coffee lovers who want to make a difference

Bukeye, Burundi - Dark RoastA blog post from Derek! He wrote it all himself:

The Good Coffee Company—how it tastes and how it’s sourced…the name says it all.

Actually, the name is an understatement.  Not just good, the flavour is EXCELLENT! Likewise, its positive impact on local coffee bean growers is beyond good—it’s ESSENTIAL.

Here’s what their website says:
“Our company was born out of a deep desire to impact the lives of people.  We dreamt of finding a meaningful way to connect people like you with communities in need around the world in a way that leads to hope, transformation, and deep relationships – all through delicious coffee.

We roast the coffee fresh every week in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and get it into your hands so that you can drink delicious, life-changing coffee.  From there we reinvest 25% of our profits into the coffee-growing communities through innovative projects.

Our coffee makes its way from farmers we know by name to the hands of coffee lovers who want to make a difference.”

“Coffee lovers who want to make a difference.”  In other words, people who love great coffee and love striving to meet needs of people around the globe.  Yup, that describes me.

Oh, and by the way, ethical doesn’t have to mean expensive.

I did the math for our family…we pay less for Good Coffee Co. than for the other stuff we were buying.  Yup, a dollar less per pound, actually.

Plus, because of a wonderful partnership between the Good Coffee Co. and a non-profit organization that works with preventing and responding to human trafficking called the Set Free Movement , our $1 less expensive coffee purchase sends 10% of the purchase price to support efforts in ending modern-day slavery.  It’s a natural partnership, really—ethically sourced coffee that pays local farmers 20-35% above fair-trade wages and an abolition movement.  See, when individuals and families receive a sustainable income, they become less susceptible to the wiles of would-be traffickers, because a living wage means a family gains much-needed accessibility to resources like clean water, food, education, and safe housing.  Plus, don’t underestimate how powerful are the weapons of dignity and hope when it comes to vulnerable people engaging in the fight against trafficking in their communities.

(FYI, current estimates place nearly 46 million people in some form of slavery today around the globe—people held against their will doing activities they don’t want to do.  Context: that’s more people than were enslaved throughout the entire Trans-Atlantic slave trade from Africa.  In addition to the Set Free Movement website, you can read more at www.globalslaveryindex.org.  You can also check out the last 15 years of the U.S. Government’s annual Trafficking In Persons report here www.state.gov.  But be careful, it just might open your eyes, break your heart, and cause you to change your purchasing habits as a way to decrease the size of your own slavery footprint.)

So, if you’re going to spend your cash on coffee, might you do it in a way that supports, sustains, and empowers the growers?  That’s what you do when you buy from Good Coffee Co.  Plus, when you enter the promo code SETFREE, your purchase goes to support an abolition organization at the same time.  And, you end up paying less for your coffee than you would with other coffee out there.  (But, even if it didn’t cost less, wouldn’t it still be a worthwhile sacrifice for the sake of others’ well-being around the globe?)

Here are some of your options: 1lb or 2lb bag?  Whole beans or ground?  One-time purchase or recurring automatic shipment based on your consumption?  The choices are all yours, and your product comes delivered to your mailbox.  Plus, if you spend over $50, you get free shipping (I buy two 2lb bags at a time, costs me $52).  And, remember, using the coupon code SETFREE will ensure 10% of your purchase goes directly to the Set Free Movement for their work in preventing and responding to human trafficking…and it will also give you a 10% discount on your purchase!

You and I have the privilege to support two organizations that attempt to create hope for the future among some of the world’s most vulnerable people groups by investing in local communities, providing long-term sustainability, and facilitating life-transformation.  If you love great tasting coffee and care about people, why would you not do this?

– D.

The Christian response to the Syrian refugee crisis

Facebook is filled with opinions re: what to do with Syrian refugees. What to do about ISIS. I’ve been silent. Not because I don’t care, rather, I’m not sure if I want to debate.

I look at my daughter. She will ask me questions about this time in history. Why did people take so long to act? Why were so many unwilling to help?

I think about WW2. So few were willing to risk their lives to hide Jews. And in North America, the majority were opposed to accepting Jewish refugees.

I can’t help but think that history is repeating itself. That fear is ruling the day. We all think that we would have risked our lives to hide Jews. And certainly we would have opened our borders for them as refugees. But would we have, really?

As a Christian, scripture is FULL of charges to welcome refugees. Jesus himself was a refugee! We aren’t called to a “safe” life when we decide to follow Christ. We are called to live radically. To love even when it’s risky.

