May 15, 2013
The recent garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh has taken me out. The most recent death toll was at 1,127. Staggering.
The tragedy has left many wondering about the power of their consumption. Who do you vote for with your wallet?
In large part because consumers are asking these questions, big players in the market are starting to move toward a more ethical supply chain. Which is a good thing.
I want to leave room for big players like Gap and Nordstrom to come to the table. I want to leave ethical/spiritual room for those who previously may have been solely profit-motivated to begin to factor in the human and environmental impact of their supply chain. For now, though, (when possible) my financial vote is for ethical companies who have been doing the right thing all along. Companies like Mata Traders.
Mata Traders is a wonderful clothing and jewelry company. They’re members of the Fair Trade Federation, and their mission is “to work with organizations that educate, employ, and empower women.” Their organization is wonderful, and they have really cute clothing. Here are two of their best sellers:
This is the Jin Jin Ruffle Dress in red.
Next time you’re in the market for women’s clothing or jewelry, take a look at the Mata Traders website. Super cute and super ethical.
I would love to hear from readers who purchase from other ethical clothing companies.
May 13, 2013
I’ve been touched by the lives of two men this week. Struck by a quality that they have that I want. Humility.
Some of you might know that Dallas Willard died this past week. He was a mentor and close friend of my pastor. Because of this relationship, Dallas Willard has made a huge impact at our church. I was very sad last week. I felt the loss. John Ortberg has had a huge impact on my life through his teachings. I felt the loss of his mentor and friend. I remember sitting in a sermon where Dallas and John were talking about big questions in the faith. Dallas told John that when people had questions, they needed to lean in. Lean into their doubts. Give their doubts room and space. If you’re curious about other religions, lean in. Read the koran. Look at the life of Muhammad. Get to know the Buddah. Look at Hinduism and see what it offers. Lean into Jesus. Get to know Him and see what He was about. Coming from a culture where the default was “be careful” about what you fill your mind with, this was truly helpful. It helped me to feel more courageous and hopeful. It helped me not to be afraid. To take the next step.
Dallas Willard has been a huge influence in the spiritual formation movement over the last 20 years or more. When asked by one of his mentees what most concerned him about the spiritual formation movement, he said “Willardites”. People who followed Willard, not Jesus, to whom Willard was constantly pointing. Willard was also quick to tell people that they didn’t have to cite him when referring to his ideas in scholarly writing. He considered any kind of spiritual knowledge that he wrote about to come from the Holy Spirit. He told one of the people who was discussing his ideas to think of them as open source. John Ortberg tells a story about one of Willard’s philosophy students at USC. The student was being insufferable, and the class was ending. Intellectually, Willard could have crushed this person, but he didn’t. He just ended the class for the day. When one of the students asked Willard why he didn’t put this student in his place, his response was that he was practicing the discipline of not having the last word. I love this sense of humility.
The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen is on my bedside table right now. You might know Gary Haugen as the CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization that works on behalf of those who are oppressed throughout the world. They fight for the widow who has had her land illegally seized. They fight for the slaves in the brick kilns in India. They fight for those who are jailed in Kenya for crimes that they did not commit. They fight for girls enslaved in brothels in Cambodia. The book was published in 1999. It was re-released a few years ago with a new forward, in which Haugen talks about people confusing who should be celebrated. He was concerned that readers not celebrate him, but rather Jesus, who time and again had come through in the work of IJM. I think that Haugen is a complete stud, but I love the fact that he doesn’t see himself that way. In the forward, he talks about the fact that through his work with IJM, he has seen how wonderfully small he is. Time and again, he and his colleagues have gone to the edge of themselves and seen God come through. So, the celebration in this ten-year edition of the book is not in honor of Haugen and IJM, but rather the celebration is for God, who has come through time and again to bring about justice through His people.
In a day when people are worrying about how many Twitter followers they have or about how many likes they have on Facebook. In a day when people are writing about how to go viral. In a day when people are concerned about how to get attention and press, I deeply admire these two men because they haven’t done that. They haven’t sought attention- at least not for themselves. They’ve brought their gifts and abilities to the table and then pointed to the One who is the source of their gifts and abilities. They’ve drawn a picture of what Micah 6:8 looks like.
He has told you, O 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.
