"He has showed you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 NIV

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In Defense of Women

“Women Hold Up Half the Sky”-Chinese Proverb

Today, March 8th, 2011 marks the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. I must say, I have a pretty sweet day lined up in honor of my gender. I am going to go and get my hair cut and colored, I went and treated myself to a mocha this morning, and I am hoping to celebrate with some girlfriends tonight.

Not bad, right?

But, I am also very aware that this day is so much more than good hair color – although, admittedly, good hair is certainly one area that brings ALL women together globally. Today is one day a year in which we have an international platform to draw attention to the fact that there is a serious discrepancy in how females are treated worldwide.

I love this video that came out for International Women’s Day this year featuring Daniel Craig (the latest James Bond) and narrated by the fabulous Judi Dench. Please watch::


So, as always on this particular blog, how can we engage? How, on this – the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day – can we DO something that makes a difference on behalf of women and girls worldwide?

And please – do NOT tell me this does not affect you or is irrelevant to you. We each came from the womb of a woman. We all have mothers. We all have sisters, daughters, nieces, grandmothers, aunts, wives, girlfriends, step-mothers. Not one of us is exempt from caring about the injustices and inequalities women face at a very disproportionate rate than men. That is fact. Pure and simple.

So, here you go - practical ways to act. Today.

1. Celebrate this day by supporting a girl’s education.

2. Sign a petition to eradicate domestic human trafficking (the majority of victims are female b/w ages of 3 and 12).

3. Ask Pres. Obama to do his part to end modern day slavery

4. Shop at Global Girlfriend, a site that promotes and supports micro-enterprises for women worldwide.

5. Read the statistics and better understand why this day is important.


6. Don’t allow our government to cut foreign aid to women and children.

7. Invest directly in micro-enterprising for women:


Happy International Women's Day!

May it not take another 100 years before women worldwide realize their worth.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Chaucer and Chocolate

St. Valentine's Day is coming. Yes, yes - I am sure you know this already. You have seen the aisles at the grocery store laden with every heart-themed bauble you can imagine. Perhaps, like me, you even looked twice at that Valentine-themed Pillow Pet and considered it for your child. And then there is the Shopping Mall - jewelry, flowers, lingerie, perfume, and of course - chocolate.

And there is someone we can blame for all of this madness.


Yep, Chaucer is to blame for turning a day of a martyr into a day devoted primarily to romantic, or Eros, love. You see, in 1382, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem declaring St. Valentine's Day a day of romantic love in honor of the engagement of King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. And even then, the date has been wrongly noted, as the actual day for this St. Valentine is in May!

I am not anti-Valentine's Day, I am not anti-romantic, or Eros, love. I am, however, very much in favor of Agape love and think that this day is a perfect time for my family to focus on how we can show this type of love more prominently to the world around us.

One very tangible way is to be a more conscious consumer - to seek out ways to celebrate this day without being a proponent of exploitation via various forms of slavery. And perhaps, as a family, this holiday might be the perfect time to serve - a truly selfless act of love from one to another.

So, here are some ideas as to how we can, as a family, celebrate this day and love on the world around us via Agape.

Agape Love through Consumerism::

1. Chocolate: Did you know that the chocolate market is rife with slavery? Here is an article about it:


So, resist the temptation to buy those cute, colorful kisses and search out fair trade chocolate. Here is one of our favorites:


2. Jewelry: Consider finding a unique piece of jewelry which was made by the hands of a courageous woman who has kept she and her children from prostitution or her children from being taken to an orphanage through her beautiful craftsmanship. Here are a couple sites that we love, although, there are many, MANY to choose from:



3. Flowers: Consider skipping the $50 bouquet of roses that will die in a few days, and instead, invest in sustainable agriculture in poverty-stricken parts of the world. The Hunger Site, mentioned above, has options for this, as well as World Relief::


Agape Love through Servanthood::

I think the ideas are absolutely endless in this category and most likely, you can come up with better ones than I - and when you do, I hope you will consider sharing them with us.