I know there’s lots of factors to consider re: ISIS and Syrian refugees. And we must be wise. But at the end of the day, I want my daughter to learn in her history class that people chose love over unfounded fear. They cared for humans that they never met. They shared. They realized the truth in, “to whom much is given much will be required”.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” – 1 John 4:18.

syria refugee
A Syrian refugee child cries at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, August 3, 2012. The Al Zaatri camp is one of many set up along the 86km (53 mile) border between Jordan and Syria under the management of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and with the help of local charity groups. Refugees were suffering from heat and difficult living conditions as even more people fleeing the fighting continued to pour into the camp on Friday. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed (JORDAN – Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ORG XMIT: AMM52

 

demon possession or mental illness?

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Is it mental illness or demon possession? How can I know the difference? And how can the church help and not hurt? While I am no expert on this topic, I hope that the following is helpful.

Disclaimer: Some don’t believe that mental illness is real. Others don’t believe that demon possession is real. This post is for those who believe that demon possession is possible. And that mental illness is possible. If both exist as possibilities – then which one is it? Please keep in mind that even for Christians, demon possession is a puzzling topic. And many Christians would be quick to point out that we live in a broken world. We aren’t in Eden anymore. We have bodies AND minds that fail us at times.

Typically, when a person is attempting to discern between a demon possession or a mental illness, it is because something unusual is going on. Often, the person is hearing voices, seeing things others aren’t seeing, and/or having trouble discerning what is real from what is not. Psychosis (a break from reality) affects 3% of the population at some time in their life, while schizophrenia affects 1% of the population. That means that 1 in 100 people will develop schizophrenia in their lifetime. The age of onset is usually between 14-35 years of age. Similar to how diabetes can be treated with medication, psychosis can also be treated with medication. If the breaks from reality improve on medication (and if the person has been patient in finding the right medication and dosage) that gives a strong indication that the unusual experiences were due to biochemistry. Demon possession wouldn’t go away via medication.

Church leaders may be contacted either by concerned family members or by the individual to help determine what is going on. The best way that the church can help is to strongly encourage a second opinion (family doctor, mental health worker, psychiatrist) AND stay involved with the family and individual. Problems arise when one of these steps are missed. Do seek outside help but don’t stop meeting with the family/individual. The individual needs both the health care system and their church at a time of crisis.

The church can play a beautiful role in helping individuals who are questioning “is it demon possession or mental illness?”. To do so, the church must be willing to refer out and stay involved.

For more on this subject, watch this video from “The Meeting House” on November 15th, 2015. It was a Mental Health Q & A during their worship service, which happened to come at the end of their series on Satan and demons.

 

 

On raising my daughter to be a feminist

It’s a shame that many cringe when they hear the word feminist. People are often confused by what a person means when they say, “I’m a feminist”. The dictionary definition is such:

Feminist: advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

You don’t have to be a female to be a feminist. I love this clip where our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau identifies as a feminist and speaks about raising his sons to be feminists. It’s a one minute clip and worth the watch: Justin Trudeau Urges Men to be Feminists

How exactly do I plan to raise my daughter to be a feminist? The question gives me pause. It certainly won’t be a one time event but an on-going process. The following are a couple examples that come to mind. It’s not an exhaustive list but its a start.

  1. I plan to always raise her in a church that supports women in leadership and ministry. Thankfully, the Free Methodist Church is such a place. (p.s. Jesus was a radical feminist, I look forward to pointing this out to her!)
  2. I hope to instill in her the ability to ask, “why?” Example: why are baby showers only for the mothers and not also for the fathers? Where does that come from? And what do I think about that for today?
  3. I plan to instill in her a voice and knowledge re: finances. If she marries one day and decides to have her husband do the finances, that’s OK. That will be out of choice rather than inability to have an opinion on financial matters.
  4. Whether she decides to work or stay home with the kids, that will be her choice. I’ll remind her that the ability to choose is empowerment. (I’d also support dad being a stay-at-home dad if that’s what they want!).
  5. I’d want her to be aware of the inequality between males and females. The unspoken & spoken expectations that are rooted in sexism. But I’d want to do so in such a way that she is informed but not bitter. Passionate about justice but not poisoned by injustice. There’s a fine line — we must do what we can, when we can. But we will also face great disappointments in how others think & operate. This discouragement can cause us to not act at all. I hope that our daughter will be a feminist who will do what she can, when she can and will also remember the wise words of Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.

