Saturday, November 6, 2010

Justice Day

Today Wes and I went to an event in Escondido called "Justice Day". It was a venue to get to know some local agencies (and some abroad) that work for humanitarian organizations. Some helped rescue women from sex slavery in San Diego, some helped communities in third world countries create sustainable living through fair trade. It was such a blessing to become more and more educated with the organizations around us. The only sad part about that day was that there weren't very many people at this event!! Hopefully we can continue to spread the word and educate others about the intense pain in the lives of those around us - our neighbors - and the ways in which we can be involved in healing our world.

Here is a list of some of the vendors that we visited with, linked to their websites:

Fair Trade San Diego
Never Neverland
North County Solutions for Change
Generate Hope
Plant with Purpose
Hidden Treasures
City of Refuge
Grace Children's Home
Breaking Chains
Fill A Belly
Cross Your Heart Clothing
Steps of Justice

I will keep you updated on other events coming in the future, but overall my husband and I felt like kids in a candy store with all these great people and organizations all around us. There is hope for this world!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Step at a Time

The other day my husband and I watched a documentary called "What Would Jesus Buy". I highly recommend this movie, especially since it's Nov. 2nd and I'm already bombarded with Christmas "stuff" all over the malls and television. It's a great way to consciously tune yourself towards the real meaning of Christmas and real gifts that matter to people. Take a look at Wes' blog post for a summary of the movie here.

While watching this documentary about our consumerism and over-consumption, I was convicted. Not because this information was new to me and I was discovering it for the first time...but because I have heard this, and know about it and have made strides to simplify, reduce and reuse and be consciously careful about where I shop and how the things I buy were made. But...

Well...I needed new shampoo because I had just gotten my hair cut and I really wanted shampoo for curly hair and...

Yeah. I am embarrassed to say, I gave in and bought some dumb, cheep "curl enhancing" shampoo from Target that undoubtedly results in poor wages and poor working conditions for someone hair is really curly now...

Almost 2 years ago I watched a documentary called "The Fair Trade". This documentary recounts (Taken from the website) "...the story of successful fair trade entrepreneur Tamara Johnston-McMahon. Tamara, devastated by the tragic death of her fiance, makes a bargain with God to postpone suicide in exchange for a meaningful life. She quit her job at Dreamworks, her twin sister Shelby quit her job teaching art history at California State University at Los Angeles, and brother-in-law Steven quit his job at JPL in order to spend their days making soap for their start-up fair-trade body-care company Anti-Body."

Dolores happened to have this documentary at her store and I actually had Steven as a math teacher at APU (I had no idea he was connected to anti-body until I saw him the documentary). I had been aware of the fair trade discussion but didn't know exactly how it worked or how I could really do anything. You can just ask Dolores, but as soon as the documentary was over I rushed to their website and signed up for their email subscription. I didn't buy anything yet, but I knew this was a worthwhile organization and I needed to be connected to it.

It didn't take long though before I was obsessed with reading about fair trade. Anti-body particularly supports specific co-ops in other countries to support local communities and pay fair wages. They get the coconut oil, Shea butter and other ingredients from the co-ops so they can make the bath and body products. And let me tell you, anti-body doesn't do it for the money. It's a conscious decision to positively and fairly affect lives. Yes, it costs me more to buy fair trade...but that is because those who made it are treated with respect and dignity. Their communities are being strengthened and lives and being changed. That's worth a few extra dollars for me.

So I started small. I had challenged myself to take one room at a time, and buy only fair trade. The bathroom seemed easy enough. I wanted everything in my bathroom to be fair trade organic certified. My shampoos, soaps, lotions, lip balms - everything to be fair trade. I was actually doing okay for awhile. What gets me stuck though is when my identity begins to lie in my outward appearance. In reality, what do we need? Clean hair. Clean body. Maybe anti-body's shampoo isn't "curl enhancing" but it cleans my hair...and actually it's not too bad at moisturizing and keeping frizz down - but I got caught up in the image. I NEED my curls to be defined!! I don't. I want clean hair. That's it. And I can get clean hair knowing that those who made it are better off because of it.

So I got distracted, but I'm back. I decided to use this blog as a way to promote fair trade products and organizations I run into (I'm partial to anti-body but you will see others as well :) ) I will do reviews of the products I get and let you into my life as I try a little at a time to support fair trade companies and local farmers. So, I start again with my bathroom, one thing at a time. Would you join me?