Our family is going to simply bake heart-shaped sugar cookies, decorate them, bag them, and give them to our neighbors. Our plan is to try and go at a time of day in which someone might answer the door, so that we can interact with our neighbors face-to-face, and not just leave the cookies attached to the doorknob.

Secondly, we are going to do a little something for our teachers. And again, in our desire to respond with Agape love, our hope is to do something meaningful and unique for our teachers.

The ideas go on and on, and I am hoping that as you read this, the wheels are turning in your own mind of those around you that your family can reach out to on St. Valentine's Day with


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It Does Not Take a Rocket Scientist.

Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department

This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of flying down to Fremont, CA to help my friend, Bettie Ann Boeving, with the Freedom Summit. Bettie Ann is the Founder of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, which is comprised of organizations throughout the Bay Area that are working together in order to wipe out the trafficking of humans in this particular area of the country, as well as compelling people to act on a local and global level.

The Freedom Summit had over 1700 people in attendance, and over 35 speakers for the plenary and breakout sessions combined. It was truly an awesome thing to be a part of.

And as a result of this conference, my brain is one major convoluted mess of imformation, that is causing me to lose sleep as I try to disseminate this information and allow God to speak through it and propel it into action in my own life.

If there is one thing I came away with from this conference, it is a lack of despair. And that is a new response for me. Let me explain.

I first heard of this concept of "human trafficking" while teaching in the Czech Republic. On the weekends and holidays, a few of us would often travel throughout the country. On one such occasion, we visited a town called Tabor. This town is known primarily for the Hussite movement, started by Jan Hus (Protestant reformation). What many do not know, and something we just stumbled upon, is that Tabor was a gateway city for the trafficking of young Russian girls to be snatched from Russia and sold to Europeans. Absolutely tragic.

And coupled with this was a student of mine, Yelena. When I met Yelena, she had just arrived from Bosnia and was living with her Czech aunt. Her story, the bits and pieces she was willing to share, were absolutely horrific. She had to flee her native country due to Civil War. She witnessed her classmates shot and killed right in front of her. She witnessed her parentless female friends get snatched and most likely trafficked. She was one of the lucky ones to get out.

And, as I have attended lectures, classes, seminars, watched films, heard speakers, it is quite easy to become, as Gary Haugen of IJM puts it, "paralyzed by despair."

And unfortunately, for many of us, this is where our journey ends.

And quite frankly, we canNOT let it end here. We need to feel the despair, aka compassion, lean into it, claim it, and then leave it at the foot of the Cross.

So, what can we do? Well, I heard it over and over again at this conference.

A modern-day abolitionist movement is a grassroots movement.

With more slaves today in bondage than EVER before historically, it is time for each of us to do our part.

I am going to break it down into two parts, Education and Engagement. Education is a list of resources for you about human trafficking. Like any area of social justice, there is a potential to do more harm than good if we are not informed. The second category is engagement - tangible ways in which you can get involved.



1. Not For Sale by David Batstone

2. The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales

3. The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen

4. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof


1. Call + Response

2. At the End of Slavery

Web Sites to Bookmark

1. http://www.ijm.org/

2. http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/

3. http://www.polarisproject./

4. http://www.nytimes.com/ (follow Nicholas Kristof's editorial/blog)

5. http://www.callandresponse.com/


1. Phone Applications:: Two organizations, Call + Response and Not For Sale have these awesome, free phone applications that allow us to combat child slave labor through our purchasing choices.

Call + Response's app allows you to scroll through the brands that you love to buy, see if they have chosen to be a slave free company, and if not, you can send them a letter right from your phone.

Not For Sale has their Free2Work app which is similar. I usually check this app before I go to a store that is a specific brand to see what their rating is. Imagine my surprise, for example, that Carter's has an "F" rating in relation to slave free labor.

Bummer. And yet, how can I buy baby clothing knowing that they exploit babies, forcing them to work and most likely starving them or physically harming them in the process?!?!

Go to their web sites (listed above) and download these applications.

