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.

 

 

Did Robin Williams have Bipolar?

Robin Williams is admired for his acting as well as his ability to be candid about addiction, depression and personal struggles. Over his lifetime, he was an inspiration to many. Shortly after taking his life, speculation began re: whether Robin Williams had bi-polar disorder or not.

Psychcentral gave the following statement:

Robin Williams has long been a sufferer of bipolar disorder, a mental illness where the person fluctuates between episodes of extreme energy, focus and productivity (mania) and severe depression. Apparently, he was in one of the episodes of depression when he took his own life.

In contrast to the statement given by Psychcentral, there are others who state that Robin Williams did not have bipolar. Apparently, even Robin Williams himself.The following is from an interview with Carrie Fisher on Robin Williams by the Hollywood Reporter.

In an interview with Carrie Fisher, the following was shared about her encounter with Robin Williams: “He … looked lost, kind of, and he said that he didn’t think he was bipolar. He took the test that I gave the audience and got all the answers right, but didn’t think [being bipolar] was something that had anything to do with him,” recalled Fisher, who has been candid about her own struggles with mental illness and addiction.  (more here)

Regardless of whether Robin Williams had bipolar or not, he was outspoken about his struggles with addiction and depression. And the following reality still remains: for as far as we have come in recent years regarding mental health  and addiction treatments and anti-stigma initiatives, we still have a ways to go.

Robin Williams: I am so very sorry for your suffering. Your passing has broken the hearts of many. Bangarang, Peter!

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Stepping out of my comfort zone to volunteer

For a while now, it has been on my life bucket list to be a special friend to a child in care (this idea was birthed after realizing that adoption is not the only way to help kids from hard places). With this desire, I contacted my local Children’s Services and went to a volunteer orientation. From there, I jumped through hoops (police check, letter from doctor, references, etc) to be involved in the “special friend” program. This is similar to Big Sister/Big Brother. In April of this year, I was matched with a…boy! The ironic thing is that I signed up to be a mentor to a girl in care and in the end, I ended up picking the only boy seeking a special friend. Besides he being a he…this boy seemed like the best fit. (Now let me explain. I love boys! I really do. They rock. I’m the oldest of 4 girls. As a result, I tend to connect with girls super fast and we end up being BFF’s. I was nervous re: how to build that connection with a boy. Plus I’m not into video games, never been good at sports, etc).

This volunteer opportunity has been pushing me out of my comfort zone and I’m feeling so blessed as a result. The following are reflections of this experience so far:

1. As edgy as I felt for the first “date” with the little man, I’m glad that I pushed through those nerves. He’s a great kid! And for being someone who isn’t gifted athletically, I loved our last get together where we played catch and soccer. Lots of fun.

2. Because Children’s Services has been involved with supporting the family, I assumed that I wouldn’t like mom (don’t ask me to explain where this came from!).  I thought that we wouldn’t click. Then I met her and walked away thinking, “wow, I REALLY like her!”. This is helping to change my preconceived notions of families needing help from services.

3. The family has moved twice within the 3 months that I’ve been involved. As a result, I’ve been to areas of our town that normally I would drive through but have no reason to stop.  Through this placement, I’ve gotten to know adults and children that otherwise I’d never know. It’s a shame that middle class me and living below the poverty line them don’t have many opportunities to rub shoulders.

4. As a pastor’s wife who leads youth group, volunteers in nursery, etc. etc. it’s not that I’m without volunteer opportunities. I’m starting to believe that its important to volunteer in the church and outside of it. I appreciate being  involved with and connected to our community in a way that I wouldn’t be otherwise.

5. You’ve likely heard this before: I feel like I’m getting more out of volunteering than I’m giving! At certain times, I walk away feeling that I should have to pay for all that I’m learning through this placement. Volunteering can be truly energizing in-spite of going outside of comfort zone.

The past couple of months have been difficult. During a season of grief, I began this volunteer role (its just how the timing came together). I like to think that my “special friend” has helped to keep me afloat. Sometimes, I don’t necessarily feel in the mood to volunteer. Those tend to be the times that I go home with a full heart. Grateful that I pushed past my comfort zone to hang out with a boy. A kid who has had a tough life. And yet, a kid who is teaching me so very much.

How to help someone with mental illness

People often wonder what they can do to help a loved one with a mental illness. Rest assured, there are things that you can do. The following are 5 ways to help. If you have something to add to this list please do!

5 ways that you can help someone with mental illness: 

1.  Just as someone with a heart condition needs to utilize medical assistance to stay well, so does the person with mental illness.  You can help by assisting the person in finding appropriate supports and you can help to validate the need for this. Most often, this help comes in the form of counseling and/or seeing a doctor.

2. If the person is hospitalized, visit them! Unfortunately those hospitalized for mental illness tend to receive less visitors and flowers than those hospitalized for other medical conditions. Visit as often as you are able and bring flowers or a special gift for them.

3. Seek to learn as much as you can about your loved ones illness. The internet is not always a reliable database. Ask those who work in mental health what resources they would recommend. See if your loved one will let you come to an appointment with their doctor or counselor so that you can learn more.

4. Let the person know that you are a safe person to talk to. End stigma by letting them know that they can be honest with you re: dark thoughts. Taking this a step further, also remind them of their local crisis number (24/7 service) plus the option of going to the ER if ever needed to keep safe.

5. Tell your loved one of what you look forward to in the future together. Most tend to feel discouraged after receiving a diagnosis of mental illness. Encourage them that their diagnosis doesn’t make up the whole of who they are. Remind them of:  who they still are  (positive aspects of their life and personality) and the exciting possibilities that still lay ahead.

Do you have anything else you’d add to this list? If so, please leave a comment below. Thank you for thinking about how you can better support your loved one with mental illness.

For further reading, click here: HOW TO HELP A LOVED ONE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS