Nov 102015

Holiday Hands



As we start our project this year, I thought it would be fun to look back on how Holiday Hands started. Here’s an excerpt from the 2011 post I wrote to launch this idea.


I was watching a news story about the economy recently and there were many families talking about how they were going to have a hard time buying gifts for their children this year. Some said that having their usual Christmas dinner was not an option, because they didn’t have the money for the turkey and the stuffing and the yummy desserts. Some said they were worried about paying the heat bill during the holidays. One man said he just wanted to buy his wife a little necklace, a little something to show her how much her work at home meant to him, but he couldn’t. There just wasn’t any extra. None. All of this made me want to stick the fork I was holding directly into my eye.

Then I started thinking about how there are probably many of YOUR FAMILIES in these situations, and that made me want to put my fork down and start brainstorming. Because no way. Not on our watch. We might not be able to fix everything, but we can do some things. We can acknowledge each other’s needs, hear them, and then help each other in little ways, because we belong to each other.

I’d rather my kids have three holiday gifts and your kids have three holiday gifts, than my kids have six gifts and your kids have no gifts. Tweet: Better my kids have 3 gifts & your kids have 3 gifts, than mine 6 and yours none. Click here for help! @momastery That’s the bottom line here, for me. And I bet it is for you, too. I think I know you well enough to know that you agree.

I figure that everyone reading this has a need this holiday.

Some of us don’t have enough this year. These folks need a hand putting food on the table and buying gifts for their kids.

Some of us have a little extra this year. These folks need to reach out to other families and share, in order to wake themselves up and connect and really experience what the holidays mean.

And some of us have just enough. These folks need to sit back and witness some miracles, to keep believing in people and love.

We all have needs. When we don’t share our needs, out of pride or fear of rejection, we deprive other people of fulfilling their needs. Sometimes we need to receive and sometimes we need to give. Seasons change. So please decide which type of person you are this year, and participate accordingly.


That’s how it started…with a little idea and a lot of love. And now Holiday Hands has evolved into a program that has served thousands of families over the years. It’s MAGIC.

Last year on match day we met the needs of 400 families. We met the needs of 400 families in three and a half hours. Here is just one of the notes we received that day. This just about sums it up:


Every year I spend December desperate and bitter and shameful and so sad, because the commercials are on and the Christmas cards come in, and we have nothing. My husband left and I’m working so hard but I have just enough to feed them. I’m so grateful for that. My kids eat. But they don’t get gifts. So we avoid everything Christmas. My kids are strong about it, but we all dread the holidays, alone and together. But this year. This year I started reading this blog, Momastery. A friend sent it to me. I read it after work when I get lonely. It makes me laugh and cry and feel less lonely. And so I went on a limb and asked Together Rising for help. And somehow- now- it’s the morning of November 12 and my kids are getting Christmas. Somehow, each of them has a brand new toy on the way. One woman is sending wrapping paper. My babies’ gifts will be wrapped. And there will be tags on the top of each gift that say: Love, Mom. I’m not going to say they’re from Santa. I’m going to say they’re from me. Because they are. I feel brave that I asked for help. And because I want to see their faces when they see that their mom has provided them gifts.

I have ten dollars in my pocket right now and I’m going to the dollar store to buy some cards and some lights before I pick up my kids. We are going to decorate tonight. We are going to send out cards. I am so proud of my little family. We are a family and we deserve to celebrate. Strangers proved that to me today. I will never forget. Thank you.


This is what we did, and what we’re going to do again.

Let’s get started.

Today is the day for folks who need a little extra to post their needs. If you know someone who might need this program – forward it to them. We are HERE FOR THEM.  If you have a little extra to give this year or you know some folks who do, pleasepleaseplease mark your calendar to meet us back here on Tuesday, November 17 to review the requests and find your family match for this holiday season.


First: Please read and reread and rereread the instructions before posting questions.

