So here is me, summarized.

Stargazing is my favorite thing; sleeping is my least favorite. I want to be up doing something at all times. I would just count shooting stars on my back all night if my research papers and lab reports would write themselves.

Currently, I am a freshman at East Carolina University, double-majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. I plan to practice clinical psychology with a focus in energy therapy. This means I primarily practice using essential oils and natural methods of healing as opposed to biomedicine.

I love being outdoors, mountain biking, identifying tree species. My feet are my favorite part of my body. Rules and guidelines really annoy me, but my guilty pleasure is MLA. Spanish music dominates my Spotify while Annie Dillard’s autobiographies bend my bookshelves.

There are so many influential women in my life, those who propel me onwards when I’ve parked on God’s path. These women are writers, runners, students, janitors. All are modern-day Esthers. And what is a modern-day Esther? To me, it is living to serve God by sacrificing your ego. Serving in a restaurant in my hometown, I feel that I am pursuing this actively—and God is actively pursuing me, prompting me to love those strangers sitting at my table. A guiding verse:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

God is love, therefore we must love. Love is a sacrifice. Being in nature, to me, is being in God’s presence. It is still yet voraciously alive. It is lonely yet were not alone in it. Below is an image of how I view heaven.

Basic. Simple. Whole. Right back down to the elements. It is a place devoid of Cain and Able or horse and buggy or calculus. An image of time before Mayans predicted the end of it and before the Tide Pod pandemic. Like a root growing up from the beginning of time, its connection to my love of natural living and healing drew my interest in Cayisa. We are not just a jewelry company, but also a heart ministry. It is not a string of seeds that you are shopping for, but a reminder to live like Esther.

Later on, I will expound on how I have been influenced to live as a modern-day Esther. Sitting in God’s creation, absorbing His spirit, has given me peace and restored faith. These seeds are a reminder of those lessons nature taught me. Now it is 2 pm and a beautiful day outside, so, until next time!

Sage

Introducing: Hannah

     Hello friends! My name is Hannah and I was recently hired, along with my good friend Sage, to be one of the social media managers for Cayisa! I’m hoping that we can turn this blog into more than just an inspirational place, but one where we share our own life experiences and relate that to Jesus and how He is working in our lives. Our mission is to delve into what true beauty is and how we incorporate that into our fashion, music, and overall lifestyles. Here at Cayisa, we think true beauty is shown clearly in the story of Esther, so her crown has become our mascot. Personally, Esther is my favorite book of the Bible, and I think it’s a perfect example of being faithful until the end. I’m going to write a full blog post on Esther, so I won’t go too much more in depth here, but if you want to learn more, stay tuned!

     I want to be fully transparent with you, whether that means sharing the valley highs, the mountain lows, or just seasons of in between. That being said, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you some fun little-known tidbits. For reference, this is me! 

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         Here are some of the typical get-to-know-ya’s before we get to the juicy stuff: 

        1. I am currently studying Small Business Marketing at Pitt Community College and plan to transfer to East Carolina in fall of 2020 to finish my degree.

       2.  My goal is to own a floral/coffee shop. I love flowers and the way they can make any space just look so dreamy, and I love the way coffee brings people together, so I thought, why not mix my two favorite things into one super artsy little shop? 

      3. While I love flowers and coffee, music is my passion. Music may be the only thing I really know how to do. When everything else in my life is crumbling around me, I still hear a little song in my head reminding me of the goodness that life has to offer. This is really what brought me to God and helped me to understand what it means to have an intimate relationship with Him. 

      Here are some random, not as important, but just as fun facts: 

      1. My favorite movie is Nacho Libre…. Take that as you will…

      2. I have little birth marks on the whites of my eyes. My mom says it’s the Asian in me, but I’ve never had the motivation to do the research on that. 

      3. My favorite song is the Wedding Song by Matthew Mole. What a perfect picture of finding the one our soul loves (Song 3:4) and loving them the way God intended; working towards loving each other more fully as we work towards loving the Lord more fully. I’m crying a little as I type about this, SO, moving on…

      4. The first thing on my bucket list is to one day own a Volkswagen Type 2 Van… which is one of these babies =====>happy-vanlife-happy-van-wife-top-places-to-escape-in-the-uk-by-fashion-du-jour-ldn 2           Nice right? I KNOW. Complete with hanging dice on the rear view mirror. 

       I think that hits all the main points. Other than that, I love community. I love being with friends, new or old. My friends make fun of me because I call the parties I have “small intimate gatherings”, but I think that really is my heart in a phrase. I love to bring people together and watch them laugh and enjoy exchanging stories. Nothing makes me happier than seeing some of my friends become friends with my other friends (if that confused you, just read it again). 

      I love Jesus first and foremost, and He has completely permeated everything that I love. I am learning how to use those things to glorify Him, and it has been quite the adventure, let me tell you. But I’m absolutely stoked that I get to type out all of my thoughts and experiences here on this blog.  

     Thank you so much for reading and supporting Cayisa, it means the world to us. We strive to share the grace that is shown to us through our Heavenly Father, and we proudly stand by the banner of His word and love. It’s currently 1 am, so I am signing off. Until the next post! 

      -Hannah

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