So, I’m thankful that Dallas Willard walked on this planet, and thought and read and engaged and wrote and discipled. And I’m thankful that Gary Haugen is still here doing justice and inviting us into that great work. Because I want to be more like these men. I want to lean into my God, who is big and able. I want to be more like Him. I want to point others to Him. And I want to be involved in His work of redemption. The list is long- these people who do great things humbly. For that, I am grateful.
May 12, 2013
Check out the trailer for The People and The Olive. This documentary tells the story of a group of people who decided to run across the West Bank in order to shed light on the plight of Palestinian olive growers. Under Israeli occupation, over 2 million olive trees have been destroyed, which has decimated the livelihood of many olive farmers in this region. Many of the farmers in the film are a part of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association, which sells its olives to Canaan Fair Trade, my wonderful olive oil vendor. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did. If you watch it, you’ll meet Meryl, who is my wonderfully awesome Canaan Fair Trade rep.
April 22, 2013
Happy Earth Day 2013!
Today, I want to give you some suggestions for how your family might reduce your paper usage. Our family has reduced our paper usage a good bit over the last few years, and I would love to share that with you. We don’t have our environmental act completely together. While I love the zero-waste movement, we haven’t tackled that at this point. We have trash every week. I still use some plastic products. But, we have taken some steps to reduce our paper usage that have been fairly easy and haven’t added a lot to our weekly work load. Don’t take all of these on right now. Just pick one and make it a habit. If you try to do too much at a time, you’ll wind up doing nothing. Here are some ideas:
1. Consider replacing paper towels with bar mops.
We stopped using paper towels several years ago and purchased some bar mops to use instead. They see heavy use in our household. They are our kitchen towels and our cleaning work horses. I have “special” towels that I use for absorbing oil from fried donuts or oven-roasted potatoes. Keep these oil soaked cloths and use them only for these greasy occasions- this will help all your other kitchen towels to stay thirsty. As you can see, these towels are heavily used. I don’t use bleach, so mine get stained. I would love to be able to show you a beautiful stack of pristine towels, but that’s just not realistic if you’re using them for everything from dusting to cleaning up carrot juice spills.
2. Consider replacing paper napkins with cloth napkins.
This is fairly easy. Buy some cloth napkins, and start using them instead of paper napkins. I have a lot of cloth napkins. I have some from when we first married that I still use. They are easy to throw in our pack on days when we eat away from home. You will not need to change these at each meal, or even every day. Each person in our family has their own napkin ring, so we can use our napkins for several days before replacing them.
3. Consider replacing kleenex with handkerchiefs.
This is a very easy place to begin. Buy a dozen handkerchiefs and start using them instead of kleenex. If I have a guest who wants a kleenex, I just give them toilet paper.
4. Consider replacing toilet paper with wipes.
I put this one last because it’s the most fringe. It might ick you out. But, our family replaced toilet paper with wipes several years ago, and it’s just not a big deal. Here’s how we do it. If you come to my house, I will have toilet paper for you ;-/.
I’m guessing you’re wondering if these habits contribute significantly to our laundry. I do 1-2 loads a week of towels, wipes, handkerchiefs and napkins. I do them separately and add vinegar to the rinse to keep them nice and thirsty.
What about your family? Have you tried any of these? How’s it going? Any new habits for Earth Day this year?
April 18, 2013
You might not even know what they are yet. You might have a hunch. You might have a burning desire to do something, but you feel overwhelmed. By the problem. By the enormity of the solution. By the drop in the bucket that you being engaged would make. Here’s what I want to say to you. Start. Take a step.
Whatever it is, if you wait until you have it wired, you’ll never do anything. You, the overachiever, start. I live in the Land of Overachievers. So, this is most people that I know. Just start. Take the next step. You’ll figure it out as you go.
- Start that business that will press your suppliers to develop more ethical practices.
- Write that book that calls women to the truest, most beautiful version of themselves.
- Pick up that paint brush and give it a go. Put your first painting up for sale. See what happens.
- Engage with that ministry that reaches out to refugees. Give it a go and see what happens. You’ll never know if you don’t take the first step.
My pastor recently said that your calling is somewhere in the mix of your giftedness, your wounds and your passions. So, let me ask. What are you already good at? What subjects make your heart pound? What makes you angry? What is the subject that, when it comes up, you feel tears beginning to sting your eyes? What do you want? There is a problem out there that, if you could be involved in the solution, it would make your heart sing. What’s that problem? Then, what are your wounds? Abuse? Devastating mistakes you’ve made in the past? What friend or family wounds have had impact in who you’ve become? Do you have a learning disability? Have you felt helpless from some wound? What are you already good at? Do you write? Do you have a God-given strong sense of justice- of righting wrongs? Of defending the weak and those in the margins? Do you rock as a speech therapist, as a physical therapist? Do you have a gut feeling that you would make an amazing pediatrician? Do you have a gut hunch that God might be able to use your gifts as an artist?
The world is broken, and we all need you. This is God’s beautiful and amazing plan of redemption. This is what Jesus prayed in the Lord’s prayer when he said “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That means, let’s make it more like heaven down here on earth.
Take heart, friends. Have courage. We desperately need your gifts. You probably don’t have the whole picture. Most of us don’t. I know I don’t. So, just take the next stop.
The journey will likely be a rabbit trail. You might have to crawl down some rabbit holes to see where they go before you can know where you’re headed. It’s not a mistake to take a trail, and then find out that you’re on the wrong trail. You can’t know until you try. If it’s not right, course correct. Try the next thing.
Here’s what I’m finding. Nobody really knows what they’re doing. When I was at the Freedom Summit in January, this was my main take away. There are these huge related problems of human trafficking and poverty. For those that are innovating, it started with confronting a problem that stopped them in their tracks. Then, what? You try something. Justin Dillon said that he didn’t know what he was doing, and he thought, maybe I’ll go make a film about artists who are engaged in the problem of human trafficking. That’s where we get the rockumentary Call + Response. Sean Litton, who is the VP of Field Operations at IJM, talked about his task to start a field office in the Philippines. He recalls landing and Manila, and thinking “now what?”. He figured it out. He just took the next step.
Friends, I think that in many cases, that’s all we have. We have the next step. The world is broken. We need you to be courageous. Take your next step. Are you putting the puzzle together without the box lid? Yes. Will you have the whole thing wired before you start? No. Might you fail? Absolutely. Is it worth it? I think it is. Because, if you fail, then you’ll know what it’s not, and then you’ll be a step further along your journey.
I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to you. Because frankly, my journey scares me. I have no idea where we’re headed. But, I do have the next step. I think you might know your next step, too.
Are you stepping out? If so, I’d love to hear about it. It helps me to be more courageous.
April 10, 2013
I’ve fallen back in love with the church in the last few years, and I wanted to let you know why.
If you’re not a Christ-follower, you’ll get it. Even if you are a Christ-follower, you might get it. The church nauseated me for many years. I hated that it was known more for what it was against than what it was for. It wasn’t always a safe place to engage my intellect and doubts. It stunk to be a woman. Indeed, there was a dearth of female leadership. There was little support for women working outside the household after children came along. The great moral debates were centered around gay marriage and abortion. There was little discussion about other pro-life issues like the environment, healthcare and entitlement spending. The Republican party had somehow become synonymous with Evangelical Christianity. I wanted to run as soon as I entered a church. It was that bad- that visceral. It was hard to breathe. I tell you that not to shock you, but to let you know that if you want to run as soon as you go in, I get it. I understand.
It started when we went to L’Abri. Charlie and I spent three weeks at L’Abri when I was pregnant with my 10-year-old. We went back four years ago and stayed for two months. The first time I went, I worked mainly on if the Bible is good news for women. The second time, I was looking at the core issues of the reliability of the Bible. How was the canon formed? Why didn’t it contain books from the gnostic gospels? Was there really any compelling evidence that Jesus resurrected from the dead? As I said, my love of the church probably started the first time that we went to L’Abri. I remember sitting down with L’Abri Worker Sue Morrell and telling her that I didn’t know if I believed the Christian message or not. She was unfazed. Somehow, that made me feel safe. She didn’t freak out. She didn’t move onto the edge of her chair. I started studying. Slowly, I became convinced that Jesus actually did bring good news for women. He elevated women much more highly than the culture at the time did. The first witnesses of the resurrection were also women. During my second visit to L’Abri, I spent a lot of time reading church history. I also learned a great deal about how the canon was formed. Toward the end of those two months, I became convinced that Christianity was true. He actually resurrected from the dead. He cares about us and loves us. What’s more, He is calling into a huge story of redemption. We get to be a part of that.