Second: Starting in 2013, we set a cap of $100 on each request (per family) in order to be able to help even more families. HOLIDAY HANDS is the time when strangers help other strangers provide holiday cheer for their families. It is specifically designed to help provide for the holiday needs and wants of families so that they can put the funds they would have spent on gifts toward other needs.

Third: Requests may be submitted to us for a limited time. You will receive an confirmation email once you submit a request—please be sure to check your SPAM e-mail folder. We will keep submissions open until we reach our Holiday Hands capacity (which could happen in a matter of hours or days).  Requests will not automatically be posted when submitted and just because a request was submitted does not mean it will necessarily be part of our Holiday Hands program. Rather, we will be collecting and reviewing requests and then we will post the final, approved requests that will be part of Holiday Hands on Tuesday, November 17.

Fourth: Every year, after Holiday Hands is shut down, Together Rising continues to receive requests for holiday miracles all the way up to the end of the month. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution directly to Together Rising to allow us to help those families, please click here to donate.

WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER. LET’S PROVE IT. To list your needs and become part of our Holiday Hands 2015 Miracle, click here now:

Click here to get started

G and Together Rising

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Nov 042015

Friends. You know our family holiday rule: all shopping done by December 1.

We (mostly) keep this rule so that we can spend the month of December in peace, together, making memories instead of trips to the mall. Our minds are not full of to-do lists, so stress is low. And since we tell the kids that Santa stops taking gift requests at Thanksgiving, they are immune to the marketing onslaught in December. As a family, we have become able to spend the holidays focused on what we HAVE instead of what we WANT. And that, my friends, is the key to joy.

We also try to use this tool to keep us from buying into the frenetic excess the holiday shopping culture encourages. We ask each kiddo to make a list of:

Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

This year, we put together our gift guide with that little poem in mind.

Here are some of the Melton’s favorite 2015 books and world-serving non-profit organizations that are making gorgeous gifts. PLUS—a cool mug idea for kids’ ridiculous quotes that my parents started years ago and that I think you’ll love, and some beautiful offerings from an incredible artist.

AND- most importantly to me: an opportunity to add this to the family poem:

Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.
And something to light up the world.
Tweet: Something you want, need, wear & read—& something to light up the world! The @momastery Holiday Gift Guide is here!

We’ve added a chance to give to Together Rising in a child or partner or friend’s name – and when you give – you’ll receive a downloadable gift certificate to wrap up and give to your person of honor to show your love and offering.

So—get your shopping done in your pajamas, and buy things that will widen your people’s minds, remind us that We Belong to Each Other, and light up the world. Scroll down to see our picks, or click here to see the Holiday Gift Guide in full screen and mobile version.

Then call it a year. Make December a time to step back and look at your life and your people and appreciate and marvel and soak it all up. Slooooooow everything down and snuggle up together and wait with great awe and trembling and joy and peace for God to come. In other words: make some room at the Inn.

My Picks For You and Your Friends

My Picks

Craig’s Picks

Craig's Picks

Great Books for Kids & Tweens

Good Gifts

These businesses and organizations are helping people to give well this holiday season. They are doing good work, serving the world and offering products we adore.

Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms is a Nashville, TN non-profit that makes & sells beautiful home and body products from top-quality ingredients. They employ and empower women who have survived lives of addiction and life on the streets.

This is one of my FAVORITE PLACES IN THE WHOLE SWEET WORLD. Thistle Farms is an in-the-flesh Momastery. Women bring each other back to life here. Heaven on Earth.

Purpose Jewelry

100% of the proceeds from Purpose Jewelry goes to benefit young women rescued from sex trafficking, and their jewelry is handcrafted by trafficking survivors.

I love Purpose. This group of warriors rescue women from sex trafficking and then provide holistic care and jobs making this GORGE jewelry. I wear it to remind myself that I am a part of a sisterhood of warriors saving and being saved by each other.

