Lesson from our tiny teacher: water, prayer, gratitude

This afternoon, in the midst of playing, our 23 month old stopped and asked me to pray before she drank her water.

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As a result of this simple request, so many thoughts flooded my mind.

I thought of what a gift it is to know that the water she’s about to drink won’t make her sick.

The fact that her “dirty” bath water from last night is much cleaner than what most of the kids in the world will drink today.

And I thought about the reality that we’d all die much sooner without water than food…yet, we bow our heads in thanks for food much more often than for a simple glass of water. Hmm.

Thankful for our tiny teacher. ❤

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.

Bystander Effect: A Swan Rescue

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On my morning commute, I came across an unusual sight: an injured swan. He was stuck on the main bridge in town which is a heavy traffic area. At first, I slowed to a stop (it was safe to do so!), took a photo, and thought that he would walk or fly away. I began to realize that something wasn’t right. He couldn’t walk very far. He’d take a few steps and then stop. And he wasn’t flying away despite the vehicles and people. I saw that the swan was bleeding from his beak. I came to learn that one bystander had seen the swan fly into the bridge and slide across the pavement.

A man and a woman left their truck and walked towards the swan in an attempt to have the swan move off of the bridge. This didn’t work. The swan just stood there. They kept a safe distance from the swan as they didn’t want the swan to attack due to feeling threatened. The swan made a few attempts to escape by squeezing through the guardrail on the bridge (which is impossible for a bird of his size). I informed this couple that I would go park my car and return to help. When I arrived on foot, we were at a stand still with the swan. The swan was stressed but not moving.

Traffic at the bridge was backed up. Some were quick to drive by, others slowed to take a photo and then drive on. One lady rolled down her window and said the following to me: “why aren’t they walking towards the swan to get it to move?” I stated that they had attempted this but were afraid that the swan may attack them out of defense. She sighed, rolled her eyes and drove away.

Immediately, I thought of Brene Brown’s thoughts re: The Man In the Arena (a quote by Theodore Roosevelt). In summary, people in the stands find it easy to criticize those in the arena. But unless the person is also in the arena, we need not to concern ourselves with their feedback. Thanks to Brene Brown and T. Roosevelt, I was able to let this woman’s comment slide off my back and continue on in my attempt to help the swan.

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Good news: a man arrived on the scene to help with the swan rescue. He brought with him a large black coat and covered the swan’s face and picked up the swan. He walked with the swan in his arms til they reached the side of the bridge. As soon as the swan was on grass its instincts returned. Watching the swan fly away over the Napanee river was a beautiful sight.

This morning, I’m grateful for the experience of being in the arena. In deciding to not be a bystander, I was able to partake in the beauty that is strangers working together for a cause. And I’m thankful for the reality that “it is not the critic who counts”. Instead of offering criticism from the sidelines, let’s be people in the arena.

-R

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.

Stop trying to change the world

For the longest time, I’ve had this incredible thirst to “change the world”. Doesn’t it sound amazing that little old me could change the lives of 7 billion people? Goose bump worthy thought. A very feel good thought.

I think I was first told that I could change the world in elementary school. It’s a popular 1st world statement that’s given without any direction as to how. As a result, one enters adulthood knowing that they want to change the world but without a single clue as to how to do this. This can lead to dissatisfaction when landing that first job. It’s only a matter of time before the realization sets in: I can’t change the world doing this job! And so it begins: quitting decent jobs to find the one that will achieve the end of “changing the world”.

When I travel, I’m struck by the amount of people that I’ll never know. This reality strikes me when traveling inside of Canada, let alone to other countries of the world. There’s BILLIONS of people that I’ll never rub shoulders with. Billions of people who don’t even speak the same language as me. How am I supposed to change the world exactly?

We all want our lives to matter. We all want to make a difference. There’s nothing wrong with this! This desire is very good. Where we’ve gone wrong is in our message: “change the world”. It’s a goal so big that it renders us motionless. We want to….but we have no clue where to start. So we do nothing. Or we make several attempts to change the world and get discouraged with our results.

“Change the world” is a motto that isn’t giving us the results that we want. I suggest instead we take to heart the wise words of Mother Theresa:

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

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More good will be accomplished when we stop trying to change the world and begin with changing our own lives. How can I love myself better? How can I love my partner better? My children? My extended family? And what about my neighbours? And those in the community that I live?

Reality check: it’s VERY unlikely that you are going to change the entire world. I’m sorry to break it to you. There’s too many people. There’s too little of you. And where do you even start? BUT there’s hope. If we all begin to care more about our immediate areas of influence (no matter how mundane), WE can make the world that we live in a better place. Start small. Set practical, attainable goals. You’ll be more effective this way, and more satisfied. Stop feeling badly that you aren’t “changing the world” and start changing your areas of influence for the better.

We can have people say at our funeral that the world is a better place because of how we lived. Love well. Love even when you get nothing in return.  Do small things with great love. When loving others is the goal you will never fail. No matter where you work. No matter what you do.

My suggested new motto (replacing “change the world”):

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love” – Mother Theresa.

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?

Where to find organic baby care products in Canada

Healthy/organic/natural baby care products are hard to come by and especially hard to shop for in Canada. I love the Environmental Working Group’s website. You can go on there and see how certain products rank re: health concerns. A zero is the lowest score that a product can get which is the best, healthiest option. After I did hours or research on what are the best products out there AND what I can get my hands on in Canada, I thought I should share this in case it may be helpful for someone else. The following are items with a score of zero by the EWG as well as where it’s cheapest to find them (keep in mind that we don’t live near a big city):

Soap: Live Clean Baby Bar of Soap (Unscented). Available on Amazon.ca or Babies R Us.

Shampoo: Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash (Naturally scented or unscented). Available on Amazon.ca

Diaper Cream: Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm. Available on Amazon.ca

Wipes: WaterWipes. Available on Amazon.ca

And I’ll add these to the list as they make me feel better about what’s in the products that’s cleaning bottles, pacifiers, toys, etc.

Dish soap: Babyganics Foaming Dish & Bottle Soap. Available at Babies R Us.

Dishwasher detergent: Seventh Generation Auto Dish Powder, Free & Clean. Available on Amazon.ca

Hope this helps! I can report back later what I think of these products. I’m excited that there ARE safer options babies in Canada.