2. Demand Fair Trade. Start demanding Fair Trade at your local stores. Are you thinking that this is too difficult? Consider how much the organic foods industry has grown over the past year. That is the direct result of consumer demands. Your voice is powerful. Check out our friends at http://www.tradeasone.com/ for ways in which you can get involved. One idea? Start selling Trade As One products at local fundraisers, or host a party at you home.

3. Coupled with #2, start investing in Fair Trade items in your pantry as well. I know it seems daunting and expensive, but if you start slowly and are more intentional in what you buy, it is really not more expensive and you will most likely find yourself throwing out less expired stuff from your pantry that you forgot about.

4. Church Engagement:: This is an area one could spend a lot of time, so let me just again direct you to some links on sites for ways in which you and your church can take this commitment to abolish modern day slavery to a deeper level.

One of the areas I learned about through this conference is local church engagement through IJM (International Justice Mission) and more on that can be found here:


Another area I learned about that I, myself, am very interested in becoming is a Citizen Investigator through Not For Sale. I am hoping to go this summer. Want to join me?!?! Check it out:: http://nfsacademy.org/

5. Host a Screening: I have done this one numerous times and even though it is no small thing to commit one's home (aka CLEAN IT!), buy and make refreshments, and then get people to show up, I have never regretted it. If you go to Call + Response's web site, you can purchase an entire Home Screening Kit for only $20. This is a great way to find like-minded people, watch a powerful film together, and then brainstorm collectively about how you can further your engagement.

6. Attend our Justice Conference: What a phenomenal way to further one's knowledge and get inspired to engage. The Freedom Summit was life-changing for me. It took me out of the addicitive bubble of stagnation that life can become, it ignited the passion that God had put in me, and it inspired me to action along with many, many others. Our conference here in Bend is Feb. 11th and 12th. Go here for more information: http://www.thejusticeconference.com/

7. Lastly, I am going to take my own calling a step further. I am looking for some local moms who would like to meet monthly and explore together how we can engage ourselves and as a result, engage our families. If that is something you would like to be involved in, please email me at: familiesforjustice.gmail.com

It does not take a rocket scientist to be involved in eradicating human slavery.

It is a movement,

a grassroots movement,

made up of individuals just like you,

just like me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor

I have been thinking a lot about this word, compassion.

I have been thinking about how it seems to sometimes be easier to be compassionate from afar

than it is within our own 1 mile radius.

I have been thinking about those in our lives that are tough to love - those that hurt us, annoy us, offend us, wrong us.

The thing is, I believe compassion is really a discipline. And as such, it means that it is something that takes work, takes time, and is something we need to be actively practicing on a regular basis.

And most likely, it is going to be tough. It is going to require forgiveness on our part sometimes. It is going to require courage, as we are going to find ourselves feeling uncomfortable.

If I am going to sustain my heart for social justice and have an active role in advocacy, for a lifetime, I must be able to first and foremost show compassion to those I encounter in my daily life. And as a mom, it is even more important that my daughters see this compassion flowing out of me onto others.

So, as we head into a season of Thanksgiving, consider offering an olive branch. Consider reaching out to someone in your life that is not easy for you to love. Consider doing it with humility, showing compassion freely without wanting anything in return - even if you "deserve" it.

Think of a very tangible way to act on it between now and Thanksgiving.

Let's do it together.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween and the Cocoa Bean Industry

Halloween is upon us. And as such, the chocolate industry is banking on the fact that Americans are going to buy their weight in Snickers, Butterfingers, Mounds, Kit Kats, Reeses peanut butter cups, and on and on we go.

Now, if you love these chocolate bars and do not want to part with them, you may not want to read any further.

But I am guessing, that if you have come to this blog, you are most likely someone who would rather know the truth, act compassionately in response to that knowledge, and come up with some creative alternatives for changing the way you "do" Halloween.