Krochet Kids

Krochet Kids Intl. is a non-profit brand empowering women to rise above poverty through jobs, education, and mentorship. Each item they sell is hand-signed by the woman who made it in Uganda or Peru.

CRAIG and I have dear friends that work with Krochet Kids so we know first hand that the work they do is true and real and good. The women that make these amazing, cool, snuggly products sign each piece and it makes me cry.

Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company has a simple mission: Drink Coffee. Do Good. They offer quality coffee that brings life-changing work to communities in Rwanda.

I love this organization for two reasons. One: Sister lived in Rwanda for a year helping to find and prosecute child rapists. She fell in love with the country, so Rwanda feels like a family member to us. Two: COFFEE.


Storypeople’s Brian Andreas says such important, true things in such a dance-y, love-ly way that his work just makes me sigh. Give his creations to all of your people. Here are a few of my favorites — you can get these, and much more, including his new book Impossible to Know (just out today!) — at his gorgeous store.

Brian Andreas Poster “Anyone can slay a dragon, he
told me, but try waking up
every morning & loving the
world all over again. That’s
what takes a real hero.”
Brian Andreas ornament "I carry you with me into the world, into
the smell of rain & the words that dance
between people & for me, it will always
be this way, walking in the light, remembering
being alive together."
Brian Andreas bracelet

"Everything changed the day I figured out
there was exactly enough time for the
important things in my life."

Like a Photo Album But With Coffee

Zazzle Mugs

This is my favorite thing. When Chase started speaking, I’d call my parents every night to tell them what AMAZING INCREDIBLE ADORABLE new thing he said that day. Oh, the first borns. Actually, now that I think of it- Amma is seven now and I can’t actually remember if she’s said her first word or not. I hope so.

ANYWAY- my parents started having mugs made with the cutest things Chase said, and they’ve just kept adding mugs with each new grandchild. So now they have a mug collection that makes them laugh every morning. Like a photo album but WITH COFFEE. All the good things. Anyway- we started doing it, too. Every year Craig gets a new mug with the best thing the kids said that year. This year its: You’re My Yoga. Love.

Custom Zazzle Mug

Now our friends at Zazzle have made a really simple way for you to make these mugs as well. Give them as gifts to grandparents, aunts, uncles, or build your own collection at home. Three simple steps are at the link. Use the code MOMASTERYMUG at checkout and get 45% OFF any mug in the Momastery store through 12/15.

Please make sure to post pictures of your creations—we want in on all the jokes. And while you’re there, check out some new Zazzle items in the Momastery Holiday Collection.

And Now…Give Good

This holiday season, make a donation to Together Rising in honor of your friends, family and loved ones. You’ll get access to a printable gift certificate with each gift. Give individuals and families in need the gift of love, help, hope and material support this holiday. JOY!!

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Oct 282015

Lilla Watson

I spend much of my time on the road, speaking to large audiences. Since Charleston, I promised myself that I’d bring up race and white privilege as often as possible. I do it awkwardly and imperfectly, but I do it. Since I’ve started speaking about this, one thing that I’ve had to resist is shutting down and shutting up in response to this refrain: BUT I’M NOT RACIST. I AM NOT PREJUDICED. I WAS RAISED BETTER THAN THAT. I need you to please try to hear me on this.

We are raised by our families, but we are also raised by our culture.

I am a feminist. At my heart, I am a fierce, bold advocate for women. But I was raised in a sexist culture. I was raised in a world that tried to convince me through media, through certain religious organizations, through inadequate history books and through the beauty industry – that female bodies are worth less than male bodies- and that certain types of female bodies (thin, tall young) are worth more than other types of female bodies.

The daily deluge of images of women’s bodies for sale and the onslaught of emaciated women’s bodies held up as the pinnacle of female achievement and the pervasive message that women exist to please men was the air I breathed decade after decade. I was a radiation canary living in a mine and the toxins were misogyny. I got sick from it. Not because I’m a bad, sexist person but because I was just breathing sexist air.