Between our two visits at L’Abri, we started going to our home church here in Menlo Park (Menlo Park Presbyterian Church or MPPC). I have to say that it has been a very healing experience. It’s also one of the things that roots us here in the Bay Area. From the get-go, the teaching has been deeply respectful of the human soul. I’ve never once felt compelled to “be happy” when I’m not. More often, I hear acceptance from the pastoral staff that life is hard. People are hurting. Evidence of the Fall is all around us. Disease. Divorce. Fractured relationships. Homelessness. Poverty. Human Trafficking. But, it is also deeply hopeful. Truly, the church should be a hospital for sinners instead of a museum for saints. You shouldn’t have to get cleaned up in order to go there. A lot of what’s changed has been my expectations. At L’Abri, the Fall is a big deal. The church is God-ordained, but it is a fallen institution. It’s made up of individuals. Any human institution, even if it’s God-ordained, is going to be tragically and hurtfully flawed. My church is no different. If you go to church, your church is like that, too. If you haven’t seen it yet, stick around. The church is made up of people. People have wonderfully redemptive parts and parts that are broken and wounded. That’s what we should expect in church. That it will be made up of people who have wonderful qualities as well as areas where God needs to move in and change and heal them. We’re all in the same boat. We’re doing the best that we can. But, we’re flawed. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when we see political jockeying or power plays or pride or posturing in church. Because it’s made up of people. What I’ve seen in my church is an acceptance of our human foibles. Our senior pastor readily admits his faults. I’ve seen this quality in all of our teaching pastors. They don’t have it all together. I don’t expect them to. Because goodness knows I don’t.
I think there’s a lot to our expectations of the church. When we put down the ideal that you have to have it all together before you set foot in the door because everyone there already has it together, we can start to heal. We can admit our faults. Our insecurities and areas of pride. We can admit that maybe our theology isn’t perfect. I love that there is no clear political party at our church. People actually don’t talk a lot about politics because we sort of assume that everyone doesn’t agree. From the pulpit, during election time, we often hear that MPPC is a “Jesus church” and that redemption won’t come through one political party or the other. I like that. I can sit with that.
I can also tell you that my church spends way more time thinking about what it’s for instead of what it’s against. It’s for the fight against human trafficking. It’s for those living in poverty. It’s for working toward education equity. I love rolling up my sleeves and working for these goals. I love learning to slog it out with my friends who don’t have it all together. I love being inspired by others who are giving their lives away. Not pretending that we have it wired, because we don’t. It’s wonderful not to have to have it all figured out. Honestly, I have enough to keep me busy with what I do know I should be doing. I don’t really feel bothered by all those other things that many church-goers are against. I don’t even love my neighbor like I want to yet. I’m often not patient. The log in my own eye is too huge to worry about a speck in someone else’s. I have enough areas that I’m sure of to keep me busy without being against anything. Like that Jesus wants me to reflect the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. I’m sure that Jesus wants me to care for the poor. I’m sure that Jesus wants me to advocate for the oppressed. That’s more than enough to keep me busy for now. So, does MPPC have it all together? No. But, I don’t expect it to. I’m not surprised by it. And, the closer I get, the more I see souls who are willing to own their own stuff so that we can live our lives walking side by side. Disciples of a homeless carpenter who showed us what it looks like to give our lives away.
April 8, 2013
Check out this interview with Scott Harrison, who is the CEO of Charity Water. Water is being done poorly by so many non-profits. Charity Water is one of the players in this space who is doing water, sanitation and hygiene very well. In this interview, Scott tells the story about how he founded Charity Water. It’s inspirational. He’s a Christian, but isn’t suffocating or preachy. I love the theme of redemption that we see here (my word, not his). I love that God used his experience as a nightclub promoter in helping build the Charity Water brand. I love that he called Jesus a Bad Ass. Because I think Jesus was a Bad Ass. He ticked people off. Dude got a whip out in the temple. He didn’t cower to the religious elite who were very concerned with following the rules. If your image of Jesus is milk toast, you might want to get to know Him. My friend Nancy says that He would have been in the time out chair frequently.
I love hearing stories about people who are living redemptive lives off the map. Most of the time, they don’t know what they’re doing when they start. But, they start. They try things. They throw out what doesn’t work and try something else. They course correct. This youtube clip is about an hour long, but definitely worth your time.