The International Labor Forum states the following:

Thousands of children in West Africa are forced to labor in the production of cocoa, chocolate’s primary ingredient. The West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is the leading supplier of cocoa, accounting for more than 40% of global production. Low cocoa prices and thus the need for lower labor costs drive farmers to employ children as a means to survive. The US Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work under “the worst forms of child labor,” and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.

Here are a couple more articles I recommend reading::

The first article gives you some great ideas for how to seek out some alternatives for what you purchase to pass out on Halloween, as well as very tangible ways to take action against child slave labor.

This is what my family has decided to do:

1. We are going to go to Trader Joe's and get what our budget can afford of organic lollipops. We will pass them out until they are gone, and then we are done and the porch light goes out.

2. We are going to let our daughters trick-or-treat, knowing full well they will be getting candy that is a result of child slave labor. My daughters will then trade that candy into me for either a toy, or they can pick out some Fair Trade candy at the store.

3. We will take their candy to one of our local businesses who send it off to our soldiers. And the money they make off this candy by trading it in goes into their "give to charity" envelope.

This is a realistic game plan for my family. Is it perfect? Certainly not, and there may come a time when my family might choose not to trick-or-treat and instead, throw a party.

I am sharing our family's game plan because I am aware that being committed to social justice issues as a family can be daunting, and as Gary Haugen of IJM says, as Americans, we go from "oblivion to the paralysis of despair."

The purpose of this blog is to encourage and empower families to make a difference in very informed and tangible ways.

We wish you a safe and slave labor-free Halloween.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Interdependence Day!

My friend, Shane, wrote this article below. It is beautifully written and even has some concrete ideas as to how to implement this idea of Interdependence Day.

I encourage you to read it, maybe even twice, and see which one of the ideas listed might be something you and your family can do together.

Hope you all have a wonderful Interdependence Day weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back-2-School Pack

I know, I know. It is summer. Why in the WORLD am I talking about school?!?! Well, let's just say that in this case, I think it is a great idea to start early.

World Relief (whom our church does collaborative work with in the form of World Relief NEXT) is ramping up a very cool program called "Back-2-School Packs".

The concept is probably not that unfamiliar to a lot of people who have participated in Operation Christmas Child (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/occ/) and since we all know how meaningful that is to do with our kids, here is yet another fantastic way in which to engage in compassion WITH your children!

Here is an excerpt from the web site::

Fikret was 6 when men with guns came to his home and loaded his older 
brother and father into a truck. He never saw them again.

Farah was 8 when a bomb blew up next to her and her Mom as they ran. 
Farah survived.
Her Mom did not.

Joseph was 5. He remembers the refugee camp most of all, but he also 
remembers waking up in his mud hut to the sounds of distant gunfire and 
the cries of his Mother as she ran into the bush with him on her back.

Refugee children like these arrive in the United States every 
year-seeking safety, peace and a new place to call home.

They come from very different places and cultures. They feel different 
than the other kids in their neighborhood and schools.

You can give them the tools they need to succeed AND help them fit in 
with their classmates.

The gift of one backpack for one refugee child can make all the 
difference in the world.

You can change the life of one refugee child, one backpack at a time.


I don't know about you, but these stories affect me




And perhaps you, too, are learning as I am that as a parent, I need to not only be affected emotionally, I need to be affected right into action. The best gift I can give to my children is a legacy of love in action through compassion.

So, I am marking my calendar, starting the beginning of August, to start hitting up Target and Wal-Mart for their back-to-school sales. My goal is to put together 10 backpacks to take down to CA at the end of September, where a local drop off center is. World Relief's web site gives you step-by-step instructions as to how to go about preparing a pack. Make sure you follow the instructions, as packs that do not follow the guidelines will not be sent. Click here for the information you need: http://worldrelief.org/Page.aspx?pid=2524

And if you live here in Bend, join me and I will drop off yours as well. Or better yet - let's BECOME a drop off center ourselves. More to come on that...

And if you do not have the time to put together these packs, or you do not have access to a drop off center, you can still be involved! Click on this link to donate: https://worldrelief.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=2522

Lastly, here is one story I am sure you are not likely to forget.


Enjoy your summer!