I became bulimic and it’s taken a lifetime to recover. It is harder to unlearn than it is to learn. And it is very, very difficult for a woman to be healthy in a world that is still so very sick. It is the ultimate victory to love yourself in a world that is promising you a million times a day that you have no right to. It is a victory that requires constant attention. So I’m working hard at health and wholeness every day.  I’m taking every thought hostage and examining it for truth. And now I’m an advocate for women’s equality with a fierce heart for women- I know that women are equal. I know what my body is for. It’s not for selling things. It’s for loving and learning and resting in beauty and fighting for justice. I know that every body on this Earth has equal, unsurpassable worth.

And YET-

I still have the poison in me. I still have all the biases that were instilled in me for decades. Because we are what we consume. We become the air we breathe. So subconsciously – I would likely still judge a thinner, younger woman to be worth more than a heavy, older woman. My mind and heart would correct that misguided snap judgement- but it would take a deliberate moment.

When I was thirty-five, I noticed that the wrinkles on my forehead were deepening and I found myself driving to a doctor’s office and paying HUNDREDS of dollars to have Botox (POISON) PAINFULLY injected into my forehead. To make my face worth as much as the younger, smoother faces on TV. I LITERALLY knew better. But my subconscious did not know better. My subconscious had not yet caught up with my mind and my heart, because it was (is) still poisoned. It took a deliberate moment to stop poisoning myself. To stop letting the poison in the air crawl underneath my skin.

I am a fierce, forever feminist. But I still have sexism and misogyny running through my veins. It takes a lifetime to clear these out. You can be one thing and your subconscious can be another thing.

This is what we’re talking about when we talk about prejudice. About white privilege. Our culture has taught me to be prejudice against older women, wrinkly women, heavy women, and even thin women (hate them, they’re better than you).

And our culture has also taught me to be prejudice against black people.

How many images of black bodies being thrown to the ground have I ingested? How many news reports have I inhaled passively – how many images of jails filled with black bodies? How many casually racist jokes have I swallowed? Over the decades and centuries and days, we’ve breathed in countless images meant to convince us that black men are dangerous and that black women are dispensable and that all black bodies are worth less than white bodies. We have just been breathing.

We must be humble about what we have become.

Listen. We can be good, kind, justice loving, anti-racist people in our hearts and minds – but if we’re living here – we’re still canaries raised in a racist mine. Tweet: We can be good, justice-loving people-but if we’re living here-we’re still canaries in a racist mine @Momastery We’ve still been breathing the air- and we’ve been conditioned. So our knee jerk  reaction to a black man approaching us might be fear. Our subconscious might kick in before our mind and heart can catch up. And we might pull that trigger faster than we would if the body approaching us was white. And that black girl not responding to our request to stand up – well  we might take her down faster than we’d ever take down a white body. Because our subconscious has been trained to believe she’s belligerent, disrespectful, dangerous and dispensable.

You can be anti-racist and still have prejudice running through your veins. You can be one thing and your subconscious can be another thing.

We must be humble about what we have become.

We do not have a black problem. We do not have a white problem. Identity in blackness or whiteness alone is a problem. We have a Human Family problem. We are all being poisoned, and so are our children. We have got to come together to help clear the air so we can all breathe. This is going to require serious people who are humble about what they have become.

This moment is not asking us: are we racist or not?

This moment in our country’s history is asking us:  Are we humble or not? Do we have eyes to see what we have become and the courage it takes to unbecome?



This is Carrie Ben-Yisrael. She took the microphone at our event in Charleston and told a roomful of one thousand white women about what she knows and what she feels. About what it’s like to be a woman of color and the mama of four black children in our culture. She was stunning and brave and kind. She received a standing ovation.


If You’d Like Some Help Making The Poison More Visible- this book helped me immensely.

Why are All the Black Kids Sitting TogetherWhy are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?










Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Invest 2 seconds & get your first G-LOVE email in your inbox NOW!!