 

The importance of multicultural toys

As much as I’m not super girly with our daughter (rarely have her in dresses), there’s just something special about buying her first doll.

After much thought & reading the following article, “Maybe White Girls Should Play With Black Dolls“, I went searching on amazon for a non-Caucasian doll. I figure that she will be given plenty of Caucasian dolls as a child and I really want her to have dolls to play with that look different than her.

When Barbie and Christie went joyriding, it was all fun and games, but it also laid an early foundation for a vision of partnership and a level playing field for women, regardless of color. That’s why I encourage young girls, and especially white girls, to collect multicultural dolls. I believe that we can all embrace one another’s ideas, experiences and potential to make connections. But first we have to see one another as sisters. What starts in play could lead to real and important work.

In the end, I couldn’t decide between the following two dolls. So I bought them both! They won’t be here in time for Christmas so they will be for her 1st birthday. Both are by JC Toys and available on amazon.com. Love them and can’t wait to give these dolls to our baby girl.

….just as black girls are encouraged to play with diverse dolls so that they can see black as fun, beautiful and worthy, maybe white girls should be, too.

3 practical ways to give back as a new mom

Giving to others has always been an important part of my life. It’s how I was raised. As a new mom, giving back has taken on new meaning. 5 months into this parenting gig and the following is never lost on me.

I’m so blessed to welcome a baby with the following realities:

a) having grown up in a healthy family environment
b) a supportive and very helpful partner
c) not stressed about finances
d) being blessed by friends, family and our church community with clothing and baby items

How lucky am I to have not only have a few of the above but all four as my reality? Being a new mom is HARD. And I’m operating out of abundance. This has got me thinking about those who don’t have half of the support that I do.  How can I give out of my abundance and bless a mom who is struggling? The following is what I’ve come up with so far but if you can to this list please do (leave a comment!).

  1. Donate your baby gift bags to your local Pregnancy Centre. I’m not kidding when I say that I had 100 gift bags that were baby related from my showers or gifts people gave us after baby was born. There’s only so many baby showers that I will attend in the future so there’s no way that I would reuse all of them. I called up a Pregnancy Centre and they were glad to take some of those gift bags off my hands. They plan to re-use them when giving presents to clients. This is a much better alternative to letting the gift bags collect dust or throwing them out (as they were in excellent condition).
  2. You may receive doubles of some baby items or baby items that you find that you don’t need. Most communities have an emergency shelter for women and children that is happy to receive donations. Consider giving to your local women’s shelter any unused or like new baby items! (I personally feel its important for these items to be in good condition. I have a personal rule: if I wouldn’t give it to a co-worker or friend based on its condition, I won’t give it to someone just ’cause they are poor. I love giving new or next to new items away! I want my donation to make someone smile with how awesome it is).
  3. Donate diapers. Example: when your baby outgrows a diaper size but you’ve already opened a box. Or the diapers you were using just aren’t working right anymore. Your local women’s shelter will be happy to receive a donation of diapers!

I’m sure there are many other ways to give back as a new mom. Yes, giving of our time and resources can be a little more tricky as a busy mom but it’s not an impossible task. Recognizing that we are rich/blessed/well-off is a start in then wanting to give some of that way. We are blessed to be a blessing!

And just in case you don’t think that you’re rich, read the following to assess:

 If you have a bank account, some money in your wallet, you belong to the to 8% of the wealthiest people in the world
Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. (UNCTAD)

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any ideas to add to this list? Do you want to get started in giving back?

Why I’m NOT giving my children everything that they want

In the short time since we’ve had a baby, I’ve been struck by how often I’ve heard people say that they are doing x, y or z so that their child can have everything that they want. The x,y, or z has been continuing to work in a job that they hate or working long hours.

In the first world, we are bombarded with messages that tell us that what we have is not enough. The truth is, we are fortunate to be able to give our children what they need and some of what they want. For millions of parents around the world, they just want to see their child live to see another day.

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Will I give my children some things that they want? Sure! But I desire for them to know the difference between a want and a need. And I won’t work long hours just for my children to have more of their wants fulfilled. While they may not appreciate it now, I think what children ultimately want are parents that are present, parents who model simple living, and parents who give to others rather than fulfilling all their wants on self.  Ultimately, I won’t be giving my children everything that they want as I hope and pray that they will be individuals who understand that they are blessed to be a blessing.