Together we can make a difference to reach out to the least of these, and make sure that when we touch their hands, that they are not tarnished by unfair working conditions - a person with no face - but that they are hands as God created them to be, with God's glorified face in their smiles.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Working Towards Organization

Ok, so it's no surprise if you know me, to hear that I have a bit of an organizational problem when it comes to my personal space. I want my home to be comfortable and I want to relax when I get there - not clean things! I assume there are others out there that feel this way. And it's not that I can't stay clean...there ARE areas of my home that stay consistently clean for me. Take the bathroom for instance. It absolutely grosses me out to have a dirty bathroom, so I am very aware of putting things back into place there.

I guess what it really is, is that I NEED things in place for me to put them back. They have to have a "place". In the bathroom I have a basket for all my lotions and hair spays. And they stay there! In the living room I have a shoe all the shoes go there. If there is a set place, I can do it!

So I'm doing laundry today. And although I actually enjoy folding laundry (very therapeutic) I just kept letting it pile and pile until today I was forced to because 1. My husband and I have completely run out of every shirt pants and underwear we own and 2. My cat pooped on the clothes. (really? REALLY MOSHE?!). So I've spent my WHOLE DAY doing laundry.

I sit here and think to myself. HOW can I set something up to where this doesn't happen again? And then I realized that Moshe may have pooped divine intervention poop. I am now forced to throw one of the two hampers I have away because of his smelly gift, AND THAT MIGHT HELP ME! I think I let it go for so long because I can. Theres another hamper for it. But if I only have one hamper, its more noticeable quicker that I need to do laundry. And not only that but picking a designated day might work to my advantage too. SO.

1. Keep only one hamper in the bedroom.
2. Do laundry every Monday.

I realize that this isn't really the vibe of my normal blogs, but that's ok! I write what I'm wrestling with. And sometime that might be theological, sometimes a story about my nanny job, or sometimes about being a wife. Who knows. Plus it's worth it to get it out of my mind to save my marriage! ;)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


We are busy. The "we" of my husband and I. The "we" of my church. The "we" of America. We are busy. About a month ago, our young adult bible study went on a retreat to Forest Home's Briefing conference. On the last night of the conference the whole camp did an hour of silence. Not just quiet time with music or reading your Bible.

An hour.

I took this time very seriously, because I realized that silence is not just shutting your mouth, it is shutting off your mind. I think many people, (very much including myself) have this tendency to pray before bed and every 4 seconds into praying you are thinking about what to do tomorrow...then you remember that you were praying and on the cycle goes again. We just can't seem to quiet our minds long enough.

While I was engaged in the hour of silence, it literally took me 45 minutes to stop "talking" in my mind. It reminded me of a practice I took up in college for a class. We had to partake in a spiritual discipline, and I choose to go into our schools prayer chapel for an hour, 5 days a week. I could have gotten away with saying that I would pray for 15 minutes in the morning, but for some reason I chose a whole hour to spend time with God out of my day. Which feels like a lot! At first it was...but it became on of my most cherished memories of my college experience. I would read my Bible, pray, draw, spend time is silence, even dance sometimes. Soon, that hour went by so quickly that I wanted more. I felt connected to the Creator. I felt good about who I was and my identity in Christ. I loved God and I knew God loved me back. I desperately miss those times. I was rejuvenated and re-centered. And lately I've been so busy that I may have forgotten who I am and who my God is...

But anyway, back to the hour of silence, 45 whole minutes is what it took for me to unwind, and finally LISTEN. I kept saying "stop. listen." if I felt myself starting to even "talk" to God. This was a time to listen in silence. Not to talk to God, but to let God talk to me.

Finally after 45 minutes, and then after a few more of intense silence, God said this:

"Hello, my sunshine."

Oh, I smiled. I listened as flashes of myself as a child ran through my head. Those innocent qualities of a child. Those qualities that we know we have deep inside us, but that we've pushed away for so long. For me, I was a bright, smiling, crazy, laughing, singing, mischievous, little girl who knew exactly what she wanted, and those things are still a part of my soul. That is who I am when no one is looking. That is who I am with my family, my husband and my God. But even with those closest to me, I can forget who I am. There are so many identities to chose many expectations in our lives that push us to take on those different identities and internalize a negative self image because our view of ourselves is based on our accomplishments or how others see us.

That is why true silence in the presence of the One who loves you most, good and bad, thick and thin (and many other cliches) is so crucial to feeling and knowing that YOU MATTER in this world. And it is so crucial to being able to DO THE THINGS THAT MATTER. If you are doing so many things and never taking time for yourself you will not do any of those things well. Do only what you can while still taking time to rest, because you can make a difference doing the few things you care about passionately.

So I challenge myself to take specific time out of my week to be silent. And I challenge myself to find my identity in Christ. Because, I am God's Sunshine.